Cult TV

The Invaders

The Invaders is an American science fiction television program created by Larry Cohen that aired on ABC for two seasons, from January 10, 1967 to March 26, 1968, and consisted of 53 episodes. The score for the show was composed by Dominic Frontiere (Twelve O’Colck High, The Outer Limits, The Fugitive, Matt Houston). The series was a Quinn Martin Production.

PLOT

Architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes), accidentally learns of a secret alien invasion already underway and thereafter travels from place to place, trying to foil the aliens’ plots and warn a sceptical populace of the danger.

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As the series progresses Vincent is able to convince a small number of people to help him fight the aliens. It was notable that normally at least one individual, often a key figure, such as a USAF intelligence officer (‘The Innocent’), a police officer (‘Genesis’, ‘The Spores’), a U.S. Army major (‘Doomsday Minus One’), or a NASA official (‘Moonshot’) etc. would become aware of the alien threat and survive the story.

In ‘The Leeches’ a millionaire (Arthur Hill) survives an alien abduction after being rescued by Vincent, while in ‘Quantity: Unknown’ a scientist (Susan Strasberg) is convinced of alien technology, in ‘The Saucer’ guest stars Ann Francis and Charles Drake witness an alien saucer’s landing.

In the second season larger groups of surviving witnesses were featured in episodes (an entire group in the episodes ‘Dark Outpost’ and ‘The Pursued’) and three scientists in ‘Labyrinth’, most significantly millionaire industrialist Edgar Scoville (Kent Smith) who became a semi-regular character as of December 1967, heading a small but influential group from the episode ‘The Believers’.

Later episodes saw the military involved (‘The Peacemaker’) as Vincent’s claims were now clearly being taken more seriously. In ‘The Miracle’ (guest starring Barbara Hershey) after an alien encounter Vincent manages to retain a piece of alien technology both as evidence and for examination by both his group & the authorities.

It can be seen that an undercurrent of apparent at least partial credibility by the authorities to Vincent’s claims was depicted even in the first season as in early episodes such as ‘The Mutation’ where a security agent (Lin McCarthy) is keeping an eye on Vincent (and ends up inclined to believe him), while in ‘The Innocent’ The USAF Officer (Dabney Coleman) guns down an alien who incinerates in front of him, tying in with Vincent’s claims,(while at the end of the episode after apparently disbelieving Vincent he then phones USAF security to run a full background check on an officer Vincent claimed was an alien).

In ‘Moonshot’ the NASA official (Peter Graves) is fully expecting Vincent to arrive, and in ‘Condition: Red’ a NORAD Officer & staff witness an alien UFO formation onscreen, and are left convinced. Each of these incidents are kept to just the individual episodes, yet any possible hinted official backing (or at least ‘semi backing’- hinted at as possible in the episode ‘The Condemned’) of Vincent might explain how with no apparent regular job or income he could travel all over the USA with expensive cameras, hired cars, and stay in good accommodation, while taking on the Invaders…with Vincent simply being apparently ‘dismissed as a crank’ to the public by the authorities (though apparently then not so by many key characters in episodes – in ‘Doomsday Minus One’ Vincent has been invited by an Army Intelligence official and then is given classified information, in the two-part ‘Summit Meeting’ he’s present at a top security meeting without any question, while in ‘Condition: Red’ he’s allowed into NORAD without question, etc…) thus viewers were left to draw their own conclusions as to the situation regarding Vincent’s actual standing.

Some controversy arose regarding the sudden ending of the TV show after season two as it was deemed no proper ending had been written (unlike ‘The Fugitive’), yet the final season-two episode ‘Inquisition’ does stand as some kind of series conclusion where Vincent finally convinces a key figure, an initially sceptical special assistant to the Attorney General (Mark Richman), that the Invaders have arrived, after first defeating an alien plan with a special weapon (the aliens withdrawing all their key personnel from Earth prior to its use), the closing narration being that Vincent, Edgar Scoville, and the now convinced Special Assistant will join forces as the vanguard to watch for any return of the Invaders… thus this episode could be deemed to have seen Vincent achieve his goal of ‘convincing disbelieving authorities’ at least and the Invaders plans at least temporarily thwarted, leaving the door open for any possible later sequel or spinoff show, etc.

Neither the Invaders nor their planet were ever named. Their human appearance was a disguise; they were only shown in their true form in one episode, “Genesis”, in which an ill alien researcher loses his human form and is briefly seen immersed in a tank of water. Unless they receive periodic treatments in what Vincent called “regeneration chambers”, which consume a great deal of electrical power, they revert to their alien form. One scene in the series showed an alien beginning to revert, filmed in soft focus and with pulsating red light.

invaders dying

They had certain characteristics by which they could be detected, such as the absence of a pulse and the inability to bleed. Nearly all were emotionless and had stiff little fingers (which a punk band later took as their name because on The Invaders) which could not move and were bent at an unnatural angle, although there were “deluxe models” who could manipulate this finger. There were also a number of mutant aliens, who experienced emotions similar to those of humans, and who even opposed the alien takeover. The existence of the Invaders could not be documented by killing one and examining the body: When they died, their bodies would glow red and disintegrate — along with their clothes and anything else they were touching — leaving little more than traces of black ash. On several occasions, a dying alien would deliberately touch a piece of their technology to prevent it from falling into the hands of humans.

Categories: Cult TV

5 replies »

  1. William Woodson’s dramatic baritone voice provided the opening narration each week for The Invaders.
    Multi-award winning writer Harlan Ellison was interested in writing for TI. He ended up in a intense argument with Adrian Samish(uber producer Quinn Martin’s assistant)that Harlan leaped over the conference table and punched Samish. Ellison was a brilliant writer and would have created some fantastic scripts for TI just as he’d done on The Outer Limits(TOS) & Star Trek(TOS).
    However,after this incident he was never hired to write for TI.
    Series creator Larry Cohen was inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock film The 39 Steps.In that movie the leader of an espionage group had a missing finger.
    Cohen created the crooked finger for the aliens.
    A number of the people who worked on TI thought that was a silly idea.
    Art director George Chan created the fantastic space ship for the aliens as well as the regeneration chamber. He created many other items as well.
    TI benefited from the variety of location shooting the series did over its 2-year run. Location shooting is quite expensive. Many television shows back then avoided doing such filming as much as possible.
    Quinn Martin wanted his many different series to do as much location work as was feasible because it would enhance the look of his shows.
    QM Productions received more phone calls & mail on TI than any other of his popular TV shows.

    Like

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