The Earth being invaded by Outer Space Aliens has been a staple of Science Fiction Motion Pictures for decades. The first such motion pictures about Extraterrestrial Invasion are three classics from 1951. Although there were others films with Extraterrestrials going back to 1902, but not Space Invaders. Those were mainly about Earth men going to the moon inspired by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells novels.
The three 1951 motion pictures were:
"The Man from Planet X", released March 9, 1951, was the first such Space Invader film anywhere in the World. Although taking place on the Scottish Moors the movie was made in the United States.
"The Thing from Another World" was based upon the first half of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s classic 1938 novella "Who Goes There?". The film was released on April 27, 1951 and had also been made in the United States by famed Director Howard Hawks.
There would be four motion pictures based upon Campbell's novella including one starring British actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. My article on the novella and the film interpretations may be read at:
The third motion picture featuring an Alien Invader, as believed by "Cold War America" mainly, was "Klaatis". Although he was actually the allegorical Second Coming of Christ. This picture, of course, was Robert Wise's classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" released on December 25, 1951 and, again, made in the United States.
As I will be mentioning a classic television production from the U.K. Their first Alien Invasion motion picture was filmed in England on a small scale and based upon a stage play. "Devil Girl from Mars" was released May 2, 1954 and also took place on the Scottish Moors.
Should my reader be a fan of 1950"s Science Fiction movies from my youth. My article entitled "Invaders From Mars, Except When They Came From Venus, or Planet X" may be read at:
The following article is about Five Science Fiction Television Programs that have left a mark on the medium.
QUATERMASS AND THE PIT
This was the third BBC mini-series about the head of the "British Rocket Group", "Professor Bernard Quatermass". In the first mini-series, Summer of 1953, the character had been portrayed by Reginald Tate in "The Quatermass Experiment".
With the success of the first mini-series Tate was to have returned, but he suffered a fatal heart attack. The next actor to portray "Quatermass", in the Autumn of 1955, was John Robinson in "Quatermass 2"
Starting in December 1958 and ending during January 1959 was "Quatermass and the Pit". "Professor Bernard Quatgermass" was portrayed by Andre Morell. Morell had originally been offered the role for the first mini-series, but had turned it down.
American audiences might have overlooked him in 1957's "The Bridge on the River Kwai", but although they would not see this mini-series. During 1959 Andre Morell was seen in "Ben Hur", "Behemoth the Sea Serpent" aka: "The Giant Behemoth" and as Peter Cushing's "Dr. Watson" in Hammer Films' "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
American audiences, by 1959, would have seen the first "Quatermass" mini-series as a shorter motion picture from Hammer Films/. In the U.K. it was called "The Quatermass X-periment" and in the United States the picture was released as 1956"s "The Creeping Unknown". Along with the second mini-series as a shorter feature film released in the U.K. as 1957's "Quatermass 2" and in the United States as "Enemy from Space". American actor Brian Donlevy portrayed "Professor Bernard Quatermass" in both motion pictures.
Returning to "Quatermass and the Pit". On December 22, 1958 the first installment of the mini-series "The Halfmen" premiered. It would be followed by five more: "The Ghosts" December 29, 1958, "Imps and Demons"January 5, 1959, "The Enchanted" January 12, 1959, "The Wild Hunt" January 19, 1959 and the final episode "Hob" on January 26, 1959.
The story and teleplay were by Nigel Kneale. He had created the character of "Professor Bernard Quatermass" and would write the story's and teleplays for all three BBC series. Along with the Hammer Studios motion picture screenplays that followed..
Some of his other work included the screenplay for Hammer's 1957 "The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas" starring Peter Cushing and Forest Tucker, Ray Harryhausen's 1964 "First Men in the Moon", 1966's "The Witches" starring Joan Fontaine. In 1979 Kneale wrote the BBC teleplay "Quatermass", the fourth in the series, and the motion picture screenplay the same year as "The Quatermass Conclusion". Both productions starred John Mills as the Professor.
While digging a new tunnel for the London Underground the workers discover prehistoric bones. "Dr. Matthew Roney", played by Cec Linder, is an anthropologist called to the site to examine the human remains.
"Roney" believes the skulls belong to a species of prehistoric man that had a strange large brain cavity. Further digging uncovers what may be a missile from Nazi Germany. The military takes over the dig and "Dr. Roney" calls in his friend and head of the "British Rocket Group", "Professor Bernard Quartermass", Andre Morrell.
The "Nazi Missile" is completely uncovered and to "Quatermass" and "Roney" it is some sort of space vehicle buried in Earth approximately five million years ago.
