The adaptation of Clarke’s classic novel continues with “The Deceivers” and ends with “The Children.”
No, really. The Star Wars review is coming.
Director: Nick Hurran
Writers: Matthew Graham, from the novel by Arthur C. Clarke
Mike Vogel as Ricky Stormgren
Daisy Betts as Ellie
Lachlan Roland-Kenn as Tom Greggson
Colm Meaney as Wainwright
Charles Dance as Karellen
Jacob Holt as Young Jake
Osy Ikhile as Milo
Shane Leckenby as Clinic
Hayley Magnus as Amy
Julian McMahon as Rupert Boyce
Yael Stone as Peretta
Ashley Zukerman as Jake Greggson
Rebecca Bower as June
Charlotte Nicdao as Rachel Osaka
Full credits available at the imdb.
The Overlords oversee an era of world peace and prosperity, but they’re hiding something, and the secret lies with the next– and last– generation of human beings.
They remained true enough to Clarke’s vision, giving us a story in which the glory of human fallibility and the inevitable triumph of the human spirit (as we understand those things) are not the point at all.
When Clarke wrote the novel in the early 1950s, parapsychology was becoming a serious field, with scientists in the United States and USSR, in particular, studying psychic phenomena. As he wrote in later introductions, the promises of the field did not hold up to scrutiny. Likewise, the notion that evolution has a direction has no place in contemporary science. So we’re left with a classic SF novel heavily based on badly dated concepts.
The miniseries replaces some of these concepts with even more intrusive Overlords and Overmind, missing explanations1, and heightened religious/supernatural iconography. The changes don’t entirely serve Clarke’s story, and they make what was ambivalent merely confusing.
Originality: 2/6 The changes to Clarke’s novel aren’t consistently improvements, but they do make the second and third parts seem more original than the first.
Effects: 5/6 The mini-series features some fascinating images. Only the visuals of the Overlords’ homeworld felt disappointing.
Acting: 5/6 Osy Ikhile does especially well in his last scenes, which could easily have been overwrought.
Production: 5/6 The show managed to create a good deal on a limited budget.
Emotional Response: 5/6 We don’t consistently know the characters whose fates are supposed to affect us, and the missing/changed information from the novel blunts the effect the conclusion should have.
The final scenes with the “working class prophet” were well-handled.
In total, Childhood’s End, Parts Two and Three receive 31/42.
1. Incredibly, the explanation for the Overlords’ demonic appearance gets buried and only partially explained.