The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (2001)
Years beyond his time, the grandfather of science fiction was writing about
alien invasions, submarines, and space travel long before man ever thought of
walking on the moon. This miniseries by Hallmark traverses into the imaginary
world of such a man, introducing us to delightfully eccentric characters and
wonderfully imaginative stories along the way.
Approached one stormy evening by a journalist seeking to write about his younger
years, author H.G. Wells (Tom Ward) reminisces about his youthful adventures
into the paranormal. A struggling writer seeking the attentions of beautiful
scientist Jane Robins (Katy Carmichael), Wells is lured into an exploration of
unusual events when attending a lecture by famed Professor Gibberne (Nicholas
Rowe). In the midst of an experiment, the expensive contraption simply vanishes,
blowing one door off its hinges, sending the professor and his assistant
crashing back into the wall, and accompanied by a magnificent gust of wind that
leaves everyone slightly dazed. Blamed for the loss of the instrument, Gibberne
finds that the only theory remotely plausible is presented by Wells, who gladly
assists him in investigating a series of mysterious events that have recently
occurred on campus.
Mice have disappeared from the laboratories. The clock in the tower was halted
abruptly through the presence of a ball burned completely black, propelled with
such force through the outer wall that it might have been shot with a cannon.
Ghostly visitations in the late evening have more than one professor convinced a
poltergeist is loose. On solving the crime, Gibberne, Jane, and Wells are
involved in other inexplicable events. A glowing rock from outer space that
mesmerizes anyone who draws near to it. A trip into the future and back via a
railway accident. A young man suffering from delusions of being castaway on an
island. A "magical" potion that backfires, and finally, my personal favorite, a
case of intrigue in a race against time to prevent a terrorist from unleashing a
deadly toxin on England.
Cleverly entwining "realistic fiction" with Wells' stories, this miniseries is
remarkable both for its delightful misadventures and the exquisite casting.
Hallmark is known for production values and this series doesn't lack in
wonderful visuals, from Gibberne and Wells talking a walk through a world in
which time has temporarily halted to the creepy vision of an alien being
beckoning the curious to enter its sinister world. Each episode is stand alone
(there are six, shown in three-part segments) but also builds on one another.
One is left with the feeling that this could have been an eventual series had
not the funding been pulled, which is unfortunate since the plot has merit, and
the characters are very likable. Some episodes are more enjoyable than others. I
felt Gibberne was a great asset to the plot and was sorry that he plays a
substantial role in only the first and last installments, with brief cameos in
the others. Ironically, however, the entirety of the story seems to revolve
around him, as it is through a collection of his things that Wells comes to
recall their adventures.
Few content issues intrude, but there are little things worthy of notice. Mild
language is often used (d*mn, and Good Lord!) by primary characters. There is
some violence, the worst being accidental electrocutions and a man being run
over by a cart. The supernatural is discussed (the possibility of ghosts, and
out of body experiences) but never proven. Jane and Wells have an intimate
relationship that eventually leads to them living together without marriage,
something frowned on by various "prudes." They are later married. One scene has
them cuddling in bed. In one of the series' more awkward moments, a truth serum
forces the dean of the college to confess to Professor Gibberne that he has
"feelings" for him. We are left with the professor's expression of horror, but
it still was unnecessary. There were times when it was a little too strange even
for my taste, but overall I found this to be a delightfully eccentric gathering