[S1: The Miniseries !S2: The Final Battle !S3: The Series ]
This starts with the Resistance starting what amounts to a full-frontal assault of a well-defended Visitor base. The Resistance weapons are incapable of piercing Visitor body armour, so the humans take heavy losses. Luckily, the Visitors are still wearing their sunglasses ... at night! If they lifted their smoky glass visors, which are only necessary in the blinding daylight of Calfornia, their superior night-vision would give them a massive advantage.
Mike Donovan (Marc Singer - Beastmaster ) realises the problem is that the Resistance needs to work with other groups. The Fifth Columnists aboard the Visitor mothership are unwilling to risk themselves unless they believe the Resistance can succeed. Also, if the Resistance made a large-scale impact they would encourage other uprisings around the world.
The Nazi Occupation metaphor is pretty heavy-handed. One man calls Christine Walsh a collaborator, and accuses her of justifying her actions with the Neurenberg defence. Later, Mike Donovan confronts his mother and reminds her We always said it couldn't happen here. Then we wake up and a Fascist regime is in charge.
Diana, as chief scientific officer of the Visitor fleet, has been busy trying to create a new piece of super-technology. Instead of a big flashy weapon, she has created a brainwashing machine called the Conversion Chamber. That will come in useful for her in the next episode.
Daniel is now the leader of the local Hitler Youth, and has been put in charge of security of the Los Angeles Medical Centre. This is unfortunate, because he hates nerdy medical students. Thanks to Elias and his dealing of narcotics to Daniel, the Resistance can basically come and go as they please. This is bad news for Willie (Robert Englund - Nightmare on Elm Street ) when he gets kidnapped, but good news for Robin Maxwell ( Blair Tefkin ) when she decides she needs an abortion.
When the Medical Centre is chosen by the Visitors for a big public event, Steven takes personal command of the security. Unlike most Evil Overlords, when things go wrong he leads his counter-attack from the front. Credit where credit is due, he shows impressive physical courage.
This episode starts with the arrival of a new character - Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside - Total Recall, Starship Troopers ) a violent anti-hero, and definitely the best character on the show.
The Resistance victory at the Los Angeles Medical Centre has had a couple of results. The good one is that Ham Tyler's international Resistance group, Hammer Punch, is interested in linking up. They are prepared to supply Donovan's team with new teflon-coated armour-piercing ammo. The bad news is that Steven and his security team are keen to counter-attack. Diana has not yet managed to break Julie Parrish, but Steven somehow managed to find and break the forger who faked the Medical Centre ID passes.
With Julie Parrish ( Faye Grant ) captured by the evil Diana ( Jane Badler - the most babelicious woman of the 1980s!), Tyler becomes co-leader of the Resistance alongside Mike Donovan (Marc Singer - Beastmaster ). They abandon their HQ because it is raided by the Visitors - their new HQ is an old movie set. Hmm, cheap re-use of studio property.
Diana is dragged away from torturing Julie to briefly meet her newly arrived boss, Admiral Pamela (Sarah Douglas - Return of Swamp Thing ). Lots of bitchy rivalry arises, the kind of thing that Diana was famed for. We are given foreshadowing of a future plot: Pamela intends to drain all the water from South California - convenient for the show, which is set there.
The main plot of the episode is the Resistance's efforts to rescue Julie. However, the sub-plots and relationships between characters are also aired. Willie (Robert Englund - Freddy Kreuger himself!) and his human lady-friend get to chat; the human girl pregnant with an alien baby threatens to kill herself; the Resistance babe sleeping with the enemy to get pillow-talk has an argument with her Resistance BF.
Tyler and Chris are very protective towards females, which by modern standards marks them as patriarchial and beneficial sexists. This is a problem, because the Resistance relies on females as their intelligence gatherers.
The Resistance rescues Julie Parrish. After all, she is their leader and their doctor ... and Donovan's love interest. Next, she and Donovan scout out their next target. Yes, two main leaders – whose faces are well known to the Visitors - are put in extreme jeopardy instead of sending some minions instead. And although Julie ignores Ham Tyler's warnings she is still suffering from the effects of Diana's torture.
