John Loengard -
Kimberly Sayers -
Frank Bach -
OTHER ALIEN INVASIONS
History as we know it is a lie. There is a secret organisation fighting an alien invasion and covering the whole thing up as it goes. It's not a new idea, but the focus on having major historical events and personages become part of the plot is a nice twist. The idea was to have a decade a season leading up to the Millennium showdown, but that never came to pass as the show was cancelled after its first season.
The problems are many. The two leads are too bland to carry the show, the alien effects are increasingly unbelievable and the plotting is just not interesting enough to sustain the show.
There aren't enough stand out moments to make it memorable and it is destined to become just another failed sci-fi show gathering dust on the shelf.Top
A young, idealistic man and his girlfriend move to Washington to share in the optimism of the golden age that President JFK has promised the states. Instead, he finds a plot involving an organisation so powerful and secret that even the president is unaware of it. Majestic (as itís called) is fighting the menace of aliens who are taking people and planting small beasties in their heads that then control them. The only way to get them out is to cut open the head and nobody has survived that process yet, so when his girlfriend is taken and altered, John defies Majestic and tries an experimental chemical-based procedure to save her life. Aware that his bosses will stop at nothing to ensure that she does not compromise their operations, John and Kim go on the run. Through Kimberlyís workmates, they manage to contact the President with information about Majestic. Three days later JFK is assassinated in Dallas, leaving John and Kim alone, on the run and the only free people who know their terrible secret.
That is a lot of plot to get into one episode, even a feature-length pilot episode. The set up to DARK SKIES is a very clever mixing of history and popular myth. This pilot gives us Roswell, crop circles, project blue book, alien abduction, flying saucers and the assassination of JFK all in one almost seamless package. Sadly, sticking all that together doesnít make a lot of sense. Itís a lot of motion with no unification. Thatís partly because the aliensí purpose is not yet known and perhaps it will all become clear in time. Letís hope so.
The period setting is fantastically well realised and will allow, in future episodes, for the further playing around with US history. Eric Close and Megan Ward make for impossibly fresh-faced leads and they both find it difficult to carry the show. They will have to gain a lot more presence if they are to succeed. They can learn from JT Walsh who can do this kind of shadowy bad guy thing without even trying too hard.
We look forward to what this series is going to bring us in the future.Top
In the aftermath of the JFK assassination, John tries to regain a vital piece of evidence that the President handed to a contact before he died. In doing so, he meets an ex-air force officer who was at the site of the Roswell incident and describes a shooting down rather than a crash. Shortly thereafter, John discovers that the aliens already have an agent inside Majestic and it is he, not the organisation, that was responsible for the killing of the President and now plans to drop Air Force 1 onto the gathered world leaders.
Considering how much of the background to the series is laid out in this episode, it is a confused, choppy affair. That the aliens killed JFK and controlled Ruby (who killed Oswald, are you keeping up) is possibly OK, but we get two differing versions of what happened at Roswell as well. That's a lot for an hour.
It's too much for this episode anyway. So much information is being handed down that the main threat for the week, the plane crashing into the gathered heads of state, is given almost no screen time at all and is averted almost off-screen. The double agent tries to resurrect it by hijacking a military helicopter, but Loengard takes care of that in barely more time than is given to the original plot.
This is disappointing after the opening pilot.Top
John and Kim are alone and on the run in the aftermath of JFK's assassination. Kim is having bad dreams about her abduction and has a compulsion to go to Florida where the latest unmanned moon probe is about to be launched. There, they locate the astronaut from her dreams and learn that he's going to be on this flight as well, a flight being paid for by Majestic.
The premise of this episode is to use some wonderful archive footage of the old Saturn V rocket launches. Whilst Kim might understandably be driven by her experience to find the man who shared it, her apparent psychic link to him is never explained. Very little actually happens, but at least the plot thickens when the flight manages to locate something unnatural on the moon.Top
Dark Day's Night
The Beatles are in town to play the Ed Sullivan show and the Hive have hatched a plan to kill all of their kidnap victims that weren't altered. Given subliminal messages by television, they will be triggered by the music of the Beatles into killing themselves en masse. John and Kim attempt to foil the plot, but can they take on something of this size without Frank Bach's help?