The problem for "Quatermass" and "Roney" is Army "Colonel Jame Breen", Anthony Bushell, recently appointed to oversee the "British Rocket Group". He believes the ship is still some type of Nazi weapon, or device designed to cause the panic, he sees, as a result of its discovery.
While "Quarermass" and "Breen" continued discussing the craft. "Dr. Roney" finds another perfect brain enlarged skull. "Professor Quatermass" asks him where it was found and he shows him that it was inside the missile. "Breen" is confronted with this fact and asked by "Quateremass", if this was a Nazi weapon. How did a five million year old human ancestor's skull get inside? "Colonel Breen" is confused for a moment and returns to his belief stating a body was placed inside just to confuse those disarming the weapon as it has now.
As the ship is being cleaned one of the soldiers begins to scream about dwarf's attacking him. A worker with a Boron Oxide Drill goes inside to see if he can penetrate the one solid wall. The drill makes no marks on it at all. When "Quartermass" and "Roney:" go inside to examine. The wall starts to show scratches and pieces crack off revealing some type of creature, not human, inside. As they are immediately deteriorating from the air. "Roney" does to work to preserve them.
While working at the dig people start experiencing poltergeist like experiences. Things start floating and again people claim to see dwarfs like creatures. "Professor Quartermass" and "Dr. Roney's" assistant "Barbara Judd", Christine Finn, notice old buildings around the dig site with the name of the street "Hob's Lane" crossed out and changed to "Hobb's Lane".
The word "Hob" is an ancient English word used for "The Devil" and the creatures resemble old images of "The Devil".
The drill operator returns to the space craft to remove his equipment only to experience visions of the creatures killing themselves. He runs away from the dig in blind panic and "Quatermass" and "Roney" receive a call from a local church. Questioning the man they learn of what he saw.
"Dr Roney" has a device called an optic-encephalogram that records impression from the optic centers of the brain. He decides to use it on "Barbara Judd", who has proved the most sensitive, by the space craft.
Placing the optic-encephalogram on "Barbara's" head. She sees visions that they record on video tape.
The images from "Barbara Judd" show a purge of the "Martian Hive" of mutations to their species. Now the "Professor" and "Doctor" believe they have the answer to why the Martian's were on Earth.
"Quatermass" explains three conclusions the two men have made to "Colonel Breen". First his missile is as the "Professor" believed a space ship that crashed on Earth some five million years ago. Second after seeing the taped impressions of "Barbara Judd". There is no other conclusion then the "Insects" were the Intelligent Life Form of Mars. Thirdly, they took apes and primitive humans back to Mars to experiment on their brains. In short Martian memories have been implanted in mankind.
"Breen" has the authorities convinced that "Quatermass" and "Roney" are fantasizing. As he believes the whole thing was still just an elaborate Nazi Plot to cause panic. The object was dropped during the war by an airplane and buried by V-1, or V-2 rockets before it was discovered.
At the Underground dig "Breen" and the authorities invite the press to see the object. While the press conference starts some of the wires from the overhead lights fall onto the space craft and it comes alive. A humming sound comes from within the craft and suddenly people start turning on each other/ As the craft sends out its message.
THE HIVE MUST BE PURGED!.Outside the dig Londoners are turning on each other. By those whose Martian minds know to be not of the hive. This is an ethnic purge to leave only true Martians. The reason the dying race had operated on human primitives was:
MARS MUST BE SAVED!"Barbara Judd" is one of the Martians as is "Quatermass". "Colonel Breen" is down on his knees staring at the Martian machine as he body blisters and his skin starts to smoke, then melt away. "Professor Quatermass" turns upon "Dr. Rodney" who lacks the alien gene is his body.
Above the building holding the Pit is an apparition of "The Devil" and around it fires burn as does London. "Rodney" is able to get "Quatermass": to return to the reality of the situation. Remembering the medieval legends about "Demons" and their aversion to both iron and water. "Rodney" comes up with a plan to toss a mass of iron with one side touching wet earth into the apparition. Thereby, short circuiting it.
"Quatermass" finds a large length of iron chain and with one end touching a large area of wet earth. He moves toward the apparition, but comes back under the Martian power. "Rodney" now takes the chain and is able to get next to the Devil Apparition and makes contact with it. The apparition is destroyed, but "Dr. Rodney" gives up his life saving London and possibly the World.
"Professor Quatermass" addresses the television audience explaining what has happened and adds this warning:
If we cannot control the inheritance within us, this will be their [the Martians'] second dead planet.On November 9, 1967 Hammer released in the U.K. the feature version of "Quatermass and the Pit" written by Nigel Kneale. The motion picture starred Andrew Keir as "Bernard Quatermass", James Donald as "Dr. Rodney" and Barbara Shelley as "Barbara Judd".
