CHILDHOOD's END on Syfy, A Quick Start to A Slow Ending

Childhood's End TV mini-seris review

There are many out there that are Arthur C. Clarke novel fans and admittedly he's put out some fantastic reading content. And I'm sure that the 1953 novel version of Childhood's End was as gripping as it was meant to be. But then along came Syfy.

The short TV review of the mini-series is as follows:

The first two-hours were quite gripping and if they had packed all six hours into three or four, this would have been a perfect addition to any DVD collection.

But no, we had to make it a six-hour journey, over half that journey was experiencing a few characters past lives and influential events that brought them to this point.

Which is usually good in most cases, but in this case, the character influences were drawn way out, too many were injected and the tedium distracted me from the overall story.

I say that because I was hurting for this story to start developing itself into the final resolution. I wanted to see the story move forward, not continually backwards.

By the time it did resolve out, I almost did not care... just end already!

BUT, if you watch the first two hours, the first half of hour three, then the last hour, you should be good.  (If you're impatient about actual story development like I can be sometimes.)


Syfy is keeping its promise from a few years ago to creating more sci-fi content once they got some money and content under their belt. I admire that.

Some of that content is original to the network, like this adaptation of Clarke's novel.

I've seen book fans generate opinions about the show that range from sad, not detailed enough to glossed over and too many added details.

Syfy made Childhood's End a six-hour mini-series event, and to be honest, I am impressed they got six hours out of the story they delivered, because frankly, this would have been perfect as a four-hour miniseries.

If they had compacted it down, this would have left me wanting more. And don't get me wrong, I do want to know more, but not at the price I just paid.

Let me spell out the story a bit...

The outline/plot goes like this:  "After peaceful aliens invade earth, humanity finds itself living in a utopia under the indirect rule of the aliens, but does this utopia come at a price?"

Remember the title is Childhood's End, and I'm not sure that Childhood refers to the children of Earth or how the life-span of humanity could be viewed.


SPOILERS TO FOLLOW if you do not know the story


The series stars Mike Vogel, fresh off his Under The Dome stint, Osy Ikhile, Daisy Betts, Colm Meaney (Hell on Wheels), Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck, Fantastic Four), and a few other alien victims.

The series opens with humanity being brought to a grinding halt, where electronics quit, airplanes are stopped in mid-air, then placed gently on the ground.The world is not sure what's going on, but it is evident, considering that no one was harmed during the appearance, that the aliens mean well.

They pick Vogel's character to be their spokesperson because he is easy to listen to and has a very pragmatic and objective perspective on things. (That and they must have taken pity on him for having been in Under the Dome.)

We never initially see the keeper of Earth, Karellen, voiced by Charles Dance, because it was too early for humanity to see him.  But over a period of a dozen or more years, all war and disease is brought to a standstill and humanity is living it's golden dream.

Then suddenly things change.


EVEN MORE, story ending spoilers to ensue:

One fact becomes clear early on, and that is that humanity was on the verge of intergalactic exploration, (or the beginning of it. Not wanting to see a Star Trek universe break out,) Karellen and gang show up, and say it only once or twice that man was about to start exploring the stars, which is why they showed up.

Which may seem like a clue that they did not want the threat or competition out there, so they showed up with their (very) superior technology and put us in our place.

But things are so awesome with no crime, violence, war or disease, many accept the aliens existence.

Colm Meaney's character, despite all the positives, sees this for what it is, an invasion. He equated it to when pigs are made to happily trot out into the slaughter house truck... they WANT to get into the truck and they are happy about it. Until that final click/thunk that ends their lives.

But his life is ended when he does something unacceptable, to the Overlords, as we call them.

Then Julian McMahon's character is one of the last visages of science and research, and he goes along with what the Overlords want, just to be able to keep a close eye on them and their goings on.

It's obvious that scientific innovation has become stagnant, considering the Overlords provide all that we need. yet despite the fact that whenever Karellan is asked good questions about their intent, he never answers them, but rather, blatantly redirects them into statements about the benefits his race has brought.

The biggest danger sign or clue and religious tie-in that hits the viewer is that this alien race, once they decide to show themselves, looks pretty spot on as the devil. HELLOOO!? Bible...  "Danger Wil Robinson, Danger!"

No, seriously, they are bright red, have goat legs, hooves, tails, wings, that horned head... they're spot perfect stand-ins for the bad guy in the 1985 Tom Cruise starring film, Legend.

But by then, it's too late and everyone, though stunned, continues to drink the punch.

And so too, is humanity led blindly along for quite a few more years until suddenly adults can no longer have children and the children are acting weird. Then the children float off into space to become one with the collective controller that sent these devil aliens and the Earth ends.

Just like that.

Our childhood, as a species, has ended.

SO with that in mind, the dramatic ending to our species should have shocked me, but all it did for me was say, whew, it's finally over.

There were a lot of religious undertones (If you want to see Yael Stone without her Orange is the New Black accent, you will see her here.) throughout, and the obvious theme that we'll take what we get if it's easy... and never ask questions.

In short: shorter, more succinct, would have made Childhood's End an awesome mini-series.

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