The history being spun this week is the legendary appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. The problem is that the fab four here look even less like the real Beatles than they sound. It's a distraction that the otherwise humdrum plot could really have done without. If this is the best that the show can manage then this trip down memory lane is going to get real old real quick.Top
John and Kim go to Las Vegas, chasing down a lead and hoping to find some badly needed luck. What they find is Howard Hughes, already a recluse, but aware of a plot underway by the Hive, though with a very different idea of what he is facing. To get to the bottom of the plot, Hughes is willing to sacrifice whoever it takes.
This is a nice episode with a central conceit as contrived as all the others, but a much better plot built around it. The Hive's trying to get into Dreamland, also known as Area 51 for reasons unknown. They are skimming money off the gaming tables in Vegas to pay for the construction of a tunnel. Why do they need money when they can turn anyone they need? How can they have constructed such a big tunnel with no resources to speak of? None of this is clear, nor very convincing, but the human stories are more interesting and detailed, providing more depth than has been the case so far.Top
The Hive are spotted messing about with a herd of cows and discover that one of them isn't well. Finding a helpful med student, they take something out of the cow, a young boy. The Hive have been attempting to grow compatible humans inside the cows. They have finally succeeded. They boy seems human, but is he really? Can the pair give him up to Majestic to be dissected?
Would you give up your humanity to save humanity? That's the question facing Kim and John. Left high and dry by Bobby Kennedy, they are bemoaning the lack of a family in their life when suddenly they are handed one pre-made. It's actually an interesting concept buried in the usual run-around and escape from the men in black schtick. The ending is also really beyond belief. They went through all of that to just let the child walk away? I don't think so.Top
A tale of flying rocks brings John and Kim to Alaska just before an earthquake hits. The quake unearths an alien spaceship that the local tribe says landed before time and they were warned to keep below the ground. Now Majestic are on the way to pick it up, something that John has foreseen will lead to destruction of humanity and success for the Hive.
Just when you think that you have another plot not built around some arbitrary historical event up pops the Alaska earthquake and a lot of grainy stock footage. The story created is a mix of hokey relationship stuff (father and son disaffection), half-baked religious musings (indian history against christian dogma) and a confused sci-fi plot involving buried spaceships. The way in which John and Kim escape from the military is extremely unconvincing and the climax is pretty anti-climactic.Top
Kim's sister is getting married, but she finds herself with John looking at a new UFO sighting the day before. When it becomes clear that the job will take too long, she sets off for Denver on her own whilst John and an old friend find what purports to be plans of alien spacecraft. The catch is that the plans have to be opened in front of the press before they can be verified. John smells a rat and Kim finds that her sister's perfect boyfriend is, in fact, a Majestic agent.
This episode is much more low key. The plot is not being driven by a hive plot, but by a Majestic plot, so there is less in the way of action and more in the way of thought. Kim's feelings about their situation continue to be split and that's the most affecting part of this story. It's just a bit dull.Top
We Shall Overcome
It's Mississippi and three civil rights protestors have gone missing. A friend of John's was in the car with them and saw some stuff that makes him believe that there is a hive plot going on in the local black church. Majestic are also on the case and it's a race to save a local white racist and John's friend from both aliens and government agents.
This week's bit of history is the MISSISSIPPI BURNING case. It's almost anathema to take race relations of the time and use them as the basis for a plot as shallow as this, but at least the show has the guts to make the white racist stay racist throughout with no act of redemption. It's also surprising how powerful the images of separate drinking fountains and toilets for whites and coloured people still are.Top
The Last Wave
A college friend of John's dies and he and Kim return to their old stamping grounds in LA for the funeral. The death isn't as straightforward as it seems, however. The body is stolen, fish are throwing themselves out of the sea and it seems to have something to do with the local water treatment plant. Luckily, fledgling film-maker Jim Morrison is on hand to help out.
Soap operatics and silliness are the order of the day in this episode. John's pal is fighting against the need to grow up and leave the beach and might lose his girlfriend as a result. John and Kim miss the easy days before they knew what was going on. So far, so yawn. As for the Jim Morrison impression-I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been impressed at all. The plot is also pretty incoherent as well. Let's hope next week's better.Top
The Enemy Within
John goes home, taking Kim with him, to get some money from his father. Whilst the family are pleased to see him, his brother acts strangely. Realising that his brother has been implanted, John tries to take action, but his father has him committed for psychiatric assessment.