The movie ran 97 minutes and was really, as the previous two features, a condensing of the original mini-series from 207 minutes. The movie was retitled for the United States as "Five Million Years to Earth" and released on February 16, 1968.
On September 17, 1963 Executive Producer Quinn Martin released on ABC (American Broadcasting Corporation) a television program "The Fugitive" starring David Janssen as "Dr. Richard Kimble". In every episode "Kimble" crossed the United States looking for the one armed man who could prove his innocence. Barry Morse, "Space 1999", was the only other recurring character as detective "Lieutenant Phillip Gerard",Who pursued "Kimble" in every episode.
On January 10, 1967, also on ABC, Executive Producer Quinn Martin re-imagined "The Fugitive" as a Science Fiction television program entitled "The Invaders". Actor Roy Thinnes was architect "David Vincent" who each week traveled to a different area of the United States. Not pursued for a murder he didn't commit, but to prove that Outer Space Aliens had "Invaded" the Earth.
The series ran for two seasons for a total of 43 episodes and the closest character to compare to "Lt. Gerard" was actor Kent Smith as "Edgar Scoville". Smith appeared in a total of thirteen episodes of Season Two.
Some of the other "Guest Stars" that appeared on the program were:
William Windom as the voice of the narrator for each episode.
Michael Rennie, and Anthony Eisley were in three episodes each.
Peter Mark Richmond, J.D. Cannon, Suzanne Pleshette, Ed Asner, Laurence Naismith and Ford Rainey in two episodes each.
Diane Baker, Anne Francis, Peter Graves , Sally Kellerman and Gene Hackman were in one episode each.
Roy Thinnes had been appearing on television, since 1957, in single episodes of different programs. Then got a break and starred in a 1965 series that was cancelled after 26 episodes entitled "The Long Hot Summer". He had the main role of "Ben Quick". Created by Paul Newman in the 1958 motion picture based upon the William Faulkner novel of the same title.
This was followed by single episode appearances on three television programs including "The Fugitive" and "The F.B.I.". Both from Executive Producer Quinn Martin and followed by "The Invaders". Thinnes first work after this television series was a 1969 feature film from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. In the U.K. "Doppleganger" and the United States as "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun". On television Roy Thinnes would show up as "Roger Collins" and "Reverend Trask" in Dan Curtis' "Dark Shadows"
"The Invaders" starts out with "David Vincent" driving on a lonely road toward his home. While passing through a Ghost Town he stops to get some rest and is awaken by the lights and sounds of a strange object. The object is a flying saucer.
This will lead him to investigate a small town's hydroelectric plant and the discovery that there are space aliens among us.
Above Thinnes and Diane Baker in that first episode of "The Invaders" entitled "Beachhead". After the aliens had established their beachhead for their invasion of our planet. The following week the shows viewers where faced with "The Experiment". Roddy McDowall portrayed a role described as an "eminent astrophysicist" who has proof the Earth has been invaded by Space Aliens.
Above McDowall with Harold Gould and Lawrence Naismith.
Roy Jensen was "Alien #1" in the third episode of the show entitled "The Mutation". "David Vincent" is now in a border town with Mexico seeking out a stripper, "Vikki", portrayed by Suzanne Pleshette, who claims to have seen something strange in the desert.
By this episode the viewer has lost the idea that Roy Thinnes is just Kevin McCarthy running to warn the Country that the Aliens are among us. As implied came between Don Siegel's 1956 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and Philip Kaufman's 1978 sequel, but is now David Janssen in "The Fugitive". Running from one film location to another looking for answers and a new plot line. Not to get me wrong about the quality of "The Invaders".
Alien Weapons were all the rage in the series.
Below a familiar Alien face with one of their death discs. Just apply the disc to the back of a person's neck and in a matter of seconds they die from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Those flying saucers were simple, but perfect for television.
The Second Season began on September 5, 1967 with the episode "Condition: Red", The first change to the show, the audience would notice, was an introduction narration used on every episode. The dialogue ran:
The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose: to make it their world. David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found. It began with a closed deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.Was there an underlying political theme to "The Invaders"?
I never saw the show during it's two original seasons, because I was on a Navy Aircraft carrier during a little something called the "Vietnam War". With the exception of the nightly news, cable didn't exist, let a lone a 24 hour news cycle, television was attempting to make American's forget that little misstep by the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.
So in 1967 among other programs American's first saw were "The Carol Burnett Show", "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour", Raymond Burr now as "Ironsides" and Chuck Corners in a short lived Western "Cowboy in Africa". While a more successful Western series also premiered "The High Chaparral" and Sally Fields took to the air and air waves as "The Flying Nun".
