ORBzine - Alien Nation TV Review

[Season 1 !TV Movies ]

Season 1

  • Gary Graham ( Enterprise ) as Det. Matthew Sikes
  • Eric Pierpoint as Det. George Francisco
  • Michele Scarabelli as Susan Francisco
  • Lauren Woodland as Emily Francisco
  • Sean Six as Buck Francisco
  • Terri Treas as Cathy Franklin
  • Jeff Marcus as Albert Einstein
  • Ron Fassler as Capt. Bryon Grazier
  • Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs as Sgt. Dobbs
  • Jenny Gago as Beatrice Zepeda [ ep 19+ ]
  • James Greene as Uncle Moodri
  • Jeff Doucette as Burns
  • Molly Morgan as Jill
  • Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 1] Alien Nation: The TV Movie (1)
    Shown 18 Sep 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 2] Alien Nation: The TV Movie (2)
    Shown 18 Sep 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 3] Fountain of Youth
    Shown 25 Sep 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 4] Little Lost Lamb
    Shown 2 Oct 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 5] Fifteen with Wanda
    Shown 9 Oct 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 6] The Takeover
    Shown 16 Oct 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 7] The First Cigar
    Shown 23 Oct 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 8] Night of the Screams
    Shown 30 Oct 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 9] Contact
    Shown 6 Nov 89
    Reviewed 30th December 2005 [Friday]

    An astronomer makes an amazing discovery, but is murdered before he can make his findings public. George and Sykes investigate, and discover that Human Purists are involved.

    George feels homesick, even though he never knew his homeworld. He and his wife consider having another child.

    Sykes gets a mysterious trunk from his deceased uncle. He also attends a soiree held by his gorgeous Alien neighbour.

    The villains' plot is open-ended, implying they will continue the arc later ...

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 10] Three to Tango
    Reviewed 6th January 2006 [Friday]

    The Newcomers have three genders. Since George and his wife have decided to breed again, they need the help of one of the other Gender.

    We get a look at the aliens' culture, and it looks like everything was well thought out. The token black cop also appears to have bonded with the Newcomer office-boy, Albert.

    The eeevil purists rear their heads again. A skinhead with a shotgun is killing members of the third gender ...

    Sykes' faith in human religion is strengthened by his encounter with the aliens.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 11] The Game
    Reviewed 13th January 2006 [Friday]

    It is Descent Day, the anniversary of the Newcomers' arrival on Earth. They celebrate it with a party, and by being decent to one earth creature for a month.

    George has flashbacks to the day of the arrival. He was an unwilling participant in a game of Russian Roulette.

    The Overseers have re-started the lethal roulette games. Andreas Katsulas ( Babylon 5 ) is in charge!

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 12] Chains of Love
    Shown 27 Nov 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 13] The Red Room
    Shown 18 Dec 89

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 14] The Spirit of '95
    Reviewed 3rd February 2006 [Friday]

    The Purists blow up a voluntary organisation where George's pregnant wife has started working.

    The Aliens are going to get to vote in the new election. The show is set five years after the date it was made, so it is not that unbelievable.

    Meanwhile, Matthew has to decide whether to participate in his apartment block's committee.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 15] Generation to Generation
    Reviewed 10th February 2006 [Friday]

    George's uncle is staying with his family. He promises to move out, but he has business to do first.

    A Newcomer skeleton is discovered. It turns out he was a priest, blown clear of the ship in an explosion before it landed. The artefact he was guarding, a mysterious wooden box, is missing.

    The McGuffin, like the original box in Kiss Me Deadly, kills whoever opens it. Yes, this is a bit cliched - but it works. This is one of the best eps of the series.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 16] Eyewitness News
    Reviewed 17th February 2006 [Friday]

    TV news reporter Angela Bassett and her camera crew follow George about for a week.

    George and Sykes investigate a murder case involving an Alien/Human interspecies sexploitation company. Actors who perform for video-phone customers are targeted by a masked murderer.

    The sex industry is implied by Sykes to be exploitative. However, it allows people to have a pleasurable career - a fine alternativce to the exploitative marriage system that fascists often promote.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 17] Partners
    Reviewed 24th February 2006 [Friday]

    This is the ep with the alien birth ceremony. It is beautifully filmed, well thought-out and realistic. And the music is excellent.

    Since the Newcomers are pseudo-marsupials, the newborns are kept in pouches. Since this is PC-TV, it is the MALE who has the pouch.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 18] Real Men
    Reviewed 3rd March 2006 [Friday]

    George is carrying the child, pseudo-marsupial style. However, he insists on continuing his highly dangerous job.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 19] Crossing the Line
    Shown 26 Feb 90

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 20] Rebirth
    Shown 12 Mar 90

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 21] Gimmee, Gimmee
    Reviewed 24th March 2006 [Friday]

    George invests in a new manufacturing company, where fellow alien Armin Shimmerman ( DS9 ) is the accountant. Unfortunately it seems to be a sweatshop that pollutes the environment.

