|Created by||Brent V. Friedman
J. T. Walsh
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||20 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Bryce Zabel Productions
Columbia Pictures Television
|Original release||September 21, 1996– May 31, 1997|
Dark Skies is an American UFO conspiracy theory–based sci-fi television series that aired from the 1996 to 1997 season for 18 episodes, plus a two-hour pilot episode. The success of The X-Files on Fox proved there was an audience for science fiction shows, resulting in NBC commissioning this proposed competitor following a pitch from producers Bryce Zabel and Brent Friedman. The series debuted September 21, 1996 on NBC, and was later rerun by the Sci-Fi Channel. Its tagline was "History as we know it is a lie."
The series presents the idea that 20th century history as people know it is a lie. It depicts aliens having been among humans since the late 1940s, with a government cover-up concealing their existence from the public. As the series progresses, viewers follow John Loengard and Kim Sayers through the 1960s as they attempt to foil the plots of the alien "Hive". The Hive is an alien race that planned to invade Earth through a manipulation of historical events and famous figures, including most notably the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In addition, the pair must stay one step ahead of Majestic 12, a covert government agency that has mixed motives. The show depicted a number of real-life 1960s personalities in the plot, such as The Beatles, Robert F. Kennedy, Jim Morrison, and J. Edgar Hoover.
The series was cancelled before the end of the first season, due to low ratings. Although the last episode produced provides some form of closure for the series, with Kim Sayers becoming possessed by the Hive and the head of Majestic 12 being apparently assassinated, the show's creators had originally hoped to create five seasons, as indicated by the show's "Bible" or major planning document. According to Zabel and Friedman's original plan, the pilot and first season (given the overall title "Official Denial") would cover the period from 1961 to 1969, the second season ("Progenitor") 1970 to 1976, the third season ("Cloak of Fear") 1977 to 1986, the fourth season ("New World Order") would cover 1987 to 1999, and the fifth and final season ("Stroke of Midnight") would break from the decade-spanning format to encompass the apocalyptic final conflict against the invaders, taking place from 2000 to 2001.
The series depicts The Hive as an alien species who are covertly invading Earth. They are a parasitic race of small multi-legged spider-like beings that can take control of host bodies, by attaching themselves to the brain. They do this by entering through orifices on the head, commonly the mouth, though they are also shown to enter by squeezing through the nose and ears, with great discomfort to the host. Due to the way they attach themselves to the brain's ganglion regions, the series' protagonists dub the creatures "Ganglions".
Various stages from Alpha to Delta occur which show varying degrees of the infection. Initial symptoms of take-over include drastic mood swings, behavioral abnormalities, and nervous breakdowns, as the parasite adjusts to taking control of the person's mind. Past medical records of a nervous breakdown are a tell-tale sign that someone may have been taken over. The Gamma and Delta stages are where the Hive organism takes total control over the host which becomes nothing more than a shell for the invading organism.
Not all humans make acceptable hosts for the Ganglions. Due to certain genetic factors, a minority of humans are incompatible with the Ganglions' biology; these have been dubbed "Throwbacks". There are several cases where a group of people were abducted and taken over by Ganglion parasites, but a Throwback in the group wasn't infected and simply returned, often because it would be too conspicuous to kill them. Captured Ganglion parasites have been injected with the blood of Throwbacks, causing them to die in agony. The Hive is running various experiments to try to either eliminate Throwbacks or develop more humans who are easier to control, such as growing cloned human babies in cows.
Some time ago, the Ganglions invaded an advanced alien race, dubbed the "Greys" — the typical depiction of a Roswell Grey alien. The Greys were a race not unlike humans, though they possessed technology making them capable of interstellar travel. The Ganglion parasites invaded them in much the same way that they're trying to invade Earth now, and by the time they realized what was happening, it was too late. Thus, the "Grey aliens" seen abducting humans are really just as much a slave race or "shells" for the Ganglions as the infected humans are.
When the Ganglions were evolving, apparently before they took over other animals as hosts, they had a natural predator — slug-like creatures called "buzz worms". They have actually brought samples of the buzz worms along with them with their ships, using them as a particularly gruesome means of executing their own kind.