"The Invaders" was completely different fare, even though the original "Star Trek" was in its second year, because the series creator Larry Cohen brought back America's 1950's fears of the Soviet Union and Communist infiltration. Which, if truth be told, was still there.
Two typical 1950's Cold War television dramas had Richard Carlson fighting "Commies". As the real life Herbert Philbrick in 1953's "I Led 3 Lives". Robert Alda was an American Intelligence Agent in 1955's "Secret File U.S.A.". While at the movies there was the scary 1952 "Invasion U.S.A.". In which the Soviet Union invaded the United States and America lost our Country. John Wayne and his friend James Arness, also in 1952, were agents of the House Committee on Un-American Activity. Who were tracking down a Hawaiian Communist Cell in "Big Jim McLain".
There was no question that the Space Aliens, who took the form of humans, were inflating American communities, rural towns and big cities, becoming respected business leaders and the family next door. That fear reunited in minds the idea of Soviet Sleeper Agents. Which was recently seen in the excellent television series, 2013 into 2018, "The Americans", or earlier, just after "The Invaders" began its run, in the Charles Bronson feature "Telefon".
There was a throwback look to "The Invaders" saucers. Compare the following 1950 Science Fictions movie stills to the style of the flying saucer used in the series.
1950 "The Flying Saucer"
1951 "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
1955 "This Island Earth"
1956 "Earth vs the Flying Saucers"
1956 "Forbidden Planet"
Oh, one more photo, if you don't believe in Flying Saucers. In the 1950's the United States Air Force's Project Blue Book did. Should you think the flying saucer that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico was really a weather balloon. Here is a picture of an actual Air Force experimental aircraft from that early 1950's.
The last thirteen episodes of the series starting, on December 5, 1967, with "The Believers" introduced actor Kent Smith as Industrialist "Edgar Scoville". The only continuing character besides Roy Thinnes' "David Vincent".
If Kent Smith looks somewhat familiar to my reader. Should you be a fan of Producer Val Lewton. The actor was in 1942's "Cat People" and its sequel 1944's "Curse of the Cat People". When television came into our living rooms. Kent Smith began to appear regularly on many live anthology shows, westerns, police dramas and science fiction, In short his face became extremely familiar, if not his name, to American audiences.
Those final episodes told of a group of people "David Vincent" has either convinced, or previously had believed that Space Aliens were among us. One by one they start being killed by "The Invaders".
For those of my readers up on the actors of the 1960's and 1970's on both the big and little screens. Among those actors appearing in one of the last thirteen episodes with Kent Smith were:
Carol Lynley, Karen Black, Nancy Kovack, James Daily, Raymond St.Jacques, Louis Gossett, Jr., Barbara Hershey, R.G. Armstrong, Diana Muldaur, Arthur Franz, Will Geer, Dana Elcar and Susan Oliver.
The final episode of "The Invaders" wasn't accepted by all viewers and some thought badly done/ Especially when the Creator/Writer Larry Cohen knew this was coming.
Each episode of the series ran 51 minutes. The episode just before the last was entitled "The Pursued". The basic plot has a dissident Alien women named "Anne" being pursued by other Aliens attempting to kill her. She's uncontrollable and in a rage kills the women who was helping her.
While the police attempt to figure out what happened. The Aliens return to confuse the situation. Meanwhile "David Vincent" arrives and meets up with "Anne". The Alien women will tell the Government everything she knows for protection. "Vincent" calls "Scoville" who tells him take her to the town of "Cape View". They are to meet with a "Professor Charles McKay" and his son "Eddie". A helicopter will be sent to a baseball field in town to pick "David" and "Anne" up.
Once again "Anne" goes into a rage and attacks "Professor McKay". The pursuing Aliens arrive, but "David" and "Anne" manage to get on board the helicopter and leave."Scoville" provides a safe house, or so he thinks. As the pursuing Aliens arrive and a small fight breaks out. The leader of the Alien group is killed and like all Aliens vaporizes as a result.
"David" and "Anne" are now in the building where a high level Government meeting is about to take place. As they proceed to the meeting room's door "Anne" is killed. Some employees are watching as she dies with "David Vincent's" name on her lips and vaporizes. End of episode.
On March 26, 1968 that final episode entitled "Inquisition" premiered and opened with "Vincent" and "Scoville" meeting with "Senator Breeding". Their meeting concluded the two leave and shortly afterwards a bomb explodes killing the Senator.
Both men are called before ambitious District Attorney "Andrew Hatcher" about the murder. At the meeting is Journalist "Joan Seeley". She already knows that "Hatcher" is devious and cannot be trusted and she goes to warn "Vincent" and "Scoville". "Hatcher" is building his case on the fact that all the materials used to build the bomb could only have come from "Scoville's" factory.
