back to article Verity Stob is 'Disgusted of HG Wells': Time, gentlemen, please

Did you catch the recent TV version of The War of the Worlds? Oh dear. HG Wells' beloved book was stuffed up royally. The adaptation had more incomprehensible flashes back and forth than a pair of AI lighthouses experimenting with optical TCP/IP. Nor did the dramatisers omit to burden their Edwardian characters with jarring, …

  1. Symon Silver badge
    Coat

    "Consequently I had to halt the vehicle and obtain some mercury to effect a repair."

    And where does mercury come from? H.G. Wells. --->

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: "Consequently I had to halt the vehicle and obtain some mercury to effect a repair."

      Very good!

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "Consequently I had to halt the vehicle and obtain some mercury to effect a repair."

        Forthunately, the Daleks were not around...

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: "Consequently I had to halt the vehicle and obtain some mercury to effect a repair."

          They're not due until 2150, when we can all look forward to getting those natty black PVC onesies and mind-control helmets.

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: "Consequently I had to halt the vehicle and obtain some mercury to effect a repair."

            So long as we don’t build conducting stairs we should be safe from them by going UPSTAIRS.

            I refer my esteemed colleague to the very first appearance on Earth of the Daleks where the inability to climb stairs was indeed critical. We can stand in upstairs windows and upbraid their deficient morality. That’ll tach ‘em.

            1. YetAnotherLocksmith

              Re: "Consequently I had to halt the vehicle and obtain some mercury to effect a repair."

              I believe there are some well-worn words prepared for those securely standing on battlements to hurl down from above.

              Whether Daleks have mothers or fathers, though, I don't know, nor if they would know what a hamster was. Or even if they can smell an elderberry...

              This might require more thought...

  2. Just Enough Silver badge
    IT Angle

    free emotional expression

    Alas, a lot of action TV and film now has fallen to the curse of "giving the characters emotional, relatable depth". This means there is no dire situation our heroes can find themselves in where it is not appropriate to stop and discuss their domestic and personal problems and, most importantly, how this makes them feel. Fortunately the bad guys and impeding doom they face have the decency to stop shooting/impeding while this discussion occurs. Yes, they're trying to kill you, but there's simply no excuse for oppressing someone's right to free emotional expression.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: free emotional expression

      The previews to the BBC's "adaptation" of War of the Worlds looked really promising but reality was very different. I found the 3 part series extremely dissapointing. The BBC had managed to mangle H G Wells classic sci-fi into a bizarre edition of a cheesy soap opera. The constant flicking between past and future was badly done, especially in the first episode which was as confusing as hell until you realise what was happening.

      The BBC can and has done better, with some really good new series, like their adaptation of Dracula which, while it wasn't true to the original was at least very entertaining. "Good Omens" too seems like a jolly good romp so far, a cross between Monty Python and The Omen.

      The BBC also screwed up the Jodie Foster version of Dr Who. The first series was dire. Way too touchy feely and politically correct at the expense of some decent Sci-Fi. The new series seems somewhat better, though they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking.

      1. Dapprman

        Re: free emotional expression

        I actually quite liked the first episode for the most part, but there again I as worried about how they were going to place a female main character in an 1890s story. The end part did confuse me, and I must admit I did assume red scene was similar to Jeff Wayne's stage show addition for why the Martians needed to invade.

        The second episode, oh dear, and I really regretted completing the farce. I was left with the impression that the screen writer had never read the book, instead he had been given an overview by a management executive type who also had never read the book. After all not only did they part change the ending they also removed the whole core concept behind the book.

        Hope they never consider a rendition of War in the Air, which I personally consider to be a better read, though it was also written 6 years later (1904 - and quite scary for some of it's predictions).

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "going to place a female main character in an 1890s story"

          You can easily, as long as it's part of the story as it was written - female main characters were not lacking in 1800s literature, or even dating back to Greek tragedies.