- Eric Close ... as John Loengard
- Megan Ward ... as Kimberly Sayers
- J. T. Walsh ... as Frank Bach
- Tim Kelleher ... as Jim Steele
- Conor O'Farrell ... as Phil Albano
- Charley Lang ... as Dr. Halligan
- Jeri Ryan ... as Juliet Stuart
Guest real-life 1960s characters
- James F. Kelly ... as Robert Kennedy
- Hansford Rowe ... as President Harry S. Truman
- Mike Kennedy... as Allen Dulles
- Don Moss ... as Senator Hubert Humphrey
- Jack Lindine ... as Jack Ruby
- Paul Gleason... as Governor Nelson Rockefeller
- Joe Urla .... as Dr. Carl Sagan
- Don Most ... as Dr. Timothy Leary
- Arell Blanton ... as General Nathan Farragut Twining
- Leon Russom ... as Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter
- Wolfgang Bodison... as Colin Powell
- Gunther Jenson ... as Captain Norman Schwarzkopf
- Marilyn McIntyre ... as Dorothy Kilgallen
- Mitchell Ryan ... as William S. Paley
- Wayne Tippit ... as J. Edgar Hoover
- Gary Lockwood ... as Chief Justice Earl Warren
- Susan Griffiths ... as Marilyn Monroe
- Dennis Creaghan ... as J. Lee Rankin
- Sam Whipple ... as J. Allen Hynek
- Robert Carradine ... as Lonnie Zamora
- James Lancaster ... as Kenneth Parkinson
- Carey Eidel ... as Brian Epstein
- Jerome Patrick Hoban ... as Ed Sullivan
- Carmine Grippo ... as Ringo Starr
- Tim Michael McDougall ... as Paul McCartney
- Rick Anthony Pizaria ... as George Harrison
- Joe Stefanelli ... as John Lennon
- Brent David Fraser ... as Jim Morrison
- Peter Van Norden ... as Henry Kissinger
|#||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||"The Awakening (Part 1)"||Tobe Hooper||Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel||September 21, 1996|
|1960-1962: Congressional Aid John Loengard is drawn into an investigation of Project Blue Book and finds himself confronted by its shadowy architects, known as Majestic 12.|
|2||"The Awakening (Part 2)"||Tobe Hooper||Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel||September 21, 1996|
|1962-1963: Now on the run from Majestic 12, John and his girlfriend Kim Sayers contact President Kennedy and reveal an alien race known as The Hive are conspiring to take over the world.|
|3||"Moving Targets"||Thomas J. Wright||Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel||September 28, 1996|
|November 23, 1963: The assassination of JFK sets the backdrop as John and Kim visit Jesse Marcel and discover the origins of how Majestic 12 came to be in July 1947.|
|4||"Mercury Rising"||Tucker Gates||James D. Parriott||October 19, 1996|
|January 30, 1964: When Kim has visions of an astronaut being abducted by the Hive, she and John head to Florida as Ranger 6 prepares to send NASA the first close-up pictures of the lunar surface.|
|5||"Dark Days Night"||Matthew Penn||Story by: Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Teleplay by: Brent V. Friedman & Brad Markowitz
|October 26, 1996|
|February 6, 1964: While in New York, John and Kim discover a Hive plot to hijack the Beatles' broadcast on The Ed Sullivan Show and activate their latest agenda for world domination.|
|6||"Dreamland"||Winrich Kolbe||Steve Apsis||November 2, 1996|
|Early March, 1964: Following a lead to Las Vegas, John and Kim are tasked by none other than Howard Hughes to help stop a Hive invasion of Area 51, also known as Dreamland.|
|7||"# Inhuman Nature"||Rodman Flender||Melissa Rosenberg||November 9, 1996|
|April 11, 1964: In Wisconsin, John and Kim discover that recent episodes of cattle mutilation may be masking a Hive plot to create the perfect genetic weapon.|
|8||"Ancient Future"||Lou Antonio||James D. Parriot & Gay Walch||November 16, 1996|
|March 27, 1964: When The Good Friday Earthquake reveals a 2,000 year old spacecraft buried in the Alaskan wilderness, John and Kim must make a deal with Majestic 12 to prevent Armageddeon.|
|9||"Hostile Convergence"||David Jackson||Story by: Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Teleplay by: Javier Grillo-Marxuach
|December 7, 1996|
|April 24, 1964: Lonnie Zamora's claim of a close encounter in Socorro, New Mexico puts John and Jesse Marcel on the trail of secret UFO blueprints one step ahead of Majestic 12.|
|10||"We Shall Overcome"||Jim Charleston||Bryce Zabel||December 14, 1996|
|June 21, 1964: Amidst the Mississippi civil rights workers’ murders, John meets Mark Simonson (Raphael Sbarge), his former supervisor from Congressman Pratt’s office.|
|11||"The Last Wave"||Perry Lang||Melissa Rosenberg||January 4, 1997|
|July 21, 1964: John and Kim go to Los Angeles for the funeral of an old college friend and discover a Hive plot to contaminate the water supply which they stop with the help of a young Jim Morrison.|
|12||"The Enemy Within"||Jim Charleston||Story by: Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Teleplay by: Brad Markowitz
|January 11, 1997|
|August 19, 1964: John visits his family in Fresno, California in order to cash in a couple of savings bonds for money to keep them going, only to discover his brother has been implanted by the Hive.|
|13||"The Warren Omission"||Perry Lang||Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel||January 18, 1997|