"Vincent" and "Scoville" believe that the Senator's friend "Arthur Koy" is an Alien Traveler. They break into "Koy's" home. "Koy" is forced to open his safe and remove an envelope. In code it contains the Alien's entire invasion plans for the Earth. A small fight starts and "Koy" is killed and turns out to be an Alien and is vaporized. "Seeley" now believes the Alien threat to be real and convinces "Hatcher" to listen to "Vincent" and "Scoville". He does, but instead of helping issues warrants for the arrest of all ":The Believers".
Meanwhile, the reminder of the invasion plan has been cracked and it reveals a transmitter located in the basement of a hotel. Creating a diversion for the police so "Soville" can join "Vincent" and another "Believer" named "Boland". "Seeley" is injured in a car accident and taken to a hospital were she dies. "Hatcher" arrives having come there to see her. While in the hotel basement "Vincent" and "Boland" destroy the vital Alien transmitter, but "Boland" is killed as are several Aliens.
"Vincent" arrives at the hospital and sees "Hatcher" who is now convinced about the Aliens. Together with "Socville", "Vincent" and "Hatcher" form the vanguard defense against "The Invaders".
END OF SERIES. Which explains why so many viewers were disappointed with this open ended ending.
On November 12,1995 was the first of a two part mini-series from Larry Cohen also called "The Invaders" aka: "The New Invaders". The mini-series starred Scott Bakula as "Nolan Wood" and Elizabeth Pena as "Ellen Garza".
Like many others I could find little information about the program. Bakula has just been released from prison and is immediately framed for the murder of a doctor. Along with the doctor's fiancee, Penna, they are off to stop the Alien Invasion. There is a cameo appearance by Roy Thinnes as "David Vincent".
For those interested in what the plot was supposed have been. I give you a link to ":the SCI FI FREAK SITE"
In 1961 Gerry and Sylvia Anderson created the television series "Supercar". In 1962 it was "Fireball XL-5", in 1964 "Stingray", in 1965 there was "Thunderbirds" followed by the movie "Thunderbirds Are Go!". 1968 saw "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" and in 1969 Roy Thinnes was back in Science Fiction in the Anderson's "Doppleganger". However, also in 1969 how about an elderly Vicar and his gardener that are "Secret Agents" for "B.I.S.H.O.P."? Can you say "Man from U.N.C.L.E." British style?
Above Sylvia introduces her "Thunderbirds" Alter Ego "Lady Penelope" to Gerry.
On September 16, 1970 U.K. television viewers saw the premier of the Anderson's live action series "UFO". This cult Earth Invasion series had an interesting filming story and of course there was that look. Especially when it came to those lovely ladies working the Moonbase for "S.H.A.D.O. (Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defense Organization)".
Just to film the 26 episodes, which makes up the entire program, the Anderson's were faced with a five month break due to the closing of the MGM-British Studio at Borehamwood. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had major financial problems. They closed down and sold the property. However, MGM still wanted a studio based in the U.K. It took five months and a deal with EMI (Electric and Music Industries) Group Limited to form MGM-EMI and start using the facilities of Estree Studios. Which is actually a group of Independents using a central facility for filming. In the end it was over a year to complete those 49 to 51 minute 26 episodes.
The basic premise for "UFO" has Space Aliens, from a dying planet, harvesting organs from abducted humans to save their own race. It is believed by "S.H.A.D.O." that the Aliens may be considering the invasion of Earth to make the organ harvesting easier for them and a new planet to populate. The year this is taking place is 1980.
Some of the main characters reflecting that "Look" of ten years into the future for the U.K. television audience.
Ed Bishop was "S.H.A.D.O. Commander Ed Straker"
George Sewell was "S.H.A.D.O. Second in Command Colonel Alec Freeman"
Michael Billington was "S.H.A.D.O. Operative Colonel Paul Foster"
Wanda Ventham was "S.H.A.D.O, Operative Colonel Virginia Lake"
Gabrille Drake was "Moonbase Operative Lieutenant Gay Ellis"
Antonia Ellias was "Moonbase Operative Lieutenant Joan Harrington"
Dolores Mantez was "Moonbase Operative Nina Barry"
Grant Taylor was the "President of IAC ( International Astrophysical Commission), General James Henderson" and "Commander Strayker's Superior Officer"
In all "UFO" had 15 main characters.
The following are a few more stills to give my reader another idea of the "Look" of the series.
It wasn't until after the series had aired around the world. That fans began noticing little details to the plots which made the original broadcast time line out of event and chronological order.
