By Doug Thomas
With each passing year, this 1980 miniseries
becomes more for those who have read Ray Bradbury's landmark novel. The
three-part, nearly five-hour series keeps its brainy science fiction
roots; this story (and the 1940s novel) is not about laser battles and
exciting action pieces.
Bradbury's novel is galvanized by the cold war nightmare: at the end of
the 20th century, an earth teetering on world war begins to colonize Mars
without much knowledge of the new world. Hard science is left for other
stories, and director Michael Anderson (Logan's
Run) keeps this retrofitting: for example, astronauts arrive on a
breathable Mars in leisure suits. The space travel effects are clunky, but
the action on Mars--with Assheton Gorton's geometric sets and simple
props--are far more effective. T
here are Martians there, as the unprepared first Earthlings learn.
Later, as the planet is quickly colonized, the remaining Martians are near
specters--bringing awe and fear to those they encounter. Master sci-fi
writer Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) smartly streamlines
Bradbury's episodic stories, giving a central role to Col. John Wilder
(played by Rock Huston, leading a plethora of solid, yet B-list actors).
For those in love with cerebral science fiction, they can enjoy this dated
but curious sci-fi miniseries; for those of think sci-fi began with Star