Alien Nation (1989 TV series)
|Created by||Kenneth Johnson|
|Written by||Kenneth Johnson
Rockne S. O'Bannon
|Narrated by||Charles Howerton|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||22|
|Executive producer(s)||Kenneth Johnson|
|Running time||~45 minutes|
|Original run||September 18, 1989 – May 7, 1990|
Alien Nation is a science fiction television series, loosely based on the movie of the same name. Gary Graham starred as Detective Matthew Sikes, a Los Angeles police officer reluctantly working with "Newcomer" alien George Francisco (from the planet Tencton), played by Eric Pierpoint. Sikes also has an on again-off again flirtation with a female Newcomer, Cathy Frankel, played by Terri Treas.
The storylines generally revolved around morality plays on the evils of racism and bigotry using Newcomers as the discriminated minority. As fictional extraterrestrial immigrants, the Newcomers could stand in for social issues about African-Americans or Hispanics, as well as sexual minorities such as homosexuals, and would invert the usual expectations. For instance, during the run of the series, George became pregnant (the male of his species carrying the fetus for part of its gestation) and during much of the episode dialog included lines like, "If you females had to feel the pain we males feel during pregnancy, there wouldn't be any babies." The series offered social commentary by illustrating what it means to be human and the often bizarre rituals we observe.
In an April 2, 2008 episode of Fanboy Radio (#463), creator Johnson explains: Having been responsible for science-fiction television series such as The Six Million Dollar Man, V and The Incredible Hulk, was approached for the television adaptation of the 1988 film Alien Nation. He had no interest in the project and agreed to watch the film which left him unimpressed except for one scene when a Newcomer, George, leaves his suburban wife and child and goes to work. Johnson returned to the network, which envisioned a weekly science-fiction version of Lethal Weapon, and sold them on a different concept of social commentary about what happens when a new minority appears overnight. He intended his version to be more akin to the film In The Heat of The Night than a traditional action film.
Differences between the movie and the TV series
- In the movie version, human detective "Matthew Sykes" is played by James Caan. In the TV series, actor Gary Graham plays the role of "Matthew Sikes"
- Detective George Francisco, (originally named "Sam Francisco" by the Human Immigration Authorities) the Newcomer detective, is played by Mandy Patinkin in the movie. Eric Pierpoint plays the character in the TV series.
- The TV series has a much lighter tone than the movie, with extensive subtle humor and wordplay. The movie is essentially a noir piece, very gritty and hard-bitten.
- Many aspects of Newcomer culture are explored in the TV series, including childbirth, religion, family, history, and longing for their home planet. In the movie, Newcomer culture is hinted at but never explored.
- In the movie, Francisco has a wife named Susan (played by Kendall Conrad) and a son (called "George Jr." in the credits, although Mandy Patinkin states that within the film, he was named "Richard" after Richard Nixon) played by Brian Lando. In the TV series, his wife is still named Susan (Michele Scarabelli), but his son is named Buck (Sean Six). He also has a daughter, Emily (Lauren Woodland), and gives birth to an additional daughter, Vessna.
- In the movie, Sykes's daughter is married. In the TV series, she is unmarried and is of college age with a boyfriend.
- Both detectives work for Captain Warner (Francis X. McCarthy) in the movie. In the TV series, it is Captain Bryon Grazer (Ron Fassler).
The weekly series ran for one season, from 1989 through 1990, and was one of the few successes the fledgling Fox Network had at the time. However, the network suffered from financial shortage caused by lower-than-expected advertising income. As a result, Fox executives cancelled all of their dramatic series for the 1990–1991 season. A second season of Alien Nation was clearly expected by the producers, as the season ended with a cliffhanger. The show built a strong fan base, and popular demand led to "Dark Horizon", the episode that would have begun the second season, being novelized and adapted as a comic book as well as spawning a series of novels. Four years later, after a change of management at Fox, the story of Alien Nation continued with five television movies (including all the original cast), picking up with the cliffhanger.
- Alien Nation: Dark Horizon (1994)
- Alien Nation: Body and Soul (1995)
- Alien Nation: Millennium (1996)
- Alien Nation: The Enemy Within (1996)
- Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy (1997)
Note: These last two were made back-to-back, and because Terri Treas was in a relatively advanced state of pregnancy, her character Cathy Frankel appears only briefly in each.
