Shows That Never Made it Past Season Two. #7: War of the Worlds the Series

Still Not as Controversial as Two Gay Men Adopting

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Haim Saban presents a totally orginal series about a group of kids who get superpowers and must defend their small California/Nevada area town against an otherworldly evil.
Haim Saban presents a totally orginal series about a group of kids who get superpowers and must defend their small California/Nevada area town against an otherworldly evil.

Television -- a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well done.

There's no denying that television has shaped our culture since it's inception. Like the Internet, almost everyone has a favorite TV show or two that they love. And like the Chuck Norris List, Literal Music Videos, and early MST3K style fanfictions, almost everyone who grew up with TV was a part of a subculture defined by the techhnology.

Star Trek fans were called Trekkies, MST3K fans were called Msties, and Quantam Leap viewers wee called Leapers.

The miricle of DVDs allow us to revisit those shows from our childhood, like HR Puffinstuff and The Power Rangers. (Is Power Rangers on DVD yet? Man, I miss the Megazord) But watching the Plato's Children episode of Star Trek on DVD doesn't allow thirteen year-old Matt to experience the ripples of controversy caused by the first ever on screen Interracial kiss.

I can attest to this, because when I first saw Plato's Children, I was watching a Trek marathon and I didn't know that Kirk and Uhura's kiss was so controversial. The TV announcer made it sound like such an afterthought that it didn't occur to me how big a deal this was in the 60's when it first aired.

There are some shows that didn't have the shelf life of Star Trek or the repetitive formula of every Haim Saban show adapted from a Japanese series and passed off as original in the US. Those shows only got one or two years max to try to get off the ground and for whatever reason, petered out and crashed.

Here's seven of the most popular cancled shows in the last thirty years.

Season 1 Intro

Jared Martin played the patron saint of kids who day dream about alternative methods for killing someone.
Jared Martin played the patron saint of kids who day dream about alternative methods for killing someone.

Actual Quote From the Season Opener

"You like your coffee black, right?"
"You like your coffee black, right?"

"This is Harrison Blackwood. These May Be the Last Words I Ever Speak on this Earth."

Aired: 1988 to 1990

Premise: Following the events of the 50's film, the original alien attackers are stored in barrels at a dumping site in Fort Jericho, until terrorists arrive with the intention of blowing up the barrels and releasing it's deadly contents on the world. Alas, those barrels are not full of every copy of the original Fantastic Four Movie and the aliens subsequently capture and take control of the terrorists on the molecular level, thus relaunching their campaign to take over the Earth, only now on a much more subtle level.

Now the US government employs a team of scientists and military personel to study and combat the alien threat headed by an eccentric and passifistic Dr. Harrison Blackwood, played by Jared Martin. A survivor of the 50's attack, Blackwood now has a personal grudge against the aliens. He won't use a gun but he does come up with several creative ways to kill them that woud get a high school student slapped with consecutive life sentences in this day and age.

Philip Aken of Highlander fame plays the Norton Drake. a physically handicapped scientist with views on race relations that are similar to the Highlander character. Unlike Highlander, however, none of these views get any of the back story and development that the Adrian Paul Series became famous for.

Lynda Mason Green joins the team as the Scientist/Love Interest/Single Mother who can't seem to put two and two together unless it is signficant to the plot of the current episode.

And last but not least is a Native American US Army Soldier named Paul Ironhorse played by Richard Chaves. He actually turns out to be the most useful character in the main cast and you get the idea behind his motives. But don't get attached to either Paul or Charlie-oops, I meant Norton-because both characters get killed off in the beginning of season two.

Highlander veteran Adrian Paul and Catherine Disher of Forever Knight star in the season two. Too bad Adrian's immortality and Catherine's experience with the living dead weren't enough to save it.

This Intro Should Not be Viewed if you are Pregnant, Nursing, or if you're eating an Egg Salad Sandwich.

Why was it Canceled?

 

In spite of some very weak continuity, War of the Worlds had a great first season, with ratings that were the highest of any syndicated Paramount series that year. For a show filmed during the 80's, WoTW pushed the envelope with the gore factor, depicting horrible mutilation and splatterpunk that both horrified and entertained audiences.

The aliens, who are supposed to be the bad guys, raise questions such as whether or not we deserve this planet. Through the three-eyes of the aliens we get a chilling and often thought provoking commentary to our society and our culture that is sadly rarely pursued beyond the episode that it is relevant in.

What finally killed it was the shoddy writing and bad continuity, which finally culminated in Season Two. The setting was changed to a post apocalyptic future. Paul and Charlie were killed off, much to the chagrin of fans as these were the two most popular characters of the series. Harrison's passive nature was tossed out the window to make him a gun toting fighter and well...the series just crapped itself at that point.

Justified?

I'm going to go with yes.

The thing is, the poor continuity of Season One grated my nerves. Even in a show that's primarily episodic, the characters in episode seven shouldn't forget what happened in episode one.

For example, the "brilliant" Doctor McCollough says in one episode that she doesn't know what the aliens eat. "Wait," I think. "There are several instances before this episode when the aliens are caught eating flower arrangements and house plants and you still don't know what their dietary requirements are?"

Season 2 was never released on DVD. Nine times out of ten it was considered even more insipid than the early Warner Brother's cartoons and therefore locked away in a place that even Chthulu would be too afraid to open.

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