|Late August, 1964: John gives testimony to the Warren Commission regarding Captain Bach and Majestic 12's involvement in the JFK Assassination.|
|14||"# White Rabbit"||James A. Contner||Brent V. Friedman||February 1, 1997|
|Early September, 1964: John and Bach go on a top secret mission near Laos, Vietnam in search of some missing AURA-Z operatives and a Hive saucer that has been shot down.|
|15||"Shades of Gray"||Perry Lang||Brad Markowitz||February 8, 1997|
|Mid October, 1964: A plan is hatched to shoot down a Hive saucer. This leads to a gray alien being captured and a "cerebral eviction" being performed to remove its Hive ganglion.|
|16||"Burn, Baby, Burn"||Steve Posey||James D. Parriott||March 1, 1997|
|August 10, 1965: With the help of Majestic 12, John and Kim travel to California amidst the Watts Riots to have their baby. Kim is abducted by the Hive from hospital, implanted and her baby taken.|
|17||"Both Sides Now"||James A. Conter||Melissa Rosenberg||March 8, 1997|
|September 25, 1965: Kim is spotted in Berkeley, California working with a group of anti-war activists and Jim Steel. She chooses her son over John and "crosses over" becoming fully Hive.|
|18||"To Prey in Darkness"||Thomas J. Wright||Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel||March 15, 1997|
|November 7, 1965: A piece of film taken at the 1947 Roswell Incident goes missing from the Majestic 12 HQ. John and Juliet are ordered to retrieve it before it is revealed to the public. This leads to the Northeast blackout of 1965.|
|19||"Strangers In the Night"||Michael Levine||Brad Markowitz||May 24, 1997|
|August 19, 1966: Majestic 12 send a team, which includes John, Juliet and Major Colin Powell, to the AURA-Z Command Center in Chernobyl, USSR after they are attacked by a group of escaped prisoners. Also, at this time Bach enlists the help of Dr Carl Sagan to help find the homeworld of the Hive.|
|20||"Bloodlines"||Perry Lang||Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel||May 31, 1997|
|June 17, 1967: Dr Carl Sagan discovers a tenth planet in the far reaches of the Solar System that is broadcasting Hive signals. John and Juliet investigate a new drug called "Brown Cubes" that link the user to the Hive which leads John to volunteer for "Project Intruder" which puts him on a Hive mothership in order to rescue his son.|
NOTE: # The episode "Inhuman Nature" was shown out of chronological order and should come after "Ancient Future". The episode "White Rabbit" opens up with the 'Gulf of Tonkin' Incident on August 2, 1964 but it is a few weeks later after John visits his family and testifies to the Warren Commission when the rest of the episode takes place.
Following fan campaigns for many years, an announcement was made that Dark Skies would receive a complete series DVD boxset release in October 2007 (presumably for Region 1). However, Sony Entertainment subsequently cancelled the release, citing prohibitive music licensing costs.
Executive producers Bryce Zabel and Brent Friedman received permission from Sony to find a DVD releasing partner to put the series on the market. However, three independent DVD firms, while initially extremely enthusiastic about doing so, also backed away after discovering the potential costs involved in licensing the period music. Zabel told fans on his blog:
"It doesn't mean the idea is dead but it does mean it's not going to be easy. I'm as committed as I've ever been to seeing the series released on DVD so that old fans and new fans can have an excellent quality viewing experience, the way we always intended. Or maybe the conspiracy we wrote about is real and they just don't want the truth to get out..."
On January 11, 2009, Zabel reported that "Brent and I aren't ready to say that's the end of it, but it's the end of the beginning. We're probably more disappointed than any fan out there."
Region 2 distribution rights have now been acquired by Mediumrare, with the full series being released on DVD in the United Kingdom on 18 October 2010.
On the August 9, 2010 episode of Coast to Coast AM, Zabel announced that the series would be released on Region 1 DVD by Shout! Factory on January 20, 2011. The series has successfully been released in the US on 6 DVDs, including a number of special features (a "making of" featurette, and the never-before-seen pitch for the second season, among others) on the last disc.
The Pilot episode was included in the last DVD as an extra.
To celebrate the show's tenth anniversary, a limited edition CD soundtrack was released on Perseverance Records in September 2006, featuring selections from the original television score composed by Michael Hoenig and a previously unreleased Pilot Suite arranged by The X-Files composer Mark Snow.
- Zabel, Bryce and Friedman, Brent. 1995. Dark Skies Bible
- Byman, Chris. 1997. Dark Skies: The Official Guide to the First TV Series. London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-70784-4. pp. 117-8
- Conley, Tim and Cain, Stephen. 2006. Encyclopedia of fictional and fantastic languages. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-33188-X. p.38
- For What It's Worth: Bryce Zabel Post on DVD Status
- TV Shows on DVD: SONY Gets Cold Musical Feet
- Dark Skies finally being released on DVD