The next target is a hydro-electric power plant. The Visitors have parked their mothership above it, and for some reason are sucking water up into the ship at something in the region of a million gallons per second. Originally the Visitors only pretended to need Earth's resources, and all they wanted was an opportunity to abduct humans and preserve them as food. If all they wanted was water, they could just grab some space-bergs from the Oort cloud.
In the big raid, finally we get to see through one of the Visitor rifle scopes. This is about the only time one is really used, although in the finale Martin mentions that the scope has three settings. It is an electronic screen, so it should be a bit more sophisticated than that. In all fairness, it still seems better than the British Army SA80's SUSAT scope which was standard for Infantry soldiers in the mid-1980s when this show was made.
Diana gets her hands on Mike Donovan. Rather than use the Conversion Chamber on him, she just uses her new truth serum. The story ends on a couple of cliffhangers. Donovan is trying to escape from the Visitor mothership, while Julie is trying to assist Robin giving birth.
The cliffhangers are quickly resolved. Donovan and Martin escape the Mothership by parachute. Robin gives birth to two children - a lizard-looking baby that is not suited to Earth's atmosphere, and a human-looking girl who grows to the size of a toddler in a few hours.
Julie weaponises hybrid bacteria from the lizard baby's blood, and creates a dusty red toxin that they call Red Dust. It kills Visitors, but has no apparent effect on humans. This is a bit like the classic alien invasion story War of the Worlds , where the aliens are wiped out by human diseases. In this case, Diana has innoculated the Visitors against all Earth's diseases ... but Julie's Red Dust is a new creation and thus only Julie can make an antidote.
The Resistance ditches their hideout in a disused prison, and moves into a familiar-looking lighthouse complex. This was Raymond Manta's carribean HQ in Wonder Woman (1976) , and later featured in The A-Team. This use of impressive outdoor locations makes a low-budget TV show look a lot more expensive than it otherwise would.
Donovan secretly meets with Martin, who is still running around in his red Visitor uniform even though the Visitors know who he is. Somehow, Martin has been keeping in touch with his Fifth Column buddies on the mothership. He gets word to Donovan that Diana knows about the Red Dust. Either she will get a sample and develop an anti-toxin, or she will end up detonating the mothership's reactor and destroying all life on Earth.
Tyler and Chris handle the distribution of the Red Dust, then lead a full frontal assault on the Visitors' HQ building. Meanwhile, Donovan and some Fifth Columnists infiltrate the mothership and stage a commando attack on Diana's forces. They pump the red dust into the air vents, so the only Visitors who should survive outside Diana's secure area are Fifth Columnists who received a dose of the antidote.
There is a subplot concerning Robin's other baby, a little blonde girl she named Elizabeth. This child is abducted by the Resistance's padre and taken to the Visitors as a symbol of his hope for peaceful co-existence between the species. Yes, he does not seem to understand the fact that the Visitors want to eat the humans. Worse, by handing her over to a super-scientist like Diana he is giving her a potential weapon of unknown power. After all, Diana was the one behind Robin's impregnation in the first place.
Finally, the Visitors have been defeated. But a year later, Diana escapes captivity. Donovan and Tyler go after her, but can they get her before she summons a retrieval team?
The chase at the end is notable for Diana ( Jane Badler , one of the most beautiful women who ever lived) hobbling about as fast as she can in stiletto-heeled knee-high boots.
Meanwhile, Julie Parish has to worry about other things. Elizabeth the star-child is in a cocoon, and changing into ... something. It seems that this show inspired Babylon 5 as well as Independence Day.
The last time this episode was aired in TV was over ten years ago. And this reviewer much regrets that he did not manage to watch it in its entirety either time.
Whilst the early episodes were a metaphor for the Nazi rise to power and persecution of undesirables, this is pure unpretentious action-adventure!
Because this is an ensemble piece, the cast list is given in alphabetical order! Michael Ironside ( Scanners ) and Marc Singer ( Beastmaster ) are a pair of bad-asses. Elizabeth is now played by Jennifer Cooke ( Friday the 13th Part VI ). Yes, instead of a cutesy kid the show now has babe-factor!
Speaking of babes, Diana arrives at her command ship, now under the command of Lydia (June Chadwick - Spinal Tap ). They determine that the Red Dust (the Biological weapon that originally defeated the aliens) is now ineffective in temperate zones. In other words, there is nothing to stop them from
Nathan Bates (Lane Smith - Lois and Clark ), a rich industrialist, is Julie Parrish's new boss and the most powerful man in Los Angeles. Bates negotiates a truce with Diana. Fifty square miles area of Los Angeles will be a free city, policed only by Bates' men. However, the lizard-woman has other plans. Her people had developed a superweapon that she intends to use to destroy the city of Los Angeles.
