Childhood's End Episodes 1-3 Reviews: The Devil You Know (Mini Series) - GMonsterTV

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Childhood's End Episodes 1-3 Reviews: The Devil You Know (Mini Series)

The three part mini series "Childhood's End" aired on SyFy last week. It is based on Arthur C Clarke's book by the same name. "CE" was published some sixty two years ago. Clarke also wrote the screenplay for "2001: A Space Odyssey" so he's got some serious science fiction cred.

The show with a man sitting in a desolate landscape. Milo is the last man on earth. He asks an alien orb to record a classical song as humanity's lasting legacy. OK then. Not sure why "CE's" creators gave us the end of the series at the beginning-- UNLESS it's to make us root for the characters to change the future. We'll see about that.  

Back in present day Earth, life goes on as usual Around the woods, spaceships emerge from behind clouds. All Earth's planes are gently lowered to the ground while in mid flight. The visitors appear to each person in the form of a deceased loved one. Their schtick is basically "Have no fear, we're good guys". Some not-so-happy-Earthlings refer to the creatures as Overlords. The aliens initially bring an end to war, poverty and starvation. This means there is no need for science, religion or culture either. Earth enters the "golden age of man". But if it all seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Ricky Stormgren, a farmer in Missouri, is selected by the Overlords to be their "prophet". He is chosen because he's not connected in any way to Earth's rich and powerful. If Ricky looks familiar, he's played by "Under The Dome" alum Mike Vogel.

When the aliens arrive, Milo is a young boy in a wheelchair. He is shot dead by a baddie but is resurrected by the aliens. Milo grows up. He is still very suspicious of the Overlords (despite the face that they saved his life and made him walk again). His boss Dr Boyce seems to be in cahoots with them over some mysterious plans.  

In episode two we finally get a look at Earth Supervisor Karellen. No wonder he didn't want to show his face. He looks like a giant red devil complete with horns, wings and cloven hooves. Too funny!

There's also a religious fanatic named Peretta Jones running around. She's played by Yael Stone (from "Orange Is The New Black"). It turns out Peretta had the basic situation correct (except the part about the unbelieving NOT ending up in Hell). Interestingly, according to a reader of the book (full disclosure: I haven't read it), the Bible did not point to the visitors as demons we had encountered in a PAST experience. Instead humans have a collective premonition of the species that will destroy our world in the FUTURE. I'm not sure exactly how that works.  

After some twenty years of tranquility, things start to change. Karellen visits Ricky again. He has some bad news but we don't know the specifics. And this is where the show starts to lose me. A lot of time is spent on the Greggson family. Amy is preggo. She and hubby Tom end up at a gala thrown by Dr Boyce. Karellen is a guest. He lures Amy to a weird device the aliens sent to earth. It looks like an electronic Ouija board. She stands on the device and Karellen babbles something cryptic. This scene didn't work for me. Why spend this much energy on a common Earth woman?

Baby Jennifer is born. She has mysterious powers. Children amass and stand outside her house. The Greggsons finally flee to New Athens (the only city left on earth that's not under alien control).

The Overlords plan to transfer a number of animals to their alien zoo in the sky. Milo hides in the cargo thanks to help from Rachel. He is basically vacuum sealed (and hides between the tentacles of a giant squid). The process looks very painful by Milo is committed to the truth. He is going to figure out what is going on once and for all.  

Over in New Athens, it's movie night. Everyone is enjoying the movie until Karellen appears on the screen. He says no more children will be born on Earth. All the current children levitate into the sky rapture style (never to be seen again). Good riddance I say. Those kiddies were getting annoying. All kidding aside, that was a powerful scene where all the parents tried to save their children. On a side note, I was confused by the scene of all the people around a big rock. This was meant to show us that the children amassed there for some ten years before departing (at least that's how it worked in the book). Sorry I didn't get that.   

Back in Missouri Ricky dies in his field with Ellie alongside him. He was poisoned by some material on Karellen's ship. Karellen gave Ricky the option of staying forever in the dreamlike hotel suite with his first wife Annabelle. This is how Karellen first appeared to him. Instead Rick wanted to spend his remaining time with his second wife Ellie. Before passing he tells her he loved her best.  

Milo wakes up some 40 years in the future and meets another alien named (who gives Milo the scoop despite his broken English). It turns out Karellen was telling the truth about being a servant. He just carries out the plans of the "Overmind Of All Creation" (which is apparently the collective consciousness of the universe). This is all too heady for me. Why and how are the children absorbed into "God"? Are the children aware of what is happening? We definitely needed some explanation here.

Milo requests to go back home to witness the end of Earth. I would have instead opted to stay on the spaceship... but that's just me. And now we know what the first scene of the series was about. Earth is destroyed. Everyone is dead. Grumpy Cat would be pleased with this ending.

Favorite Quotes:
  • "Welcome to the golden age of man."- Ricky and Karellen.
  • "Your children are no longer yours. In time they will cease to be human."- Karellen.
  • "We are facilitators-- midwives if you will. At the birth of the new evolution of man."- Karelllen to Ricky.
  • "I see all. I am all. The end begins."- Jennifer to Milo.

Grade: 3 3/4 Monsters (out of 5). Not a terrible mini series but not a great one either. Some things works and some didn't. The special effects were excellent. Bonus points for Ricky's house being dismantled by the alien orb and our brief peek at the Overlords home planet. I wish we could have stayed longer.

The show however should have been condensed into one or two episodes (instead of three). There were WAY too many filler scenes which left me bored. I could have done with fewer scenes of children staring and pointing. Again, boring. And what's the big deal with Jennifer? Wasn't there an easier way to bring about the removal of all the children? How about ya just beam them up to start with?

Showing us the final scene with Milo at the BEGINNING of the mini series did not work in my opinion. After watching six plus hours of "Childhood's End", I didn't care if the inhabitants were saved or not. Kudos though for not given us the typical cheery ending that American audiences expect.

Extra bonus points for Big Red Devil Karellen. Everything about him worked (including not revealing his appearance until later). If Karellen sounds familiar he's played by Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister from "Game of Thrones"). Perfect casting! 

The mythology around the visitors was also compelling. It's heavy stuff but I wish they had spent more time on why we view such creatures as demons.  

All in all, there were a few thought provoking themes here but not enough to keep me coming back. On a positive note, I'd like to see Karellen make some crossovers on other shows. I just love that big red guy!  

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World According To GMonster
TV: Heavy On Sci Fi, Horror & Adventure; Light On Reality


December 20, 2015

Childhood's End Episodes 1-3 Reviews: The Devil You Know (Mini Series) Reviewed by GMonsterTV on 7:28 PM Rating: 5 The three part mini series "Childhood's End" aired on SyFy last week. It is based on Arthur C Clarke's book by the sa...

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