A couple of these may be a bit long, so bear with me ...
BBC - War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds is the story that I credit with kicking off my love of Sci-Fi, way back when I was about 13, when I read the novel for the first time (of many). So I have a very strong bond with the story. Add to that fact that I live five miles from the original story's location, and I grew up listening to (and loving) Jeff Wayne's powerful and faithful musical version of it, I think it's fair to say that I have a slightly obsessive relationship with War of the Worlds, and I get oddly protective about it.
Written in 1896, the original novel is a story of the space-age technical might of the martians against the proto-industrial helplessness of the humans. 'Bows and arrows against the lightning'. HG Wells invented the laser beam before it even existed. He hypothesised life on other planets before that was even a 'thing'. He even dispatched the martians with bacteria which were still a little known and little understood theory back in those days. The man was a visionary and a bonafide genius.
Which is why when, aside from Jeff Waynes's amazing work, all versions of of War of the Worlds that are set - usually in the US (sorry American chums, no offence) - and in the modern day, they completely miss the point of the original story. We live in an age of scientific advancement, with bombs that can obliterate an entire city, and nuclear weapons that we can send into space. Where's the menace and the helplessness, compared to the human race in 1896 when the most deadly weapon that existed was a cannon?
So when the BBC announced that they were producing a mini series of war of the Worlds that was set in Woking, England in Victorian times, I was euphoric.
The trailer looked amazing and the promotional stills were awesome so I was like a dog with two tails - I didn't know what to wag first. I figured they might take a few liberties with the story, but ...
... There's taking liberties and there's absolute butchery. Sadly this show was the latter.
George the journalist (the central character) was turned from a hardworking junior journalist who was engaged to his sweetheart, Carrie who, in turn, lived in London caring for her elderly father, to George the recently sacked journalist who was living with his pregnant mistress, Amy. Not that I have a problem with babies and relationships outside of marriage, but this was supposed to be 1896, and it was totally unbelievable.
There was no trace of the poor deluded PTSD-ridden artillaryman, no trace of delirious Parson Nathaniel, and no trace of the 'silent grey Ironclad', Thunder Child doing battle with one of the tripods.
There were a few good moments of drama and tripod interaction, but overall the whole show felt more like a soap opera, full of Amy in some strange post-martian dystopia with George's love child, emoting and angsting and doing very little else of any interest.
I was so, so disappointed, I could have cried. The thing that hurts the most, is that I've waited the best part of my life to see an adaptation faithful to the novel, and if this was supposed to be it, the chances are, it possibly won't happen agan in my lifetime.
HG Wells would be spinning in his grave. :'(
Amazon - Good Omens
When it was announced tat Amazon were releasing Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, starring David Tennant aand Michael Sheen, I thought. 'My favourite author and two of my favourite actors, this has got to be a winner', and thankfully I wasn't wrong!
It was a fantastic little series, faithful to the charm and quirkiness of the book. Michael Sheen made a wonderfully Prissy Azirephale, and David Tennant was his usual brilliant self as the brilliantly Snarky Crowley (pronounced Cro-ley) - yes, confusing, I know :)
It's a long time since I read the book, so I don't remember all of it, but from what I do remember, this was a first-class adaptation full of wit and imagination and weird and wonderful characters.
As soon as I finished watching, I pre-ordered the DVD, and that's the best endorsement I can give!
Sky Atlantic - Chernobyl
This was another series that I was really keen to watch as soon as I found out about it.
I remember the Chernovbyl incident, but obviously, as it happened during the USSR days, very little information was released at the time, so I figured it might throw out some interesting facts, if othing else.
Heartbreaking, harrowing, chilling, disturbing, terrifying, painful ... this show had me reaching for my thesaurus as well as my tissues.
It had to be said that there isn't much in the way of light relief, although there are a couple of short golden moments that raise a smile or even a laugh, and at the end, at the trial of the Chernoby plant's Management, there is a brilliant layman's explanation wth red and blue tiles of how a nuclear power plant works and what went wrong at Chernobyl.
I actually said to Mr D, 'Wow! I actually know what a Positive Void Coefficient is now - I'm going to throw that into a random conversation one day and make myself sound so much cleverer than I am!' (although I've since forgotten how it works).
I'll say no more, but the scenes in the hospital will stay with me forever. :'(
Chernobyl was, shortly after it aired, famously the highest rated show on IMDB. I don't know if that's still the case, but it's still flying high at a not-too-shabby 9.5 out of 10, and tellingly, many of the highest-rated reviews are from people who lived in Ukraine and Belarus at the time of the incident and who compliment the show's research and raw authenticity.
It truly lived up to my eagerness to watch it. I will go so far as to say it was one of the best pieces of TV I've ever watched, and I can't recommend it highly enough.