- Alien Nation (1988)
- Detective Matthew Sikes – Gary Graham
- Detective George Francisco – Eric Pierpoint
- Susan Francisco – Michele Scarabelli
- Emily Francisco – Lauren Woodland
- Buck Francisco – Sean Six
- Cathy Frankel – Terri Treas
- Albert Einstein – Jeff Marcus
- Cpt. Bryan Grazer – Ron Fassler
- Beatrice Zepeda – Jenny Gago
- Burns – Jeff Doucette
- Sergeant Dobbs – Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
- Jill – Molly Morgan
- Uncle Moodri – James Greene
|Ep#||Title||Original airdate||Production code|
|1||"Pilot"||September 18, 1989||1|
|As resentment toward the Newcomers builds, Matt Sikes and George Francisco investigate a string of murders that appears to be the work of a giant, insect-like creature that Purists claim is connected to the Newcomers, and Matt receives information from his dead former partner that may lead to and uncover a greater evil.|
|2||"Fountain Of Youth"||September 25, 1989||2|
|A pair of surgeons have been killing Newcomers for their spartiary glands and implanting the life-lengthening glands into humans.|
|3||"Little Lost Lamb"||October 2, 1989||3|
|George and Matt go undercover to investigate a prostitution ring, and George's uncle Moodri, a Tenctonese Elder, convinces Buck to face up (and confess) to a killing Buck had committed in self-defense.|
|4||"Fifteen With Wanda"||October 9, 1989||4|
|Matt and George struggle to cope with both their respective rebellious children and each other while simultaneously trying to protect a sex-crazed witness from a mobster.|
|5||"The Takeover"||October 16, 1989||5|
|Amidst a bloody city-wide riot, Matt and George must stop the hoodlums who lay siege to the police precinct in order to raid its evidence locker for contraband.|
|6||"The First Cigar"||October 23, 1989||6|
|Behind on his taxes, George accepts a loan from a Tenctonese businesswoman, only to discover that she is involved in a drug ring plaguing Slagtown.|
|7||"Night of the Screams"||October 30, 1989||7|
|As Halloween approaches, a series of grisly murders is patterned after the mythical Tagdot, a Tenctonese boogeyman who severs the hands of his victims as they bleed to death.|
|8||"Contact"||November 6, 1989||8|
|In the wake of an astronomer's murder, George and Matt must prevent an Overseer from sending a signal into space which could result in Earth's enslavement.|
|9||"Three To Tango"||November 13, 1989||9|
|Someone has been murdering Binnaums, a unique caste of Newcomers required in Tenctonese procreation, putting stationhouse janitor (and binnaum) Albert Einstein in grave danger, and Sikes and George fear it is the work of Purists intent on preventing Newcomers from multiplying. Also, the Franciscos make plans for a third child.|
|10||"The Game"||November 20, 1989||10|
|George is forced to confront his past when a Russian Roulette-style game once played on the slave ship resurfaces to plague Newcomer society.|
|11||"Chains Of Love"||November 27, 1989||11|
|George goes undercover to track down a murderous female Newcomer who has been using a dating service and a Tenctonese love drug called Sardonak to lure victims, while Matt must deal with the attentions of a male Newcomer who has taken Sardonak but fallen for Matt instead. In this episode George takes Susan some cut flowers which seems in conflict with the movie Alien Nation: Dark Horizon where living flowers are preferred.|
|12||"The Red Room"||December 18, 1989||12|
|Matt and George join the search for an elusive killer, a Newcomer trained in the quarantine camps to be an assassin for the C.I.A.|
|13||"The Spirit Of '95"||January 15, 1990||13|
|As Newcomers (in particular Susan and Buck) lobby for the right to vote, the violent kidnappings of prominent campaigners are blamed on the Purists.|
|14||"Generation To Generation"||January 29, 1990||14|
|A mysterious Tenctonese artifact is passed along from person to person, leaving a trail of dead in its wake ... including someone very close to the Francisco family.|
|15||"Eyewitness News"||February 5, 1990||15|
|While George's being featured on a news show special as a model Newcomer starts going to his head, Matt investigates an attack on a Tenctonese porno star.|
|16||"Partners"||February 12, 1990||16|
|When George is implicated in a scandal involving the disappearance on his watch of several kilos of an illegal narcotic known as "Jack", it is up to Matt to clear him ... an effort that strikes close to Matt. Also, the Francisco family prepares for the transference of the pod from Susan to George.|
|17||"Real Men"||February 19, 1990||17|
|Sikes and a pregnant George track a thief who is stealing Newcomer blood to sell Tenctonese hormones to human bodybuilders.|
|18||"Crossing The Line"||February 26, 1990||18|
|Matt's vacation plans are thwarted by the return of The Doctor, a ruthless serial killer who eluded him years ago, but during the investigation George worries that Matt is hiding something from him.|
|19||"Rebirth"||March 12, 1990||19|
|Following a life-after-death experience, Matt is convinced that a Tenctonese criminal has the ability to bring the dead back to life.|
|20||"Gimme, Gimme"||April 9, 1990||20|
|George's investment in a Tenctonese fabric company is jeopardized when one of the firm's corporate executives meets with foul play, Buck protests against worker exploitation at the firm's factory, and Matt sells one of his lottery tickets to Albert ... only to see him win.|
|21||"The Touch"||April 30, 1990||21|
|Cathy is reunited with a boy from the Newcomer slave ship, but when he exhibits bizarre behaviour and appears emotionally troubled, she goes beyond the law in her attempts to intervene.|
|22||"Green Eyes"||May 7, 1990||22|
|Matt and Cathy struggle with their romantic feelings for one another, while George and Matt's partnership/friendship may implode due to George's promotion over Matt and a plot to exterminate the Tenctonese race via a deadly bacteria unfolds.|
The series was released on DVD January 3, 2006 by 20th Century Fox. The five telefilms that followed after the series was cancelled were released in Region 1 by Best Buy exclusively on September 11, 2007, and worldwide on April 15, 2008
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Alien Nation- The Complete Series||22||January 3, 2006||
|Alien Nation- Ultimate Movie Collection||5||September 11, 2007||
- Roush, Matt (June 3, 2013). "Cancelled Too Soon". TV Guide. pp. 20 and 21
- Gross, Ed, Alien Nation: The Unofficial Companion, Renaissance Books, 1998.
- "Alien Nation DVD news: Box Art for Alien Nation – The Ultimate Movie Collection". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
- By (June 30, 2009). "Sci Fi cops a remake of 'Alien' tale – Entertainment News, TV News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
- Matt Mitovich (July 1, 2009). "Tim Minear and SyFy Explore a New Alien Nation". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2009-07-01.