on 27 March 2009
It's the second season of the show and those poor aliens still have to deal with their inability to shoot the broadside of a barn with human guns, that little problem with the finger, those fashion-challenged ugly teal-blue jumpsuits, and the relentless pursuit of that architect with obvious deep pockets, David Vincent (Roy Thinnes). This DVD compilation of the ABC series' 1967-68 season sports some nifty intros from Thinnes, along with stunning color and sound, and an easily navigable menu, with or without introductory comments on each episode.
In the second season, Vincent is joined by an evergrowing number of "believers," people that learn of the alien invasion and join him on his quest. But those are not the only changes in the storylines: the aliens themselves expand their own human images; this season, as opposed to the predominately white males of season one, there are black aliens, more females, and even a couple of kids sporting those tell-tale extended "pinkies."
The stories reflect the Cold War atmosphere of the time of the show's production, along with commentary on race relations, the "make peace, not war" outcries of the youth, and the changing politics of America. Though most sci-fi of the period was aimed at a younger audience, "The Invaders" didn't dumb down its stories, even tackling pre-marital sexual relations in one episode.
Best episodes: "Valley of the Shadow," "The Enemy," "The Trial," "The Spores," "The Prophet," "Labyrinth," "The Captive," "The Ransom," "The Possessed," "The Pit," "The Organization", "The Miracle," "The Pursued," and the final one of the series, "Inquisition." The only complaint about the latter is that it has a bad audio transfer, resulting in a slight "wavy" sound.
Unlike other sci-fi shows of the decade that were dependent on elaborate sets, "The Invaders" added a touch of "realism" through its use of location shots, ranging from countrysides to shipyards to amusement parks and others.
But, a true plus is the use of a stellar cast of guest stars, which could be divided into several categories.
There are the episodic television actors and "return players" (those that made more than one appearance on the show): Michael Tolan, Fritz Weaver, Nancy Kovack, Andrew Prine, Pat Hingle, Ford Rainey, Don Gordon, Susan Oliver, Booth Coleman, Linden Chiles, Laurence Naismith, Katherine Justice, Harold Gould, Ed Begley, William Windom, James Callahan, John Zaremba, Susan Oliver, R.G. Armstrong, Joanne Linville, Barbara Barrie, Ian Wolfe, Janet McLachlan, Ross Elliott ( in two episodes,with and without a toupee), Ken Lynch, Roy Poole, Chris Robinson, Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Marth, Charles Aidman, Lin McCarthy, Joel Fluellen, Ron Hayes, Simon Scott, in addition to James Daly (father of Tyne and Tim) and J.D. Cannon who were both featured in the '67 pilot. Veteran Kent Smith has a recurring role as millionaire and fellow alien hunter Edgar Scoville. Alfred Ryder, himself a first-year guest star, has two turns as the alien "leader." Gene Lyons, John Milford, and Robert O'Brien, each, appear in two episodes in this compilation.
Then, there are the "up-and-comers," those whose star would shine brighter in future film and television roles: Gene Hackman, Sally Kellerman, Dabney Coleman, Wayne Rogers, Richard Anderson, Lynda Day, Karen Black, William Smithers, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Michael Constantine, Diana Hyland, Suzanne Pleshette, Barry Atwater, James B. Sikking, Louis Gossett, Jr., Barbara Hershey, Diana Muldaur, Will Geer, and Barry Williams, a few years shy of his debut as one of "The Brady Bunch."
Then, there are the "inspired castings," which include Kevin McCarthy,Dana Wynter, and Larry Gates who themselves had battled aliens in the classic 50's "Invasion of the Body Snathers; Michael Rennie of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" fame; Whit Bissel, who made Michael Landon a "teenage werewolf'; Roscoe Lee Browne and Raymond St. Jacques in a landmark episode; and Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson, who managed to leave "Gilligan's Island" to find their way in an "Invaders'" tale.
Finally, there are the actors that are probably known more for their voices than their faces: cartoon voiceover actor John Stephenson ("Mr. Slate" on "The Flintstone" for one); Ben Wright, heard in numerous films and television shows; Barney Phillips, another famous voice; and young Christopher Shea, who provided the voice of "Linus" for many of the early Charlie Brown specials.
Like the first in the series, this DVD also features an interview with Thinnes. This time, however, the actor provides a fascinating look at the making of the series, as well as other aspects of acting and celebrity.