"In 1953 Earth experienced a War of the Worlds. Common bacteria stopped the aliens, but it didn't kill them. Instead, the aliens lapsed into a deep state of hibernation. Now the aliens have been resurrected, more terrifying than before. In 1953, aliens started taking over the world; today, they're taking over our bodies!"
And this time, the aliens are ready...
War of the Worlds
is established as a sequel to the original George Pál film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds
. The series begins 35 years following the assumed demise of the extraterrestrials that invaded Earth in 1953. It's revealed, however, that the bacteria that stopped the aliens did not do so because it killed them; rather it simply put them into some kind of state of hibernation. They are reawakened when some of the disposed bodies are accidentally exposed to radiation, negating the presence of the bacteria that attacked them. From there they resume their plans in preparing Earth for the 3 million colonists that are on their way from their dying homeworld. However, their efforts must adapt to their current condition, not only in their lack of adequate weapons, but also to find an antidote to the planet's indigenous bacteria by any means necessary. In addition to their vast intelligence and indifference to human life, the aliens also have an advantage of being able to physically take possession of human bodies, allowing them to move around the world to accomplish their goals.
Although the aliens have their tasks made a little easier as a majority of the world had fallen back into complacency in the years that had passed since the invasion, a special task group is established by the government to detect alien activity and stop it. This is the Blackwood Project. The central figure is Harrison Blackwood, an astrophysicist who was orphaned as a child during the invasion and adopted by Dr. Clayton Forrester, from whom he learned about the alien menace. Supporting him is computer genius Norton Drake, microbiologist Suzanne McCullough, and soldier Colonel Ironhorse. The team is in constant struggle to undermine the aliens' advances, winning some battle while losing others. However, the tide of war is not turned by only two sides, but as well as other factions that draw out a power struggle over planet Earth.
The first season is an amalgamation of concepts. The show pays homage to preceding tales of The War of the Worlds
, not only using the 1953 film as a backstory from which it continues, but also other versions including the H.G. Wells novel itself. It does this in employing both concepts and devices, as well as social commentaries; most notably paralleling the alien invasion to the British colonisation of the Americas, which mirrors Wells' own criticism of British colonialism. The mythology is also comprised of Biblical references, as well as the incorporation of well known elements of UFO-related phenomena. Episodes are littered with running gags, in-jokes, and amusing dialogue, as well as dark humour. But perhaps the first season's signature item is its use of violence, most episodes featuring gore that often pushes past the point where modern television would go. All of these elements put together to make up the working body of the show help make it perhaps an odd, but definitely unique series.
The show was conceived when Paramount Pictures wanted another syndicated cash cow after the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation
, and took advantage of their rights to the War of the Worlds
title. While the ratings for the first season started off well, they eventually slipped below Paramount's expectations. Rather than throw in the towel, a decision was made to keep the series, but pass it off to an entirely new creative staff. This second season, the show now titled "War of the Worlds: The Second Invasion
", holds little continuity with the first: the few characters brought back have personalty face-lifts, the aliens have a conflicting origin with their predecessors, and the world itself has undergone a dramatic dip in change - none of which is explained to the audience. The poor continuity even turns on the second season itself, churning out an incoherent isolated story. The second season eschews the use wit and allusions to make for more of a dark and dry show. It is because of these issues and more that a majority of fans remain loyal to the first season.