Dark Skies

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Dark Skies
GenreScience fiction
Created byBrent V. Friedman
Bryce Zabel
StarringEric Close
Megan Ward
J. T. Walsh
Tim Kelleher
Conor O'Farrell
Charley Lang
Jeri Ryan
ComposerMichael Hoenig
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes20
Production companiesBryce Zabel Productions
Columbia Pictures Television
DistributorSony Pictures Television
Original networkNBC
Original releaseSeptember 21, 1996 (1996-09-21) –
May 31, 1997 (1997-05-31)

Dark Skies is an American UFO conspiracy theory-based sci-fi television series that debuted on NBC on September 21, 1996, and ended on May 31, 1997, and was later rerun by the Sci-Fi Channel; 18 episodes and a two-hour pilot episode were broadcast as a part of NBC's short-lived Thrillogy block. The success of The X-Files on Fox proved an audience existed for science-fiction shows, resulting in NBC commissioning this proposed competitor following a pitch from producers Bryce Zabel and Brent Friedman. Its tagline was "History as we know it is a lie."

Series overview[edit]

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 John Loengard meeting his son 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.[1] 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 Hive[edit]

The series depicts the Hive as an alien species who are covertly invading Earth. They are a parasitic race of small multilegged, 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 that show varying degrees of the infection.[2] 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 few humans are incompatible with the Ganglions' biology; these have been dubbed "Throwbacks". Several cases occur where a group of people were abducted and taken over by Ganglion parasites, but a Throwback in the group was not infected and simply returned, often because killing them would be too conspicuous. 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 are 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.

The Hive's language, Thhtmaa, was developed by University of California, Los Angeles, graduate student Matt Pearson. Pearson went on to become a professor of linguistics at Reed College.[3][4]

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.



Notable guests, based on real-life 1960s figures[edit]


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"The Awakening (Part 1)"Tobe HooperBrent V. Friedman & Bryce ZabelSeptember 21, 1996 (1996-09-21)
1960–1962: Congressional Aide 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 HooperBrent V. Friedman & Bryce ZabelSeptember 21, 1996 (1996-09-21)
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. WrightBrent V. Friedman & Bryce ZabelSeptember 28, 1996 (1996-09-28)
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 GatesJames D. ParriottOctober 19, 1996 (1996-10-19)
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 PennStory by : Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Teleplay by : Brent V. Friedman & Brad Markowitz
October 26, 1996 (1996-10-26)
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 KolbeSteve ApsisNovember 2, 1996 (1996-11-02)
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 FlenderMelissa RosenbergNovember 9, 1996 (1996-11-09)
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 AntonioJames D. Parriot & Gay WalchNovember 16, 1996 (1996-11-16)
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 JacksonStory by : Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Teleplay by : Javier Grillo-Marxuach
December 7, 1996 (1996-12-07)
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 CharlestonBryce ZabelDecember 14, 1996 (1996-12-14)
June 21, 1964: Amidst the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, John meets Mark Simonson (Raphael Sbarge), his former supervisor from Congressman Pratt’s office.
11"The Last Wave"Perry LangMelissa RosenbergJanuary 4, 1997 (1997-01-04)
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 CharlestonStory by : Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Teleplay by : Brad Markowitz
January 11, 1997 (1997-01-11)
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 LangBrent V. Friedman & Bryce ZabelJanuary 18, 1997 (1997-01-18)
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. ContnerBrent V. FriedmanFebruary 1, 1997 (1997-02-01)
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 LangBrad MarkowitzFebruary 8, 1997 (1997-02-08)
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 PoseyJames D. ParriottMarch 1, 1997 (1997-03-01)
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. ConterMelissa RosenbergMarch 8, 1997 (1997-03-08)
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. WrightBrent V. Friedman & Bryce ZabelMarch 15, 1997 (1997-03-15)
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 LevineBrad MarkowitzMay 24, 1997 (1997-05-24)
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 LangBrent V. Friedman & Bryce ZabelMay 31, 1997 (1997-05-31)
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.

Home media release[edit]

Following fan campaigns for many years, an announcement was made that Dark Skies would receive a complete series DVD box set release in October 2007 (presumably for Region 1).[5] However, Sony Entertainment subsequently canceled the release, citing prohibitive music licensing costs.[6]

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...[7]

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 were acquired by Mediumrare, with the full series being released on DVD in the United Kingdom on October 18, 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.[8] The series was successfully released in the US on six DVDs, including a number of special features (an hour-long "making of" documentary, 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.

CD soundtrack[edit]

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.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
1997 23rd Saturn Awards Best Genre Network TV Series
Dark Skies
Best Genre TV Actor Nominated
Best Genre TV Actress Nominated
49th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Main Title Design
Mike Jones
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Nominated
1st OFTA Television Awards Best New Theme Song in a Series
Michael Hoenig
1998 50th Writers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Writing for a Long Form – Original
Bryce Zabel and Brent V. Friedman


  1. ^ Zabel, Bryce and Friedman, Brent. 1995. Dark Skies Bible
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Conley, Tim and Cain, Stephen (2006). Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-33188-X. p. 38.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2017-03-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ For What It's Worth: Bryce Zabel Post on DVD Status Archived 2007-02-24 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ TV Shows on DVD: SONY Gets Cold Musical Feet
  7. ^ http://www.brycezabel.com
  8. ^ Dark Skies finally being released on DVD

External links[edit]