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Invaders, The

Entry updated 10 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

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1. US tv series (1967-1968). A Quinn Martin Production for ABC TV, created by Larry Cohen. Produced by Alan Armer. Directors included Joseph Sargent, Paul Wendkos and Sutton Roley. Writers included Don Brinkley, Robert Collins, Mike Dolinsky as Michael Adams, Jerry Sohl and Dan Ullman. Cast includes Roy Thinnes. 43 50-minute episodes. Colour.

Roy Thinnes stars as David Vincent a man who has witnessed a landing by Aliens in a UFO but is unable to get anyone to believe him. The aliens, from a doomed planet, are trying to take over Earth by infiltration: able to take on human form, they can be distinguished only by the odd angle of their little fingers; when dead their bodies evaporate leaving only a pile of ashes, so lasting proof of their existence is almost impossible to establish. The rigid first-season formula – in each episode the hero discovers and foils a new alien plot, but remains unable to convince the authorities – meant that there was little variation. Partway into the second season, however, Vincent connects with a small group of people who also believe and work with him on an ongoing basis. The series was cancelled after the second season, in whose last episode the group finally convinces a high-ranking government official of the danger and he vows to assist them.

Larry Cohen, whose idea the series was, later became celebrated for his low-budget independent films, usually, as here, featuring an ordinary man facing horrible incursions on the one hand and an uncaring, unimaginative or conspiratorial establishment on the other.

Perhaps The Invaders came too late: it belonged, in spirit, to the Paranoid sf version of the Communist-spy scares of the 1950s, as in Robert A Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (September-November 1951 Galaxy; 1951; text restored 1990), the television serial Quatermass II (1955) and the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). But what goes around comes around, and paranoid conspiracy theories would later become fashionable again with such productions as The X-Files (1993-2002) and its imitators. In the light of such hindsight The Invaders could be said to have come too early, though its simple formula was hardly a match for the later series' heady eclecticism.

Two short series of books based on The Invaders were published in the USA (3 books) and the UK (4 books). The two to appear in both series are The Invaders (1967; vt The Meteor Men UK as by Anthony LeBaron) by Keith Laumer, #1 in the USA and #2 in the UK; and The Halo Highway (1967; vt Army of the Undead) by Rafe Bernard, #1 in the UK and #3 in the USA. Invaders #2 in the USA was Enemies from Beyond (1967) by Laumer; #3 and #4 in the UK were The Night of the Trilobites (1968) and The Autumn Accelerator (1969), both by Peter Leslie.

Two further Ties to the series were hardbound juveniles, Alien Missile Threat (1967) by Paul S Newman, and Dam of Death (1967) by Jack Pearl.

2. US tv miniseries (1995) for Fox-TV. Producers included James G Hirsh, Robert A Papazian and James D Parriott. Written by Larry Cohen and James Dott. Directed by Paul Shapiro. Cast includes Scott Bakula, Elizabeth Peña, Roy Thinnes and Richard Thomas. Two 74-minute episodes. Colour.

In this follow-up to 1 above, the Aliens are now implanting something in people's brains to control them, and/or making duplicate replacements for people, to further their plans to help us to destroy ourselves through Ecological disaster. Bakula stars as Nolan Wood, a man who has been implanted by the aliens, but whose implant has not quite taken and who has "visions" which are a window into alien machinations. He is framed by the aliens for the murder of an ecological Scientist, but escapes. Thinnes returns in a cameo appearance as David Vincent, who helps Wood uncover the aliens' plans. Part two culminates with Wood's attempt to foil a plot to assassinate a US presidential candidate who is also a top ecological scientist. [JB/PN/DRL/LW]

see also: Dominic Frontiere.


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