Neil Chase -
Mary Wilkes -
Lesley Hahn -
Leigh Holland -
Gene Randall -
Joe Wilkes -
Ray Brooks -
Addison Leech -
Written by -
Barry Oringer & Tracy Torme
Directed by -
OTHER ALIENS AMONGST US SHOWS
3rd Rock From the Sun
Mary Wilkes is found 30 miles from her home in the middle of the night in her nightdress with no memory of who she is or what happened to her. Lesley Hahn is visited in the night by what she believes to be ghostly telephone repairmen. By chance, psychotherapist Neil Chase comes into contact with these completely separate women and finds disturbing similarities in their cases - similarities that might be evidence that aliens are kidnapping them to carry out experiments on.
Alien abductees is a popular subject for science fiction on TV for the simple reason that it's set on Earth and doesn't need too much in the way of special effects. That's the case here as the opening episode of this two part drama attempts to concentrate on the human stories whilst still crafting a thriller story around them. It's only partly successful in either case since the two have a tendency to cancel each other out.
The scenes of alien abduction are luridly coloured sequences in which blinding blue light streams in through windows, but doesn't seem to wake up the whole neighbourhood like it ought to, especially at 3 am. The direction here is heavy on the threat and the music becomes strident and overbearing, trying to pummel the audience into a sense of fear.
The main reason for these blatant tactics would seem to be the aliens themselves. Seen only in flashes through soft filters and obscured by backlighting, they are nonetheless not the scariest of creatures, nor the most believable.
The human characters are, though, much better with some solid performances from solid actors. Richard Crenna makes for a solid centre to anchor the whole thing and both Mare Winningham and Daphne Ashbrook make their abductees different and believably rounded characters. Then Steven Berkoff walks in with a typically bonkers performance as a UFO nut to undermine them all.
Scenes of hypnosis start to get repetitive and since the audience know that the abductions are real going through the same process over and over again to gather corroboration might be realistic, but it does get a little dull.Top
Physical evidence is now starting to be unearthed that helps Dr Chase to believe that Mary and Lesley are telling the truth about their abductions. Strangers start to interfere with his investigation and threatening his position. Lesley learns that she is pregnant, but not by her boyfriend. When Chase declares his position on the abductions publicly, he is challenged, but the aliens have one last visit to make.
Now that Chase is a believer, the thriller aspect of the show kicks in more with military and covert interference and threats, whilst the events surrounding Lesley's baby would be distressing were it not for the poor and obvious effects. The aliens are on screen now for longer and more clearly and their flaws show up much, much more, dissipating any threat that they might once have had.
The human aspect of the story continues to be the best with Ben Vereen's ex-soldier character making a big impact with relatively little screen time. The romance between Crenna and Blakely's characters, though, does not convince and seems almost tacked on to meet some sort of love story quota.
Some of the purpose behind the aliens' visits are made clear and some are left obscure, but the way that the show ends with a conclusion that has little to do with anything that the protagonists have done is somewhat unsatisfactory.Top
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