The alien invasion is a Hollywood staple arguably as timeless as cinema itself. For decades enterprising minds have worked to create on-screen realities that attempt to answer what such an invasion would look like and how humanity would react if extra-terrestrial life were to one day find its way to Earth. While these efforts have sometimes portrayed alien beings as friendly, the cinematic history of space creatures visiting earth has typically resulted in tales of disaster.
Despite this lengthy legacy of alien encounter filmmaking, there appears to be no let up in sight for the classic trope. Rather, with television and streaming on demand services currently what they are, a booming medium is taking on the genre and producing results that so far, have been mixed. Series such as Colony and the return of The X-Files have engaged viewers to some degree and this is perhaps what is now spurning MTV on to take the chance at revamping one of the oldest and most famous alien invasion stories ever told.
According to Deadline, MTV has begun developing a new TV series based on the classic 1898 science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. The series will have a contemporary setting and is being written by Andrew Cochran, whose previous writing duties included Teen Wolf, another MTV property. At present there is no word on exactly when the series is expected to air or how true to the original story this new adaptation will be.
The War of the Worlds has been one of the most recycled alien invasion stories ever told. It became something of a phenomenon in 1938 when legendary filmmaker Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) recited a radio play of the novel for Halloween, portraying the entire event as a realistic, ongoing invasion of Earth by alien forces. The end result produced hysteria in many who’d believed it was a real account, followed by anger for being deceived in such a manner once it was revealed that the entire thing had been a hoax. Beyond the radio drama, Steven Spielberg is the most recent filmmaker to have taken the story on, with his 2005 adaptation that starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning.
Though MTV isn’t in the same league as some of the bigger, more reliable networks and streaming giants, they have been able to produce a string of hits that tends to target a younger demographic. The network’s work on the Scream TV adaptation has created a decent, if not slightly flawed reworking of the cult horror franchise and the recent arrival of The Shannara Chronicles has already gotten off to a promising start. The problem is that in attempting to appeal to a younger audience that may not already be familiar with The War of the Worlds, MTV might dilute or significantly alter a story that already feels perfect to many.
While fans of The War of the Worlds might be wishing that someone other than MTV had taken on the story, i.e.: Netflix or Amazon, it’s always best to see what MTV can do with the property before passing judgement. Any sci-fi series is going to have to go head to head with the likes of Stranger Things – a daunting prospect if ever there was one – but if the ongoing TV revolution has taught us anything, it’s that there’s often more than enough room for new and interesting takes on genres or stories that have been around for ages.
Screen Rant will keep you up to date on all the latest news for MTV’s War of the Worlds.