The Invaders (United States 1967/68)

david vThis is probably the best show of its kind. Created by Larry Cohen and produced by Quinn Martin, it features the most popular story in the whole of science fiction – our very own Planet Earth under attack. A fantastic creepy score, magnificent narration and a plot that reveals more diabolical strands with each episode make The Invaders box-set heaven.

Roy Thinnes plays architect ‘David Vincent’ ( don’t ask me why they felt the need to mention his occupation in the opening credits ) who is driving home late one night. Tired, he stops near a deserted diner and falls asleep. He is awoken a short time later by a strange whirring sound. He sees a saucer-like object touching down nearby. When Vincent returns to the same spot the next day with the police in tow, there is no saucer, only a trailer belonging to a honeymooning couple, and they claim to have seen nothing. Vincent notices that the name of the diner has been changed. So is he mad? Or has someone tried to cover things up?

Late that night, he approaches the couple yet again. The man attacks him. Suddenly he begins to glow…So begins the opening episode ‘Beachhead’ written by Anthony Wilson. Taut and intelligently written, it could easily have been an installment of ‘The Outer Limits’ ( and shared that earlier programme’s composer Dominic Frontiere ). Vincent learns that the invaders are here, refugees from a dying world, and they are out to conquer the Earth. His task is made harder by the fact that they can assume human form, so they can be anyone or anything. The only way to identify one is by their little fingers – they cannot bend them. Kill an invader and it disappears in a fiery red ball of light.

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Each week, the intrepid architect followed the invaders across the country, thwarting their nefarious plots. These include turning insects into carnivores, sending the Earth off its axis by detonating an antimatter bomb, and attempting to sabotage a moon exploration project. He also hoped to be able to capture an alien and take it to Washington in order to prove their existence. Guest stars included Jack Lord, Peter Graves, Burgess Meredith, Michael Rennie, Roddy McDowall and a pre-“French Connection” Gene Hackman.

It anticipated the ‘paranoid’ shows of the ’90’s, such as ‘The X Files’ and ‘Dark Skies’. After an excellent first season, it returned for a second, but mid-way through there was a change in format. In ‘The Believers’, Kent Smith was introduced as ‘Edgar Scoville’, head of a group who also knew of the invaders’ existence, and provided back-up. Ratings fell and the show was cancelled without a conclusion. But at its peak these scripts were imbued with grit and intelligence. The photography and sets still look vivid. The fashions are dated and women are referred to as “girls” but The Invaders was undeniably one of the shows that brought quality to the then-burgeoning genre of TV science-fiction.

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