          Trying to force one in a story written without, just for political correctness, entice viewers with too little brain, or feed the lust of any Weinstein working on the project, it's quite stupid (just look at the "Hobbit" movie....). It wold be like replacing a couple of Bennet sisters with brothers in Pride and Prejudice - for "gender balance".

          "I was left with the impression that the screen writer had never read the book, instead he had been given an overview by a management executive type who also had never read the book."

          Probably. Some are even proud they don't read the sources because it would stymie their "creativity", hence often the plot rewrites that no longer stands because there are a few ways to write a good plot, and many ways to write bad ones. And plots that stand time have good chances of being the good ones...

          Anyway, they are sure most of the audience had never read the book too....

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: free emotional expression

          Hope they never consider a rendition of War in the Air

          Then again, maybe they could consider an adaptation of Scarlet Traces if they want to veer away from H.G. Wells' original.

      2. SVV Silver badge

        Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

        That is rather unavoidable in a show based around time travel.

        They have been doing this for over 50 years, and have also been shoehorning in "emotional moments" for the same length of time. For those think the show is too politically correct, some of the 1960s serials will give you the shivers when you see what very non politically correct Doctor Who looks like.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

          > That is rather unavoidable in a show based around time travel.

          They don't have to go to famous historical figures though, do they? Plenty of Baker/Pertwee plots were set in the past but without being linked to a particularly significant time or place.

          The current series is made worse by having the Doctor literally fawn over famous historical figures - ooh Tesla, you're so clever. It's an insult to Whittaker frankly - a male doctor would never be given such lines.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

            It's an insult to Whittaker frankly - a male doctor would never be given such lines.

            Really? Don't you remember Tennant and Madame Pompadour?

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

          But they are much more fun than the current JW\CC run......

          Icon - Wearing me brainy spec's.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

            My gripe with the latest Dr (apart from the lefty agenda, etc etc), is that they have totally ignored what happened in previous series. Previous Dr's had a global dalek/cyberman invasion of earth. This lot of companions - "What's a cyberman?", "What's a dalek?" I know they come from up North, but I wouldn't presume that aliens would just ignore Sheffield!

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

              What makes you think all the stories are set in the same timeline?

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

              "I know they come from up North, but I wouldn't presume that aliens would just ignore Sheffield!"

              Many of us here up north try our best to ignore Sheffield!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: they are still messing with historical figures too much for my liking

                us here in Lancs do , its just too far over them there mountains. If only there was a high speed train we could , er , go to Sheffield because .. er ..

                buy some cutlery or something.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: free emotional expression

        The BBC can and has done better, with some really good new series, like their adaptation of Dracula which, while it wasn't true to the original was at least very entertaining.

        My take on that particular effort was that the first episode was good, the second reasonable (although it does stretch out considerably a single small part of the book, and the ending was an obvious plot device to move the timeline forward 100 years), and the third was utter tripe. Anything that uses the "2 weeks later" method of moving the plot on is just being lazy and lacking any creativity. And that ending? WTF was that about? "I'll use reverse psychology on a demonic unspeakable horror to focus on his insecurities to make him kill himself"? Stoker's Dracula would have eaten you without a second thought (and also wouldn't have been harmed by sunlight in the first place), turned himself into a wolf and then eaten your friends and family for good measure...

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "Stoker's Dracula would have eaten you without a second though"

          But vampires now are tender pale creatures who make girls fall in love with them because of their sad story, remember... I find "funny" how many today are attracted by characters who were designed as the epitome of pure evil, and the fight against it (and our evil part mirrored into them, of course).

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: free emotional expression

          ...IMHO, the last good adaptation that the BBC did that I can think of was "The City and The City"

          1. hitmouse

            Re: free emotional expression

            I wasn't wild about it - David Morrissey wasn't a strong enough lead.

