Plot: An alien invasion seemed like a science fiction daydream, at least until the aliens arrived and mankind faced an immediate, global threat. In that assault, the aliens were taken down by simple bacteria and while the threat receded, the aliens weren’t actually killed in the process. The bacteria forced them into a state of dormant rest, so the aliens and all of their tech were put into deep government storage, unable to pose a risk to the human race. But when a terrorist attack compromises some radioactive waste units, the radiation seeps into the aliens and neutralizes the bacteria, which in turn allows them to wake from dormancy. So after several decades in hibernation, the aliens are back and of course, have global domination in mind. Most have forgotten about the decades old alien invasion and the aliens take a sneakier approach this time, using humans as vessels, so they can infiltrate the population unnoticed. Will this heinous plan work or can mankind once again rise to fend off this alien threat?
Entertainment Value: This series builds on the classic War of the Worlds narrative, but it picks up decades after those events and few in the show even remember the original invasion, so it is more of a reference point than prominent thread here. The show offers a typical television sci/fi experience, which might not thrill some, but it is solid enough to reel in genre fans, I think. I think it has some interesting concepts, especially the dynamics of the military being unwilling to admit the aliens have returned and the aliens coping with the radiation that allows them to be awake, but also breaks down their bodies at the same time. The latter kind of mirrors the core motivation of the aliens, as their planet is also dying, so as they search for solutions to keep themselves alive, it also serves to keep their entire species alive. The aliens are also forced to rely on human tech for the most part, so that adds another interesting thread to the show, as these aren’t bleeding edge, well armed invaders. I won’t say the show goes in depth on these kind of issues, but I was glad to see them explored somewhat.
The show has some issues, with the main one being how predictable and middling most of the episodes are. I don’t mind this from time to time, as it is tough to make every episode a winner, but the show falls into a rut of sorts and while the episodes aren’t bad by any means, few stand out as remarkable. I think this is because the show glosses over some of the more interesting elements, which is understandable, given that not all audiences want a sci/fi think piece. But a little more depth in some of the areas would have helped, as would more character development and some wildcards thrown into the mix to keep things more lively. I know some dislike the shifts in the second season as well, but to me, I was glad to see a shakeup of sorts. I can see why War of the Worlds hasn’t become a genre classic, but I still think it is a solid show and one that has some great ideas, even if they’re never fully realized. So if you’re a sci/fi fan and want to visit an interesting timeline, War of the Worlds is a mostly solid run that builds on the foundation of the classic Welles narrative.