War of the Worlds: TV Series (1988-1990)

Forty-five years after the premiere of George Pal’s production, the studios finally opted to continue the War of the World‘s film with a television series. Predicated on the idea that the Martian invasion has been largely forgotten, and that the supposedly-dead bodies of the Martians had been packed away in storage for four decades, the series begins with a group of terrorists breaking into the nuclear waste storage facility where the monsters are held in drums. By inadvertently exposing the Martians to radiation which kills the diseases that forced them into hibernation, the terrorists renew the alien threat. The newly awakened Martians suddenly infect the terrorists Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style, and the War of the Worlds begins again – but this time from within!

Much like the television series The Invaders, this War of the Worlds series played on the idea that the aliens are among us. Unlike that earlier show, mankind’s fate didn’t rest on a single man. Led by the adopted son of the Dr. Forrester and Sylvia from the original movie, a government team was tasked to covertly track down and eliminate the Martians. The series featured a guest appearance by Ann Robinson, reprising her role of Sylvia Van Buren for three episodes. Battlestar Galactica alumnus John Colicos also made guest appearances as Quinn, an alien on the loose since the original invasion. The old Martian War Machines rarely appeared and the cobra-styled Heat-Ray was shown in one early episode of the first season. Instead, the sucker-tipped Martian hand from the movie became the icon of the show and the main link to its cinematic roots.

The production ran into problems after the first season. The second season used different producers who radically changed the plot and cast. The series never saw a third season. After its cancellation, the series had a limited release on VHS but it’s never seen wide release beyond the U.S. 

– written by Rob Farquhar