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Old December 13 2008, 02:11 AM   #1
Hober Mallow
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Alien Nation fans?

There's gotta be a couple people here who remember this great series. As science fiction, it's a bit silly. Then again it was stuck with some of the nonsense introduced in the feature film. Still, Ken Johnson and his writers produced some pretty decent episodes and one really good TV movie.

I picked up the complete series on DVD and then the complete TV movie collection (all five post-series TV movies). Unfortunately, the movies get progressively worse, but the first one, Dark Horizon, is actually pretty powerful, despite being stuck with having to spend the first half of the movie having to wrap up the final episode cliffhanger (and despite the four year gap between the final episode and Dark Horizon forcing them to retcon a good chunk of the backstory).

So, any other fans of George and the slags?
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Old December 13 2008, 02:52 AM   #2
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
There's gotta be a couple people here who remember this great series. As science fiction, it's a bit silly.
That depends on your parameters. The science part, particularly the biochemistry, was quite implausible. But as science fiction -- fiction that uses speculative scientific, technological, or social advances as a basis for allegory and commentary on the human condition -- it was vastly less silly than most of genre TV, a very intelligent and thought-provoking show.

The movies are fine, and I'm actually glad that Dark Horizon pretty much retconned "Green Eyes" out of continuity, because "Green Eyes" was a very contrived and implausible finale, with all the characters being simultaneously forced into huge crises. The only movie I have a real problem with is the last one, The Udara Legacy, which forgets that Newcomers have longer lifespans than humans and treats 70s as elderly for them even though that's George's age.
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Old December 13 2008, 03:04 AM   #3
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

I really like the movie, uncredited rewrite by James Cameron by the way, and really enjoyed the series. I was truly disappointed in the series cancellation, but never saw the TV movies as I was at a certain age at that point where I was out every night getting inebriated in some form or another and swearing to everyone at the party; "I don't like science fiction. That's for losers."
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Old December 13 2008, 03:55 AM   #4
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

I discovered the series as a blind buy on DVD about six months ago. Yes, the alien biology was pretty implausible, but the ideas behind the series were very adult and very thoughtful--something you don't get from the usual science fiction series. I thought Green Eyes was a great finale, although I agree that every character does seem to end up in a pickle at the same time.

I picked up the Movie box set as well as the original movie after finishing the series. I didn't overly care for Dark Horizons because of all the ret-cons to the series regular, and Sykes' hair looked awful (that seems incredibly superficial, but it really bugged me). Luckily, the second film, Body and Soul, was better. I look forward to the rest of them (haven't had a chance to watch since starting this semester, but that will all be over next week).

As for the original film, I watched it a couple of months ago, and with the exception of a few things, found it to be pretty awful. I realize now its where all the implausible trappings in the television series come from (I'm pretty sure salt water is acid to the aliens solely for an easy out to the ridiculous finale). Worse, it doesn't have any of the series' ideas. George's family is barely seen, and Newcomer culture is pretty one-dimensional.
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Old December 13 2008, 04:13 AM   #5
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

I don't think I watched the series when it was on TV, but I did watch a few of the TV movies and I watched some reruns several years ago and enjoyed them.
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Old December 13 2008, 04:45 AM   #6
Dayton Ward
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Another fan here. I didn't actually see the film until after the series started airing on Fox, due to being stationed overseas that year (I did read the novelization, though). The show started airing the fall I got back, and I rented the film from Blockbuster and decided I liked the series versions of the characters better. I'm still a fan after all these years.
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Old December 13 2008, 04:47 AM   #7
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

some stupid slags canceled this great series
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Old December 13 2008, 04:52 AM   #8
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Yes.
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Old December 13 2008, 05:00 AM   #9
Hober Mallow
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Hirogen Alpha wrote: View Post
I discovered the series as a blind buy on DVD about six months ago. Yes, the alien biology was pretty implausible, but the ideas behind the series were very adult and very thoughtful--something you don't get from the usual science fiction series.
Absolutely. That's why I never missed an episode when it was on the air.
I thought Green Eyes was a great finale, although I agree that every character does seem to end up in a pickle at the same time.
The Buck and teacher storyline was really unnecessary. Johnson and the writers did some more interesting stuff with Bush in the later movies.
I picked up the Movie box set as well as the original movie after finishing the series. I didn't overly care for Dark Horizons because of all the ret-cons to the series regular, and Sykes' hair looked awful (that seems incredibly superficial, but it really bugged me).
Most of the retcons didn't bother me because four years had passed between Green Eyes and Dark Horizon, so there really no way to ignore the fact that everyone was older, particularly Lauren Woodland who played Emily, who was 11 during the series run and 15 during Dark Horizon. Retconning the year (1995 and '96 during the series, 1999 in DH) and most of Green Eyes I understood.

The one thing I didn't like was that during the series a big part of the alien backstory was that George's generatyion was born on the slave ship and that only the elders had seen Tencton, but in DH George mentioned being very young when he was taken from his Tencton village but "I still remember." I think that one was just a good old fashioned goof.
Luckily, the second film, Body and Soul, was better. I look forward to the rest of them (haven't had a chance to watch since starting this semester, but that will all be over next week).
Although I liked DH more than I liked B&S, there's no denying B&S is much closer in tone to the original series. I remember the first time I saw it thinking that it really felt like the series was back on the air, a feeling I didn't get with DH.
As for the original film, I watched it a couple of months ago, and with the exception of a few things, found it to be pretty awful. I realize now its where all the implausible trappings in the television series come from (I'm pretty sure salt water is acid to the aliens solely for an easy out to the ridiculous finale). Worse, it doesn't have any of the series' ideas. George's family is barely seen, and Newcomer culture is pretty one-dimensional.
Just accepting the ridiculous notion that salt water is like acid to them, it still begs the question of why they would live on the coast of a vast ocean after gaining their freedom.
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The movies are fine, and I'm actually glad that Dark Horizon pretty much retconned "Green Eyes" out of continuity, because "Green Eyes" was a very contrived and implausible finale, with all the characters being simultaneously forced into huge crises.
To complicate matters, though, they continue to make references to the events of Green Eyes in both DH and Millennium.

