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Dayout vs Blackout: compare the series to the book

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In order to discuss the book and the series there are going to be spoilers for both here.

The series is a very loose adaptation of John Wyndham's book. About the only commonalities are that those in the village of Midwich in England all blacked out one day and afterwards all of the affected women were pregnant, and one of the main characters has the surname Zellaby. These are not normal human pregnancies and if the women have male partners they are not the fathers. When the children are born it turns out that they share a consciousness and have the ability to force people and animals to do things they don't want to do. They grow and mature more quickly than normal human children. At this point I have seen only the first 4 episodes of the series so I don't yet know what other similarities will emerge.

In the book the incident is referred to as the Dayout and I don't think there were any electrical outages, just human and animal loss of consciousness. In the series there were electrical disturbances and Zoe has referred to it as the Blackout.

The narrator of the book is Richard Gayford, who is really an outsider since he and his wife Janet were away from their home in Midwich when the "Dayout" happened. Janet did not get pregnant and they actually move away from Midwich, so the POV is from Richard visiting and getting updates from the real protagonist, Gordon Zellaby, an older intellectual and writer whose younger second wife and unmarried but recently engaged daughter both find themselves pregnant. It turns out that the wife's pregnancy is natural and she gives birth to a normal human Zellaby child, but the daughter's baby is one of the cuckoos.

It makes sense that a book from 1957 and a TV series from 2022 would have different approaches to the involvement of the government and surveillance, and also in terms of the handling of the pregnancies from a medical perspective. In the book the Zellabys first realise something is wrong because the daughter confides in her stepmother [Angela] that she has not been sexually active and should not be pregnant. Along with the doctor and the local vicar and the rumour mill generally they find that there is a lot of that about -- in addition to married women who assume their pregnancies are normal, some of the women are freaked out because there is no way they should be pregnant, and some of them are freaked out *because* they have been having sex outside of marriage. In both the book and the series they have a town meeting on the subject, but in the book it is organized by the doctor, vicar etc specifically for Angela Zellaby to explain the situation whereas in the TV series the police and government agencies arranged the meeting and did a terrible job until Susannah Zellaby steps up (apparently spontaneously and not as part of a prearrangement) to smooth things over a bit.

Susannah Zellaby in the series seems to fill some of the role of both Gordon and Angela Zellaby in the book, but this recent revelation that she has some kind of sinister history in which she possibly harmed a child doesn't have a parallel in the book I can think of.

In the book it is clear that the children are not biologically related to their mothers and look identical to each other -- most of the townspeople, even the most foolishly doting mothers, cannot tell them apart. In the series they made the decision that the mothers share DNA with the children. I don't know whether they had any deep reason for that change or if it just allowed them more flexibility with diversity in casting. Of course in the books while the babies are still infants they prevent their mothers from taking them away from Midwich or force them to bring them back to Midwich -- but at the same time they do allow the mothers to leave Midwich without them, so one professional woman who was working there at the time abandons her cuckoo and leaves, and Gordon Zellaby's daughter is persuaded to leave with her husband who is posted for work in another town. The children do not try to harm the mothers who desert them as long as their needs are being met by someone. In the series I guess it is not entirely clear, but Sunny and Amrita lived in London for 3 years before Sunny forced Amrita to take her back to Midwich. And then when Amrita tried to take Sunny away from Midwich, we don't know exactly what happened but Amrita was not allowed/forced to leave without Sunny, she wound up dead and her death is giving the children intense nightmares. I don't know whether they would have let Amrita leave if she had been willing to go without Sunny. They didn't simply prevent her from driving away -- at minimum it appears they forced her into a refrigerated van.

It feels to me as if the children's attacks in the books are different from the way they are presented in the series. I think I said in the episode thread that they seem more malicious. In the books they are chiefly presented as (over)reacting in self-defense. So for example one mother accidentally sticks one of the babies with a pin while changing its diaper and it forces her to stick herself with the pin repeatedly. One of the men is abusive and he is forced to punch himself in the face. A dog bit one of the cuckoos, then ran in front of a tractor and was killed; a bull chased them in a field and then drowned itself. A young man accidentally hits one of the cuckoos while driving and then drives into a wall. After the inquest his brother fatally shoots one of the children and is then forced to turn his gun on himself. In all of these cases the children were physically harmed or believed they were in danger of being harmed. In the series the children seem to be punishing people (and Tilly) for upsetting them. Zoe scalded herself for suspecting the children killed the dog and hit her head for refusing to let Hannah stay in their bed. Joe and Nathan injured David on the swing because Curtis made Joe give up his turn to his brother. Is this simply a more modern conception of what constitutes harm, or does the series intentionally making the children more evil? If the children are simply evil, why are they so shaken by Amrita's death?

Another difference between the book and the movie is the hive mind -- in the book there is one shared consciousness for the boys and a separate one for the girls, where in the series there is one shared consciousness for all. This doesn't seem to have any real impact in the story either way and seems like a logical change.

Edited by SomeTameGazelle
adding some thoughts about the children's attacks
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