Alien Nation (TV series)

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Alien Nation
Alien Nation TV series title card.png
Genre Science fiction
Detective drama
Created by Kenneth Johnson
Written by Kenneth Johnson
Rockne S. O'Bannon
Starring Gary Graham
Eric Pierpoint
Michele Scarabelli
Lauren Woodland
Sean Six
Terri Treas
Narrated by Charles Howerton
Composer(s) Joe Harnell
Steve Dorff
Larry Herbstritt
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 22
Executive producer(s) Kenneth Johnson
Producer(s) Tom Chehak
Art Seidel
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Kenneth Johnson Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Original network Fox
Original release September 18, 1989 – May 7, 1990

Alien Nation is a science fiction police procedural television series in the Alien Nation franchise. Adapted from the 1988 movie of the same name, it stars Gary Graham as Detective Matthew Sikes, a Los Angeles police officer reluctantly working with "Newcomer" alien Sam "George" Francisco, played by Eric Pierpoint. Sikes also has an on again-off again flirtation with a female Newcomer, Cathy Frankel, played by Terri Treas.

TV Guide included the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were "Cancelled Too Soon".[1]


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 gays and lesbians, 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[edit]

  • 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,as well as building up the original buddy cop theme. 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 fully explored or rounded out.
  • 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.
  • Matt and George both 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.

Television movies[edit]

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.[2]

Original movie[edit]

Main cast[edit]

The cast of Alien Nation

Episode list[edit]

Episode # Title Original airdate Production code
1 "Pilot" September 18, 1989 (1989-09-18) 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 (1989-09-25) 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 (1989-10-02) 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 (1989-10-09) 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 (1989-10-16) 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 (1989-10-23) 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 (1989-10-30) 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 (1989-11-06) 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 (1989-11-13) 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 (1989-11-20) 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 (1989-11-27) 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 (1989-12-18) 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 (1990-01-15) 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 (1990-01-29) 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 (1990-02-05) 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 (1990-02-12) 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 (1990-02-19) 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 (1990-02-26) 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 (1990-03-12) 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 (1990-04-09) 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 (1990-04-30) 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 (1990-05-07) 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.

DVD release[edit]

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[3]

DVD Name Release Date Additional Information
Alien Nation - The Complete Series January 3, 2006
  • Commentary by Kenneth Johnson on the two-hour pilot telefilm
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
Alien Nation - Ultimate Movie Collection September 11, 2007

Cancelled revival[edit]

In June 2009, Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi Channel) announced that they were developing a new take on the series.[4] Tim Minear (Angel, Firefly) was announced to pen the series.[5] But later in 2014, it was reported that the new rebooted series would be cancelled by the network in favor of paranormal reality shows and professional wrestling. Minear is currently busy producing the current drama American Horror Story.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roush, Matt (June 3, 2013). "Cancelled Too Soon". TV Guide. pp. 20 and 21
  2. ^ Gross, Ed, Alien Nation: The Unofficial Companion, Renaissance Books, 1998.
  3. ^ "Alien Nation DVD news: Box Art for Alien Nation – The Ultimate Movie Collection". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  4. ^ "Sci Fi cops a remake of 'Alien' tale – Entertainment News, TV News, Media". Variety. June 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  5. ^ Matt Mitovich (July 1, 2009). "Tim Minear and SyFy Explore a New Alien Nation". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  6. ^ "Alien Nation Is Getting Rebooted Yet Again". Giant Freakin Robot. Retrieved 2015-05-10. 

External links[edit]