Wrestling? Sharknado? The Syfy Channel deserves the scorn it got in recent years. But what I saw last night tells me those days are over.
I attended a screening of the first two episodes of Syfy’s six-part adaptation of Childhood’s End, the classic science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The first two episodes, which will be broadcast on December 14th, are solid television science fiction.
Clarke’s novel has been ripped off so many times — both versions of V, and Independence Day are just a few examples that come to mind — but Childhood’s End itself has never been brought to film or television before.
In short, the people of Earth wake up one day and learn that they are not alone in the universe. The aliens are here, and they want to help us. They really want to help us.
This adaptation moves the story from the cold war 1950s to the present, and takes a few other liberties that make sense.
One scene where the aliens encourage the main human character to visit their ship is extraordinary. You’ll love what they do to the human’s house.
Another recurring location aboard the alien ship is eerily reminiscent of the hotel scene at the end of 2001.
And while the special effects are very good, it’s the characters that are center stage here.
Charles Dance — the Lannister patriarch from Game of Thrones — is perfectly cast as Karellen, the new Supervisor for Earth.
And the ending … Syfy executives asked people not to reveal the twist at the end of the second episode. If you’ve read the book, you know what it is. But if you don’t … you’re in for a shock. It will be fun to see how certain communities react to it.