H. G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds—the author’s classic treatise on the power of bacteria and nature’s most elegant shape, the laser-shooting tripod—has seen its fair share of adaptations over the years. (It’s the rare story that can count both Steven Spielberg and Orson Welles among its adherents.) And yet, very few such versions of Wells’ story take into account the context in which it was written—i.e., 1897, a period when science fiction itself was still a bold and new concept. The idea of a bunch of damn bloody Martians coming down from yonder spaceways to cause an upheaval at the local fête? Why, perish the thought, our good woman or sir!
All of which is to say that the most interesting thing about the BBC’s new take on The War Of The Worlds—promoted with a new trailer that the organization released tonight— isn’t all the alien battle machines stomping around; it’s the fact that they appear to have arrived halfway to teatime at Downton Abbey, as a crew of very freaked-out-looking Edwardians flee some very modern-looking space monsters. (If you’re looking for subtext, meanwhile, watching a bunch of people in top-hatted authority yell at their constituents to stop worrying about a planet-destroying threat is likely to meet your needs.) The series is being directed by Craig Viveiros, with Rafe Spall and Eleanor Tomlinson attempting to stay alive in the middle of this popping good little extraterrestrial apocalypse, guv. The series is set to air in three installments, starting in the fall.