This aired some time ago but as we are wont to do we recorded it then and watched it recently. The miniseries is based on a 1950s Arthur C. Clark novel of the same name. I think I read it back in middle school because the kicker in it I remembered. There have been some changes to story the ambassador between Karellen, Overlord Supervisor of Earth wasn’t a farmer but a Senator in the book. I rather like the change to a farmer. The adaptation is very good and has the gut emotional impact of the novel. The question is what if an alien came and made, forced peace on earth – gave us a golden age of no sickness and war. Why can’t we see them at first? What would that do to us in a generation? Would we take it or be suspicious of it? What in the end would be the price? Why would they give us a Golden Age? These are the questions of the novel and the miniseries that do get answers. If you haven’t read or seen it and want to explore these questions with the novel or the very well done miniseries don’t read after the cut and go do so. For under the cut there be spoilers and a discussion of where I felt the miniseries dropped the ball a bit at the end. So if you continue on you are either like me okay with spoilers or you know the twist.
So what’s the kicker? Well the first one is the Overlord’s appearance. They look like the devil completely red with horns, wings, pointed tail and yellow eyes. Yeah that’s why they need an ambassador at first until the children of the golden age are old enough to accept him. The second twist comes as the Overlord is harvesting a sample of each life form from earth. A scientist becomes a stowaway on one of the loads and learns that the Overlords are just servants of Overmind. The whole point of the golden age is to get humanity to its best then harvest them to join the Overmind as one. So far the book and the movie hold together on this. The children are harvested and the adults die with earth.
However, the miniseries drops the ball in answering some of the final questions. Why do the Overlords look like what we have perceived as the devil? That’s not answered in the show but in the book is one of the reasons we can join the Overlords and they can’t. We have precognition abilities they don’t. Which answers the second question that isn’t asked or answered in series – why can’t the Overlords join the Overmind like all the other races are intended to do? What happens to all the samples of lifeforms from earth sent to the Overlord’s hellish planet? Not asked nor answered in the series. They are tended and if they develop to the point they can gain precognition they are given a golden age then join the Overmind. I think not giving these answers drops the ball on the ending, that deja-vu feeling we all have experienced at one time or another is valued by the greatest one-ness in all of space and time. It is what gets us harvested.
Yes there are religious overtones of becoming one with a greater being is the goal. Yet in this presentation it is terrifying. To loose our individualism is the lament, to lose our art, music, science, everything to join with untold numbers of other plants and races that have done the same to be not ourselves but a homogeneous one is sadly terrifying. In the end you weep for the loss of the beautiful flawed race that was cursed with the gift of precognition with Karaellen and the other Overlords.
So do watch and decide where, where could humanity have gotten out of the golden trap?