Sunday, May 31, 2015

Movie/TV Talk - The Martian Chronicles

For my final post of this themed month, I’ll be heading back to ‘ole Ray Bradbury. In 1980, NBC aired a 3-part mini-series of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. As you can tell by that year, I didn’t see it when it aired. I did get to watch some of it back in the 90’s. I think it was on the Family Channel. I’ve heard a variety of things about it before I saw it last night. I did recognize a few folk from the miniseries. Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowell (Planet of the Apes), Bernie Casey (I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka) and Nicolas Hammond (The Amazing Spider-Man TV show) all had roles. Apparently, Ray Bradbury himself said that the miniseries was “just boring.” Whether it actually is or not, I’ll get to that below.

The miniseries sticks to the book pretty well for the most part. The first part goes over the expeditions, the second part looks at the settlers, and the final part looks at the aftermath of Earth’s war. In 1999, Earth starts to send their astronauts to Mars. After the last expedition is a success, the settlers come in packs. The settlers end up interacting with the Martians in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, war breaks out on Earth and humanity pretty much ends on the planet. The miniseries ends as the book did with the survivors deciding to stay on Mars and let go of Earth.
Wow, either that's a Martian weapon or the production team looted The Penguin's storehouse for umbrellas.

While it stuck to the main story, it did make some changes. Instead of being short stories, everything is pretty much connected together. Also, the duration of the story happens in under a decade while the book was at least 30 years.Captain Wilder (Rock Hudson) is given a lot more to do. He’s pretty much the main character of the series. He interacts with a lot of the characters from the short stories. Instead of four expeditions, there were only three. The second expedition from the book is completely left out.

In fact, a lot of short stories get left out. The major ones that are left out are “Usher II”, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, and a few others. The fact that “Usher II” was left out is a bummer since that story was pretty good. It actually adds a story about two missionaries that go out into the wilderness to look for Martians. One of them is played by McDowell. Both missionaries play a role in a couple of scenes based on short stories. Those are just the big changes I noticed.

I thought it was okay as a whole. There were things I liked about it and things I didn’t like about it. I did think it was decently adapted for the most part. While some things were changed and left out, it kept the overall story. It also kept a lot of the ideas from the book like colonization, the devastation of war, and expansion. I thought most of the acting was pretty good. Hudson kept a lot of it afloat even when it wasn’t all good. I also thought that some of the stuff that got added was interesting like the missionary story.
"Sir, I think we landed on the wrong set... again." Also, it's Spider-Man, man!

Mars itself looked fine. The visual look of Mars looked pretty good. The Martians themselves looked alright. They all had a uniform look to them and some of them wore weird headgear. The special effects were decent at times. This was a TV miniseries from the 70’s, so I know the effects won’t look that good in general. The music was alright. There was a little disco added in for some reason. At least its bearable and you can dance to it.

Now, there were some things I didn’t like. As I said before, I missed some of the stories that were taken out. Also, some of the acting could be hit or miss. I thought Bernie Casey was a weird choice for Dr. Spender. The guy just acted too laid back for the role. Most of the special effects were also a bit too crappy for my taste. Considering what was out at this time, they could have been better. Finally, it has a lot of dull points. I kind of went to sleep in the third part though my allergies were bothering me and I took a sinus pill.
Apparently bald is in on Mars and has been for centuries!

Overall, it’s okay if pretty dull at some places. I’d say check it out if you’re interested in seeing an adaptation of the book. Well, it’s been fun to do something different for this month. I probably will do something sort of like this next year. There’s enough in the Sci-Fi genre to fill up a month. I’m outta here. Peace, God Bless, and be safe out there.

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