And with that Syfy’s adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novel of ideas Childhood’s End comes to a close with a whimper, not a bang. Oh, it tries to be a bang, but it falls far short. For what it is, I suppose it’s okay. It’s not Childhood’s End except in the vaguest of terms. Aliens that look like Devils arrive and usher in a Golden Age, then all the children develop psychic powers and transcend physical reality. Those are the broad strokes, and they’re in there. And in this final episode, we do have a character stowaway on a ship to the Overlord’s home planet, see some shit, and come home to witness the death of Earth. But the tone is all wrong. The narrative focus has nothing whatsoever to do with Childhood’s End. We watch as Ricky Stormgren (Mike Vogel) dies of some sort of horrible radiation poisoning/cancer even though the Overlords were able to synthesize a cure four years earlier. I guess nobody could be tasked with replicating that bit of medical magic. You know, the medical magic that makes illness practically non-existent in this paradise? It’s the sort of fundamental stupidity for the sake of melodrama that keeps Childhood’s End from really being anything other than a slight distraction to be forgotten a soon as it’s over. A story about the transcendence of reality and our children becoming one with a universal Overmind is backburnered and kind of a distraction while we watch characters who were never in the novel worry about who their true loves are and learn that it’s a really dumb idea to travel across the stars while your loved ones die on Earth while you’re gone. The romantic elements of this miniseries were maybe deemed necessary to engage an audience, but they were routinely the things that caused Childhood’s End to suffer and ultimately fail as an adaptation. Not that there weren’t effective moments in this episode. It was nice to see the awakening of the children and the emotional effect of their abandonment of their families, but we really didn’t need to cap that with a dirty bomb explosion or whatever it was that Hipster Mayor built to kill everyone in New Athens when the children with airborne. I understand that this part of the story was left vague in the novel, but surely there was a better way to send off the adults than this? And I could even understand if the bomb was an isolated incident and then we saw what happened around the world, but we don’t. Hipster Mayor’s nuke goes off and that’s that. Then we’re off with Milo (Osy Ikhile) in space for a remarkably underwhelming visit to the Overlords’ homeworld. And hey, look at that! It looks like Hell. And apparently they forgot to even give lip service to the why the Overlords look like humanity’s eon-long obsession with horned, winged devils. For a moment there, though, I thought they could salvage this. They introduced more Overlords and they didn’t suck. They introduced the idea of the Overmind who tasks them with midwifing planets into transcendence – they just don’t do anything with the idea. In the novel, the Milo analogue sees all he can really comprehend and reaches the limits of human understanding when confronted by the concept of the Overmind. He doesn’t have a chat with it. A ridiculous chat that makes him realize he left love behind on Earth. He sees a manifestation of the Overmind, can’t handle it, and NEEDS to get out of there and go home. Because human minds are limited. We tempt madness when confronted with things beyond our comprehension. This is what makes Lovecraft’s work so satisfying and it’s something that Clarke hints at in Childhood’s End. There are things beyond our limited grasp. And after a hundred plus years of ideal conditions, we might produce a generation capable of exceeding our grasp. Having the entire story take place in around twenty five years of so (from the first appearance of the Overlord ships) really undercuts the believability of the entire project. I mean, in the novel it was 50 years before Karellen even revealed himself, much less before we had a generation of children manifesting psychic powers. All in all, Childhood’s End is an okay show, particularly if you’re not familiar with the novel. It’s dumbed down and romanticized, emphasizing love stories over science fiction, but in the end it at least pays lip service to the events of the novel, if completely failing to communicate the themes and meanings behind said events. If you like people dying for love and realizing love too late, with a dash of wonky CG devil people and a couple of alien landscapes thrown in for fun, then this might be what you’re looking for to distract you from… um, something for a while. If you’re looking for an adaptation of Childhood’s End that actually captures the feel and the philosophy of the novel, then just keep walking. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.