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HTF DVD REVIEW: The Invaders: The First Season

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#1 of 9 Matt Hough

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Posted May 19 2008 - 03:56 PM


The Invaders: The First Season
Directed by Joseph Sargent et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1967
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 933 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: May 27, 2008
Review Date: May 19, 2008


The Series

3.5/5

Pity poor David Vincent. Like The Fugitive’s Dr. Richard Kimble (another Quinn Martin production), he just desperately needs someone to BELIEVE him. In Vincent’s case, of course, he’s trying to spread the word about aliens who have begun takeover operations on our planet. During the course of this 17-episode first season of The Invaders (the show was a midseason replacement on ABC), Vincent does indeed prove to a few people that’s he’s not a lunatic. Sometimes they die; sometimes they emerge from their alien encounters still alive but unwilling to join David in his quest for both widespread public notification and immediate governmental action to identify and exterminate the malevolent invaders.

The idea of aliens among us certainly wasn’t a new one in 1967, but taking Invasion of the Body Snatchers a step farther by having architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) traverse the country investigating any shred of unusual, unexplained phenomena gave the series an immediate hook (despite some continuity and logic lapses; e.g. on David‘s driver’s license, he’s listed as having brown eyes. Roy Thinnes’ eyes are a radiant blue) and led it to a second (and unfortunately last) season.

In season one, Vincent was a lone wolf, a single-minded extraterrestrial exterminator who pegged aliens by their mutated hands with extended pinkies and the occasional one who began glowing when his human form began to dissipate. In Roy Thinnes’ capable hands, David is a character we can root for unhesitatingly. Through the course of the season’s episodes, he’s sometimes aided and sometimes thwarted by an impressive line-up of Oscar, Emmy, and Tony-winning guest stars: Roddy McDowall, Jack Lord, William Windom, Andrew Duggan, Diana Hyland, Arthur Hill, Peter Graves, James Whitmore, Susan Oliver, Susan Strasberg, Michael Rennie, Jack Warden, Ed Begley, Joseph Campanella, Ralph Bellamy, Edward Asner, Jeanette Nolan, Burgess Meredith, Suzanne Pleshette, and Strother Martin.

The series has some nice special effects for its time (it’s always fun to see the aliens disintegrate when they’re killed), but some of the props like their ray guns do look a little clunky compared to the toys the guys at Star Trek were brandishing around, and the episode with attacking locusts, for example, does look bargain basement cheap today.

Here is the line-up of first season episodes. Like all Quinn Martin productions, each episode contains a prolog followed by the opening credits, four acts, and an epilog.

1 - Beachhead
2 - The Experiment
3 - The Mutation
4 - The Leeches
5 - Genesis
6 - Vikor
7 - Nightmare
8 - Doomsday Minus One
9 - Quantity: Unknown (my favorite of the season one episodes)
10 - The Innocent
11 - The Ivy Curtain
12 - The Betrayed
13 - Storm
14 - Panic
15 - Moonshot
16 - Wall of Crystal
17 - The Condemned


Video Quality

3.5/5

The original television 1.33:1 aspect ratio has been faithfully rendered in these new transfers. The first four episodes (disc one) are very problematic with color timing that makes flesh tones exceedingly hot in some scenes. Without anamorphic enhancement, there is aliasing present, and edge enhancement is also around from time to time. After disc one, the other transfers are very solid in terms of sharpness, color density, and black levels. There are dirt specks in almost all of the episodes, and you’ll spy some hairs from time to time, too. Still, the shows look good for their age, and the image is certainly sharp enough to tell Roy Thinnes’ stunt double from the actor himself. Fans should be pleased for the most part. Each episode is divided into 8 chapters with the introductions or 7 chapters without them.

Audio Quality

3/5

The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio tracks are decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. For mono tracks, there are some fun sound effects and Dominic Frontiere’s eerie music mixed with the dialog. The tracks are clean and artifact free. Of course, the show’s many explosions and other bombastic elements (spaceships taking off and landing, ray gun sounds) would have been so much more effective with surround envelopment were it routinely used in television of this period.

