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Give the producers of this movie credit for making one smart decision, and that is to make it a continuation of the classic 1960s TV show, and not a complete from-the-beginning remake.
Give the writers credit also for the very subtle subtext which equates the invading aliens with their more human counterparts who still don't believe in environmentalism or global warming. Never actually said outright, it's kind of implied that those who knowingly promote more and more pollution are not only anti-American, but anti-Earth.
That said, there's plenty in this four-hour pilot that gets an E for effort but a C- for execution.
The plot is familiar territory, even those not familiar with the TV series. Earth is being secretly invaded by aliens who look like us, and we follow the adventures of one man who knows the truth.
Sci-fi fans old enough to remember the classic show, as well as any number of similarly- plotted motion pictures, will instantly spot some problems with this film.
Possibly the goofiest is Richard Belzer as a Rush Limbaugh clone who vents his warped thoughts across the Los Angeles airwaves every morning. I suppose he's supposed to bolster the subtext I mentioned above, but in point of fact he has no actual impact on the story and never connects with the other characters, leaving us with the impression that this movie ran fifteen minutes short and that they shot the Belzer footage as filler.
Equally disappointing though is the lethargic pacing. "The Invaders" is really a decent two-and-a-half to three hour movie (with commercials) in a four-hour slot. There's little sense of urgency to the proceedings, a situation not helped by keeping star Scott Bakula in a passive mode for much of the show.
Too, there is a little bit too much modification of the "Invaders" canon. We see the aliens' true form, and frankly, it's nothing more gruesome than you've seen in other sci-fi/horror shows. We DON'T get to see what was a favorite moment in the old series: an alien burning up as it died. Nor do we get to see their spaceship. A more ornate version of the saucer from the old TV show would have been welcome, but here we get little more than "Close Encounters"-style bright lights coming out of clouds.
They've also muddied the whole idea of "regeneration". As originally conceived, the aliens had to return to "regeneration stations" regularly, to be placed in glass tubes and processed so that they could appear human and continue to breathe our atmosphere. Here the "tubes" appear to be used to suck the life out of humans so that it can be infused into their identical-looking alien impostors. And the new regeneration consists of things like inhaling truck fumes.
This also introduces an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" aspect that, unless I'm wrong, was not a part of the original series. In the TV show, aliens (in human form) appeared to have been always "there", in the same way a mole infiltrates a spy organization and lays low for years. There was none of this "yesterday Person X was a human, and today he's been replaced by an identical- looking alien" stuff -- again, at least as far as I recall.
Then, those neat little discs that induced apparent coronaries in human beings are gone. Pity, because they were a handy way for the aliens to get rid of eyewitnesses. On the other hand, introduced is some kind of telepathic ability the aliens have to control certain people, which I don't recall being a part of the show either. Not that I'm against entertaining new facets of the aliens' "lore", but it would have been nice to have more stuff from the original TV series to get a handle on, before introducing new ideas.
Returning back to things which are gone, however...if you're waiting to hear the familiar theme music from the TV series, you're waiting in vain. Surely it wouldn't have been hard to get some composer to re-orchestrate some of that classic Dominic Frontiere music. It doesn't sound like an important thing, but just the music alone could have been enough to give this production more of the feel of the classic show.
One welcome spark of life comes from the all-too-brief appearance of David Vincent (Roy Thinnes, as the same character he played in the 1960s TV show). The manner in which he's woven into the plot is fine, and I suppose it makes sense to have an aging Vincent "pass the baton" to someone younger, but that facet is never explored, and Vincent is gone from the story all too soon, leaving us wondering what he's been up to for the last twenty years anyway.
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