Fox // 1994 // 455 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 16th, 2008
Pass the weasel frappe!
Before this Alien Nation: Ultimate Movie Collection mega-set, I never had any exposure to the Alien Nation franchise. I vaguely remember commercials of the series, but the only thing that stayed with me is that the aliens and weird heads. So here now is a massive dose of the mythology -- five TV movies chronicling the fates of the extraterrestrial Tenctonese and their assimilation into future Los Angeles.
Our story so far: five years ago, an interstellar slave ship carrying 250,000 Tenctonese landed on Earth, where they disembarked and joined the human race. Now the so-called Newcomers roam around the city, contributing to society, working productive jobs and eating lots and lots of gross stuff. As they struggle to fit in and embark on successful lives, they discover that many humans are welcoming, but a few -- the Purists -- want to see them killed. It's tough having a striped and mottled cranium.
Following the single season the show aired (that itself sprung from the James Caan feature film of the same name), this batch of made-for-TV movies were unleashed.
A band of Overseers -- the slave-lords that were running the ships of Tenctonese through the galaxy -- stumbles upon the whereabouts of their former slaves, now inhabiting Earth. Ahpossno, a bad-ass Overseer operative who knows karate, is dispatched to Earth on a scouting mission. He is shocked to see the cohabitation of the aliens and the humans and immediately lays his plans to bring the Overseer ship back to Earth and stock it with the Newcomers and a new batch of slaves -- humans!
So L.A. detective Matt Sikes (Gary Graham ) and his Tenctonese partner Francisco (Eric Pierpoint) suspect that this guy's bad news and even through everyone else thinks Ahpossno is the bee's knees, eventually they'll be forced to go toe to toe with him and maybe, if they're lucky, prevent the enslavement if the human race.
Body and Soul
A mysterious child turns up out of nowhere and just might be the first ever human/Newcomer hybrid. But screw that. This is the hard-hitting Alien Nation TV movie that tackles dirty interspecies sex and Tenctonese masturbation.
Back to this freak kid. Apparently, back on the ship, a real twisted Overseer named Chorboke @#$%ed around with Tenctonese genetic experimentation and earned himself a reputation as a true dickhead. And it looks like he's behind all this crap with the hybrid child.
The year 2000 is five days away and things are getting crazy in "future" Los Angeles. Suicides and general unrest and malfunctioning microwaves are the order of the day, but there is something far more dangerous lurking within the mysteries of the Newcomer religion.
Much to the chagrin of Francisco, his wide-eyed idealistic son Buck has gotten sucked into the clutches of a cult that is fleecing its followers for money. But it's not a light bank account that worries Francisco and Sikes -- it's the murderous intent of the cult leaders.
The Enemy Within
So what's the deal with all these Eenos? When one of these lower-tier Newcomers -- known primarily as subterranean filth-eaters -- is capped, Francisco must confront his own raging bias against these cellar-dwellers. As he and Sikes delve further into the murder, they reveal an illicit Eeno baby-smuggling ring.
Meanwhile, Sikes and his Newcomer gal-pal Cathy move in together and realize that any relationship takes work, and a demented alien-human tryst is no different. Also George is considering giving birth to the janitor's baby.
The Udara Legacy
Someone's up to malfeasance, implanting hypnotic suggestions into typically nice Tenctonese, and forcing them to commit horrendous crimes including hostage-taking and presidential candidate assassination attempts. Francisco thinks that this is all connected to the Udara, a group of extremist Newcomers that would employ vicious tactics to rebel against the Overseers.
Meanwhile, on the homefront, Buck Francisco has shocked his family by announcing his intent to join the police academy and follow in his father's footsteps.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Having never seen either feature film or the series (which was over in a heartbeat), my familiarity with the Alien Nation mythology was nil. However, five made-for-TV movies later, I can see why the scenario would appeal to scifi geeks. The concept is unique and ripe for social commentary, as blunt as it can be sometimes, and the storylines are interesting. Plus, there's a happy amount of slime and gunplay and alien karate.
In fact, these movies are essentially cop procedurals, laced of course with semi-righteous science fiction, but each involves Francisco and Sikes investigating something that invariably turns into something huge. Ironically enough, all this wacky stuff goes down in Sikes and Francisco's district, but whatever.
I found all the movies entertaining, but preferred them in the following order:
Cool Newcomer-on-Newcomer martial artistry, some bodacious early '90s proto-CGI, a deeper peek into Tenctonese history and a biological weapons conspiracy make for the most entertaining 90 minutes of the lot.
Body and Soul
The mystery behind the weird little girl turns out to be quite clever. Bonus points for the implosion bomb.
The Enemy Within
This one gets the award for being the most @#%ed up of the set. Aborted Tencton fetuses, slime mutants that lay eggs and candid talk about male pregnancy -- rock on!
The Udara Legacy
The plot is ripped straight out of The Naked Gun and the home life stuff is forced, but the finale is decent.
My least favorite of the bunch by far. The cult angle is corny and the ending is anticlimactic and bipolar Buck irritates throughout.
The films arrive on a nice set. The attractive packaging gives way to three discs (double-sided, unfortunately) that house the features preserved in their original full-frame aspect ratio and 2.0 stereo audio. Though not mindblowing, the transfers are clean.
A good selection of extras are pinned to the set: audio commentaries on each film, four making-of featurettes, gag reels, still galleries and, the highlight, a retrospective with the actors.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 455 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Making-of Featurettes
* Gag Reels
* Cast Retrospective
* Still Galleries
* DVD Verdict Review - Alien Nation
* DVD Verdict Review - Complete Series