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Old December 13 2008, 07:43 PM   #16
Christopher
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Forbin wrote: View Post
I remember thinking how vile Fox was to dicth brilliant social-commentary sci fi in favor of lowest-common-denominator sophomoric insult-comedy.
Well, to be fair, the decision was made based on economics, not content. The FOX executives loved Alien Nation, but it was a very expensive show to make, what with all the location shooting, makeup, and action/stunt sequences. And at the time, FOX was still only airing a few nights' programming per week and wanted to expand their lineup. Their bean-counters told them that they could make four half-hour sitcoms for the same amount they spent on this one hourlong drama. So they sacrificed AN in favor of the four sitcoms, getting an extra hour worth of prime-time programming at no added cost.

But to their credit, the FOX execs kept AN on the back burner and tried to find a way they could afford to bring it back. They encouraged the producers to develop scripts for a second season, and then proposed continuing the show as a series of movies. And though it took four years, they finally committed to making those movies.

So it's really not fair to call FOX's decision "vile." They loved the show and supported it to the best of their ability. But they were running a business, so their decisions had to be based on monetary profit and loss, not personal likes and dislikes. The sad fact is, lowbrow sitcoms are more profitable than intelligent SF dramas, both because they're a lot cheaper to produce and because more people actually watch them.
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Old December 13 2008, 07:56 PM   #17
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Alien Nation was a great show and a good movie. I'm amazed it was ever made.
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Old December 13 2008, 10:49 PM   #18
Hober Mallow
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Basill wrote: View Post
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 seem to remember an interview with Ken Johnson from around '94 in which he said they were going to put Vessna in a cacoon and have her emerge as an older kid in alien makeup. Their reasoning was they couldn't keep making a new puppet every year, but they couldn't put a real baby in alien makeup. In the commentary for Dark Horizon, Johnson mentioned how bad he thought the puppet looked.

In Body and Soul, Vessna goes into the cacoon, but then they just never got around to bringing her back. You'd think George would remember giving birth to Vessna in "Real Men" and wonder what happened to his third kid. (Then again, George forgot males are the ones who give birth when in "Fifteen with Wanda" he lamented the fact that he wasn't there when Buck was born. Say what, George?!)
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Old December 13 2008, 11:11 PM   #19
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Hirogen Alpha wrote: View Post

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.
I would give the film the benefit of doubt on this matter. Although it is on species it would be like saying you really don't learn about Vulcans or Klingons from Spock ands Worf in the movies.

Interesting thing about George renamed from Sam Francisco. My ex was a refugee from Vietnam and assigned a random name from immigration like the newcomer Sam in the movie. Much of slag society was loosly based on Jim Crow laws and the Vietnamese refugees of 1976.
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Old December 13 2008, 11:54 PM   #20
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Star Wolf wrote: View Post
I would give the film the benefit of doubt on this matter. Although it is on species it would be like saying you really don't learn about Vulcans or Klingons from Spock ands Worf in the movies.
But that's more excusable because you had a whole prior series to explore their cultures in. In this case, the original Alien Nation film created this fascinating scenario -- aliens as the latest wave of immigrants in America -- and proceeded to do virtually nothing with it except to make a routine buddy-cop movie with a monster tacked on at the end. It was an exercise in wasted potential. The TV series embraced the potential that the movie squandered in favor of cliche.
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Old December 14 2008, 01:56 AM   #21
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

But can a producer assume that the audience member has seen the previous series and/or movies. Perhaps Trek is a special case.
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Old December 14 2008, 02:10 AM   #22
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Star Wolf wrote: View Post
But can a producer assume that the audience member has seen the previous series and/or movies. Perhaps Trek is a special case.
^^Yes, that's exactly my point. For the original Alien Nation movie, there was nothing previous. So any Trek analogy is totally inapplicable. The movie was, at the time, completely standalone. For all its makers knew, it was the one and only chance they'd ever have to tell a story set in that world. And they did nothing to explore the potential of that world once they set it up. They created a fascinating, imaginative setup, and then they just told a routine, by-the-numbers buddy-cop movie. And that was a waste.

Kenneth Johnson has said as much. When he was brought in to do the series, he looked at the movie, and when he saw the one passing glimpse of George saying goodbye to his family in the background, he thought, "I want to see that movie instead." Because that was where the interesting story was, but the movie went for cliche instead. Many critics made the same observation.
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Old December 14 2008, 04:07 AM   #23
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

I own the series, and the movies, on DVD. Great show.
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Old December 14 2008, 04:54 PM   #24
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Forbin wrote: View Post
I remember thinking how vile Fox was to dicth brilliant social-commentary sci fi in favor of lowest-common-denominator sophomoric insult-comedy.
Well, to be fair, the decision was made based on economics, not content. The FOX executives loved Alien Nation, but it was a very expensive show to make, what with all the location shooting, makeup, and action/stunt sequences. And at the time, FOX was still only airing a few nights' programming per week and wanted to expand their lineup. Their bean-counters told them that they could make four half-hour sitcoms for the same amount they spent on this one hourlong drama. So they sacrificed AN in favor of the four sitcoms, getting an extra hour worth of prime-time programming at no added cost.

