The Invaders: Alien Beings From a Dying Planet…
…Their destination: The Earth. Their purpose: To make it their world.
So began one of the finest science fiction television shows of its era.
It was the mid-Sixties and this genre of film and television production was really making its mark. The Fifties gave birth to a whole host of monster movies, mainly generated by America’s fear of Reds under the bed. During the Sixties, TV was catching up with the likes of Star Trek, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants and this diamond in the rough: The Invaders.
A Quinn Martin Production
From the Quinn Martin production line, the show introduced us to David Vincent (played by Roy Thinnes) – a man who had witnessed the landing of an alien spacecraft, but who now had to convince the authorities and the rest of the world of the presence of it occupants.
Over time, and through many tense and dangerous encounters, Vincent learns how to identify the aliens. Having taken human form, they easily blend into society, but subtle psychological and emotional differences are evident to our protagonist. For instance:
- They have to undergo a regenerative process in order to sustain life.
- When they are injured, they don’t bleed.
- There is no evidence of a heartbeat.
- Oxygen in its purest form is deadly to them.
- When they die – or are killed – they burn up, leaving barely any evidence of their existence.
- Some of The Invaders possess a mutated fourth finger.
- They show no emotion.
To a 12-year-old, who loved the idea of life on other planets – as well as the excitement and suspense of the chase – this was among the best hour’s entertainment on television. Naturally, it was directed at an adult audience, but kids of my age could easily appreciate it too. Unfortunately, the show didn’t seem to last long enough. It was only around for two seasons and then it suddenly vanished, disappearing like a dying Invader. A shame really, but the network decided to pull it, perhaps due to declining ratings.
[How it all began: The opening credits to The Invaders were akin to a mini promotional film. Dominic Frontiere’s creepy and suspenseful music, along with the sombre narration, build the tension and drama of what the viewer can expect to see during the next fifty minutes…]
It was around twenty years later before I was able to watch the show again.
At some point during the 1980s, it was repeated on the BBC in the UK. It was great to see it after all that time. Seeing the show through older eyes made me appreciate it even more. In fact, I had forgotten many of the nuances that had made the series so compelling. It was akin to picking up a page-turner of a book: continually wanting to discover what happens next.
43 Episodes of Pure Sci-Fi Gold: Finally on DVD
The show disappeared from television screens again – at least in England. Some time later, I tried to find it on DVD, but to no avail.
Looking online, it seemed that I was not the only one wanting to own the series for themselves. A entire group of science fiction fans were pleading with the copyright owners to release both seasons on disc. Thankfully, they must have been taking notice.
A few years later, they both appeared on this wonderful five disc set. Of course, I snapped it up as soon as I could and subsequently wallowed in many hours of television nostalgia.
There isn’t a lot of this type of 1960’s TV that “travels well” into the modern era, but The Invaders is definitely a cut above many of the other shows from that period: very intelligent, well acted and with some great music!
That is all the discerning sci-fi fan really desires.
[Main image: By ABC Television (eBay itemphoto frontphoto back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]