The Resistance plan to hijack the Mothership they captured one year earlier.
This episode's cliff-hanger ending? Elizabeth's mother Robin ( Blair Tefkin ) tries to get into LA to see her daughter - but the Visitors have set up roadblocks!
The supervising producer is Steven E. De Souza, infamous for writing lots of action movies produced by Joel Silver . The episode's director is Paul Krasny, who later did Police Academy.
This is the first episode where Howard K Smith gives State of the War television broadcast from NYC. Why the Visitors do not just bombard the place from orbit is beyond me.
Donovan and Ham head out to collect Donovan's son, Shaun. However, they are caught by the Visitors and sent to a prison camp. The only perimeter security there is a sand moat. Yes, this is the first appearance of the Krivits!
While there they bump into Robin Maxwell ( Blair Tefkin ) and her friend Isaac (Xander Berkley - Barb Wire (1995) ). Bates Jnr is an inmate there too. Yes, by sheer chance all the different characters meet up at the same prison camp. Not too unlikely, perhaps, but there are about a dozen prisoners at most! There is only one cooler, so Ham and Bates get thrown in together!
Diana's plan is to swop Bates Jnr for Elizabeth, the Star Child.
Kyle Bates (Jeff Yagher - ) and Robin try to get into LA, and on their way they happen to recover a pouch of secret documents from a USAF pilot who was shot down by the Visitors. This allows Kyle a pretext to arrive at Club Creole, and gives us an introduction into the plot.
Donovan is captured by the Visitors. When he wakes up, it is one year later and the Visitors have been defeated. He has married Julie, and tomorrow he will be the best man at Ham Tyler's wedding. As Donovan puts it, Who the hell would want to marry Tyler?
This is actually part of a complex deception to trick Donovan into revealing the secret info that Kyle got from the pilot: the rendezvous point where Elizabeth will be picked up and taken to safety in New York. Diana, clever lizard that she is, no doubt stole the idea from a certain 1960s James Coburn WW2 film. It was based on a Roald Dahl story, Beware of the Dog.
Donovan goes to eat a bun (actually a live mouse), then hands it back to Julie-Diana. She promptly scoffs it, then the two of them start sticking their tongues down each others' throats. And Donovan never notices that the physical sensations don't match up to the visual representations that he sees! The big question is, how far did they go?!
This episode was directed by Bruce Seth Green, a veteran who has worked on many top SF shows.
We see Diana hunted by a leather-clad stalker, with a scar on his face. Since the face is just a rubber mask, it is obviously an affectation. Jane Badler is sexier than ever in this episode!
Robin has finally got into LA, and arrives at Club Creole. Her BF, Kyle, is off with her daughter - though none of them knows it. The teenage Elizabeth is a lot more immature than her pre-teens self.
The scarfaced lizard, Klaus, is now an instructor for the Visitors' equivalent of the Hitler Youth. And Donovan's son Shaun is one of them! He teaches them a martial art named Revok - probably named after Michael Ironside's character in Scanners.
Diana is holding a conference in a mansion in South California. The reason is to discuss the implementation of a new human-processing system. Yes, this time the Resistance get a crack at a bunch of Visitor war criminals. One of them is a cameo by Sybil Danning - she plays Mary Kruger, the Dark Angel of Dallas. Yes, the Holocaust metaphor lives on. Odd that while food-processing continues, the water-theft does not.
Donovan and Julie head off to spoil the Visitors' fun. The woman in charge of the local Resistance has been captured, and is on the dinner menu at the conference! With the help of her brother (Chad McQueen) the good guys gate-crash the party.
Bates' cops capture a Resistance worker, and Aki Aleong tortures information out of him. Bates suspects Julie Parrish, his head scientist, but has no proof. Something that will mean more to Americans than it does to Brits - Nathan Bates enforces Gun control, and backs it with the death penalty. Kyle then gets captured by the cops, and his father sets Aleong on him.
