Alien Nation fans?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Hober Mallow, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    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?
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    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.
  3. T'Baio

    T'Baio Admiral Admiral

    Oct 18, 2001
    Ontario, Canada
    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."
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Oct 8, 2005
    Los Angeles, California
    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.
  5. KDoug

    KDoug Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Nov 8, 2007
    Maryland, USA, Earth
    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.
  6. Dayton Ward

    Dayton Ward Word Pusher Rear Admiral

    May 22, 2000
    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. :)
  7. V

    V Commodore Commodore

    Feb 21, 2003
    The Shadow Gallery
    some stupid slags canceled this great series
  8. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Dec 27, 2006
    the real world
  9. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    Absolutely. That's why I never missed an episode when it was on the air.
    The Buck and teacher storyline was really unnecessary. Johnson and the writers did some more interesting stuff with Bush in the later movies.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.

    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.
  10. nevermore

    nevermore Admiral Admiral

    Nov 16, 2004
    The Land of Pleasant Living
    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. :vulcan:
  11. Dale

    Dale Vice Admiral Admiral

    Mar 30, 2006
    Mt. Baldy, CA
    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!
  12. Basill

    Basill Captain Captain

    Oct 30, 2004
    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! :D
  13. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I said out, dammit!
    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!"

  14. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I said out, dammit!
    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.
  15. Pingfah

    Pingfah Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Feb 28, 2005
    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.
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    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.
  17. Neopeius

    Neopeius Admiral Admiral

    Nov 3, 2001
    OSF Headquarters
    Alien Nation was a great show and a good movie. I'm amazed it was ever made. :)
  18. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    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?!)
  19. Star Wolf

    Star Wolf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Mar 14, 2003
    ciudad de Los Angeles
    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.
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    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.