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'Wells' a Good Start for Hallmark

7/29/2001 8:00 PM Eastern

To some, the name H.G. Wells conjures up images of flying saucers and Martians invading the Earth, à la The War of the Worlds.

To others, it's Claude Rains as the demented scientist in The Invisible Man,
or the battles between the "Morlocks" and "Eloi" in the distant future, an example of class warfare run amok in The Time Machine.

Each tale has held up over time, and filmmakers and television producers constantly return to this wellspring of ideas for new stories, building on what the Victorian-era writer first imagined over a century ago. Films such as Independence Day
and Hollow Man
are simply interpretations of the novels The War of the Worlds
and The Invisible Man.

The upcoming Hallmark Channel miniseries The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells
— a "signature event" for the former Odyssey Network — dramatizes six of Wells' lesser known, yet provocative short stories.

Infinite Worlds
drags in places, but manages to relate the crux of Wells' ideas with a quiet flair. Airing in three parts over consecutive nights, it is quite unlike much of today's science-fiction fare.

The Victorian London setting, contemplative style and refreshingly charming personalities of the three leads handily move us through the various plots.

Tom Ward (Quills) and Katy Carmichael (Scarlett) star as Wells and his beloved wife, Jan, and form the charming center of this series of stories. Eve Best (Shackleton) plays Ellen McGillvray, a reporter who looks up the 80-year-old writer in order to discover what lies behind his prophetic visions.

Told in flashback form, the story opens in post-war England, where McGillvray visits the 80-year-old Wells, seeking the truth behind certain events in his life.

The brainchild of producer Nick Willing (Jason and the Argonauts), who reportedly spent 20 years researching Wells' short stories, the miniseries includes six tales that touch upon themes familiar to fans of the genre.

Brownlow's Newspaper,
a moralistic tale involving "temporal mechanics", reveals the early use of a concept seen frequently in Star Trek. The New Accelerator

contains a favorite theme of Wells: the use and misuse of technology by an ambitious scientist, who lives nearly his entire lifetime in the blink of an eye. In The Stolen Bacillus
an anarchist intends to poison London's water supply, reflecting Wells concern for technological and ecological terrorism.

The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells
airs Aug. 5 to 7 on the Hallmark Channel.

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