The First Season
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All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Will Harris
he phrase, “A Quinn Martin Production,” is one of the most hallowed in the history of TV drama, instantly conjuring up memories of series like “The Fugitive,” “The Untouchables” and “The Streets of San Francisco.” Looking back over his myriad of accomplishments, there’s one show within Martin’s repertoire that stands alone from the others by virtue of its genre. Although “The Invaders” undeniably warrants inclusion in the sci-fi section, the underlying concept of the series is one which hits home in the real world: what if you knew an invasion was imminent but no one believed you?Such is the case with David Vincent (Roy Thinnes), an architect who, while driving home in the wee hours of the morning, stopped in search of black coffee but found instead a flying saucer. It’s a given that no one believes him, but David refuses to back down, and in the process, he discovers that the denizens of the saucer have taken on human form and are attempting to infiltrate Earth and take over the planet. It quickly becomes David’s quest to stop their invasion, but it’s definitely what you’d call an uphill battle. It’s bad enough that the average Joe clearly isn’t going to accept claims that aliens are invading, but what if you can’t even be sure that the person you’re telling isn’t one of the aliens?
In a twist on the concept of “The Fugitive,” David remains constantly on the run, trying to do what he can to prevent the aliens from gaining footholds on our planet. No, there’s no Lt. Gerard following him, but there is an entire race of beings out to destroy him before he reveals their secret. The lack of a regular supporting cast only serves to strengthen the viewer’s appreciation for just how dedicated David is to his cause, but as an added bonus, it also provides the series with the opportunity to utilize plenty of guest stars, including Roddy McDowall, Suzanne Pleshette, Jack Lord, James Whitmore, Dabney Coleman, Jack Warden, Norman Fell, Peter Graves, Ed Asner, Burgess Meredith and Ralph Bellamy. Pleshette’s appearance as an alien who finds herself unexpectedly attracted to David (the aliens tend to be emotionless) is particularly memorable, and not just because her character is a stripper. Lord takes the spotlight in an episode entitled “Vikor,” playing a businessman who decides that the cost of his soul is exactly what the aliens are paying him to use his facilities for their invasion plans, but his eventual (and just) fate is shocking in 2008, so one wonders how horrified viewers were in 1967.
Those concerned about how well the special effects of a ‘60s sci-fi show have aged will be pleasantly surprised to hear that, for a series focusing on an alien invasion, the majority of the goings-on are dramatic rather than FX-driven. Similarities to “The X-Files” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” are certain to be made by those being introduced to the series for the first time, and they’re completely valid, but it should be remembered that “The Invaders” was rather groundbreaking for its time, taking paranoia and bringing it into America’s living rooms on a weekly basis. If you’ve never seen it before, prepare to be pleasantly surprised -- it’s aged well and deserves to be rediscovered.
Special Features: For as much crap as I give Paramount for slacking off on providing bonus material on their TV-DVD sets, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t stand up and praise their work on “The Invaders.” The real fanboys will be psyched about the extended 60-minute version of the show’s pilot episode and the handful of original episode promos, but the less obsessive fans will still enjoy the interview and new episode introductions by Thinnes. Series creator Larry Cohen has also contributed audio commentary to one of his favorite episodes, “The Innocent.” See, Paramount? The stars and creators really do want to chime in when they’re given the opportunity!