I won't disagree with Green Eyes being kind of a mess, but there's two scenes in DH that don't have quite the impact they would have had Green Eyes been fresh on people's minds the first time the movie aired.

In DH, after it's clear Cathy is falling for Aphossno, Sikes wears Tenctonese clothing and drinks sour milk to prove he can be more like her. The scene still advances the story without Green Eyes, but if you remember Cathy spent the last episode trying to act human and eat cooked food so Sikes would like her, the scene is more poignant.

The other scene when Matt and George sing to Susan. In the original script for the unproduced second season episode "Soul Train" (basically the first half of DH without Aphossno) this was going to be the moment the two put aside their feelings and forgave each other for what happened in the last episode. In DH, this scene just seems to be there for more comic relief than anything.

The only movie I have a real problem with is the last one, The Udara Legacy, which forgets that Newcomers have longer lifespans than humans and treats 70s as elderly for them even though that's George's age.
Not only that, but Aphossno pretended to be Udara in DH, and George seemed to be impressed, telling Matt they were like Samurai. In Udara Legacy, when George hears the word Udara he reacts with shock, horror, and disgust, and we find out they are nothing at all like what we were told in DH.

No one's mentioned Enemy Within, yet, which was godawful.
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Old December 13 2008, 05:06 AM   #10
nevermore
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

This was one of my favorite series when i was a kid, and one of the first I got really, really mad about the cancellation. Somehow, I always thought it was more than one season though; I guess it left a disproportionately large impression...

...or maybe it was the movies.
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Old December 13 2008, 02:37 PM   #11
Dale
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Was a big fan of both the original film and the series. I agree that the post-series movies got worse as they went on. The show and the movies, though, were a labor of love by the creators and cast, and it showed.

As an interesting aside, some of the original "Slagtown" sequences from the movie were filmed on Western just south of Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood and for many years afterward you could drive down there and see Newcomer script left on signs and walls. Some people didn't paint over it for ages!
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Old December 13 2008, 06:48 PM   #12
Basill
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

I loved the show and was furious when it was cancelled.

I saw a few of the TV movies, though I am pretty sure I didn't see the final one. It's been so long, but did they ever mention that baby again in the movies as they progressed? I seem to remember them putting it in some room or cocoon like a house plant because it was that "phase" but I don't remember anything about her after that. The birth of the baby was one of my favorite moments in the series but it seems like they just wrote her off after that as some sort of character mistake.

I always liked how uncle Moodri was able to defy the physics of their biochemistry and step into the ocean with no ill effects. It made me think that maybe the Tenctonese were actually more powerful in terms of their paranormal mind abilities than anyone realized, but that they had simply been reprogrammed to believe they would die with salt water (possibly as a method of controlling slaves) and actually somehow did it to themselves. I don't think they ever touched on this idea again after the uncle died.

As to why they would all settle there on the coast, that was either a human decision or if they were given a choice after they came out of quarantine, maybe it was just what they knew best. If the salt water thing was a Kleezong-whatever slave control method, maybe one of the things the slaves did most (mining or some such) involved being close to salt water oceans on many worlds. What better way to keep your minions in line than to have them that close to imminent doom. Thus use their mind abilities against them and make them believe that salt water will eat them alive. It's all speculation on my part, but that was one of the things I loved most about the series to begin with!
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Old December 13 2008, 07:22 PM   #13
Forbin
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
There's gotta be a couple people here who remember this great series. As science fiction, it's a bit silly.
That depends on your parameters. The science part, particularly the biochemistry, was quite implausible. But as science fiction -- fiction that uses speculative scientific, technological, or social advances as a basis for allegory and commentary on the human condition -- it was vastly less silly than most of genre TV, a very intelligent and thought-provoking show.
In fact, at the time it was on, I thought it was the best real science fiction on TV at the time. Episodes like the Thanksgiving and Haloween stories were just frickin' brilliant.

I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Pierpoint and Michelle Scarabelli at a Creation a couple years ago. Very nice people. I had just bought the DVDs, and I commented to them that I was surprised to find there was only one season. In my memory, the show seemed to be much more. I told them it must have seemed that way because the show was just so rich, so full of so much good stuff...

Michelle stamped her hand on the table and turned to Eric and said "Ya see? THAT's why we were canceled - too much stuff!"

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Old December 13 2008, 07:30 PM   #14
Forbin
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Basill wrote: View Post
I loved the show and was furious when it was cancelled.
Me too! IIRC, one of the shows that replaced it in its time slot was a terrible sitcom called "Babes," a show about a group of obese women living together, specifically designed to make fat joke after fat joke. It was beyond offensive, and only lasted a few epsiodes. I remember thinking how vile Fox was to dicth brilliant social-commentary sci fi in favor of lowest-common-denominator sophomoric insult-comedy.
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Old December 13 2008, 07:33 PM   #15
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

I have the TV movie boxset, and it's nice to see them back in action, but they aren't anywhere near as good as the series was. The first one is the best.
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