"The Invaders" Standard DVD review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 4 Old 05-31-08, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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"The Invaders" Standard DVD review

When I was an adolescent, I was 'glued to the tube' as the saying went with
the exception of the weekends when I went to the large screen cinemas.
Looking back, my favorite years of television were the 1966-1968 seasons when I was between the ages of 9-11. That's when there were
the greatest number of programs that I enjoyed viewing. There were no affortable
videocasette recorders back then so I had to make sure to watch them when they
were broadcast. Unless a series went into syndication, it was a one shot deal and if you missed an episode there was no way of seeing it again (at least for another
40 years on DVD). I liked all of the off the wall sitcoms that the critics hated like "It's About Time", "Gilligan's Island", "Captain Nice", "Mr. Terrific", "The Mothers in Law" and "My Mother the Car".
I guess they were accurate when they complained that too many shows were geared
for young children rather than adults but since I was a kid, that was fine by me.

However, there were exceptions among them the shows made by Quinn Martin.
He was Jack Webb's main competitor for crime series on the air. Webb had "Dragnet",
"Adam 12" and later "Hec Ramsey" and "The D.A". Martin had "The FBI", "The Fugitive" and
later "Streets of San Francisco" and "Barneby Jones". "The Invaders" was somewhat of
a departure for him although it was still written in the police procedural fashion.
As most of you probably know, while cinema was considered a 'director's medium' in that era,
television remained a producer's medium. On the tube, the producer was the 'auteur'.
Directors just followed the format and style that the creater designed in advance of his
participation. Nothing wrong with that if the concept and formula were good.

"The Invaders" was a sci-fi combination of Martin's own "Fugitive" and "FBI" shows
and followed his formula of dividing each show into a prologue, four acts and an epilog.
It worked nicely within the confines of network television and gave natural breaks in the story
for commercials rather than the random breaks on other shows which interrupted the narrative. You've all seen television shows that fade out a person in the
middle of the scene then cut to a commercial and fade back into the same shot
of the person and continue the scene. Very distracting and disorienting.
This show still works without the commercials included in the episodes. A jagged puzzle optical effect introduces each chapter which was a common device back then also utilized in "Get Smart" and "The Wild, Wild West".

The series is an ultra-paranoid variation of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Roy Thinnes plays
an architect who witnesses a flying saucer land near a deserted diner. No one believes him
of course and he becomes a target of the alien invaders who disguise themselves as humans
and begin to infiltrate and populate the earth. They take over high tech businesses and official
jobs like policemen. Like the Pods, they have no emotions and kill anyone who gets in their
way which of course was how the communists were depicted in other shows and movies
in that era. This was only a few years away from the Cuban Missile crisis and the height of the Cold War which had a lasting
impact on American culture. No one could be trusted and there
was not only a danger of not recognizing the enemy in disguise (Alger Hiss) but also making the mistake of accusing innocent people (Joseph McCarthy). Whittiker Chambers warned Truman that Hiss was a spy but he didn't believe him at first. Kruchev took off his shoe and thumped it on the table at the UN shouting "We will bury you". That's ancient history now but it was still within recent memory in
1967. In many episodes Thinnes can't identify the real alien, suspects humans who aren't invaders and is called a crackpot by authority figures. Another show from
that era that had a similar paranoid framework and lingering fear of totalitarianism
was "The Prisoner" which is a nice companion piece to this series.

These Alien invaders have a couple of flaws that makes it possible to identify
them. They have problems with the joints in their hands including a twisted pinky
finger. Also, when they are killed they glow red then burst into flames and evaporate. In one episode it suggests that they really resemble slimey sea
creatures and have to keep regenerating themselves to keep their simulated
human form. They scream in agony as they start to resort back to their
alien form.

The special effects are pretty good for a mid-sixties show, especially the alien disintigration effect. The flyer saucer is hokey but it's rarely shown. The alien equipment and underground complexes are immaginative with brain washing and other torture devices. They have a machine that hooks to a human's head and extracts technical data which can be seen on a series of triangle shaped computer monitors which simultaneously destroying those brain cells afterwards
making the person appear as if they had a lobotomy. They also have a machine that can give the human a heart attack without leaving any trace.