            Also, since the BBC works with a variety of production companies (Mammoth Screen in this case) it's not possible to ascribe a uniform mindset to what they screen.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: free emotional expression

        Have to admit, I was in two minds watching the trailer when I saw that one of the characters was a woman. (Not that I'm against women I hastened to add, but from what I remember from reading the book years ago, was that there wasn't any women in the book, or at least main characters. Apart from the fiancee - and he was going to London to find her, but she had buggered off to France on a ship!)

        So, yeah watched most of the first episode, realised that my fears had been confirmed that the BBC had messed about with the original.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    Screenwriters with a thin education, and tasked to appeal to the widest audience....

    What could go wrong?

    I watched an episode of "His Dark Materials" - the powerful witch Pekkala's deamon was changed from a goose to a falcon - because modern screenwriters - and their public - know nothing about how much gooses in the ancient past were birds accompanying powerful gods - both in Greek/Roman tradition (there's a reason why Capitol gooses saved Rome...), and Celtic one. So dumb it down to the usual "bird of prey" abused cliché, instead of using it as an interesting juxtaposition - and maybe telling audience it's not important how you look - but how you act.

    Ignorance Is Strength

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Screenwriters with a thin education, and tasked to appeal to the widest audience....

      I made my mistake too - I wrote gooses instead of geese - my fault... as a non native English speaker.

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Screenwriters with a thin education, and tasked to appeal to the widest audience....

        It might be wrong but 'Gooses' is a nice word to use for comic effect. A bit like 'sheeps', 'mouses' etc.

        Goose is also a word for the non-PC pinchin of someone's bottom. Gooses would be appropriate for more than one pinch there since you don't 'Geese' bottoms. The importance of gooses in ancient Rome becomes something quite different then.

        In Dundee a Goosey (or Gussie) is a segemnt of orange. As in "Guis a gussie".

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "Goose is also a word for the non-PC pinchin of someone's bottom"

          Now I learnt why the spell-checker didn't catch it as I was typing...

          Don't know if Roman geese attacked Gauls' bottoms....

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: "Goose is also a word for the non-PC pinchin of someone's bottom"

            Arseterix & The Bauls?

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Screenwriters with a thin education, and tasked to appeal to the widest audience....

        I seem to recall a children's book when I was an infant form of myself, where the final page had the punchline, "They have their uses, these gooses. I mean geese."

        A quick application of a famous web search engine reveals it was "Bod in the Park".

        1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

          Re: Screenwriters with a thin education, and tasked to appeal to the widest audience....

          Bod was odd.

    2. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Screenwriters with a thin education, and tasked to appeal to the widest audience....

      Honestly the thing that bugged me the most was the lack of Daemons for anybody that wasn't important to the story. Oxford University should have looked like a menagerie in the corridors [more than usual, at least - Gen. Melchett] but just wasn't...

  4. bofh1961

    As mind-boggling as Christopher Priest

    But with a lot more humour!

  5. Mage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Wonderful

    Certainly beats the BBC.

  6. UK Jim

    Climatic BANG?

    "This builds to a climatic BANG!", surely "a climactic BANG" ?

    Or was this just thunder...

  7. Alan J. Wylie

    phub

    Don't, while at work, do a google search for "phub", Not Safe, indeed. I wonder how their "AI" got trained on that one?

    1. petef

      Re: phub

      I was looking for “Chillaxing cockapoos phub the black swan” to be a pangram.

  8. Colin Wilson 2

    ..... "We abruptly jump cut to a forest clearing in the year 802,701."

    ....."Eloi. These latter are all played by good-looking actors in their twenties"

    ..... "Synergize the crowdsource thoughtleader. Open the kimono: ducks in a row, but chilaxing cockapoos phub the black swan"

    You'd have thought that language would have changed a bit, in the 800681 years elapsed since today :)

  9. Terje

    I would love to see this made into a miniseries!

    It promises to combine the best of Douglas Adams with a dose of Neil Gaiman and a generous pinch of Monty python!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Alien

      ...with AManFromMars1 as script editor?

