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 (list of episodes)
Production
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
Release
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]

Storylines[edit]

The series is set in the near future in the United States. In 1991 a flying saucer crashes in the Mohave Desert containing a race of extraterrestrials escaping from slavery under a cruel Overseer race. They resemble humans, but have certain anatomical differences (their erogenous zones are located on their backs and the males are the gender that deliver babies) and have been bred with greater physical strength and intelligence. These Newcomers, as they are called, are accepted as the latest immigrants to America and the series explores issues around their integration into the multicultural society of the US.

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 various races, 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.

Development[edit]

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).

Cancellation[edit]

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
  • Detective Matthew "Matt" Sikes – (Gary Graham) - A Human detective partnered with George Francisco.
  • Detective George Francisco – (Eric Pierpoint) - A Newcomer detective partnered with Matthew Sikes.
  • Susan Francisco – (Michele Scarabelli) - A Newcomer, George's wife.
  • Emily Francisco – (Lauren Woodland) - A Newcomer, George and Susan's young daughter.
  • Buck Francisco – (Sean Six) - A Newcomer, George and Susan's initially delinquent teenage son.
  • Cathy Frankel – (Terri Treas) - A Newcomer bio-chemist, Matt's neighbor and on-off girlfriend.
  • Albert Einstein – (Jeff Marcus) - A timid Newcomer janitor, working at the police department.
  • Cpt. Bryan Grazer – (Ron Fassler) - A Human police officer, Matt and George's superior.
  • Beatrice Zepeda – (Jenny Gago) - A Human detective in Matt and George's squad who sometimes works with them on cases.
  • Burns – (Jeff Doucette) - A Human photographer.
  • Sergeant Dobbs – (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) - A Human police officer.
  • Jill – (Molly Morgan) - A Human girl, Emily's friend
  • Uncle Moodri – (James Greene) - An eccentric but wise Newcomer, a member of the Francisco family who provides counsel to both Buck and George.

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
code
1 "Pilot" Kenneth Johnson Kenneth Johnson September 18, 1989 (1989-09-18) 6W79
2 "Fountain Of Youth" John McPherson Diane Frolov September 25, 1989 (1989-09-25) 6W03
3 "Little Lost Lamb" Kevin Hooks Diane Frolov October 2, 1989 (1989-10-02) 6W02
4 "Fifteen With Wanda" Rob Bowman Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle October 9, 1989 (1989-10-09) 6W04
5 "The Takeover" Steven Dubin Tom Chehak October 16, 1989 (1989-10-16) 6W05
6 "The First Cigar" John McPherson Andrew Schneider & Diane Frolov October 23, 1989 (1989-10-23) 6W01
7 "Night of the Screams" Gwen Arner Tom Chehak October 30, 1989 (1989-10-30) 6W06
8 "Contact" John McPherson Joe Menosky November 6, 1989 (1989-11-06) 6W07
9 "Three To Tango" Stan Lathan Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider November 13, 1989 (1989-11-13) 6W08
10 "The Game" David Carson Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle November 20, 1989 (1989-11-20) 6W09
11 "Chains Of Love" Harry S. Longstreet Andrew Schneider & Diane Frolov November 27, 1989 (1989-11-27) 6W10
12 "The Red Room" Chuck Bowman Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle December 18, 1989 (1989-12-18) 6W11
13 "The Spirit Of '95" Harry S. Longstreet Tom Chehak January 15, 1990 (1990-01-15) 6W12
14 "Generation To Generation" John McPherson Andrew Schneider & Diane Frolov January 29, 1990 (1990-01-29) 6W13
15 "Eyewitness News" Lyndon Chubbuck Charles S. Kaufman & Larry B. Williams February 5, 1990 (1990-02-05) 6W14
16 "Partners" Stan Lathan David Garber & Bruce Kalish February 12, 1990 (1990-02-12) 6W15
17 "Real Men" John McPherson Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider February 19, 1990 (1990-02-19) 6W16
18 "Crossing The Line" Gwen Arner Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle February 26, 1990 (1990-02-26) 6W17
19 "Rebirth" Tom Chehak Tom Chehak March 12, 1990 (1990-03-12) 6W18
20 "Gimme, Gimme" David Carson Andrew Schneider & Diane Frolov April 9, 1990 (1990-04-09) 6W19
21 "The Touch" Harry S. Longstreet Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle April 30, 1990 (1990-04-30) 6W20
22 "Green Eyes" Tom Chehak Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider May 7, 1990 (1990-05-07) 6W21

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

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. But later in 2014, it was reported that the series was cancelled by the network in favor of paranormal reality shows and professional wrestling.[5] In 2015, it was reported that a remake of the series was again in the works, with Art Marcum and Matt Holloway writing the script.[6]

See also[edit]

References[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. ^ Lambert, David (August 11, 2007). "Alien Nation - Pricing, Box Art for Alien Nation - The Ultimate Movie Collection". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  4. ^ Schneider, Michael (June 30, 2009). "Sci Fi cops a remake of 'Alien' tale". Variety. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  5. ^ Mitovich, Matt (July 1, 2009). "Tim Minear and SyFy Explore a New Alien Nation". TVGuide.com. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (March 25, 2015). "'Alien Nation' Remake in the Works With 'Iron Man' Writers (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 

External links[edit]