Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not really out to get you. That old axiom has never been more true than for David Vincent in the Martin Quinn series The Invaders. Quinn was best known for his police procedural shows like The FBI. At the time of the The Invaders Quinn was going into the final season of one of his most popular shows, The Fugitive. While most people over the years have compared The Invaders to that Quinn production, they were really not as similar as all that. In The Fugitive, the hero, Richard Kimball, played by David Janssen had a very specific mission. He was wrongly convicted of killing his wife and was on the trail of the real killer, whom he had witnessed. The “one armed man” became an iconic figure in television history and provided Dr. Kimball with his “Holy Grail”. David Vincent’s mission was far more complicated and seldom so cut and dried. He was honestly more akin to Dr. Bennell, played by sci-fi favorite Kevin McCarthy from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. In both cases you had one man who knew that aliens were invading and even replacing humans. As I watched this collection of Invaders episodes, I couldn’t help but be reminded of McCarthy’s famous scene running down the street trying to convince the world of the impending invasion.
The Invaders maintained several Quinn trademark touches. The episode was broken down into four acts and an epilog, each labeled as you came out of the commercials. Quinn also used a stable of actors as guests that showed up on almost all of his shows. If you look up most of the guest stars on this set, you will find a vast majority of them also made appearances on The FBI, The Fugitive, The Streets Of
Unfortunately, The Invaders only lasted for two seasons, and David Vincent never did manage to warn the world. While he was able to defeat the many tasks The Invaders were plotting, all he was able to do was delay the inevitable. There was a revival mini-series in the 90’s that did include Roy Thinnes reprising his role of David Vincent, but he was not the central character. Instead it was Quantum Leap’s Scott Bakula that took on the job of trying to warn the world and stop the Invaders from completing their tasks. The mini-series was intended as a back door pilot for a new show, but whether it be ratings or lack of network interest, the new series never materialized, leaving the invaders and their plots to dissolve in the otherworldly existence of cancellation. There is some talk that the Sci-Fi Channel has considered a potential show, but again nothing has ever really come of those rumors.
The first season of The Invaders is contained on 5 discs with the following breakdown of episodes.
Beachhead: The show’s pilot wasted no time in setting up the premise. A narrator takes us right into the action as Vincent is driving along a country road. He’s tired, and with no place to stop and rest, he merely pulls off the road at an abandoned diner. That’s where his life changes forever and the race begins. He sees a saucer land, and he witnesses aliens disembarking. When he tries to warn the police, no one believes his story. When he returns to the scene with the authorities, there is no evidence of the last night’s events. A couple, apparently camping there on their honeymoon, report they saw nothing the previous evening. Vincent, however, notices that one of them has an awkwardly positioned pinky finger, a story element that would be used and often ignored in future episodes. Vincent investigates and discovers the couple are invaders, and he traces them to a small town where they have established a base of operations. One of the nicest touches was having Grandma Walton (
The Experiment: Roddy McDowall guests stars as the son of a scientist who may have proof of the invaders’ existence. The invaders have developed a mind controlling drug. When the scientist is murdered, Vincent must get to the proof before the invaders who are controlling the son.
The Mutation: You would expect that Vincent’s public rantings would leave him open to being conned. This story starts out with a couple of Mexicans leading Vincent to the scene of “strange lights” they claim to have witnessed. What they really intend to do is take him out to the middle of the dessert, rob him, and leave him for dead. Vincent survives the attack and manages to get to a small border town, but in his delirium he believes he saw a downed saucer. His questions don’t make him very popular in the small town of
The Leeches: An eccentric engineer believes he’s next on an invaders’ hit list, so he contacts Vincent. Of course, if this guy can find Vincent, why not the far more advanced bad guys? Vincent agrees to try and help protect the man, but he doesn’t do a very good job of it. The man is soon kidnapped. It’s now up to Vincent to find him before the invaders can get at what’s in his mind. They now have a new toy that extracts information from a person’s mind. They are kidnapping Earth’s best scientists to get at their expertise. Doesn’t seem like such an advanced society would get much out of us primitive humans. You’ll recognize the location of this episode as the same place Kirk fought the Gorn in the Star Trek episode Arena, which coincidentally aired just one week before this one did.
Genesis: A highway patrol cop stops a couple of kids for a broken headlight but ends up bearing witness to such a horror he ends up in the hospital. His story brings Vincent to investigate. This is a crucial show for the show’s mythology. We discover how it is that the invaders take human form and that the process has limitations. The invaders need to regenerate from time to time in tubes. There is a low f/x sea lab in the episode as well.
Vikor: A celebrated war hero named Vikor, played by
Nightmare: In yet another small town, Vincent discovers more invader activity. A local school teacher is swarmed by carnivorous locusts that are controlled by an invader device. He’s treated to the same small town hospitality he should be used to by now. You know the kind: “Welcome. Now go home.” Everyone seems to be intererested in this latest victim, and she’s confused and keeps changing her story. Can Vincent get to her before the invaders can kill her? It turns out that this town, Grady, is the geographic center of the country, the perfect place to unleash these carnivorous insects on the entire nation.
