Part Three: “Aliens”
Finally. They get something a little more right.
The last two episodes of The Real History of Science Fiction have been anything but — staying deeply ensconced in the movies of the 1980s for the most part. But this time, in their coverage of aliens (and alien invasions), they actually manage to broaden the scope to go back a little further into the actual history of science fiction.
Granted, they spend quite a bit of time on The War of the Worlds — almost all of them — but there is time spent also on The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and Godzilla — probably because there’s a new movie coming out, and it’s in the collective consciousness right now. We also get mentions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial as an example that not all aliens are bad and out to get us.
But for the life of me, I can’t abide the leap from The War of the Worlds to Independence Day. Yes, there are parallels, but there are so many other films you could drop in between those two. Television, too, as there’s no mention of The Day the Earth Stood Still or Alien Nation when talking about aliens trying to get along with us or live among us… Men in Black is the BBC’s notion of representation on that front? Hm. OK…
And I guess since we spent most of last week’s episode fawning over Star Trek with the same material we’ve seen over and over again (seriously, I’m ready for the second These Are The Voyages to come out so we have something new to talk about), that means we don’t get any mention of the Borg to complement the time spent on the Cybermen? Sure, it’s a BBC show, but the Borg and the Cybermen are cousins, both chasing the same goal of assimilating the living to upgrade them.
And now we know why Moffat likes the Daleks…
Still, it was nice to see something besides the 1980s all over the hour, and while I’m not sure Jurassic Park counts as an alien story so much, it was fun to see Phil Tippett’s early tests for the velociraptors, something I hadn’t seen before.
But mostly, it was filmed media yet again, with little mention made of the many works of literature that fit this category outside of The War of the Worlds and The Body Snatchers. What about The Martian Chronicles or Stranger in a Strange Land when talking about learning to live with people not of this Earth? How about the story of Superman — you know, that alien from another world who learns to live among humans? Or maybe some Lovecraft — tales of ancient aliens slumbering in the dark depths of the planet, waiting to re-awaken and subdue humanity?
The original Battlestar Galactica would have worked here, too, as the original Cylons were a reptilian race that built the robots.
Oh, well. Just one more misfire. Makes me think we should start looking at producing a more comprehensive history on our own…