The new chronological order was established by Deborah Rorabaugh and her explanation with the chronological time line can be found at the "ShadoLibrary" on the following link:
Her article begins:
UFO had no set episode order except that Identified, being the pilot, should be first and Exposed should obviously come before any other episode with Paul Foster in it.
However, there are a few definite dates given (two newspaper dates, one death date, and a possible date from a script) and other internal clues as to how some episodes relate to one another, such as who is in command of Moonbase and occasional longer passages of time stated within an episode. And then there are time references that just don't work.Was there a Second Season?
Plans and screenplays for Season Two of "UFO" began and so did some preliminary shooting, but this all stopped as a result of bad ratings in the United States. All the material was kept by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and then would be reworked. On September 4, 1975 the new series "SPACE 1999" premiered.
"The Look" was basically the same and the location was now just "Moonbase Alpha" for this British and Italian co-production.
Jointly produced by Seven Network in Australia and the BBC in the U.K. was "The Tripods". A Science Fiction show based upon a trilogy of young adult novels by British author John Christopher actually Sam Youd.
All episodes first premiered in the U.K. and then sometime later in Australia. The first half hour episode "A Village in England: July 2089 A.D." premiered Sept 15, 1984. The final episode "The Forest of Death" was shown on the BBC November 23, 1985. There were only a total of 25 episodes made for broadcast.
This is a little known series outside of the U.K. and Australia, but with all the youth orientated novels being turned into motion picture series. at the time of this writing, such as "The Hunger Games", "Divergent" and "The Maze Runner". I thought I would mention "The Tripods". Especially to those in the United States who may be unfamiliar with John Christopher's works.
The Earth has been conquered by a race of Aliens known only as "The Masters". When a teenager becomes 16 they go through "Capping" placing their minds under the control of a specific Alien, or "Master". Below are two "Masters" and notice you see a young person's face on one of them.
Below a 16 year old human who has been "Capped".
"The Masters" move around the Earth in H.G. Wells style tripods.
The plot follows two cousins "Will Parker", played by John Shackley, and "Henry". Jim Baker, fleeing "The Masters" on a quest to find a land of "uncapped men" located in "The White Mountains". They will be joined by a French younth called "Beanpole", played by Ceri Seel. The first series (Season) follows their journey to find the "Freeman" and join in their battle against "The Masters".
The second series (Season) has "Will" compete in a series of games, similar to the Olympics, held by the "Freeman". After winning these games he is chosen to infiltrate the Tripod City to find out the plans of "The Masters". Below "Will" is with his "Master" within the city. "Will" will eventually kill him.
"Will" is able to learn a lot about "The Masters" and with another infiltrator escapes the city. He meets "Beanpole" once more and the two become part of a traveling circus with children of different ages. One day "Will" discovers that the leader of the traveling circus plans to betray the children to the Tripods. "Will: convinces the other young people to come with him and "Beanpole" back to the White Mountain camp. Only to find it destroyed by the Tripods. They will continue the war.
Above the covers of the "Tripod" trilogy by John Christopher.
The original "V" for those who don't remember was only a two part mini-series that was shown on May 1 and May 2, 1983. This mini-series would be followed by a three part mini-series entitled "V: The Final Battle". Which premiered one year later on May 6,7, and 8, 1984. Later from October 26, 1984 through March 22, 1985 was "V: The Series". The series had 19 episodes filmed and one more written that never was put before the camera. This section of my article looks at these three releases and not the remake of November 3, 2009 through March 15, 2011. That due to the sporadic nature of the releases only totaled 22 episodes.
Not quite and closer to Rod Sterling's March 2, 1962 "Twilight Zone" episode "To Serve Man" than "Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood".
The visitors arrive in a fleet of 50 very large saucer, naturally, shaped mother ships.
I'm not going to say that Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich stole this idea for 1996's "Independence Day", below, oops., I did say that.
The first mini-series ran a total of 189 minutes and like all three original programs starred Marc Singer, Faye Grant and Jane Badler.
Marc Singer was "Mike Donovan" a television journalist and camera man. In 1982 he starred in the cult fantasy movie "The Beastmaster" and would return to the role in 1991's "The Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time".
Faye Grant was "Juliet 'Julie' Parrish" a biologist and resistance cell leader in Los Angeles. Grant was "Rhonda" in 28 episodes of televisions 1981 super-hero comedy "The Greatest American Hero".
Jane Bader was "Diana" the sexist lizard on television. From 1989 through 1990 she was "Shannon Reed" on television's "Mission Impossible".
