Monday, July 07, 2008

The Invaders

A friend of mine and I were talking about 60s and 70s TV series today and one of the shows that came up was The Invaders. So tonight I dragged out an old VHS tape I have and watched the first episode.

Hadn't seen the series in years and as it opened I realized I hadn't seen any of the Quinn Martin shows that dominated TV in the those decades in a long, long time. Man did he have a formula. Prologue, five acts, epilog. Dramatic voice over. Cool graphics in and out of each act. Brought back memories of The Fugitive primarily but also all those bland crime shows that had good runs back then, namely Cannon and Barnaby Jones. Cookie cutter, yes, but watchable.

The Invaders, probably because it was created by the grand poobah of paranoia Larry Cohen, had more going for it than any other QM production iwith the exception of The Fugitive. Because this thing mixes noirish effects and enough physical action to double as a Saturday morning program.

I'd also forgoten how efficient QM shows were. Not a wasted shot or moment. Everything plays to story. The story is simple enough, Roy Thinnes (who walked off a Hitchcock movie as I recall because he disagreed with Hitchcock on how to play a scene) is physically right for the show and that's all that matters. Here he's playing the David jansenn role butwithout the sadness Janssen brought to his roles.

One night on his way back home after a long trip David Vincent pulls over to sleep and sees a flying saucer land. The sound and lights wake him. He finds himself in a hick town that is almost deserted. A company has been buying up all the property including the main employer. Long story short, nobody believes him, including his business partner, James Daly. Ends up in a hospital run by aliens, escapes and tries to find evidence that the aliens exist.

It's a sweaty version of Invasion of The Body Snatchers with visuals that remind me in places of It Came From Outer Space, especially the aliens in working clothes.

I enjoyed it for what it is, relentless pulp acted and produced with showy skill and the ability to take itself completely seriously.

I am assured that the one to watch for is the episode with Suzanne Pleshette in which she plays a stripper. My friend tells me it's in the mail.


Martin Edwards said...

The Invaders was a lot of fun, and I'd like to think that one day it will get a re-run on UK television.

mike doran said...

Ah, memories... I suppose by now you know that the first season is out on DVD. Get it, watch, and marvel at how many familiar actors have died in just 41 years. Suzanne Pleshette, James Daly (father of Timothy Daly),Ed Begley (the elder),Theo Marcuse (incredibly, not as a bad guy),William Talman, Strother Martin... The list goes on and on,and this is just season 1. I hope they stay the course and deliver season 2 forthwith (before the end of time). By the way,Roy Thinnes didn't quit the Hitchcock picture, which was FAMILY PLOT; Hitchcock fired him because he was "too nice" in his playing of the villain.William Devane replaced him and did everything but twirl his mustache, which I guess was what Hitch wanted. C'est la film...

Fred Blosser said...

Producers got a lot of mileage out of the guy-on-the-run formula after the success of THE FUGITIVE. I guess the last gasp was THEN CAME BRONSON, which was less of guy-on-the-run than guy-just-trying-to-find-himself with a morph of the formula from the success of EASY RIDER. The people in all of those QM shows had an homogenized plastic look anyway, didn't they? Keith Laumer wrote three Invaders pb novelizations; as I recall, the first adapted a couple of the scripts, the last two were original plots.

Ed Gorman said...

Thanks for the correction, Mike. That i a much told fabrication. Few people play a snake better than Devane.