Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
The Day They Invaded a Town Called Malice
on 5 February 2008
An atmospheric swirl of a radio adaptation, this is arguably the closest in spirit to Wells' original novel. Appropriately, by updating old HG to the 1950s, with helicopters and Landrovers, the overall effect is to create a "new" John Wyndham story. Manchip-White's script was originally written and produced as a BBC radio series soon after World War 2, and this radio production is actually a reworking of those original scripts, which by 1967 were already 15 years old. I can't say whether there has been any attempts to update the material for the sixties - but as the previous reviewer states, characterisations are very redolent of the immediate post-War era (in fact, in the case of the montage of over-gentlemenly MPs arguing in the Commons, it seems immediately post-Crimean!)
The setting, like Jeff Wayne's later musical version, is the commuter belt of Surrey, and in particular the rather maligned town of Woking. In the original novel, Wells used his new bicycling skills to pick out individual houses (and people) he didn't like and subject them to malicious Martian Heat Ray destruction. One of the many "jokes" within the novel's set up was the Fighting Machines' rather robust idea of town planning (all those quaint Victorian villas we see round Maybury and Horsell today were actually newbuilds - and probably garish ones at that - in 1895). That said, the radio adaptation doesn't strictly need to be in Woking - it could be anywhere on the outskirts of a very powerful city (hence, Orson's incident at Grover's Mill, New Jersey, back in 1938) - but the fact that it happens on the same streets and buildings as the 1898 novel lends it an air of (if this is possible) authenticity.
Finally, a brief word on the music, by David Cain (with an uncreditted input from Delia Derbyshire). Although it may not be Wayne's kaleidoscopic rock soundtrack of ten years later, or anything like it, the hooting and wheezing within the electronic soundtrack has much in common with the way Wells' originally describes the Martian's sounds; certainly, far more than a rock session musician shouting "Ulla!" through a vocoder, anyway.