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on 4 March 2006
Invasion Earth suffered badly from its pre-show hype, it should be noted. Not unlike Operation Thunder Child, it was billed as the BBC’s answer to Independence Day. This deluded millions of viewers; viewing numbers dropped sharply after the first episode and remained low during the second and third. Despite the awesome (and very fast-paced) ending, told over the last three episodes, it was never as popular as it should have been.
I believe that that represents a quantitative difference between American and British sci-fi movies. In America, the enemy is very clear, such as the massive UFOs of Independence Day. The USAF, or the Marines, or some all-American jock saves the day, wins the girl, etc. Alternatively, the aliens are friendly (ET, The Day The Earth Stood Still) and the real enemy is the military-industrial complex, which of course cannot allow the aliens to bring world peace and harmony.
British sci-fi, with the exception of Doctor Who, tends to follow a different path. The enemy is indistinct, hidden, seen only in flickering shadows. In many ways, there are clear influences from Quartermass in The X Files, which would have been a far better comparison for Invasion Earth.
The plot is fairly simple, by the standards of British sci-fi. An alien spacecraft is detected and shot down by the RAF, which reveals that the pilot is in fact human and chased by both the military and another alien faction. The attempts by the nDs, as the second faction becomes known as, to kidnap the pilot provides the series with its first element of creeping horror, another stable of British sci-fi. It rapidly becomes clear that the first alien faction has lost its war…and the nDs are coming for Earth…
The nDs themselves are nothing like the Daleks. Extradimensional creatures, they move around by opening portals into our dimension and using biological warfare to convert humans into miniature farms for their expansion. They are powerful and they cannot be stopped…there is only one way to convince them to leave.
Some critics, when they had stopped raving about the lack of exploding spacecraft, claimed that the series had no clearly defined end. That is incorrect; the series had a clearly defined and chilling end – it was the perfect place to end the series.
Now that Invasion Earth has – FINALLY – been released on DVD, it seemed like the perfect time to review it for people who are sick of exploding spacecraft and want something more cerebral. It may not be quite as visually exciting as Independence Day, but it certainly has a better plot.
"The Last War"
A UFO is shot down over Scotland while it was sending a signal into space. Frustrated by the RAF cover-up, the pilot who downed the craft teams up with a scientist who caught its transmission to find out what the craft was…while there are hints that there is more than one alien race out there.
"The Fourth Dimension"
After a yellow portal appears for a short time trying to drag in the UFO pilot, they decide to remove the implant discovered in his teeth. But as the implant is taken for analysis another portal appears which draws Friday, Tucker and three soldiers into it. Frustrated at his inability to stop it, Reece condones a brutal interrogation of the pilot.
"Only the Dead"
While they manage to get some of the UFO's systems working, the pilot finally tells his story…and reveals the existence of the monstrous NDs.
"The Fall of Man"
Unable to convince his superiors of the existence of the NDs, Reece tries to trap one using Terell's craft as bait…unaware that the NDs only want one thing from the craft. Meanwhile, The town of Kirkhaven becomes the focus as more and more of its inhabitants succumb to the disease spread by Cdr. Friday.
"The Battle More Costly"
Meanwhile Shay tries to find a way to detect the gates, while Preston researches a ND toxin. Victory seems likely…but the nDs have more than one trick in their store…
"The Shatterer of Worlds"
A huge black hill appears outside Kirkhaven, slowly enveloping more and more land. When even heavy artillery fire leaves it unharmed, Reece decides that someone must try to fly though it and gather data…and discover the price for ending the threat forever.
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on 18 March 2010
This series was like Torchwood before its time.
It is a BBC joint production. It was notable at the time but has not been re-shown much, and now dropped into obscurity. Only known about by those who saw it at the time. Only available in region 1 DVD. Obviously more of a hit in the US? If you need an incentive to buy that cheap region 1 player you've been thinking about, this is it! The only criticism I have is that episode 1 is a bit slow but it's worth following it through. The ending (no spoilers)is unexpected and dramatic.