    This is the environmental ep. Sykes gets an expensive car, thanks to Albert (the local Zoidberg) but crappy gas-mileage is the least of his worries. George's son becomes an OTT environmentalist,

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 22] The Touch
    Reviewed 31st March 2006 [Friday]

    On the slave-ship, the overseers forced a young boy (Jonathan Brandis - SeaQuest DSV ) to perform sacrifices. Cathy discovers him in a hospital in LA, where he is a traumatised patient.

    George brings the baby to work, but the cop-shop doesn't have a creche. Sykes meets a gorgeous blonde who shares his interest in junk food.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 23] Green Eyes
    Shown 7 May 90

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    Alien Nation

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [Season 1, Episode 2 ]
    Shown th March 2006 [Friday]

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  • TV Movie

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [M- 1] Dark Horizon
    Shown 25 Oct 94

    This is a made-for-TV movie, which came out five years after the premature cancellation of the popular TV show. The show’s cliff-hanger ending was when the human Purist movement teamed up with the alien Overseer group, and sent a signal by radio-telescope to the Overseers homeworld. A few years later (yes, the aliens have an outpost within five light years of Earth) the Overseers get the message and send their best man to investigate.

    Back on Earth, the Purists have a new plan to get rid of the alien Newcomers. They have developed a virus which will kill the aliens but not affect humans. Of course, this is a lot of trouble to go to for only a quarter of a million Newcomers. Even in Los Angeles they would be a minority, vastly outnumbered by Latinos. However, one of the Purists uses the virus to infect George Francisco’s wife and daughter. George and his partner (Gary Graham – Star Trek: Enterprise ) must solve the case and catch the Purists before all Tenctonese in Los Angeles are infected

    The Purist plot only takes up the first half of the story. Presumably that is because it was written as a 2-part TV story, so there is a natural break in the middle. However, once the Purists are out of the way the cops can concentrate on the Overseer and the multiple fatalities he caused on his first day on Earth.

    The introduction of an Overseer as a major character allows for far greater exploration of Tenctonese culture. Especially as he has not experienced Earth culture, and makes no attempt to assimilate. He even encourages the Francisco family to abandon their human cultural affectations and to embrace their ethnic roots. They happily ignore the fact that their own society was a brutal caste system, with the Overseers in charge and everyone else doing hard manual labour. And by embracing slavery they also reject their human co-workers and neighbours.

    Admittedly the humans are not the best example of their species. The neighbours decide to sell their house and move to Idaho, shorthand for human-only (itself a metaphor for Whites Only). But when selling the house they ask the Tenctonese to stay indoors, so the (presumably human) buyers do not realise there are Aliens in the neighbourhood. Why they do not sell to Tenctonese buys is not addressed, although one imagines racial politics would cause property values to crash if non-humans became more visible within the area.

    Somehow the Tenctonese, who were kept in slavery, have an elaborate religion. For example, they do not want cut flowers by their hospital bedside, even ones kept alive in a vase of water. They prefer potted plants, which can steal their oxygen, and disease-spreading cats. Well, who ever said that religion should be logical? They also have Soul Stones, but how they kept them safe while slaves is not explained.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [M- 2] Body and Soul
    Shown 10 Oct 95

    At a secret installation in the Mojave Desert, a bunch of Newcomer scientists (under Human supervision) are building a Tenctonese laser cannon. Unfortunately, their test-firing awakens a couple of inmates being held in cryo-sleep. One is a giant, who can smash through walls and run to downtown LA faster than the security crew’s helicopter. He carries a child that looks like it is an Alien-human hybrid. However, she has a telepathic link to the giant. This is a version of Master Blaster from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome , combining brains and brawn.

    George and Matt investigate the death on one of the security men who gets too close to the giant. They take the child into protective custody, but things get more complicated. It turns out that the Newcomer scientists were hired by the CIA, Similar to the way that Nazi scientists were employed by the US military-industrial complex in Operation paperclip after World War Two.

    The subplot involves Matt the human cop attempting to get physically intimate with his Tenctonese girlfriend, Cathy. Since she has superhuman strength, he will be in serious trouble if she loses control in the throes of passion. Hence they have to attend group training sessions together to learn how inter-species intercourse can take place. Naturally, the Purist movement is against inter-species mating – to say nothing of the fear of hybrid children. The Tenctonese have their own purists, fearing that their species will become extinct. This ignores the fact that the Tenctonese are genetically engineered to survive, which would include interbreeding, and that their culture would be kept alive by .

