Last night Syfy dumped its entire 4-hour miniseries of Riverworld in one giant blob of cheesy WTF. I'm guessing this show will never make it to series, but at least it answered some of our burning questions about the afterlife.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Philip Jose Farmer novels that Riverworld is based on, let me sum up. The world ends, but aliens decide for some reason to resurrect every human who has ever lived along a giant river on another planet. Mostly people are resurrected with others from their own time, but a few are scattered randomly throughout - which means modern-day New Yorkers might wake up next to ancient Egyptians. Our heroes, all famous historical figures, go on a quest to find out what the hell the aliens are up to and to prevent history's greatest bad guys from building their evil empires again.
The novels are good fun, especially if you are one of those people who likes books about historical figures thrust into weird situations with each other. But the miniseries, which crams several of the books into its 4-hour span - as well as gratuitously adding characters to the already-swollen cast - feels like it was written by two guys drinking everclear while watching really bad late night reruns on Syfy. Which is actually kind of awesome, especially when you add in a shirtless Helo and sopping-wet Gaeta.
My two favorite bits from the miniseries were little infodumps. Like, for example, when we discover that everybody's brains have been rewired to speak English (though non-native speakers have accents, and sometimes throw in funny foreign words).
Hello?! First of all, English is not the most commonly spoken language on Earth - that honor goes to Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Second of all, these are people from throughout time, not just the present day. Modern-day English didn't even exist when our random nun was alive. She should have been speaking Chaucerian English, maybe. But my overarching point is: WTF??? If the aliens can rewire everybody's brains, why is it easier to do it with English? Why not rewire everybody to speak Alien?
But things get even better when Evil Spanish Dictator Guy (whose brain rewiring includes a few Spanish phrases just so we know he's foreign) gives Helo the old infodump about how awesome he was when he conquered Peru. And then Helo delivers the WORST LINE EVER. Seriously, what? Poor Helo.