Friday, February 6, 2009

THE INVADERS - SEASON TWO

THE INVADERS is one of television’s best science fiction series, but is frequently overlooked when the topic comes up because it only ran two seasons (1966-68), and was virtually unseen in reruns.

But it was the first ongoing dramatic series to deal with the concept of alien invasion, and was a clear influence on later series like THE X-FILES. Created by filmmaker Larry Cohen (GOD TOLD ME TO, IT’S ALIVE), it starred Roy THINNES (THE NORLISS TAPES, X-FILES) as David Vincent, the one man on Earth who knows that Earth is being invaded by hostile aliens who can disguise themselves as human beings. Over the course of the series, Vincent tries to prove his case and recruit others to help him mount a resistance to the extraterrestrial infiltration.

I've seen the series dismissed as being formulaic – Vincent uncovers an alien plot, tries to warn the authorities, is ignored, and then foils the plot himself before moving on. But that's really only the first half of the first season. As the series goes on, he manages to convince others of the extraterrestrial threat, and they become his allies. In Season 2, he actually joins a group of "believers," led and financed by a wealthy industrialist. By the end of the series, even the government is convinced, and preparing for war. I wonder what a third season would have been like?

It's a Quinn Martin production, and it feels very much like a sci-fi take on THE FUGITIVE, Martin's popular hit of the same era. But it's influence has been huge, evident most of all in Chris Carter's The X-FILES. (I suppose that's why he got Thinnes to guest star on several episodes.) It was the first ongoing, adult TV drama (as opposed to anthologies like THE OUTER LIMITS) to deal with the idea of an alien takeover, and it did so seriously, without goofy monster suits or inappropriate comic relief.

CBS/Paramount has just released the 1967 second and final season of THE INVADERS on DVD, all 26 episodes on seven discs. The full-frame transfers are near-pristine, with sharp details and solid colors. Each episode features a brief video introduction by star Thinnes, and there is a short interview with the actor on the last disc. This set also includes a commentary track by writer Alan Armer on the episode, "The Peacemaker."

Both seasons are highly recommended.

BUY: The Invaders - The Second Season