Sunday, 22 March 2009

A change of pace now. There's great news for anyone who grew up on Saturday evening Sci-Fi on the BBC. Way back in 1984, Doctor Who took a break from our screens, and instead we were treated to a high-budget adaptation of John Christopher's series of children's novels, The Tripods.

Over two consecutive summers we followed the adventures of Will, Henry and Jean-Paul (Beanpole)as they resisted the control of the tripods and sought to bring down their extra-terrestrial rule over the Earth. Unfortunately, the BBC baulked at the production costs and cancelled the third series, leaving me and millions of other guessing how it would all end. Years later, I finally relented and bought the books to find out once and for all what happened next.

And now the great news. Alex Proyas, driector of The Crow and I, Robot, has announced that he's working on a big screen adaptation of the novels. As well as giving us a chance to see the stories told with slightly more convincing special effects, another generation of kids will be introduced to these great stories. It also means that the legal restrictions preventing the BBC from releasing series 2 on DVD are no longer a concern, which is why the boxset is on sale from tomorrow. Hurrah indeed.

But there's a note of caution here. What really struck me when I read the books was how similar the plot was to L Ron Hubbard's Godawful sci-fi dreck Battlefield Earth (don't read any further if you don't want to know what happens...)

In both stories a futuristic Earth is controlled by alien overlords who have eradicated technology and subjugated the human race. They live in specially built cities, protected by huge bubbles that allow them to replicate their home planet's atmosphere. A young man infiltrates the city, wins the trust of his alien master and conspires to end the aliens' tyranical rule by destroying the city. Battlefield Earth was published in 1982, a good 14 years after John Christopher's original tale.

There is one key difference though - Battlefield Earth was utter shit. Problem is, the movie didn't do well. In fact, it bankrupted the production company that made it. I just hope that audiences give the Proyas film the benefit of the doubt, so that we finally get to see the third book adapted after 25 years of waiting...

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