The show ran two seasons and it's the first season that was just released although there is
a bootleg of the entire show floating around the web. I suggest purchasing this official release.
Since this was only the second year of networks broadcasting in color, each episode is proceeded
by an announcment that "The Invaders" was in color which was amusing. The series was shot
in 35mm and simulated the 'Glorious Technicolor' look of movies at the time so the photography
is very good with saturated fleshtones and vibrant primaries. In a couple of episodes the image
gets momentarily muddy and grainy which might have been some 16mm syndication footage
edited into the masters to replaced damaged 35mm film. Otherwise, they look excellent and
they hold up when projected on a DLP. Unfortunately, unlike Martin's "The Fugitive" which had
a series finale, this show never officially ended so you don't know if Thinnes was able to stop
the alien invasion.

One of the show's attributes were the many guest stars who appeared either as aliens or
as victims of the invaders. Among them were Arthur Hill, Roddy McDowall, Ed Asner, Suzanne
Pleshette and many others you'll recognize. One of my favorite episodes guest
stars Robert Walker Jr. as an alien 'youth'. What's even creepier is the fact that
Walker is a dead ringer for his father Robert Walker Sr. who played "Bruno" in
Hitchcock's classic "Strangers on a Train" which was the actor's final film.
He even has his father's voice and it's like his late father was reincarnated into this alien character. In general the human guest stars get killed and Thinnes is left trying to convince others that the invasion is real. Unlike Irwin Allen's
sci-fi shows like "The Time Tunnel", each episode of this series is a separate entity and there are no cliff hangers or continuing plot devices from show to show. I guess that made it easier to show in syndication since there was no particular order to watch them. Another attribute is the creepy music score by Dominic Frontiere ("The Outer Limits").

In the extras is an extended version of the pilot episode and an interview with Roy Thinnes
who also does a brief introduction of each show. Thinnes looks pretty good at age 70 although
I would not have recognized him from the character he plays in this series at age 29. He's not
a particularly good interviewee and tends to stammer trying to collect his thoughts. He claims
he had a 'close encounter' just prior to the series broadcast and you can believe that if you like. The other suppliment is a commentary by series writer, Larry
Cohen, who later moved into feature films. Unfortunately, it was disappointing. While he gives a good overview of his career he doesn't talk much about "The Invaders" focussing his discussion on an earlier show he wrote called "Branded" starring Chuck Conners which I've never seen. Also, the show he does the commentary on was not one of the episodes he wrote which made no sense at all. Shouldn't he have done it on an episode he was directly involved with? The show he does talk over had a fascinating sequence at the New York World's Fair which was still intact three years after it folded. I really wanted to hear about that shoot but it isn't even mentioned.

In summary, I recommend this show to those who enjoy the other Quinn Martin productions
and mid-sixties sci-fi series in general. Obviously the effects aren't the state of the art but
the acting and premise are good and the atmosphere appropriately eerie. I enjoyed it and look
forward to Season Two.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 06-07-08 at 06:47 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 05-31-08, 06:50 PM
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Re: "The Invaders" Standard DVD review

Ah yes..I remember that show..It was one of the better sci-fi TV shows..
It's a pity they don't bring back some of the better sci-fi shows and get rid of this rubbish they purport to be "popular entertainment"..

There was also a very good BBC sci-fi series a number of years ago..can't remember the name..about a crashed landed alien!.who had escaped his home planet to warn Earth of an impending invasion..
You might remember it..

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post #3 of 4 Old 06-03-08, 05:25 AM Thread Starter
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Re: "The Invaders" Standard DVD review


Unfortunately I don't. Do you recall the name or who starred? I'll try to look it up.
I agree most contemporary shows are poor and often dumbed down although that was
what critics said in the sixties too. It's more difficult today for television producers since
there is no 'general audience' as there was in the past. With all of the cable and home
video competition, most programmers opt for a 'targeted audience'. That's fine if you're
part of that demographic but if you're not, it's difficult to find shows you want to watch.
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post #4 of 4 Old 06-03-08, 07:39 PM
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Re: "The Invaders" Standard DVD review


The only actor I can remember the name of at the moment was Jacqueline McKenzie, an Australian actor..
From memory, she was the lead Scientist of this group who were the only ones aware of the invasion..

I remember that the aliens would manifest something like a black hole that would suck people into it, and alter their minds.. and they would then be imprisoned in the alien ship.

It was quite a few years ago when they were showing the series..and I don't know if they ever showed it in the States..

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