Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I used to rent a lot of movies, TV series and other stuff through Netflix.  One of the miniseries that I got was one called The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells.  It didn’t look great, but I figured it was worth a shot.  It wasn’t so much that I ran out of things to rent.  I think it was more that I needed something different.

The miniseries starts with a woman claiming to be a reporter approaching an elderly H. G. Wells for information on a story she’s writing.  Soon, he realizes that she’s part of a government program that knows bits and pieces of his past.   Each of the three stories is based on two short stories that Wells wrote.  They’re presented as if the events of the story happened to Wells when he was much younger, who then later incorporated the events into a story.

In the first episode, Wells recalls how someone made a potion that would accelerate his biological functions, but the acceleration became permanent after a few uses.  This became the basis for The New Accelerator.    He also recalls the events of meeting a man who travels back in time one week, taking with him a newspaper.  When things go horribly wrong, he has to do what he can to fix things.  This became the basis for The Queer Story of Brownlow's Newspaper.

The second episode tells of a mysterious rock that falls from the sky, allowing a person to be transported to Mars in the first half and a man who can see a shipwrecked naval officer in the second half.  These become The Crystal Egg and The Remarkable Case of Davidson’s Eyes.

The third episode shows two men who get exactly what they ask for in the first half.  One wants more hair and the other wants to lose weight.  They make the mistake of not stating exactly what they mean, leaving room for interpretation.   The second half is about a serum that goes missing.  At first, it’s assumed to be something dangerous in the sense of deadly, as most of the collection it came from is deadly diseases.  It turns out to be a truth serum, which can be just as dangerous.

When I first started watching the miniseries, I had thought it was just a movie.  It wasn’t until I looked it up until I realized what I had.  The running time says that it’s 4:00, but that’s not exactly true.  Each episode is 1:28, bringing the total running time closer to 4:30.  I was worried more about having to rent a second disc, but that wasn’t a problem; all three episodes are on one disc.  The picture quality was about on par with what you get for other TV programs.

I don’t get the impression that it’s meant to be historically accurate.  I was looking up some of the short stories and came across information on the miniseries as a result.  Aside from the fact that Wells didn’t necessarily live through most of the events, I don’t think he was in college when they portrayed him as being in college nor was he single at the time.

This is a Hallmark production.  As such, their priorities are going to be a little different.  It does have that kind of sappy ending that you might expect.  It’s also not too reliant on the sci-fi aspect of the stories.  You do have certain elements, but it’s more like Wells was inspired by certain events that were maybe more mundane.  In the case of the truth serum being delivered to an unsuspecting populace, it’s more about what people would do if they were compelled to tell no lies.

The only thing that may be a downside is that there are no bonus features, at least on the version that I got from Netflix.  I didn’t really expect any, though.  It looks like miniseries was made in 2001.  This would have been a few years after DVDs became available, so I don’t think a lot of production companies were thinking along those lines yet.

I can’t say that I loved it.  I am familiar with the work of H. G. Wells and was curious to see what this was about, but I can’t say that I would have rented it had it not been for Netflix.  I also don’t know that I would have finished it had it not been for Epinions.  I’ll admit that I was curious to see how it ended, but the last two stories sounded like the least interesting.

It’s generic enough that children could watch it.  Barring time considerations, it’s the kind of thing that a teacher could show a class when they don’t want to teach, such as the last day of school before Winter break.  While I might recommend it to a few people, I don’t know that I would give it as a gift.  It’s good, but it’s not great.  Basically, it’s a good way to waste a few 90-minute stretches of time here or there.

IMDb page

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