But to their credit, the FOX execs kept AN on the back burner and tried to find a way they could afford to bring it back. They encouraged the producers to develop scripts for a second season, and then proposed continuing the show as a series of movies. And though it took four years, they finally committed to making those movies.

So it's really not fair to call FOX's decision "vile." They loved the show and supported it to the best of their ability. But they were running a business, so their decisions had to be based on monetary profit and loss, not personal likes and dislikes. The sad fact is, lowbrow sitcoms are more profitable than intelligent SF dramas, both because they're a lot cheaper to produce and because more people actually watch them.
I'll retract the "vile," then, based on that background info I didn't know (you're damn handy for that, Christopher!). I did understand the obvious economics of their decision at the time. But, my god, that sitcom "Babes" itself was vile!
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Old December 15 2008, 11:31 PM   #25
Hober Mallow
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Forbin wrote: View Post
But, my god, that sitcom "Babes" itself was vile!
At the very least, I think, we can all agree on that.

I just watched The Enemy Within again, and it's not quite as bad as I remember. At the time it initially aired I think I just couldn't get past the B-movie silliness of the alien creatures, but there's some good stuff there. A bulk of the film was stuff writers Frolov and Schneider had wanted to do for years: the Eenos were supposed to be introduced in the episode "Gimme Gimme" and the Albert and May story was in the original "Body and Soul" script. The role reversal, with George as the bigot and Matt as the defender of the oppressed, was interesting.

It's still my least favorite of the movies, but I'll take the worst of AN over the best of most shows today.
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Old July 8 2013, 06:45 PM   #26
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Hmm. I just saw AN (the original feature film) yesterday evening. Only reason I got it was because (a) I'd missed the movie and the entire series (though I'd read about them in Starlog), and wasn't even aware of the follow-up TV movies until I looked it up on Wikipedia, while watching the film, and (b) it came in the same box as Enemy Mine, for the price of just EM by itself.

Not really into violent "buddy cop" stuff, or "noir," and thought AN could have had more detail on Newcomer culture and still been tightened up, but I found it watchable.

Didn't really find the "sodium chloride is fatal to Newcomers" any more implausible than the dreaded salt vampires of M113, although I did find the seemingly carbonized condition of Strader's body, and Francisco's use of a scarf (porous and absorbent, probably worse than nothing at all!) in a futile attempt to protect his hand when rescuing Sykes, to be very implausible.

Not quite sure what to make about the references, in Wikipedia, to "Uncle Moodri" walking through salt water, and living to tell about it, in the TV series.
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Old July 8 2013, 07:55 PM   #27
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

The movie is vastly inferior to the show. The film sets up this great idea with amazing potential, and squanders it in favor of a formulaic mismatched-buddy-cops-vs.-drug-dealers action plot. The series takes that amazing potential and runs with it far and fast. The show created a world so rich and believable and immersive that while the series was on the air, there were times when I'd be outside and see a bald man in the distance and actually believe for a moment that it might be a Newcomer. That's how much the series sucked me in. And it used science fiction as a vehicle for social commentary better than any show since Star Trek had done -- and few since have matched it.
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Old July 8 2013, 10:33 PM   #28
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

Christopher wrote: View Post
The movie is vastly inferior to the show. The film sets up this great idea with amazing potential, and squanders it in favor of a formulaic mismatched-buddy-cops-vs.-drug-dealers action plot. The series takes that amazing potential and runs with it far and fast. The show created a world so rich and believable and immersive that while the series was on the air, there were times when I'd be outside and see a bald man in the distance and actually believe for a moment that it might be a Newcomer. That's how much the series sucked me in. And it used science fiction as a vehicle for social commentary better than any show since Star Trek had done -- and few since have matched it.
Agreed. While there were inconsistencies in the show, I found my mind fighting to reconcile them as the bulk of the series was, as you say, "so rich and believable ". The show had some completely hokey moments-but the levity combined with the attempt at serious world-building made it a delight to watch.
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Old July 8 2013, 10:44 PM   #29
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

The show certainly has its share of hokey moments typical of American television from the late 1980s, but it's also a highly ambitious sf program that, despite that ambition, never took itself too seriously. It's a shame Tim Minear's revival didn't take off a few years ago; the concept has tons of potential and with the slightest of revisions would only be even more relevant today than it was twenty-five years ago.

My opinion of the movie has mellowed somewhat in the past five years, but it's still not a great realization of its premise.
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Old July 8 2013, 11:37 PM   #30
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Re: Alien Nation fans?

^I would've rather had a direct, in-continuity sequel, even with totally different characters, than a reboot (although of course I'd love a sequel that brought back Graham, Pierpoint, etc.). The AN universe was so rich that I would've liked to see it evolve over time, to revisit it and see how the situation has changed in the past couple of decades as Newcomers have grown in number and spread more widely through the population. Resetting it to the beginning doesn't appeal to me as much.
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