The Martian Chronicles

1980 | United States

With the popularity of the mini-series in America during the later years of the 1970s it was only a matter of time before television makers turned to the genre of science fiction as a source of drama. 

NBC-TV made two series of this type; the first was Brave New World adapted from Aldous Huxley's novel of the same name and the second was also adapted from a book: Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (known in the UK as The Silver Locusts), first published in 1950. 

The story dealt with man's colonisation of the planet Mars and the title refers, not to the indigenous species, but to Mankind, who arrive on the planet in silver rockets that blight the beautiful Martian landscape. The book then deals with the deliberate destruction of the Martian way of life. The book was adapted into a teleplay by Richard Matheson who had written scripts for The Twilight Zone, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Star Trek

The main character in the TV version, Colonel Wilder, played by Rock Hudson, was not so central to the plot in the original novel and although he led the first mission to Mars (as in the TV version) he was killed as he attempted to explore other regions of the solar system. The series was originally scheduled for broadcast over three consecutive nights during September 1979 but internal politics at NBC meant it was delayed until January 1980. 

Although received well by viewers and critics, the series did not bring about a flood of science fiction series and it wasn't until V came along in the mid-1980s that the genre was successfully tried again.

Published on January 3rd, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.