released 16 May 2015 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD
Director Nick Hurran Cast Mike Vogel, Osy Ikhile, Daisy Betts, Georgina Haig
You certainly can’t fault this Syfy miniseries for ambition. With a running time in excess of four hours, Childhood’s End wholeheartedly embraces the big, hard SF ideas of Arthur C Clarke’s original novel, while pulling a story first published in 1953 firmly into the 21st century – for better and worse.
The script ( from Life On Mars co- creator Matthew Graham) keeps the fundamental pillars of the tale intact: alien “Overlords” arrive on Earth promising to end poverty, famine, disease, war and anything else traditionally associated with Horsemen. Many of the themes ( particularly those concerning how much control we want over our own destiny) still feel relevant, and the first of the three episodes is excellent. There’s blockbuster spectacle, dramatic differences of opinion about the alien visitors, and an escalating sense of mystery, culminating in the reveal of lead Overlord Karellen’s strangely familiar face.
After that high the series loses its way. While there are still major revelations to come ( the story doesn’t pull any punches), parts two and three leave you feeling like the novel’s plot has been crowbarred into a modern TV format. Childhood’s End exists somewhere between an overlong movie that outstays its welcome and a TV series that’s too rushed for you to really get to know the characters. In a story that stretches over decades, the passage of time becomes frustratingly difficult to track, while key players hang around on screen long after their usefulness to the plot has expired.
Still, look past the clunky religious metaphors and all the melodramatic, soft- focus scenes about the power of love, and this is serious science fiction telly of the kind we don’t get enough of – it wouldn’t have taken much finetuning to turn this into a classic.
Extras Loads of deleted/ extended scenes. Richard Edwards
Humanity’s rep Ricky Stormgren is a farmer here, but in the original novel he was Secretary- General of the UN.
The gravity- proof lectern always had to be held down.