The action is set in a redneck town biker gang armed with M-16s. The locals are used as slave labour in a cobalt mine. An African-American woman gets to LA, where token black guy Elias falls for her. The team need weapons, so they hijack Nathan Bates' arms shipment. Julie steals the necessary info (on a 5.5" disk - how 1980s!), but Mr Chaing is suspicious of her ...
Meanwhile, Diana has trouble of her own. rebel Visitors, part of a pacifist cult. She feeds him to her pet Krivit, then changes into a revealing evening dress and has an Engineering officer ... for dinner. And more.
Diana is not the only one who practices the art of seduction. Elizabeth uses her feminine wiles to distract a guard.
Diana has a new toy - a forcefield that can encircle Los Angeles. She gives the technology to Nathan Bates as part of their truce: he can control any trafic going in or out of LA. Diana states that a four-digit security code is long enough to be unbreakable. In the year 2000, the usual minumum for Internet security is six digits.
The problem with getting the shield to work is that Diana's most valuable scientist is a pacifist. She uses the conversion process on him - and the props have changed. Also of note, the aliens use qwerty keyboards (with oriental lettering). Another note of cheapness - the starfighter chase scene is actually stock footage from the first series.
Meanwhile, Julie is back at Science Frontiers, and has to get Bates' password. Luckily it is four letters, and she can guess it.
This is the Xmas episode - there always is one with US TV shows. Our heroes spend their Christmas doing good deeds: smuggling orphaned children from the free-fire zone into LA. They meet up with Chris - Ham Tyler's sidekick from the Final Battle - who gives us Tyler's backstory.
They head back home, and bump into Julie. Nathan Bates' spies secretly photograph them together at Club Creole. Will Julie be stupid enough to let Bates catch her out?
Diana gets a sample of Elizabeth's DNA, and tries to grow her own clone of the Starchild. She genetically modifies the clone to be more like a Visitor - not a good idea, since Elizabeth's twin brother was Visitor-like and died.
The human-alien hybrid creature grows into a pre-teens blonde girl. She escapes, kills innocent bystanders, then transforms inside a cocoon. Then she emerges as a blonde babe who wanders the streets of Los Angeles. If this sounds familiar then it is - it was used ten years later in the movie Species!
Diana brings in an expert tracker (Anthony James), and the actor who plays him is instantly recognisable as the gangly veteran of many different shows.
Guess who gets to play Santa in the final scene?
Ham Tyler and Kyle Bates attack some Visitors, but wind up getting captured. Tyler's pal Chris (Guest Star Mickey Jones - a close friend of Michael Ironside in real life) is still in town to help plan a rescue.
Diana has problems of her own. Charles - the Leader's personal envoy, with a great reputation as a babe-hound - has appeared. He is played by genre actor Duncan Regehr, who went on to appear as Dracula in The Monster Squad and played Zorro in a TV show. Charles has with him someone Diana thought she was well rid of. He takes over Diana's command, and reduces her to the rank of Chief Science Officer. The fact that she is a scientist is what gave the show its SF edge. Later on the plots became simple shoot-outs, and without Diana's science angle the show became boring indeed.
Charles has improved the Conversion process, and decides to use it to brainwash Ham Tyler. Tyler's backstory, given in the previous episode, comes in useful here. The props are slightly better than the last time the Visitors used the Conversion process. However, what really makes this scene work is the acting - Ironside is purely magnificent, while Marc Singer is quite good as evil Donovan.
Willie (Robert Englund - AKA Freddy Kruger) finally gets a decent line:
WILLIE She's a bit of a Chameleon, my mom.
JULIE You mean comedian.
WILLIE No, Chameleon. It's in my blood.
Diana tries to get off with Kyle - the last time she had him prisoner he warmed up to her, but this time he is saving himself for Elizabeth. The bitch-queen does not learn from her mistakes, and Kyle goes walkabout. He discovers that the Visitors talk in English even when they are relaxing on the Mothership, without their human disguises!
The climax is a hostage exchange mediated by Nathan Bates, who hates the Resistance but wants his son to be safe. Charles has it broadcast on worldwide TV, as part of his new PR campaign. Donovan, himself ex-media, calls in some TV journalist buddies to make sure the lizards do not try to pull a fast one. However, the danger is where he least expects it ...