Doomsday – Minus One: The invaders intend to use a military nuclear test to hide the detonation of their own anti-matter bomb. Anyone who’s seen Star Trek knows how bad that anti-matter stuff can be. Vincent’s mission is made all the more difficult because a famous Army general is cooperating with the invaders.
Quantity Unknown: When a plane crashes, a strange silver cylinder is discovered in the wreckage. This just might be the proof Vincent needs. The trouble is that the invaders want the thing back as badly as Vincent wants it. The mission is hampered by a cop with a personal vendetta against the aliens. Vincent is more determined than ever when he discovers that the cylinder is a communiqué which details the invasion plans. We learn in this episode that when an invader dies, not only does he disappear, but so does anything he touches at that instant. This, of course, explains why clothes and guns appear to vanish with the dead invader.
The Innocent: Michael Rennie, the star of The Day The Earth Stood Still, guests as an invader leader who tries to convince Vincent that the invaders have decided to work in peace with humans to build a better world for both. Vincent is also searching for a fisherman who saw a saucer, and an Army officer wants Vincent to corroborate his story of seeing how the invaders die. All of these story elements combine to make one of the best episodes of the series. This episode comes with an audio commentary by series creator Larry Cohen, who talks more about himself than the series. This egocentric track is a complete waste of your time.
The Ivy Curtain: Vincent encounters a school that is a charm school of sorts for invaders. Here they learn to act like humans, including showing emotion. The idea is to infiltrate the society and sow discontent for authority. Jack Warden stars as a pilot who discovers his passengers are invaders and is blackmailed to continue to provide the service at an exorbitant pay. The pilot’s wife is a gold digger who cares only for the money and betrays Vincent and her husband when given the chance.
The Betrayed: Vincent steals an invaders’ computer tape that lists the names and locations of their most important plants in human government. He involves a former NASA engineer with disastrous results. The story was written by science fiction great Theodore Sturgeon. You would think by now Vincent would have learned his lesson about bringing people back to the scene of invader technology and expecting anything to still be there. Vincent also falls in love, but it only serves to complicate his mission and gets a man killed.
Storm: Could the invaders be controlling hurricanes in
Panic: Holy Mr. Freeze, Batman. Both Vincent and the invaders are in a race to capture a diseased invader who freezes anyone he touches. Robert Walker stars as the disabled invader in a role very much like his Charlie X role in an early Star Trek episode. Vincent also encounters his real world wife Lynn Loring in this episode.
Moonshot: Not long before man actually did set foot on the moon, we have this episode about the invaders attempting to stop mankind’s successful landing of a man on the moon. There’s an invader on the crew who intends to sabotage the mission to avoid the detection of a moon base. Peter Graves stars here as the man running the investigation who turns to Vincent for help.
The Condemned: If you can’t beat them, frame them, I always say. The Invaders use Vincent’s killing of an Invader to frame him for the murder of a man who is actually still alive. Another great cast makes this a very sweet episode. The man on the run with vital proof against the invaders is played by Ralph Bellamy from The Wolf Man. Coincidentally the two men who begin the frame of Vincent are both
Each episode of The Invaders is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. The color is usually at least fair, but there is an annoying fade in and out that occurs more on some episodes than others. The series most certainly shows its age, but you do need to remember the show is over 40 years old, and this was the very beginning for color television. Many of the f/x are dated, but again they were solid for their time. Black levels are a little below average as is most of the fine detail of the presentation. There are more than a few specks and other print defects to contend with throughout.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is basically there to service the dialog, and it does. There is some distortion during the theme when the music is considerably loud. If you keep in mind the source material, you can’t expect anything more than this.
Introductions: Roy Thinnes supplies a wonderful introduction for each of the cases on this collection. He talks about guests and other important aspects for each show. These generally only run a minute or so.
Roy Thinnes Interviews: This half hour interview offers a lot of insight into the man and the series. Of most notable is the fact that Thinnes claims to have had a true saucer encounter just three days before the pilot episode premiered on television. He opted to keep it to himself because he suspected most folks would just have considered it a publicity stunt.
Extended Pilot: You get a 10 minute longer version of the pilot. Most of the new footage involves miner plot developments. There is a scene where we learn more about a paranoid attack Vincent had in The Korean War. There’s more of the newlywed imposters. Most of the rest is likely extended, and I had a difficult time finding anything else out of place.
There’s no question that The Invaders requires more than the usual suspension of belief. The finger gimmick comes and goes, making it an ineffective way, after all, to identify the aliens. I suspect it grew impossible to keep actors from relaxing their fingers and was a nightmare for the continuity folks. It was also hard to believe that creatures capable of traversing galaxies and of coming up with so many technological breakthroughs would have such a hard time of finally killing Vincent. There was many a chance that they just threw away. I know a few guys in