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Case Number 09930

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Invasion: The Complete Series

Warner Bros. // 2005 // 907 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // August 30th, 2006

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All Rise...

Not only does Judge Cynthia Boris know TV, she lives TV. Add this one to her impressive dossier of real life television experiences.

The Charge

"We all have the potential to go to our darkest place, but most of us manage to leave a light on."
—Sheriff Tom Underlay

Opening Statement

A hurricane wrecks havoc. It tears apart lives. It leaves everyone concerned with a feeling of unrest. It goes on and on—seemingly forever until you're wondering if life will ever be normal again. Now take out the word hurricane and put in the word divorce. It comes out the same. You might think Invasion is about aliens trying to take over a town but you wouldn't necessarily be right.

Facts of the Case

Russell Varon (Eddie Cibrian, Third Watch) is a Florida Park Ranger with a problem. Well, several problems. He and his ex-wife Mariel (Kari Matchett) can't seem to agree on the custodial issues of their two children, Rose and Jesse. Russell's current wife, Larkin (Lisa Sheridan) would like him to see a little less of his ex. Larkin's brother, Dave (Tyler Labine), is the house guest that wouldn't leave. Add to this the evil eye from Mariel's new husband, Sheriff Tom Underlay (William Fitchner, The Longest Yard), and Russell's life is pretty complicated. That's before the hurricane hits and the lights fall from the sky. Now Russell, his family, and his extended family-by-divorce must band together to save the entire human race from extinction.

It's from the mind of Shaun Cassidy, the man who brought you American Gothic, so you know there's more here than meets the eye.

The Evidence

Invasion was one of three similar series that premiered in the fall of 2005. Surface and Threshold barely made it out of the gate, but Invasion hung on, despite frequent hiatuses and rumors of the ax. The critics loved it, the fans were behind it, and yet week after week it was desperately hanging on (a typical scenario for a Shaun Cassidy created series).

Let's go back in time. Remember Hurricane Katrina? In deference to the survivors of the storm, ABC pulled the ads for Invasion with its hurricane-themed plot device. They debated pulling the premiere but decided to go ahead. They needn't have worried. Instead of complaining about ABC's lack of compassion, the reaction to the series couldn't have been better. Putting aside the Sci-Fi element for a moment, viewers were given a close (albeit fictional) look at what it's like to stand in the path of a powerful storm. Unlike the real images of Katrina survivors, we got to follow these families on the road to recovery.

The storm in the show is actually more of a metaphor—standing in for the unsettling ebb and flow of two broken families trying to start new lives. I think that forcing the husband and ex-husband to become allies in the fight to save world is a stroke of genius made all the better by the performances of the two actors.

There be spoilers ahead.

Cibrian (Russell) is your basic leading man. Tall, dark, and handsome, he's the physical power behind the story. The guy who digs his hands into the swampy mud and pulls out a…ew…what is that? Fitchner (Tom) comes off as the villain of the piece with his cold, analytical style. He may be the sheriff, but he's more about words than he is about the gun and his place in the grand scheme of things …well, I'm not telling.

In the series, the people of Homestead are slowly transforming into hybrid creatures thanks to the orange lights and weird fish-like monsters that hang out in the water around the town. Dave, Russell's brother-in-law, thinks it's an alien conspiracy. He's right about the conspiracy part and figuring out who's in on it and who isn't is a huge part of the fun of this show.

When I first started watching this series, I quickly decided that the title was paying homage to one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Even Veronica Cartwright, who starred in the remake of the movie, plays a reoccurring character on Invasion. Personally, I think having Veronica on board was a wink to the movie.

The series looks like a feature film, and that's because it was made like one. I was an extra on the pilot, and I have never worked on a TV show with such scope. (I never made it to the screen, though, because filming was stopped when we were hit with a huge storm. Yes, we stopped filming a hurricane because it was raining. Only in Hollywood.) This feature quality is particularly evident in the last three episodes of the series—which are monumental. Twists, turns, action and frights—it's like careening down a mountain full of hairpin turns going 90 miles an hour. It's a great ride.

I think what I like best about this series is the way small characters become important factors. Hints dropped in the first episode become vital in the last. There are good guys and bad guys on both sides of the war. It's an intricately woven tapestry and it kept me guessing all the way to the end—and I mean The End (see Rebuttal).

The series finale does wrap up most of the questions asked in the run but you may have to watch it more than once to understand it all.

Warner Brothers did a great job on the packaging, even if it is a little fussy in places. The fold-out is decorated with rich colors, photos superimposed over photos, with the discs nested in twos and snapped into a three section digi-pack with nice character art on each one.

On screen navigation is clear and easy to use and the widescreen presentation was just perfect for a feature-style TV show such as this one.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Let me start with the mundane. No commentaries! I love commentaries and there's not a one. There is a gag reel which is very funny, a featurette on the making of the show, and some missing scenes. I still want my commentary.

My bigger issue is the cliffhanger ending. Some sources say that there was a rumor the show would be picked up for a second season and that's why the ending was written as it was. Personally, I think it's just Cassidy style to leave us with an "it ain't over 'till it's over" finale. Don't get me wrong, there is a satisfying wrap up to the events of the season, but the show doesn't end there and maybe it should have.

Closing Statement

A little bit of Lost, a little bit of X-Files, some Invasion of the Body Snatchers with big chunks of the world's most popular disaster movies thrown in. Invasion works because we know these people. They're average joes suddenly thrown into a deadly situation. What would you do if the mother of your children was taken over by aliens? Save the smart remarks! Watch Invasion: The Complete Series.

The Verdict

Sorry but the court is currently in recess due to the recent hurricane. We'll be back in session as soon as we get the jury out of the bathtub, where they've been underwater for more than an hour. Is that normal?

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 75
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 89

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• English
• French
• Portuguese
Running Time: 907 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Science Fiction
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Missing scenes
• Invading the Mind of Shaun Cassidy
• Gag reel


• IMDb

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