From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Geeky Flashback: Alien Nation

SF fans have plenty of reasons to be pissed at Fox Network right now. the cancellation of Sarah Connor Chronicles, the futzing they did with the first few episodes of Dollhouse, and there will always be Firefly. What some people may not realize is that Fox has a long history of canceling excellent SF shows for dubious reasons (including their own incompetence in promotion and marketing). Remember Alien Nation? Like Buffy, which debuted many years later, this series was based on a B movie that didn’t enjoy huge success. Also like Buffy, the TV series was heaps better. The background/mythos was pretty deep, the show explored social issues, and the producers essentially made the concept work.

Alien Nation combined two genres — science fiction and buddy cop shows. Matthew Sykes was a hardened LA cop with an attitude. George Francisco was a somewhat naive alien. The perfect pair!

The show only got one season and that ended on a cliffhanger, which was a real shame. Despite a setup that could have been completely cheesy, the show explored some really deep issues (race, class, immigration, assimilation, prejudice) without being constantly morose or patronizing. It also featured an alien race that had a well thought out culture, society, and physiology. (One of the best things about the Newcomers was that they ate things humans considered rancid like sour milk and weasel.) It was an intelligent SF show — and everyone knows how well those go over on network television.

Back when the show was first canceled there were a few media tie-in titles that finished up the story started in the season/series ender and novelized some scripts that were meant for the second season. (I read them all — yes!) A few years after that some made-for-TV movies came out based on those books/scripts, but this was still before the advent of DVRs and mass torrenting, so anyone who didn’t know they were coming on (like me) probably missed them. This was also before TV specials aired 20 million times in one week to ensure everyone had a chance to see it. I was bummed.

Recently I was poking at Hulu and discovered that they have all the Alien Nation movies available online – score! I finally got to see “Dark Horizon” on screen, got to see Matt and Cathy having hot interspecies sex in “Body and Soul”, and caught up on the movies not based on released books.

Even after all this time Alien Nation still stands up, and the movies are of the same caliber. Sure, there are occasional cheesy moments, but who doesn’t like a bit of cheese? If you’re a fan you can now buy the complete series and then watch the continuing adventures of Matt, George, and all their spotty-headed pals on Hulu.

Dark Horizon

Other Alien Nation Movies:

If you’re not a Hulu fan, you can buy all five movies on DVD, too.

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