"Childhood's End" is Syfy's adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's legendary novel of the same name about alien beings who come to the Earth for humanity's aid, proposing an end to disease, war, and injustice above all; a world where everyone is equal and peace rings true across the world. Like any adaptation, though, there are changes (and often times additions) to the story, but here, only one change hinders this otherwise massive and bold story.
Childhood's End takes place over many years, eventually decades, beginning with the arrival of the beings soon to be deemed "the Overlords," who start to change the world and everything in it for the better. Karellen, one of the Overlords, is the supervisor of Earth, and promises all will be well, but also refuses to show his true appearance, as it will not be accepted (which turns out to be a good decision). But, as this "Golden Age of Man" continues, there are those who believe it to be a ruse for some other nefarious goal, and events are set in motion that will affect the course of humanity.
What sets Childhood's End apart from all those other "alien invasion" movies and TV shows, is the journey and the destination of the story. I will not spoil any big details here, but suffice to say, if you're looking for something that's as intelligent as it is boldly epic, watch this. Syfy put everything into this sweeping epic, from the gorgeous visuals to the (mostly) smart script. One thing that, while I understand frustration over, makes sense for adapting the story to suit the timeframe change, and that's changing Ricky Stormgren from a retired UN secretary general to an everyman farmer living in rural America. The reason behind this isn't so the writers could get away with writing in a subplot involving his fiancee and a deceased ex whose memory is brought back into the fold. No, the reason is because the government of today isn't looked upon with as kind and understanding of eyes anymore. In 1953, war had just ended, literally. Today, if a man without any bias or restraint, without (ironically) oversight was given the responsibility to be the intermediary between us and benevolent aliens, I think people would listen to someone like that more than a government official. The other human characters differ; some are compelling, others are occasionally bland, but it is Milo Rodericks who is absolutely brilliant, played by Osy Ikhile in an award-worthy performance. Karellen, portrayed by Charles Dance, is jaw-dropping and beyond words in how truly phenomenal his presence is. When you see him, it's almost unbelievable how real Karellen's "true appearance" looks, with a combination of CG and practical effects (more makeup was used than CG, by the way).
Honestly, there isn't much I can say about Childhood's End without revealing what the trailers haven't already, and doing so would ruin this sad tale. It is one hell of an experience, especially how Syfy adapted such an astounding and outstanding piece of literature (not just science fiction) from 1953, but still managed to keep the big questions and philosophical touches intact within the miniseries, even if buried a bit beneath unnecessary but entertaining filler. Please, I ask whoever is reading, if you haven't seen it already, watch it as soon as possible. Unless you're a hardcore science fiction fan, you might not love It as much as I did, but at least watch it for the direction, the design, and for the questions asked by the journey we're taken on with the Overlords. You won't forget where it all leads, and to those who have read the book, the final act is perfection.