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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Horror > TV > The Invaders – The Complete First Season (1967/CBS DVD)

The Invaders – The Complete First Season (CBS DVD)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B

 

 

Before The X-Files and even Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Invaders (1967) was the first weekly TV Sci-Fi/Horror TV series with a continuously investigative scenario where the main character(s) have to stop something awful from happening when just about everyone does not even believe in the existence of said menace(s) in the first place.  Roy Thinnes plays architect David Vincent, who one night cannot find a hotel to stay in, falls asleep in his car and suddenly awakens to see a flying saucer landing with creatures entering and leaving it.  His simple inquiries turn into a major pursuit for the truth, to stop a take-over of the earth and the end of the human race.

 

Between those who know he is telling the truth, including the aliens who will kill to keep their presence secret to those few who realize he is telling the truth, there are those who do not want to believe him, a few who have cut deals with the aliens and others in power and authority who are more interested in holding on to their power than caring what happens to anyone.  Needless to say it is an uphill battle.

 

The show arrived at the beginning of the year on ABC as a mid-season replacement when another hour-long series on the network had run its course.  Many though Fox and Irwin Allen made the show, a myth perpetuated by the Fox Network’s failed revival a few years or so ago with Thinnes, but one that he was hardly in and was forgettable.  It was actually produced by Quinn Martin, best known for his 1960s cycle of detective shows and at this point, he was hot off of The Fugitive, a series this one tries to emulate.  Possibly too much.

 

It has been literally decades since I have seen the series and I forgot how great the show really was, so long to of circulation it has been.  However, it holds up very well as created by Larry Cohen, a master of suspense who moved on to make some very important Horror films like It’s Alive and God Told Me To, plus penned the recent hit thriller Phone Booth.  He was that good then too and even though the show had many writers, his initial work was solid enough to make this a classic and more than just a cult item.  Even John Carpenter owes a debt to him and the series for his underrated They Live (1988) that remains his last great film.

 

 

The episodes, with key guest stars, include:

 

1)     Beachhead (guest stars Diane Baker. James Daly & J.D. Cannon)

2)     The Experiment (Roddy McDowall, Laurence Naismith & Harold Gould)

3)     The Mutation (Suzanne Pleshette, Roy Jenson. Val Avery & Ted Gehring)

4)     The Leeches (Diana Van der Vlis, Arthur Penn, Noah Keen & Ray Kellogg)

5)     Genesis (John Larch, Louise Latham, Tim McIntire & William Sargent)

6)     Vikor (Jack Lord, Alfred Ryder, Diana Hyland & Richard O’Brien)

7)     Nightmare (Robert Emhardt, Kathleen Widdoes & Jeanette Nolan)

8)     Doomsday Minus One (William Windom, Andrew Duggan & Wesley Addy)

9)     Quality: Unknown (James Whitmore, Susan Strasberg & Milton Selzer)

10)  The Innocent (Michael Rennie, William Smithers and Dabney Coleman)

11)  The Ivy Curtain (Jack Warden, Susan Oliver, Murray Matheson & Barry Russo)

12)  The Betrayed (Norman Fell. Ed Begley and Laura Devon)

13)  Storm (Joseph Campanella, Barbara Luna and Simon Scott)

14)  Panic (R.G, Armstrong, Lynn Loring, Robert Walker. Jr. and Ford Rainey)

15)  Mooonshot (Peter Graves, Joanne Linville, John Ericson & Kent Smith)

16)  Wall Of Crystal (Burgess Meredith, Ed Asner, Linden Chiles & Julie Sommars)

17)  The Condemned (Ralph Bellamy, Marlyn Mason, Murray Hamilton & Seymour Cassel)

 

 

Though it is effectively half a season, it is very effective indeed and to have so many great actors (even the less familiar ones) doing genre work they later would not be found in is a plus.  It could also go a few rounds with all the similar shows that followed, but is also good on the drama level.  CBS is finally getting this out on the market now that they have the Quinn Martin catalog to release and once again, the shows are looking really good.

 

The 1.33 X 1 color image on each of the episodes is often exceptional in its clean appearance, color, use of color and compositions.  The pilot has some detail issues, one that also can be seen on the extended version, but the show looks like more money was spent on it than most supposedly big-budget TV series of its ilk today.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sounds very good for its age, rarely compressed and the music score (including the theme song by Dominic Frontiere, who scored some of the episodes) is great music in any medium.

 

Extras include new on-camera introductions by Thinnes for every episode, a longer version of the pilot, three promos for this season and a terrific audio commentary by Cohen on The Innocent with Michael Rennie (The Day The Earth Stood Still) as a villainous alien.

 

Sadly, the series only lasted one more full season, which we should see on DVD soon and hopefully with even more extras.  Of course, it has been imitated and the direct revivals never worked, though Cohen says he’d like to try again.  We hope he does.  For the record, one of the most interesting revivals was by Dan Curtis of Dark Shadows fame, trying to recreate the success of his first Night Stalker telefilms by casting Thinnes as investigative reporter David Norliss.  Maybe using the first name again was a mistake, but a TV movie intended as a pilot was made, even if a TV series never materialized called The Norliss Tapes.  You can read more about it on DVD at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/4440/The+Norliss+Tapes+(Horror+Telefilm)

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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