Special Features

3.5/5

The episode “The Innocent” contains an audio commentary by series creator Larry Cohen. It’s a rambling talk as much about his career pre and post Invaders as it is about the series, and the commentary is definitely not specific to this particular episode. As for the show, he had minimal involvement with it once he sold the series to ABC and provided outlines for about twenty stories. He was not happy about the direction the series went in during the second season and believes the show could have run far longer had there been fewer aliens that were always after David.

Each episode has an introduction by star Roy Thinnes in which he gives a brief summary, mentions some key guest stars, and once in a while gives a tidbit of behind-the-scenes information. The viewer has the choice of watching the intros or not either with each episode or with the “Play All” feature.

Star Roy Thinnes answers a series of questions about his casting and the production of the show in a 27 ¼ minute interview filmed in 4:3. It’s surprising he wasn’t used to offer audio commentaries on selected episodes since he seems to enjoy talking about the show and is very proud of his work in it.

The original one hour pilot episode of “Beachhead” is contained on disc five. The original version features a few scenes that run a little longer than in the aired version, and the closing credits are done in a totally different way.

Three original ABC promos for the program play in one 2 ½ minute chunk.

Previews are on disc one for Jericho, the Star Trek franchise, and the CSI franchise.


In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)

The Invaders included some serious drama in its sci-fi trappings for fans of the genre. This new first season set will be welcomed by the show’s supporters for its mostly good transfers and a few interesting bonuses.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 9 Paul_Scott

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Posted May 19 2008 - 08:28 PM

As a kid in the 70's, I used to run across Invaders tie-in merchandise at flea markets and yard sales (frequently, it seemed).The image of Thinnes chased by the saucer always piqued my imagination, but to this day I still haven't seen an episode, so I'm looking forward to this release with a great deal of interest. Sounds like the quality of the original elements is not quite up to some of the other CBS/Paramount sets of the same era. Good to be aware of going in.

#3 of 9 Bonedwarf

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Posted May 19 2008 - 09:17 PM

Was considering getting this but never realised it actually ran for TWO seasons. They aired it in the late 80's or early 90's in the UK on Friday nights on BBC2 and I loved it.

#4 of 9 Pete Battista

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Posted May 19 2008 - 09:52 PM

I am considering a blind buy on this one.

#5 of 9 Jeff Willis

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Posted May 20 2008 - 02:33 AM

Matt,

Great review! Thanks.

Pete, you can't go wrong with this one if you like the Quinn Martin format of the 60's/70's shows. Plus, the guest stars are impressive in this series. Special effects are done in just the right amount, not overdone or too "cheesy", imo. It's another great drama/SciFi show from that era.

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#6 of 9 Harry-N

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Posted May 27 2008 - 11:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_Scott
As a kid in the 70's, I used to run across Invaders tie-in merchandise at flea markets and yard sales (frequently, it seemed).The image of Thinnes chased by the saucer always piqued my imagination, but to this day I still haven't seen an episode, so I'm looking forward to this release with a great deal of interest. Sounds like the quality of the original elements is not quite up to some of the other CBS/Paramount sets of the same era. Good to be aware of going in.

Actually, it's about on par with THE FUGITIVE. Recall that the pilot episode of that series had some scratch lines through the entire episode.

I've mentioned it in the other thread, but the reason that the first aired episode ("Beachhead") is shorter on this DVD set is that it's time-compressed, speeding up the action much like a PAL video would be.

Why it's that way, I can't say, but I can hear the higher-pitched voices and detect the faster action as I'm very sensitive to such speed discrepancies.

Harry
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#7 of 9 Paul_Scott

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Posted May 27 2008 - 11:42 PM

Got my copy from Borders yesterday. Decent enough deal with the 30% off coupon floating around- came to $28 with NYS sales tax.
For people that can exercise a little patience, with DDs 20% off sale (which starts 6/6) it can be had for under $22.
I couldn't wait. Looking forward to dipping into this in the next few days!

#8 of 9 Ockeghem

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Posted May 28 2008 - 01:39 AM

And you get to enjoy some of the same music used in The Outer Limits (original series) when watching (at least) the pilot. I thought that that was a nice treat when I watched "Beachhead" on DVD a couple of years ago. Posted Image
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#9 of 9 Mike*HTF

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Posted May 28 2008 - 08:11 AM

Thanks for that review, Matt.

I'll definitely be picking this up.





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