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [M- 3] Millennium
    Shown 2 Jan 96

    This is a sequel to the McGuffin episode of the original show. The Tenctonese religious sect has a box which creates a hologram. The box fell into the hands of a fringe cult, and since it is approaching New Year’s Eve in 1999 there are a lot of rich people who want to join and pay good money for the privilege. Buck Francisco, typically unsure of his path in life, is an easy target for the Cultists.

    The police captain wants to pirate the technology, patent it and sell it to silicon valley. This could be the next level of virtual reality entertainment. Sykes’ objections seem to be moral (his alien GF does not approve) rather than practical (the tech is hallucinogenic and addictive, like a metaphor for drug abuse). She mocks the idea of Jesus-land, although the Vatican makes a lot of money from guided tours. The monasteries earn a lot of money producing alcoholic beverages (champagne, Buckfast) and the holy days are over-merchandised (St Valentine, St Nicholas and All-Hallow’s eve). Does she encourage going the way of Oliver Cromwell, who cancelled Xmas to prevent people abusing a holy day by getting drunk?

    The green-screen work for the Tenctonese home-world is amazing. Even though it was created in 1996, it far surpasses more recent green-screen shows like Once Upon A Time, Sanctuary, V (2009) ...

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [M- 4] The Enemy Within
    Shown 12 Nov 96

    Sikes and George are ordered to investigate the death of a young Newcomer woman. It turns out the victim is part of a Newcomer caste equivalent to the Untouchables - and even George is deeply prejudiced against them. Yes, he wants equality with his superiors, not his supposed inferiors. Will he learn the moral of this story?

    At home, George is a regular Homer Simpson. His wife thinks he is not paying her enough attention. This gets worse when his friends from work (a female and her janitor husband, who is intersex) select him as the third wheel in their breeding cycle.

    George’s son is directionless, since religious fundamentalism did not work out for him last time. The daughter has given up on boys and chooses to concentrate on finding herself a career instead. Of course, despite the Police Department having no budget for hardware (and thus presumably a hiring freeze) there is a Bring your Daughter to Work day. Typically sexist, without a day for the sons (who are the ones who need it). Presumably young boys get the Scared Straight program instead, also known as Bring your Son to Prison day.

    Sikes has a Soap Opera subplot of his own. He lets Cathy, his Newcomer GF who lives next door, move into his apartment. She redecorates, exposing her weird clown fetish, and things go downhill from there. Sikes learns the hard way that they both need their personal space.

    There is actually a police procedural plot too. The Untouchables work in a toxic waste plant, but they have stolen the villain’s plan from Sahara and instead of destroying it they are only storing it underground. However, when Los Angeles has an earth tremor the whole lot will be unleashed! Worse, George has friends in a Cult of desert-dwelling Newcomers (despite hating the Untouchables) and they warn him of a mutant plot. In a scene heavily influenced by Aliens , our heroes enter a basement level filled with secreted resin, and discover a cache of eggs laid by a Hive Queen. Luckily, the Soap Opera plots have given enough exposition on the Newcomers’ breeding cycle to explain all this to a new viewer.

    Alien Nation Alien Nation [M-5] The Udara Legacy
    Shown 29 Jul 97

    A couple of years ago, George told us that Udara was a reference to Samurai-type skilled warriors, presumably exclusive to the Overseer Caste. But now it is the Tenctonese word for Freedom – like Uhuru in Swahili. It was used as the name of a terrorist group that waged class warfare against the Overseer Caste on the Mothership.

    It appears that the Uhuru leadership used brainwashing on their recruits. This subconscious conditioning can be activated by a verbal code spoken over a phone line. The Brainwashed Newcomers carry out a series of assassinations. Yes, this is a pastiche of the excellent Cold War thriller Telefon ... But the criminal mastermind does not compare to Donald Pleasance ( You Only Live Twice ).

    George’s son Buck has given up on religion, and has decided on an actual career. Yes, he follows in his old man’s footsteps and signs up for the Police Academy. Unfortunately the instructors (including the Token Black Guy from Cold Case) prefer to spend their time mocking the cadets.

    Naturally all the plot threads tie together at the end. Buck ends up providing security (it is work experience, as an unpaid trainee) for the election event. An Udara assassin who is a regular Newcomer character arrives to shoot one of the candidates. Lane Smith (Nathan in V ) is the standing Senator, while his rival is a Newcomer.

    Will the LAPD show restraint for a change, and take the suspect alive? Will the testimony of an allegedly brainwashed assassin be enough to get a corrupt politician arrested? Will George Francisco in effect become Kingmaker, and personally decide the outcome of the election?

    This was directed by the show's creator, Kenneth Johnston.