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Name That Trauma :: Reader Erin M. on a Televised Alien Invasion

August 30th, 2011 by aunt john · 8 Comments

I remember watching a faux TV news broadcast that was live reporting the WAR OF THE WORLDS story — alien invasion, etc. This would have been in the late ’80s, maybe early ’90s. I remember that coming back from every commercial break, there was a disclaimer notifying the viewing audience that the news report wasn’t real. They kept “losing signal” or “losing contact” with their reporters in the field as things got more and more intense — I believe it ended with color bars or snow or something that made it look like the station feed was lost.

I was little — maybe 7 or 8 at the most — when I caught this, so it would have been ’88, ’89 maybe. Scared the bejesus out of me… even though there were the disclaimers, it was SUPER realistic and I was completely freaked out. I know there was a TV series around the same time, but I don’t think this was part of it, unless it was a special episode or maybe some kind of promotion for it.

Can’t find anything on this out there but would love it if you could help me identify it. My boyfriend has followed your site for years, and he suggested I reach out to you — I’m a librarian and I’m kind of embarrassed that my awesome research skills can’t dig anything up on this, so I defer to your considerable expertise.

Thanks!

Erin M.

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Special thanks to reader chopmeup for knowing it was WITHOUT WARNING!

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 chopmeupNo Gravatar // Aug 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Without Warning (1994)?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0XuP1efXG8

  • 2 Nathan WadeNo Gravatar // Aug 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    “Special Bulletin ”
    http://www.amazon.com/Special-Bulletin-Ed-Flanders/dp/B00366IOCQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314725387&sr=8-1

    “We interrupt our regular programming….” TV news cameras cover every moment of the mounting crisis as nuclear-armed terrorists hold the city of Charleston hostage. Their demand: disable all 968 nuclear warheads in the area or face annihilation. Written and produced by thirtysomething creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick and directed by Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond), Special Bulletin tells its desperate, urgent story as if it were a actual newscast. Taped instead of filmed, sprinkled with minor technical and dialogue glitches, the simulation is so realistic that even on-screen disclaimers could not prevent some viewers panicking – and so visceral, so emotionally intense that it earned a number of prestigious awards, including the 1983 Outstanding Drama Special Emmy(r).

  • 3 Binrow The HereticNo Gravatar // Aug 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Don’t know the answer to this one, but I hope it’s identified.

    A few years ago, NPR’s Radiolab did a fascinating show on various War of the Worlds radio broadcasts:
    http://www.radiolab.org/2008/mar/24/

    One great anecdote (probably apocryphal) is that a huge number of people turned the dial at pretty much the exact same time away from an annoying musician on one of the big shows and tuned into the original Mercury Theatre broadcast in the middle of the first attack!

    Another, decidedly not apocryphal, story is of a late-40s broadcast in Ecuador that ended in tragedy.

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 30, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Here is Special Bulletin if it helps….

    thanks for the tip NW

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5395928224148935228

  • 5 NurseKrudNo Gravatar // Aug 30, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    “Without Warning (1994)”

    “Synopsis: H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” is redone as a live TV feed, where network news anchors quickly discovers Earth is being pelted by alien spacecrafts.” When it originally premiered, the movie had warnings during the commercial breaks stating that the film was completely fictional, and that the events were not actually happening.”

  • 6 ChrisNo Gravatar // Aug 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Here’s the ending of Without Warning. Hopefully it jogs the memory (it does end in color bars)…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0XuP1efXG8

    I remember recording this, and watching it before going to school the next morning (I was 16… jeeze I’m old). I don’t remember anything but this ending, and the constant “This is a dramatization” voice-overs before the show started up after every commercial break.

  • 7 ChrisNo Gravatar // Aug 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Shoot, not color bars. I mean static. See? Told you I was old. The brain is going. :)

  • 8 Michael McArthurNo Gravatar // Sep 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    YES! That’s it! Without Warning! Erin M. is my girlfriend and this is exactly what she was looking for! Unfortunately its out of print in every medium and costs something like $200 to get it on dvd through amazon or ebay. You guys rock!

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