Narrated by Charles Howerton
Created by Kenneth Johnson
First episode date 18 September 1989
|Genre Science fictionDetective drama|
Written by Kenneth JohnsonRockne S. O'Bannon
Starring Gary GrahamEric PierpointMichele ScarabelliLauren WoodlandSean SixTerri Treas
Composer(s) Joe HarnellSteve DorffLarry Herbstritt
Awards Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series
Cast Gary Graham, Eric Pierpoint, Michele Scarabelli, Terri Treas, Lauren Woodland
Alien Nation is a science fiction police procedural television series in the Alien Nation franchise. Adapted from the 1988 movie of the same name, it stars Gary Graham as Detective Matthew Sikes, a Los Angeles police officer reluctantly working with "Newcomer" alien Sam "George" Francisco, played by Eric Pierpoint. Sikes also has an on again-off again flirtation with a female Newcomer, Cathy Frankel, played by Terri Treas.
- Differences between the movie and the TV series
- Television movies
- Original movie
- DVD release
TV Guide included the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were "Cancelled Too Soon".
The series is set in the near future in the United States. In 1990 a flying saucer crashes in the Mohave Desert containing a race of extraterrestrials, the Tenctonese, escaping from slavery under a cruel Overseer race. They resemble humans, but have certain anatomical differences (their erogenous zones are located on their backs and the males are the gender that deliver babies) and have been bred with greater physical strength and intelligence. These Newcomers, as they are called, are accepted as the latest immigrants to America and the series explores issues around their integration into the multicultural society of the US.
The storylines generally revolved around morality plays on the evils of racism and bigotry using Newcomers as the discriminated minority. As fictional extraterrestrial immigrants, the Newcomers could stand in for social issues about various races, as well as sexual minorities such as gays and lesbians, and would invert the usual expectations. For instance, during the run of the series, George became pregnant (the male of his species carrying the fetus for part of its gestation) and during much of the episode dialog included lines like, "If you females had to feel the pain we males feel during pregnancy, there wouldn't be any babies." The series offered social commentary by illustrating what it means to be human and the often bizarre rituals we observe.
In an April 2, 2008 episode of Fanboy Radio (#463), creator Johnson explains: Having been responsible for science-fiction television series such as The Six Million Dollar Man, V and The Incredible Hulk, was approached for the television adaptation of the 1988 film Alien Nation. He had no interest in the project and agreed to watch the film which left him unimpressed except for one scene when a Newcomer, George, leaves his suburban wife and child and goes to work. Johnson returned to the network, which envisioned a weekly science-fiction version of Lethal Weapon, and sold them on a different concept of social commentary about what happens when a new minority appears overnight. He intended his version to be more akin to the film In the Heat of the Night than a traditional action film.
Differences between the movie and the TV series
The weekly series ran for one season, from 1989 through 1990, and was one of the few successes the fledgling Fox Network had at the time. However, the network suffered from financial shortage caused by lower-than-expected advertising income. As a result, Fox executives cancelled all of their dramatic series for the 1990–1991 season. A second season of Alien Nation was clearly expected by the producers, as the season ended with a cliffhanger. The show built a strong fan base, and popular demand led to "Dark Horizon", the episode that would have begun the second season, being novelized and adapted as a comic book as well as spawning a series of novels. Four years later, after a change of management at Fox, the story of Alien Nation continued with five television movies (including all the original cast), picking up with the cliffhanger.
Note: These last two were made back-to-back, and because Terri Treas was in a relatively advanced state of pregnancy, her character Cathy Frankel appears only briefly in each.
The series was released on DVD January 3, 2006 by 20th Century Fox. The five telefilms that followed after the series was cancelled were released in Region 1 by Best Buy exclusively on September 11, 2007, and worldwide on April 15, 2008
In June 2009, Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi Channel) announced that they were developing a new take on the series. Tim Minear (Angel, Firefly) was announced to pen the series. But later in 2014, it was reported that the series was cancelled by the network in favor of paranormal reality shows and professional wrestling. In 2015, it was reported that a remake of the series was again in the works, with Art Marcum and Matt Holloway writing the script.