  10. smudge Silver badge
    Headmaster

    A pedantic grammar Nazi writes...

    Time Traveller: Anything you can name. It was very shocking. I heard a doctor – a professional gentleman, mark you – openly split his infinitive while standing in the street. Any guttersnipe could easily audit his ill-chosen words.

    Defrocked Lamplighter, baffled: You what?

    Time Traveller, warming to his theme: Just so. And what is more, I witnessed a schoolmarm, a steady soul of five-and-thirty summers or more, use an adjective as an adverb. This done with no thought to the innocent ears of her tender charges!

    But what about the missing Oxford comma on the new 50p coin? Truly the end of UK civilisation as we know it.

    (Hmmm... since it's missing, it can't be "on" the coin, can it? OK then, let's try "But what about the Oxford comma missing from ...?".)

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jan/27/brexit-50p-coin-boycott-philip-pullman-oxford-comma

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    All these solecisms pale into insignificance compared to the absence of an Oxford comma from the Brexit 50p piece: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-51269012

    1. Benson's Cycle

      I realise that currently Oxford, or rather some of its more dysfunctional graduates, rules. But there is Another Place (and actually with the rise of UCL there are two Other Places), and perhaps we see this as a sign of the start of the End Times for the OU.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Why should this be the end of times from the Open University? And kindly leave the Godless of Gower Street out of this.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          (a) Oxford Union, in context. The Open University was clearly not part of what I was referring to and

          (b) Up the Gowers!

          (The only reason I didn't mention St. Andrews, by the way, as Another Place, is that it is in Scotland and the Oxford Comma is an English affectation.)

      2. OssianScotland Silver badge

        The Open University? Still going strong

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Sorry Verity...

    I found the whole article a bit TL;DR, but the recent BBC War of the Worlds adaptation was crap and a waste of the normally quite watchable Rafe Spall.

    I much preferred the other 2019 modern day re imagining of it with Gabriel Byrne and some other actors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry Verity...

      I found the whole article a bit TL;DR,

      Wordcount: 1,775

      Oh ye of little attention span...

  13. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    filmed in glorious hypertext.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Nah, SuperASCIIanimation!!

  14. Muscleguy Silver badge

    And on the pedestal these words appear:

    “My name is Borismandious, Premier of all Peers

    Look on my works Ye puny proles and despair”

    The wide and level mudflats lay all around.

    I suggest building the visage on a clifftop in East Anglia and the above shall befall it ere long.

    1. Lance-Corporal Obvious
      Pint

      Borismandious!

      Excellent! Have an upvote, and an icon

  15. Robert Forsyth

    War of the Worlds by Jeff Wayne

    Surely they could listen to an audio book or the musical version?

    BBC War of the Worlds made the Tom Cruise one more accurate.

    Having read the book with its fear of poor people and wonderful scene setting. Did I miss something, the BBC didn't?

  16. hitmouse

    This production had its flaws but I'm not worried by the content updates, which in some ways draw on Wells personal life.

    Wells' writing was informed by the social issues of his times e.g. WotW by the genocide of the Tasmanian aborigines. I'm sure he would have received plenty of 1/10 reviews headed "PC snowflake" crap if the book came out now.

    In order to remake something with the same sensibility as the original you need to update the social touchpoints.

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Flame

      update the social touch-points

      Except for one very important fact... The esteemed Mr Wells had actual talent.

      1. hitmouse

        Re: update the social touch-points

        Talent is immaterial in a world where people create new IMDB accounts just to give 1-star reviews to content that has non-white-male characters

  17. swampdog
    Flame

    Wife ruined it for me..

    ..by telling me it was set in the middle ages. I spent a large chunk of time assuming I was watching a flash forward.

  18. jake Silver badge

    Hey, STOB ...

    That so-called "American Billion", you do know that it's French, not American ... and that it's been the official British Billion since 1974, right?

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