Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Invaders (In Color)!


For many many years the only experience I ever had with Quinn Martin Productions' The Invaders TV series was through the excellent Big Little Book I got hold of as a kid during the shows brief heyday in 1967 and 1968. I read and enjoyed "Alien Missle Threat" a few times and still have my original and much cherished copy.

But more recently I've been able to get hold of the show itself and give it a proper viewing. I was mostly inspired not only for my love of vintage sci-fi TV, but specifically to see how this show influenced my favorite 90's TV show The X Files. And as it turns out, quite a bit.


The first season followed swiftly on Quinn Martins' successful The Fugitive, and no secret is made that they wanted another show following along those lines. So Larry Cohen cooked up the notion that a lone man, a witness would pursue the threat of alien invasion single-handedly and single-mindedly. The first season was as much a study in paranoia as a sci-fi thriller. While the viewer is reasonably confident David Vincent (played masterfully by the exceedingly handsome Roy Thinnes - according to my wife) has truly seen aliens, few of his fellow characters believe him and he himself doubts from time to time. Slowly and relentlessly he uncovers threat after threat following the most vague of clues around the country, and often stopping the menace. But while it's a compelling concept, it's alas a limited one. And even by the end of Season One, you can tell the framework of the series is changing.


Those changes are all too evident in the second and final season as David finds allies in his struggle against the aliens, a group of "Believers" who funded by an important and wealthy industrialist are able to up the ante in the battle against the invaders. Kent Smith plays the industrialist Scoville who becomes a virtual co-star through the remainder of the series run.  Eventually the authorities are drawn into the secret war and by the end of the season it's hardly a matter of David's sanity, but merely a question of how effectively the human race itself will face this looming and growing threat. The second season offers up much more detail about the aliens themselves as we learn there are factions within their ranks, not all of them thinking the invasion is a good thing for anyone. They have a decidedly caste society with some few designated as "Leaders", of which only a half dozen have come to Earth. We get to see inside the iconic spaceships more than once, and the invaders themselves die in droves as they meet their maker by immolating in a bright red after death.

It's a fun, fun show with solid acting and often solid scripts. Some are better than others, but all have the professional patina a viewer can associate with any Quinn Martin show. There's a snap and briskness to the whole endeavor which speaks of quality. The special effects are downright good for the time, and in the final season are often on display. I imagine though if the show had gone on much longer it would've gotten dreary as the struggle against the invaders by definition needed to advance and develop or become repetitive. This happened on The X-Files after several years. The mystery can only be maintained for so long before it becomes an enigma of little interest to anyone.

The Invaders was adapted to not only Big Little Books, but also to comic book form. Below are the covers to the four issues of the comic published by Gold Key. Here are some links which will take you to a site where you can read the complete issues beautifully rendered by the painfully under-appreciated Dan Spiegle. Just click on the issue numbers - go to The Invaders #1, #2, #3, and #4.





Also there were some paperbacks written by the likes of Keith Laumer and others which filled in details of David Vincent's battle. I've never read these, but I'd love the chance to some day.





And finally there's this Whitman gem, a novel which serves as a companion of sorts to the BLB. It's a great stark image of Vincent as he runs in terror from the approaching saucer. The evocative logo for the show is much in evidence on this one.
 

Great stuff, and highly recommended. If you can find The Invaders for a reasonable price, I don't think you'll be disappointed. And as they dramatically announce at the beginning of every episode, it's "in color".

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6 comments:

  1. I caught a few episodes many years back (in the late '70s perhaps), but I'm not sure it was ever shown in Scotland when the series was first made, as I was unaware of it at the time (could be wrong 'though). I'll keep an eye out for the DVD set - although I still haven't got around to watching my boxed set of The Time Tunnel yet.

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    1. I have a bunch of Irwin Allen to catch up on. It always seems to get pushed back by something else.

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  2. I've seen a couple episodes of this show and I've always meant to watch the whole series.

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    1. There is value in the longer narrative, it does have some memory from episode to episode, though far from what we've grown accustomed to in modern shows.

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  3. more must see Saturday night viewing thanks for reliving a great series

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    1. It was a smart show made by real professionals. That stuff holds up.

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