Alien Nation fans?

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

  1. Star Wolf

    Star Wolf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But can a producer assume that the audience member has seen the previous series and/or movies. Perhaps Trek is a special case.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^^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.
     
  3. Kail

    Kail Commodore Commodore

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    I own the series, and the movies, on DVD. Great show.
     
  4. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    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!
     
  5. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    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.
     
  6. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^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.
     
  11. Mike Farley

    Mike Farley Commodore Commodore

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    What exactly was the relationship between the original movie and the series? Was it like Stargate, where the series was a more or less straight in-continuity continuatio of the movie? Or was it more like, say, MASH where the movie was more of a springboard for characters and ideas, but definitely not in continuity with the series?
     
  12. Star Wolf

    Star Wolf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As I recall it was a mild reboot with Francisco family members changing their names and Detective Sikes changing from Skyes.

    But early on in the TV series other concepts were introduced like the humans wearing hats to protect themselves from the environmental damage. I think they introduced Francisco as the new, maybe first detective and partner on TV but its been years
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    There were some minor differences; notably the alien makeup was simplified, making them more human in appearance. (In the movie, there was a fuller head/face makeup and prosthetics to alter the shape of the rib cage, while in the show the makeup left the face exposed and didn't affect the body.) The drug featured in the movie wasn't mentioned in the show, though nothing overtly contradicted its existence. (It is mentioned in at least one of the tie-in novels.) And yes, the spelling of Sikes's name was changed, probably for some sort of legal reason.

    But aside from those few tweaks, it was meant to be in continuity with the movie. In fact, stock footage of some of Roger Aaron Brown's scenes in the movie was incorporated into the series pilot as flashbacks. So yeah, it's basically like Stargate.
     
  14. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    I'd argue there's very little relationship between the original movie and the TV series continuity. The year was changed from 1991 to 1995 (although the later TV movies based on the series pushed the year forward even more), there's never any mention of George ever being named Sam Francisco, and even though there's a flashback to movie events, it happens in the context of Matt telling George how his old partner died. In the movie, George is an active part of the events, so he wouldn't need Matt to explain things. In the movie, the aliens who've enslaved the Newcomers used a drug to keep them in line; in the series, a gas was used that made them submissive.

    As I recall, the first Alien Nation novel, "Day of Descent," did a pretty good job of stitching together the disparate elements of the film and the series.
     
  15. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I believe there is a single reference to it, albeit an obscure one. In at least one episode, George has a "I Love San Fransisco" mug which has been altered to say Sam.

    I asked Kenny Johnson about that once, and the real reason is simply that he spelled it like he heard it without consulting the movie and goofed.
     
  16. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    I remember the scene with the mug, but I don't remember it having been altered in any way. It's been so long since I've seen it, though, I could be wrong.

    I do remember one movie element that made it into the pilot episode before being dropped for the rest of the series -- Sike's name meaning "excrement" and "cranium" in Tenctonese. Johnson brought back the joke for "Millennium," which he wrote, but no other Alien Nation writer ever brought it up.
     
  17. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    While AN was on the air, I thought it was the best "actual" science fiction series on at the time. TNG was in, what season 2 or 3 at the time, and mostly doing action/adventure in space. AN was busy doing morality plays and social allegory, and examining human nature from an outside perspective.
     
  18. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    I quite enjoyed the movie but the two decades later District 9 dealt with this kind of problem in a much more believable way. While it's lovely to think of aliens living among us as equals, the District 9 scenario rang true.
     
  19. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    More believable is some ways, at least. :)

    I have often wondered if the makers of District 9 intentionally aped some of the ideas from Alien Nation or if it was a subconscious thing.

    No, I am more than likely wrong...I tend to be a lot these days. (My mind is going!) I may very well have imagined the "Sam". :(
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, you appear to have forgotten the hell out of Alien Nation. While attempts were being made to integrate the Newcomers into American society, because that's what America aspires to at its best, the reality was that they were very, very far from being treated as equals, and the pervasive racism and intolerance they faced was a central thread of the series. The main recurring villains were Purists who wanted to exterminate them altogether, Final Solution style. Not to mention that they had originally been segregated in internment camps for a fair amount of time before being allowed to integrate.

    And personally I think it's very believable that we'd be more willing to attempt integration with aliens who looked and sounded mostly human than we would with ones who looked like great big bugs. It's also very believable that 1990s America would be more willing to attempt integration than 1980s South Africa, before the end of apartheid, would've been. So I don't see any credibility gap between the two premises. They're similar thought experiments, but with different initial conditions, and thus different outcomes.