Op­er­a­tion Over­lord

SFX - - Reviews -

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.

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