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on 27 November 2000
I saw Invasion Earth on television and I think that the story line, the actors, the production and just the way they made it was all Exelent! The story line and actors are so captivating that when you start to wacth it you will want to see the two videos start to finish straight away! The way they made it the production was great, and the Aliens they were Wicked they were totaly diferent to and heaps better than what I thought they would be . The ending was very good and Unexpected . Defenatley five stars!
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on 6 February 2003
Many people have already made unfavourable comparisons with 'Quatermass and the Pit' and others of that ilk. I won't argue with that. But this was a genuinely good idea - that Earth might become caught up in the crossfire of an unrelated intergalactic war. What went wrong? Well, the script, for one thing. It's appallingly cliched, hyperbolic and has very little resonance with 'real' human emotions or characters. And it is, for the most part, delivered in a 'phoning the performance in' manner by a largely wooden cast. However, having said that, the whole series is redeemed by the appearance of two extremely good actors. John Shrapnel is blunt and rather brutal as a high-up Army-bod, and Anton Lesser is superb as Lt. Charles Tyrrell, a haunted (and reluctant) soldier from WWII who shows compassion and understanding for a stranded alien (one of the 'goodies') in the 1940's, and is subsequently 'taken' into their culture, to return as a fighter for their cause in the current day. His portrayal of Tyrrell is exceptionally sensitive and moving, and doubly remarkable, given the general triteness and inadequacy of the script. Unfortunately, his performance also serves to highlight the woodenness of much of the rest of the cast. His character also 'buys the farm' after four episodes; having removed the only interesting and three-dimensional character from this series, the writers give the viewer little more to look forward to in the final two episodes, although I suppose the set-piece at the end is quite funny...some friends that I watched this with re-named the series 'The Blob that Ate Scotland'. If you can persevere past the death of the only enjoyable character, you'll see why!
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on 28 August 2013
Strang the BBC do not sell it in the UK long film worth watching I have not seen it for years
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on 7 September 2011
Can someone explain why a BBC production is being sold as a U.S. import requiring a North American DVD player??
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on 21 November 2001
When this was first shown the BBC declared it to be the greatest science fiction they had ever produced, and actively distanced themselves from what had gone before. So, this programme was, in their humble opinion, far far superior to the likes of the three original Quatermass serials, 'A For Andromeda' and 'The Andromeda Breakthrough', 'Undermind', 'Doomwatch' and any other science fiction series you would care to name.
Sadly, you won't find a less entertaining and less enjoyable example of absolute rubbish anywhere. The cast are wooden, the writing is stilted and the story is dull, dull, dull.
Compare this to, for example, 'Quatermass and the Pit'. The Quatermass story has suspense, an engrossing story line that reveals the truth little by little, leading to a terrifying climax, characters that you can believe in, relate to and either like or dislike, and is superbly crafted, especially considering the technical limitations of the day.
Invasion Earth suffers from that late 20th century disease - the belief that good science fiction involves spending lots of money on amazing special effects. What has been lost since the 1970's is the fact that good science fiction is more about people and ideas than amazing visuals. And until someone somewhere realises this we are only ever going to get subjected to this sort of pointless and vacuous drivel.
If you don't believe me, wait until Hollywood's upcoming remake of Tarkovsky's superb 'Solaris' is released....
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on 30 March 2011
A miniseries that starts off with very good potential, then stagnates into a cliched ending in which we are led to believe that the world is apparently destroyed by the efforts of humanity to COMBAT an alien life force attempting to take over the planet. Exactly what did the creators of this series expect humanity to do, quietly face the inevitable and let the aliens destroy the world? Quite frankly, I think that a streak of anti=Americanism runs through this series as characterized by Fred Ward's cartoonish portrayal of a hard-charging,order-barking American general ("dammit! I want answers now! work through the night if you have to!") who is contrasted with his more thoughtful, pessimistic, British counterparts who know the aliens will probably win in the long end, so why try? ("they win, they always win, you can't defeat them"). In other words, anything you do to prevent a world-wide catastrophe is futile anyway, so why try?

P.S. I like all of the British people I have ever met, but boy does a streak of pessimistic fatalism seem to run through post WW II British literature and cinema/tv productions...the end of this series is a case in point.
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on 17 May 2016
This is an excellent sci-fi. Shame it's not on Amazon Prime Video.
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on 21 October 2014
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