Paramount // 1967 // 1336 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // February 27th, 2009
The Nightmare Continues!
There was a time when you couldn't hardly turn on the TV without seeing a "Quinn Martin Production." The Untouchables, The FBI, Barnaby Jones, crime dramas were his forte and that's what makes The Invaders unusual. Done in the typical Quinn Martin style, The Invaders was The Fugitive with aliens, one man alone, trying to prove a fact no one else believes. Series star Roy Thinnes calls it a "study in paranoia" and that pretty much hits the nail on the head. Don't look now, but The Invaders: The Second Season is upon us.
If you should happen to pick up the second season without watching the first, don't worry, each episode starts with a recap of the plot to get you up to speed. Basically, it's this. Architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) -- and they always make a point of reminding you that he's an architect -- is driving home late one night, gets lost, and spots a very cool alien spaceship landing in a field. Like Kevin McCarthy did 10 years earlier, he attempts to warn the world of an impending invasion but no one believes him and he's forced to travel the US, fighting the fight on his own -- mostly.
With the second season came a group of believers who band together with Vincent to help the cause. Since he obviously hasn't been designing many houses, The Believers offer him financial support along with a shoulder to cry on. But you have to wonder with their ties to politics and corporate America if The Believers aren't as evil a force as the Invaders themselves.
There are 26 episodes on this DVD:
"The Saucer" -- Anne Francis from Forbidden Planet guests.
"The Watchers" -- Look for Kevin McCarthy of the similarly themed Invasion of the Body Snatchers
"Valley of the Shadow"
"The Spores" -- a pre-famous Gene Hackman in one of my favorite episodes of the season
"Summit Meeting: Part I" -- Michael Rennie of The Day the Earth Stood Still guests.
"Summit Meeting: Part II"
"The Captive" -- Now it's Dana Wynter from Invasion of the Body Snatchers
"The Believers" -- Featuring a very young Carol Lynley
"The Ransom" -- And here's an even younger Karen Black
"The Miracle" -- Ed Asner guests
"The Life Seekers"
"The Pursued" -- Suzanne Pleshette returns after her first season appearance.
We're of two science fiction minds in my household. My husband enjoys what I consider to be "slow moving" sci-fi such as Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001, and thus, The Invaders. Me? Not so much.
I remember seeing the show when I was a child, and it scared the bejeppers out of me because the aliens looked just like us so there was no way to tell if you were standing next to a monster. I also remember being really bored. Upon watching the series again this past week, my attitudes have changed...some. I don't find the show in the least bit scary and I understand now why I was bored back then. Despite being a show about an alien invasion, the action elements are few and far between. As far as special effects go, you won't see many of those either except for the occasional alien turning into a glowing glob upon death. Unlike what we've been taught, these aliens don't appear to have any special powers, and their only consistent weapon is a spinning disc that causes your brain to bust when it's pressed against your neck. No super speed, no laser eyes, no ability to transport at will. Snore.
Having said that, aliens with no special powers are truly terrifying in Invasion of the Body Snatchers but despite a similar plot line, it just doesn't work here. The trouble may lie in the fact that this is a weekly series and not a two-hour movie. Individual episodes of the series are entertaining enough but when you string them together the plausibility factor drops exponentially.
First off, the aliens are an intelligent race of beings with a seemingly unlimited ability to position themselves in seats of power all over the United States and yet they can't kill one man. Vincent is captured by the aliens on numerous occasions but he always escapes, which he must do, as he's the star of the show, but it gets old very quickly.
The second problem is the depth of the infiltration. (SPOILER ALERT) In "The Spores," alien Gene Hackman happens to have a truck accident that forces him to lose a briefcase full of pods that passes from hand-to-hand throughout the course of the episode. Vincent shows up to warn the cops that the case of full of chia-aliens but lo and behold, the Lieutenant in charge (Wayne Rogers) is an alien who's been undercover as a human for months obviously just waiting for one of his fellow aliens to crash a truck in his neck of the woods.
What does make sense are stories such as "Condition: Red" where an alien takes over a NORAD worker for the specific purpose of reprogramming the computers to ignore the alien ships that are about to land.
And can we talk about the whole pinkie thing? Some aliens can't bend their pinkie fingers. That's how you know they're aliens. Whatever. No heart and no pulse -- and yet they die if you shoot them. How can a bullet kill you if you have no blood circulating? Finally, this has to be the most disorganized alien invasion I've ever seen. The aliens work in splinter units that don't appear to communicate with each other and they're all over the board as far as planning a mass attack. The aliens of The Invaders should sit down and watch a few episodes of V or even Mars Attacks. Now that's how you take over the world.
As for the DVD itself, the video quality is okay. It has the occasional pop and crackle but that doesn't detract from the experience. The soundtrack is mono, typical of the time and nothing special. The bonus features include an interview with star Roy Thinnes and episodes intros that he filmed at the same time. Some are nothing more than quick summaries of the plot, but he does tell a few funny stories here and there. The only other bonus feature is a commentary track on "The Peacemaker" by producer Alan Armer.
The joy of The Invaders comes from seeing the fabulous parade of guest stars. You'll see plenty of TV regulars such as Dawn Wells, Diana Muldaur, Antoinette Bower, Wayne Rogers, Lynda Day George, and Ed Asner. It's fun to see a young Gene Hackman at work and you really need to see sexy, gravelly voiced Suzanne Pleshette as an alien woman with a serious case of PMS.
As a production junkie, I always enjoy the "Quinn Martin" experience -- that certain way he had of telling a story, the abundance of location work, the hand-held cameras and over-the-shoulder shots. All of his shows had a realistic style that set them apart from anything else on TV, and that's probably what made The Invaders so popular at the time. People could relate to the plight of David Vincent just as they could to Jansen's Fugitive, and I give the show kudos for that.
If you're a baby boomer, you'll recognize 80% of the actors featured in this season, though most of them will leave you wondering where you've seen them before. Fire up the laptop and IMDb as you watch so you can look them up. If you're interested in the history of scifi on TV, The Invaders is a big part of that, particularly because of the signature space ship which is a popular model kit and the haunting theme music by Dominic Frontiere.
Other than that, you're talking die-hard series fans who already own the first season, and there are plenty of those out there, many of whom have perfectly workable pinkies.
This planet isn't big enough for the both of us. Go home, aliens. Go home. Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1336 Minutes
Release Year: 1967
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentary
* Episode Intros
* The Invaders Unofficial Website