"The Visitors", who speak with a distinct resonance in their voices, tell the frightened humans not to be afraid of them. They come from a dying planet and need certain chemicals and minerals found on Earth to help their people. As "The Visitors" are an advanced civilization they will trade their technology for some of the Earth's resources.
Of course, once again, they are closer to Rod Sterling's aliens, because their human looks cover "The Visitors" real selves.
"Mike Donovan" always in search of a story enters one of the alien space craft and discovers the truth. That "The Visitors" are humanoid carnivorous lizards wearing a thing plastic like, flexible, human skin.
"The Visitors" are winning over the population of Earth and those who might discover the truth, scientists for example, are targeted to turn other humans against them.
Above left to right:
Jane Bader as "Diana", Richard Heard as "John", Peter Nelson as "Brian" and Andrew Prine as "Steven".
A Hitler style youth movement is formed and soon children are turning in their parents. The original concept of the story was to have been a straight reworking of novelist Sinclair Lewis' anti-fascist work "It Can't Happen Here", but NBC thought it to strong and cerebral for most audiences. So the story became Science Fiction.
As the truth becomes known a resistance movement is formed and both "Julie" and "Mike" become involved to fight "Diana". The Los Angeles resistance movement attacks and robs a National Guard Armory to obtain weapons and other scientific locations to obtain other equipment.
The mini-series ended with the Earth completely in control of "The Visitors", the letter "V" for "Victory" being spray painted over "Visitors are Our Friends" posters, and "Julie" sending a message into outer space for any other planet to come and help the Earth.
The second mini-series, V: The Final Battle", running 272 minutes, opens with "Mike Donovan" and his son "Sean", Eric Johnson, attempting to escape a mother ship. They are being pursued by "Visitor Troopers" and "Sean" is shot and killed. It turns out to be a nightmare that "Julie Parrish" wakes "Mike" from.
A new "Lizard" arrived in this series "Pamela" portrayed by Sarah Douglas. Probably best known as the "General Zod's" girlfriend "Ursa" in 1978's "Superman" and 1980's "Superman 2". Douglas was also "Queen Taramis" in 1984's "Conan the Destroyer" and co-starred with Marc Singer in 1991's "Beastmaster 2".
The resistance attempts to rescue human's from a "Visitor's Packing Plant". Where humans are put in cocoon like packaging to be sent to "The Visitor's Home Word", but the resistances plan goes wrong. At a debriefing the fact that "Robin Matthews", Blair Tefkin, is pregnant from a "Visitor" named "Brian", Peter Nelson, is discussed. A raid on the Los Angeles Medical Center is also stopped, because "Martin", Frank Ashmore, a member of a "Fifth Column" within "The Visitors" working with the resistance, was unable to obtain weapons. However, a friendly "Visitor" named "Willie" and his human girlfriend "Harmony", Diane Civita, are captured.
Portraying Technician "Willie" was Robert Englund. This was the same year he first appeared as "Freddy Kruger" in 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street".
"Julie" will be captured and forced to undergo "Diana's" conversion process to make her a slave. This does not go as completely planned and "Julie" will be rescued. While "Willie" is winning over the resistance cell members after helping "Robin" through her labor pains.
"Mike" is now captured after trying to rescue his son "Sean" as in his nightmare."Diana" starts to use a truth serum on the journalist in his cell. While members of the resistance start to believe that "Sean" may be under the control of "Diana" and not to be trusted.
The truth serum starts to work on "Mike" and he reveals that "Martin" is a fifth columnist. "Martin", who is present at time. attempts to shoot "Diana", but she escapes with the knowledge that the other is working with the humans. "Mike" and "Martin" hide within the large mother ship.
Meanwhile "Robin Matthews" go into full labor and is about to deliver twins. However the boy is born dead.
But the girl "Elizabeth" is born alive.
"Robin" is surprised, as are the other resistance members, of the amazing growth rate of "Elizabeth", Jenny Beck. Who also has unearthly powers in her control.
On the mothership "Mike" and "Martin" sky dive out of it. "Martin" joins a resistance cell and "Mike" reunites with the Los Angeles cell. Where a discussion is going on about the "Red Dust". A biological weapon discovered as being what killed "Robin's" son. "Elizabeth" was located farther away from "Robin's" uterus and was the reason she survived. The on going debate is over using it on "Willie" as a test subject.
Meanwhile "Brian" is captured and locked in a holding chamber as "Robin" and "Elizabeth" arrive.
"Robin" get some of the "Red Dust" and throws it into "Brian's" holding chamber and it immediately kills him.
After discussing this "Julie" enters the chamber proving the "Red Dust" is not fatal to humans.
A plan to use the "Red Dust" is formulated. "Sean" has overheard the plans and leaves to inform "The Visitors", but "Julie" has noticed "Sean's actions. She tells "Mike" and this is confirmed by another cell member "Ham Tyler", Michael Ironside.