A group of thugs led by Judson Scott ( ST2: Wrath of Khan ) burst into Science Frontiers, claim to be the Resistance and demand that Nathan Bates be handed over to them. However, Bates is not there - Mr Chaing has him in a secret med-bay.
Charles is plotting, as always. He gives Mr Chaing access to Visitor CGI technology that will allow him to make TV broadcasts using a CGI image of Bates. Conveniently the software is IBM-compatible, on a 5.5" floppy disk!
Elizabeth discovers Kyle sleeping half-naked, and her telekinetic powers show themselves. Robin meets a new love interest, John Langley (Bruce Davison - X-Men ).
Chaing has some anti-Visitor activists rounded up by Beau Starr ( Halloween 4 ). One hostage will be handed over to the Visitors and publicly executed every day until Donovan and Tyler hand themselves over.
The Resistance do a recce of the site the hostages are held at. Unfortunately for them they dress in black and have to creep down a street where all the walls are painted white. And in the nature of show, one of the main characters gets killed!
Langley is selected to be executed. He wears very dark sunglasses, and Diana looks very nervous when he is taken out into the scaffold. However, the Visitors have extremely lax security. The Resistance shows up, and Donovan and Charles go hand-to-hand.
Willie meets up with a Fifth Column spy, but they are ambushed by Visitor security troops. Willie is badly wounded, and though he escapes he needs medical assistance. Julie doesn't know much about Visitor anatomy - even though she's spent the last year in Science Frontiers trying to devise a new biological weapon to kill them! However, she does not even know if morphine works on them or not?
Diana's spy inside the Resistance requests to be transferred. However, she refuses - and orders him to impregnate Robin with Visitor sperm so there will be a second Starchild. Poor old Robin has not had much luck with men - Brian and Kyle to name just two. However, Diana has - this time she shags her spy. He also gets to scoff a live mouse, so all his hungers are catered for.
Mr Chaing is still using the CGI Bates to announce his dictates. Bates comes out of the coma, and Chaing's position becomes untenable. Charles has been using Bates' absense as an opportunity to stockpile weapons inside Los Angeles. He makes it clear to Chaing that it would be best for all involved if Bates were not to survive. Kyle tries to rescue his father ...
Meanwhile, the rest of the Resistance try to destroy Charles' secret arsenal. Conveniently for them, as the Visitors are unloading a truck they drop a crate - and the panel facing the Resistance falls off to reveal a Visitor cannon!
This is one of the best episodes of the series. It is the half-way mark in the Season, and due no doubt to budgetary constraints several characters get written out. Unfortunately the show does not get any better.
Note: in Bates/Chaing's office we see Diana play with a lightning-globe prop, obviously intended as office decoration. This pops up in a later episode, as a Visitor Super-Computer.
Howard K. Smith's State of the War: Tonight bulletin mentions South Africa, a reminder that the TV show was made during the Apartheid era.
The Visitors move into LA in force, lead by Lieutenant James (Judson Scott - ST2: Wrath of Khan ). The Resistance find a new HQ - a disused movie set of a Wild West town. Their mission this week: save a woman who is giving birth. Wow, that is original!
Diana is forced into marriage with Charles, but for Lydia this is not enough and she plans to remove her rival permanently.
The cameo of the episode is Terence Knox.
The credits have been changed to reflect the change in cast. Also, Howard K. Smith is missing from the start of the show.
Donovan and Kyle are on their way to Tucson, Arizona. They get stopped by a corrupt sheriff who is on the Visitor payrole. They meet up with a lonely widow and her teenage daughter, who want Donovan to stay and play happy families with them. Lieutenant James pops up to swallow a live rat, then attack the Resistance.
Diana has problems of her own. Charles has been replaced by a new General, Philip - the twin brother of Donovan's friend Martin (Frank Ashmore). He gives Lydia a trial by combat - yes, Diana and Lydia duel!
The LA Resistance are helping out in a small California town that has been hit by a Diptheria epidemic. The only antiserum is in the hands of the Visitors, and to steal it Kyle needs the help of the local streetgang, the Wildcats. This may be a reference to Red Dawn (1984) , the John Milius film about a teenage Resistance group called the Wolverines. And as in that film, one of the group is a traitor ...
Meanwhile, Philip informs us that whomever is convicted of killing Charles will be buried with him - ejected into space. And since he has not decided whether Diana or Lydia is guilty, he plans to assume they are both guilty. They do the only thing they can: frame Marta the babelicious pharmacist.
