What’s missing from War of the Worlds…

One glaring omission from the opening titles.

War of the Worlds has got sci-fi fans watching on SBS with its brand new take on a classic tale.

Yet despite its familiar name, the series created by Howard Overman offers no on-screen credit to writer H. G. Wells.

Wells published the story in 1898 and died in 1946 (meaning the work is legally out of Copyright).

Studio Canal, via SBS, said in a statement, “War of the Worlds draws inspiration from H.G Wells’ novel but given the television series deviates from the plot and does not resemble the book, H.G Wells is not referenced in the credits.”

But is it reasonable to use the title, where there is no on-screen credit to the original author?

Entertainment lawyer Shaun Miller of Shaun Miller Lawyers tells TV Tonight, “It’s odd that the producers did not include a credit such as ‘based on a story by’ or ‘inspired by’, as the title of the show indicates that the producers want potential viewers to believe just that.”

He added, “One might recall Shakespeare asking ‘What’s in a name?’ In this case, the answer would be: a degree of confusion and crossed-wires!”

War of the Worlds – Letter of intent from Howard Overman
“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus
first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the American Indians.”
– Stephen Hawking
This quote from Stephen Hawking was as much an inspiration for this new version of War of
the Worlds as H.G. Wells’ original novel. I wanted to explore the idea that just like H. G.
Wells’ aliens, mankind has an almost limitless capacity to destroy those it views as inferior
or different.

14 Responses

  1. My wife and I have enjoyed the 3 eps aired so far and are looking forward to the upcoming eps. It seems that there’s a 2nd season yet to air (source: IMDb).

    Studio Canal say that the series draws inspiration from H G Wells’ novel, but I can also see inspiration being drawn from John Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’. In Triffids, most of the world’s population was blinded by a meteor shower that enveloped the Earth at the time of the arrival of the Triffids; whereas, in War of the Worlds, most people are killed on the arrival of the aliens – other than those in protected environments.

    Yes, it is a bit of a slow-burner (but with much more pace than Les Revenants), but right now in ‘Lock Down City Mk 2’, I’d probably find exciting an SBS slow-TV ep of grass growing played in slo-mo.

  2. I have a confession to make. I’ve never read the novel or watched any TV/film versions. Having watched the first three episodes on SBS on Demand, I actually enjoyed it a lot.

    1. The 1953 Hollywood film was a much shown sight on TV for decades here and the 2000s Tom Cruise one appears once or twice a year now at least-the current TV production has nothing to do with the original story-just another alien invasion story of the type seen in dozens of films and series.

    2. Try and get hold of the original Orson Welles radio play if you can (it’s on Spotify – The War Of The Worlds Original 1938 Broadcast). It’s something to behold. And also the Jeff Wayne musical soundtrack.

    1. A patent is for a unique invention and has been extended to 20 years.
      The US keeps extending copyright to protect Mickey Mouse, it’s currently 70 years after the death of the author, which is way to too long but still doesn’t cover 19th Century books.

      1. Advertising agencies buy up old out of copyright music cheaply and use them in advertisements like Nina Simone’s ‘My Baby Just cares for Me’. Classic titles from books out of copyright can be used again in much the same way, though the ending for this Sky/Canal+ production has a different twist to the H.G.Wells original.

        1. The twist was to set up S2, (they greenlit the scripts for S2 the day after the first eps aired). It’s only based on the general idea of Well’s story. Which is probably why they didn’t mention him, to avoid upsetting fans of the novel. Everyone can make the link from the title anyway.

          Most commonly ads buy the royalties to s song, then have someone unknown do a version. Except tech companies who like to show they can splash out.

  3. I like the idea of ‘inspired by’ as it offers a quiet nod to the creator and allows the producers of the new production the flexibility to create their story. Original fans will critique until the cows come home however newbies might just spot the name H. G. Wells and seek out his original works. So a win, win for all.

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