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Had another performer been cast in the rolled of "Dar", "The Invaders",
a first-season installment of Irwin Allen's classic series, could have
been nothing special. But in the talented hands of Robert Duvall, the
unearthed alien is something else.
Duvall provides the right balance of innocence and menace as a centuries-old alien with sinister plans for humanity. He is featured in almost every scene and, even in his "infancy" as an actor, the performer gives a clue as to what the future holds.
Because the show was in the science-fiction-fantasy genre, he unfairly didn't get an Emmy nod and, for that, he was deserving.
The wonder of DVD makes it possible for his fans to see him in a most unusual role, a far cry from the movie and TV roles for which he is most famous.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I figure "The Invaders" will be more notable for its young Robert Duval
as an Earthling from 20 million years before the Seaview crew
encountered him (in suspended animation within a capsule with material
quite unique and not easy to cut into) who, once released, could be
hostile to all of humankind if he considers human beings of '64 to be a
danger to his surviving people (still in their capsules on the ocean
floor, found by the Seaview after a quake freed up rock that moved away
showing their position). As Zar, Duval speaks in monotone, slightly
high-pitch, with a bit of a pause between words as he adjusts to the
language as the crew of the Seaview speaks. Almost from the get-go,
Captain Crane finds him questionable and possibly untrustworthy.
Through Duval, you do sense that Zar is contemplating, analyzing, and
surveying the crewstudying his "evolved" human counterpartsand by
studying and reading from the Seaview's comprehensive library, he will
determine if his people and human beings can co-exist. If the two can't
co-exist, Zar plans to destroy all humans on earth and awaken his
people to once again "rule the planet". In a bald cap (covering his
ears), and wearing baggy clothes (they look like pajamas), Duval looks
rather unimposing by today's standards of threatening humanoid
creature, but because of his superb acting ability, in creating that
aura of superiority and conveying this condescension in the way he
looks down at Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane, as if his people are
more deserved of living on the planet than humans, that is the
difference in what provokes a gulp in the throat, I thought. Duval
shows Zar "sizing up" the Seaview crew, and it's clear pretty early
that he's of that race that considers other beings inferior and is
willing to wipe them out if so inclined so that his people can claim
domain of the planet.
There's an experiment where a bit of his "blood" *infects* a guard, eventually causing the poor crewmember to perish. Zar shows here that he's willing to kill just to gauge the results of what his blood can do to humans; this experiment provides him with the results needed to set a plan in action. Zar has a weapon that not only can blast and kill, but it also can manipulate/seize/stop controls of the Seaview (Zar actually "forces" the Seaview to turn a course, heading back to the site of his people's capsules) if he so desires. And he does enforce what his weapon can do. Nelson does discover that he will have to completely burn Zar alive with fire in order to ultimately stop his blood from causing human extinction (Zar's blood is that dangerous) when the doc shows him the results of the dead crewmember's autopsy, seeing what infected his bloodstream.
I thought the ending was a bit too easy for the Seaview crew, with Zar voluntarily entering a room alone with Nelson when it was an obvious trap. It does comment on how confident Zar is regarding his superior intellect and power over the humans, and this trick shows that Nelson and company have their own bit of ingenuity and aren't so willing to allow their "invader" to unleash his people on an unprepared human race. It is fascinating seeing how Crane finds Zar such an aggravation (I think the point is that Crane is not fond of any being considering itself more worthy of existing on the planet than his kind) he orders the guards to shoot if the creature even flinches/blinks. I felt the episode considers Zar more of a nuisance that causes annoyances (how he takes control away from the crew, for instance) and purposely puts the Seaview at risk, proving his point that certain advancements are in his kind's favor.
The Seaview finds a mysterious man (Robert Duvall) in a cylinder.
So many science fiction fans always say: "good sci-fi is all in the writing"...like hell it is!
If that were true sci-fi fans would read books instead of watch TV shows. The Invaders (no relation to the QM series of 1967) has a smart script but terrible/boring presentation..and is not helped by the fact that Robert Duvall seems to be holding back laughter sometimes.
This episode makes the viewer wish the Voyage colour seasons would hurry up and appear!
Good sci-fi is all in the writing, acting, effects and music...all four must be in place, and only one (the writing) is in place here.
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