on 23 March 2009
About the Show:
Unlike the other two major television networks of the era, in the late 60's ABC had what it called a "second season" which premiered new shows in January. One of the network's biggest hits was the campy "Batman" which premiered a year earlier in 1966. "The Invaders" premiered as a part of the 1967 second season and immediately caught the attention of the television viewing public.
Produced by the legendary Quinn Martin ("The Untouchables," "The FBI," "The Fugitive" and later "Cannon" and "Barnaby Jones"), "The Invaders starred Roy Thinnes as David Vincent, an architect that accidentally witnesses the landing of an alien spacecraft. This sighting launches Vincent on a campaign to stop the alien invaders, either singlehandedly or with the aid of others that he convinces of the threat to humanity.
Each week Vincent goes to a different part of the country to do battle with the space invaders and somehow, within the confines of the show's hour-long format, he manages to thwart their plans.
Naturally, the aliens try to do Mr. Vincent in but somehow he manages to escape certain death.
Thinnes brings believability in his role of a man determined to protect humanity from the other worldly menace, a man that will do all within his power to bring down the alien menace.
Boy, he must have some really deep pockets in order to travel all over, never appearing to actually work at his architectural firm. Only In the pilot episode ("Beachhead"), along with "The Innocent"), is there even the hint of his design skills.
The show does not rely heavily on special effects, dealing more with character interaction and some really intriguing situations for the hero and his encounters.
One of the series' strengths is the quality of the writing and the line-up of guest stars, many familiar and some on amazing up-and-comers.
The guest list reads like a "who's who" of character actors of the 60's, 70's, and 80's: the ubiquitous Alfred Ryder, Louise Latham, John Larch, Jeanette Nolan, Andrew Duggan, Irene Tedrow, Phillip Pine, Robert Emhardt, Milton Selzer, William Talman, Susan Oliver of "Star Trek" Orion slave girl fame, the eternally youthful Barbara Luna, Robert Walker ("Star Trek's" Charlie X), Murray Matheson, Murray Hamilton, Harold Gould, Lloyd Gould, Joanne Linville, R.G. Armstrong, William Smithers, Paul Carr, Frank Marth, Harry Lauter, Ford Rainey, Richard X. Slattery, Barney Phillips, John McLiam, Kent Smith, the dependable Strother Martin ("Cool Hand Luke"), Edward Andrews, Ross Elliott, and Wesley Addy. Each greatly delivers to the stories that intertwine Vincent's quest to uncover the alien threat and his interactions with unsuspecting citizens along with the malevolent aliens.
Guest stars that had yet made their jump to stardom or greater familiarity in shows of their own or movies include Jack Lord (one year shy of his "Hawaii 5-0" triumph), Peggy Lipton ("The Mod Squad" and future wife of Quincy Jones), Suzanne Pleshette ("The Bob Newhart Show"), Simon Scott ("Trapper John, M.D."), Peter Graves ("Mission: Impossible"), future Emmy winners Ed Asner ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show"), William Windom ("My World and Welcome to It"), James Whitmore ("The Practice"), Jack Warden ("Brian's Song"), Burgess Meredith ("Tail Gunner Joe"), and Ellen Corby ("The Waltons"),as well as Arthur Hill ("Owen Marshall"), a very young Dabney Coleman ("9 to 5"), Dabbs Greer (Reverend Walden on "Little House on the Prairie"), and Norman Fell ("Three's Company")
Actors accustomed to appearing on both the big and small screen that get involved with David Vincent are Roddy McDowall ("Planet of the Apes," "Fright Night," "National Velvet"), Diane Baker ("Silence of the Lambs," "Marnie"),Oscar winner Ed Begley ("Sweet Bird of Youth"), Susan Strasberg ("Picnic," "Rollercoaster"), Michael Rennie ("The Day the Earth Stood Still," "The Lost World," "Hotel," "Island in the Sun"), Ralph Bellamy ("Sunrise at Campobello," "Rosemary's Baby," "Trading Places"),
Incidentally, Ryder, Addy, Rennie, Luna, Matheson, and Nancy Wickmore deliciously chew the scenery as alien leaders, respectively in the episodes "Vikor," "Doomsday Minus One," "The Innocent," "Storm," "The Ivy Curtain," and "The Betrayed,"
"Storm" also boasts an intriguing religious slant pitting a priest torn between his faith and the fate of the world with a great performance from Joseph Campanella, later to star on "Mannix" with Mike Connors.
Another of the show's strengths is the music provided by composer Dominic Frontiere. Frontiere had already endeared himself to sci-fi fans for his fantastic music for the first season of the classic "The Outer Limits."
Besides the obvious (fashion, cars, haircuts, etc.), one of the show's aspects that dates it is the use of the term "girl" for the featured women in the respective episodes.
This show was definitely pre-woman's lib.
Also, most Quinn Martin shows featured a disclaimer at the end announcing that cars were provided by the Ford Motor Company and "The Invaders" is no different.
What an understatement! A café scene has no less than five Fords of various vintage parked in front. Another had cars going up the street...all of `em Fords.
About the compilation's features:
Each episode can be played with or without an explanatory intro by Thinnes. There is also a commentary by creator Larry Cohen that can be optionally heard during the viewing of "The Innocent."
The extended version of the pilot offers a few more details that don't necessarily add to the storyline; thus, it's no wonder that they were deleted from the version aired in '67.
The interview of Thinnes demands much patience because the actor tends to babble a little but he does provide some interesting insight into the production of the two-season series.
Because of that interview and Cohen's rather mundane commentary track, the five-star series loses a star for the DVD compilation.