The plans of using U.S. Air Force planes that "Sean" overheard was a ruse. The real plan involves using balloons and other means. "Martin" arrives with some other fifth columnists and are given a vaccine to protect them from the "Red Dust".
A special strike team consisting of "Mike, ":Julie", "Martin", "Robin" and "Elizabeth" and some others board the main mothership containing both "Diana" and the main leader "John". While "Ham" and other resistance members attack the main ground base of "The Visitors".
On board the mothership, above Los Angeles, "Diana" wants to activate a doomsday device. "John" is against it and is killed by her. The device is activated as the attack group releases the "Red Dust" into ventilation system.
"Diana" is confronted on the bridge and uses "Julie's", still active to some extant,conversion process to momentarily cause a diversion for her escape, ":Martin ", "Mike" and "Lorraine", Greta Blackburn, another fifth columnist, attempt to stop the doomsday device. They are unsuccessful, but "Elizabeth" uses her latent superpowers to stop the countdown. "Martin" brings the mothership back to the ground and mini-series ends.
"V: The Series"
The series, 897 minutes. opens with "Diana" escaping the mothership and "Mike Donovan" taking a shuttle to pursue and actually capturing her. Switch to one year later and the new International Holiday called "Liberation Day".
The series introduces us to another new "Visitor". She is Fleet Security Officer "Lydia", June Chadwick, and "Diana's" competition. Chadwick had been seen in Rob Reiner's 1984's "This Is Spinal Tap".
The members of the resistance groups have gone their separate ways and "Diana" is about to be put on trial for her crimes. As the day is arriving she is abducted by the Company who mass produces the "Red Dust". The company's CEO "Nathan Bates", Lane Smith, moves "Diana" to a secure and very comfortable cabin in the woods outside of Los Angeles. His plan is to blackmail her into giving him alien technology to create and sell.
Learning about this "Mike Donovan" and "Martin" pursue "Bates" agent in a stolen helicopter. After reaching the cabin. "Martin" puts his own plan into effect and knocks out "Mike" and enters the cabin. Before "Martin" can shoot "Diana" she overpowers him. Takes his gun away and forces him to turn over the last "Red Dust" antidote pill he is carrying. So she can have a limited time without worry, shoots him and escapes.
However, "Martin" is not yet dead and the dying fifth columnist tells "Mike Donovan" of "Diana's" plans to enter the Southwest tracking station and contact "The Visitor's" Fleet hidden behind the moon. "Mike" runs into "Ham Tyler" now on the payroll of "Nathan Bates". They agree to jointly pursue "Diana". However, they fail and "Diana" escapes in a shuttle sent by the fleet. After taking command. She learns that the "Red Dust" needs freezing temperatures to regenerate and realizes they can attack Los Angeles and other cities in the current warmer temperatures. The attack begins.
The resistance is reassembled and begins fighting on two fronts. One against "Diana" and her troops. The other against the power hungry "Nathan Bates". Who still feels he can do business with "Diana".The resistance joins with other rebel groups to fight back, but although 50% of the Earth is still protected from the Earth by the "Red Dust". Should they start using it on the other 50% in the quantities necessary to kill all "The Visitors". That would have long term toxic effects on the environment that would be ill reversible.
The ending is kind of up in the air as both sides seem to fight perpetually without one side gaining on the other. "Elizabeth" metamorphoses once more into an adult portrayed by Jennifer Cooke.
With her adult superpowers it is up to "Elizabeth" to resolve the conflict. She boards a shuttle sent by the leader of "The Visitors" to offer peace and heads for the leaders mothership. Cliff hanger ending.
Why only 19 o 20 episodes? The answer can be found in the "St. Louis Dispatch" in a review July 27, 2004:
..a TV series with so much promise – based on two successful, highly rated science fiction miniseries on NBC in the early 1980s – produced such a silly, loathsome mess...NBC tried to make a weekly series out of [the mini-series that unraveled] the show so terribly it must surely rank as one of the worst TV sci-fi experiments ever. The cast becomes dangerously unstable. Ironside quits in the middle of the show's run with no apparent reason. Others are killed without meaning. The special effects are cheapened and the use of stock footage – previously filmed scenes used again and again – is maddening. (At one point, they actually used stock footage from the previous week's episode.)... What was once a pretty decent science fiction saga with good drama, humor and suspense ends up becoming "Dynasty" with lizard makeup and laser guns. There's even an episode in which Diana marries her alien boss named (what else?) CharlesI end my blog article with a picture of the Royal Couple "Diana" and "Charles"
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