A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview

Appendix C

Apocalyptic Television

The apocalyptic genre is generally not well suited to television except for telefilms and the occasional mini-series. Still, there have been television series with genuine apocalyptic aspects. The X Files (1993-) has an apocalyptic undercurrent in which the continued existence of the human race is threatened. Other series with alien invaders instigating a possible end of the world include The Invaders (1967-68); War of the Worlds (1988-90), which linked up both the 1953 film and the Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast; and V (1984-85), which actually started as two mini-series in 1984 and 1985 before being crafted into a weekly series. Starlost (1973) was a Canadian series created by Harlan Ellison in which Earth was destroyed and only the inhabitants of one spaceship survived to seek a new home. In an entirely different vein, the 1981 British series, Whoops! Apocalypse, was a satire about the ludicrous chain of events that leads to nuclear war and total destruction. John Cleese of Monty Python fame starred in the show, which also included Barry Morse as the president of the United States. Years later, the show was redone as a feature film with Loretta Swit as the president and a cast including Ian Richardson, Peter Cook and Herbert Lom.

The landmark science fiction series Babylon Five (1994-99) had a unique five-year storyline, the heart of which was an apocalyptic struggle between an ancient race known as the Shadows and an alliance of the civilized worlds of the galaxy, led by Earth and Minbari. After the defeat of the Shadows, the series concluded with several telefilms, the last of which depicted Earth becoming infected with an alien virus which, it is projected, will wipe out the planet in two years unless an antidote is discovered. Gary Cole starred in a short-lived follow-up series, Crusade (1999), in which he led a special team seeking a serum to save Earth.

Apocalyptic elements occasionally crept into individual episodes of numerous series such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-68), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68), Time Tunnel (1966-67), Planet of the Apes (1974) and Seaquest DSV (1993-96). Even The Adventures of Superman (1951-57) had an apocalyptic episode called “Panic in the Sky, ” in which the earth was threatened

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A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Overview: Cinematic Visions of the Apocalypse xi
  • A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema: Fifty Films in Depth 1
  • The 27th Day (1957) 3
  • Armageddon (1998) 10
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) 17
  • Crack in the World (1965) 22
  • The Dawn of the Dead (1978) 27
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) 33
  • The Day the Sky Exploded (1958/61) 40
  • Day the World Ended (1956) 44
  • Deep Impact (1998) 48
  • Deluge (1933) 54
  • Doomsday Machine (1967/72) 59
  • Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 63
  • The End of the World (1930/34) 70
  • Five (1951) 74
  • Holocaust 2000 (1978) 78
  • The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) 83
  • Kronos (1957) 88
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) 93
  • The Last War (1961) 98
  • The Last Wave (1977) 103
  • The Last Woman on Earth (1960) 108
  • Lifeforce (1985) 112
  • The Lost Missile (1958) 117
  • The Magnetic Monster (1953) 122
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) 127
  • Mars Attacks! (1996) 133
  • Meteor (1979) 139
  • Moonraker (1979) 145
  • The Night the World Exploded (1957) 152
  • Noah's Ark (1929) 157
  • No Blade of Grass (1970) 162
  • No Survivors Please (1964) 168
  • One Night Stand (1984) 172
  • On the Beach (1959) 177
  • Quiet Earth (1985) 184
  • Robot Monster (1953) 189
  • Runestone (1991) 194
  • The Satan Bug (1965) 199
  • The Seventh Sign (1988) 205
  • Solar Crisis (1990) 210
  • Star Trek—the Motion Picture (1978) 214
  • Target Earth (1953) 221
  • Them! (1954) 226
  • Virus (1980) 231
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) 238
  • The War of the Worlds (1953) 243
  • When Worlds Collide (1951) 249
  • Where Have All the People Gone? (1974) 255
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) 259
  • Zarkorr the Invader (1996) 265
  • Appendices 269
  • Appendix A 271
  • Appendix B 279
  • Appendix C 283
  • Index 285
  • About the Author 311
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