Published on June 9th, 2017 | by Chris O'Connor
Childhood’s End Blu-ray Review
Summary: An interesting sci-fi marred by stretching story points that didn't warrant stretching.
I need to start this review by saying that Universal Blu-rays have the worst menu system I think I’ve come across. They have opted for pictographic depictions for chapter, play, extras etc… but the pictographs aren’t the most obvious and so finding certain features on the disc can be a big case of hit or miss…. it’s very frustrating.
But on to the show as they say (well to paraphrase anyway).
Childhood’s End is based on a story by Arthur C. Clarke a well known and respected name in the Science Fiction genre. The basic concept is that an alien race visits earth and helps us end war and hunger… creating a utopia of sorts. As their time interacting with earth continues, people begin to learn that these aliens, dubbed the Overlords, have a plan for the future of humankind and it’s one that might not please everyone. The core concept is an interesting one, I’m sad to say the execution of that story in this SyFy series leaves quite a bit to be desired. On the plus side there are some nice visual effects and a pretty impressive costume/prosthetic piece or two. Melbournites will no doubt recognise familiar landscapes and buildings (most notably the Museum). But on the negative side is the fact that apparently what was originally a two part miniseries became a three part series at the request of SyFy… this apparently lead to the middle act being taken up by a religious battle that just feels like it drags the show down in many ways.
There are some engaging performances here though, not least of all is Charles Dance as the principle Overlord Karellen… performing through makeup is never easy when it obscures so much of the face… but to do a full body prosthetic and be able to pull of emotional responses, quite impressive.
As I mentioned the core concept of the show is interesting… the notion that a friendly alien race would come to earth and help us improve our society… unfortunately this process is glossed over a bit in the series and key elements of the changes made (namely in regard to art and culture as a whole) are barely covered except for referencing how the removal of them means people are being rebellious to go to the cinema. I feel they could have spent a bit more time at least giving a cursory explanation as to why these sorts of things were “outlawed” rather than focusing on one religious zealots crises of faith. It is possible the source material didn’t go into detail and as such there wasn’t much to go on… but then again that didn’t stop the show featuring a second act that was completely fabricated for this telling.
Overall… I can’t really recommend this show. To some extent it might be the fact that seeing such familiar landmarks from around town and having them used as locations supposedly in other countries pulled me out of the “suspension of disbelief” a little too much… it could be the beating a dead horse regarding the impact the aliens have on people of faith and their beliefs. It could just be that it aimed high and didn’t quite hit it’s mark. You may find it enjoyable… but I don’t plan on re-watching it and that is usually a reasonable indication of how good something is… the desire to watch it again.