Diana's sidekicks do their work. Lieutenant James pops up to attack the Resistance. Oswald the limp-wristed Visitor makes his first appearance, to organise the funeral/execution.
For once Willie is more than just comic relief. One of the Wildcats (don't worry, it's the token female) fancies him ...
Diana attempts to lure Donovan, Willie and Kyle into a trap. Their idea of a sneak attack is to throw TWO frag grenades at a passing jeep. They are saved by a member of the Fifth Column, who steals the crystals that power the Mothership's lazer cannons. The saboteur and his heavily-pregnant girlfriend flee form the Mothership. Instead of hurrying, they stop to indulge in luvvy-duvvy chit-chat.
Philip wants payback - Diana told him that Donovan killed his brother. Philip selects backup in the shape of Angela, a female martial artist he trained. Diana seduces her, and since the woman blames her lack of promotion on Philip she is more than willing to ensure that neither Philip nor Donovan survives.
Philip uses an infra-red monacle as worn by the tracker in a previous episode. He tracks the good guys to a deserted warehouse, where the Resistance guys have to help the Visitor woman give birth. A siege develops. Philip and Donovan go hand-to-hand, and Philip shows some great martial arts moves.
Lieutenant James has finally gotten into Diana's bed. The writers decided that this was a great opportunity for plot exposition. Diana has yet ANOTHER super-weapon, the battle-sphere supercomputer (the lightning-globe last seen as a prop in Nathan Bates' office), and plans a blitz on the West Coast of America.
Philip spills the beans to Donovan and Kyle (Julie is on holiday or something), and advises them to hack into the Visitor computer. Something similar was mentioned in a previous episode, but it is still a ludicrous suggestion. Even the show acknowledges that the Visitors use a different written language and alphabet, never mind their computer languages! The Hacker kid uses some kind of language-translation software ...
The Visitors hold a pre-Victory celebration party. We see the return of Oswald the limp-wristed lizard. Somewhere in the background is a man dressed as a giant insect - either fancy dress or the show missed an opportunity to introduce new species. We also see a tipsy Lydia in a clinch with Philip!
Donovan and Kyle go looking for the best computer specialist they can find. He has been arrested by the Visitors, but his teenage son has successfully hacked into the Visitor mainframe. All they have to do is rescue his father (Conrad Janis) ...
They also have to return to Science Frontiers, because that is where the best computers are. Nice to see the old sets again.
Elizabeth helps everyone out, perhaps too much. This time she seems to have empathic powers, too: she can tell what happened at the location in which she is standing.
It has become apparent that one of the budget cutbacks meant that there is no HQ set for the Resistance any more.
The plot device this episode is a 3.5" floppy disk for Visitor computers (humans still use 5.5" disks!) that bears the names and locations of the Resistance leaders. The list is stolen by a member of the Fifth Column, who is wounded but manages to hide the list before he is caught.
Martin gives Julie and Donovan fake IDs, and sends them to the Mothership to find the list. Their guide is Oswald, the ... you know. This must be the first US SF TV show with an openly gay character! :)
Their cover is as Visitor research scientists sent to help Julie's ex-BF, now a collaborator working on biological weapons. Surely this is Diana's department, as Chief Science Officer.
Julie decides to seduce Lieutenant James in an attempt to search his quarters. And yes, he IS that stupid!
The Visitor subplot concerns one of their celebrations, the Feast of Ramalan. The centre-piece is the sacrifice of the youngest Visitor officer - and thanks to Diana this is Lydia's brother. Somehow she recognises him, even though they have both got human masks on.
The Visitor Leader arrives and offers peace with the humans. His price - he wants Elizabeth the Starchild (Jennifer Cooke) as his bride.
A Resistance delegation (ie, the main characters) goes aboard the Mothership to await the Leader's arrival. Elizabeth gets dressed up in a very fetching dress with lots of cleavage. Donovan and Philip duel with Visitor fencing swords. It is very unconvincing - especially when compared with the martial arts fight they had in episode 16!
The climax? Diana locks herself in the control room, as she did at the end of Final Battle , and threatens mischief. The good guys mess around for half the episode trying to think of how to get in and stop her! Donovan and Lieutenant James finally get a punch-up!