What happens to humanity when the Overlords arrive and impose peace and contentment on the Earth?
Yesterday, I spent my Christmas day afternoon binging all 5+ hours of the Syfy network’s mini-series Childhood’s End. (Today, I want to watch episodes 1-4 of The Expanse, and maybe some more episodes of Killjoys. That’s a lot of syfy shows….. must be my favorite network, right now.)
Based on the book of the same name by Science-Fiction master Arthur C. Clarke, the 3 episode mini-series does an admirable job of updating the source material for the audience of 2015 instead of 1953, although I found myself somewhat annoyed at the show-runners’ apparently overt proselytizing for still-controversial social issues such as gay rights and climate change, while simultaneously doing so with a line so weirdly tone-deaf as when, 20 years after Karellen and the Overlords (Shadow note: if that’s not a punk band’s name already, I call dibs), a gay man spouts the line “my partner and I can kiss in the street,” as if that is the single most important issue confronting the gay community.
I also found it somewhat weird that the show chose to apparently take an anti-big government stance, by changing the backstory of the earth’s ambassador to the Overloads from being a United Nations negotiator to a Missouri farmer with a penchant for negotiation, and whose only real accomplishment in that arena was negotiating between a limestone company and the town in which he lives. Whether the writers intended him to have a more expansive background than that, I can’t say, but it didn’t come through that way for me. Regardless, even Karellen tells him that the Overlords didn’t pick a politician because, basically, they’re politicians, and people don’t trust them.
Overall, though, I found the series to be quite enjoyable. The effects were very well done, and the acting was great. I can’t necessarily dive into the line-by-line minutiae of Clarke’s novel, as I haven’t read it in some time, but the one image that I am extremely glad they maintained from the book is that of Karellen, finally showing himself after 15 years of being Earth’s “Supervisor,” being escorted from his ship by two small children.
Clarke’s description of that moment: “The leathery wings, the little horns, the barbed tail–all were there. The most terrible of all legends had come to life, out of the unknown past. Yet now it stood smiling, in ebon majesty, with the sunlight gleaming upon its tremendous body, and with a human child resting trustfully on either arm.”
Satan–the devil–bringing mankind salvation and peace.
Well worth the watch if you’ve got a spare 5 hours, available on syfy.com or perhaps on your cable/satellite on-demand service.