In the opening sequence an alien comes to John's brother and looks very unconvincing indeed. The episode then goes and repeats the scene in a flashback so that we can have another look at how unconvincing it is. The thing is that it's not the only unconvincing part of the episode. The story's OK, but the dialogue and family interactions are pitiful. When tragedy strikes at the end it is neither unexpected nor remotely believable in anyone's reactions.Top
The Warren Omission
Bobby Kennedy asks John to give testimony in front of the Warren Commission. A female assassin puts the pressure on, but John goes ahead anyway. Back appears and gives convincing evidence that John is lying. Both sides decide to take drastic action to protect themselves. Majestic is attacked and Bach's assassin takes on J Edgar Hoover.
As the show opens, it seems that episode 12 is a little early to be having the flashback episode, using old stories to pad out time, but then the blackmails start to come down and things get interesting. Jeri Lynn Ryan (later Seven in STAR TREK VOYAGER) makes for a convincing assassin and has the best moments. Without the use of the old episodes to fill out the first half, this could have been an excellent story. It ends up being half of one.Top
The Hive's activities are not restricted to the continental United States and before you know it Majestic 12 has been complicit in starting a war in Vietnam. John in co-opted by Bach into a rescue mission that lands both of them in the hands of the viet cong.
OK, single important events being caused by aliens or Majestic 12, but the whole Vietnam war? That stretches credulity a little bit beyond the breaking point. Still, the change of location actually does the show some good, opening out the story, giving it a change of focus and allowing for some serious gunfire and explosions. The trouble is that the story then asks us to believe that Loengard can be shot and wounded one minute and running around like Rambo the next, that Bach's wife has the power to find out what is going on, that the women either don't change their clothes in the length of time it takes their men to come home or that Vietnam is only a couple of hours away from Washington DC.
This sloppy storytelling extends to the characters. The female assassin recently threatening John suddenly changes sides because Bach didn't take her to war. What's that about? And the man that they happen across in the Viet cong camp just happens to be her long lost love? Oh please.Top
Shades of Gray
John convinces Majestic 12 that he can bring an alien ship into a trap. Using a home made crop circle and the gold plate that they recovered in The Awakening. Surprisingly, it works and they manage to ambush the ship and injure one of the occupants. It gets away, but John and Kim track it to a remote farmhouse where a little girl thinks its an angel. Using Kim's ability to communicate with the gray, now free of Hive influence, they discover that the Hive has a plan involving children and the little girl is next.
Whoever was responsible for this episode needs to be taken out and shot, just as the Majestic 12 team keep threatening to do to John. Firstly, the idea of using a crop circle to bring down the ship to ambush. Don't the aliens have a list of established sites to refer to? Don't they have radios to check with the mothership? Apparently not. Secondly, how could the trained agents of Majestic 12 fail to find the gold plate again when it is sticking out of the ground in plain sight and a little girl can find it at night with a flashlight. Furthermore, the russian killing machine in Frank Bach's pay turns out to be one of the 'treated' children and turned against them because they touched her hair? Stretching credulity is one thing, but hitting it with a nuclear warhead is something else.
The gray is seen up close and personal and the special effects just don't live up to the cold light of the studios. All in all, a very poor episode.Top
Burn, Baby, Burn
Kim is pregnant and the baby is due. She and John are flown out to Los Angeles so that the birth can be monitored by a special team, but then Kim gets abducted once more. Her link with the imprisoned alien gives John a clue where to go, but this is 1965 and the race riots in that area have set fire to the whole neighbourhood where she is being kept.
Well, if ever there was a downer episode of science fiction then this could just be the one. Not only does it dwell upon the problems of racial tensions and violence, but it also threatens children and takes one of the major heroes and turns them Hive. John is left more alone and more desperate than ever before and it seems that the only being that can understand his feelings is one from beyond the stars.
The race riots are merely used as a backdrop for the story and there is no attempt to examine the underlying problems of the time or place. There is actually very little substance to the story at all. It really feels like a set up for a later story when John will face Kim and is baby and have to make decisions over who lives and who dies. We'll have to wait and see.
The aliens are now being seen more and more in the light of day and the special effects really aren't up to the job. When they were shadowy figures half seen then they could get away with it, but now they look like poorly manipulated puppets with inflatable bladders in their heads to give movement. It's a shame as the threat they represent has all but washed away as a result.Top
Both Sides Now
John sets out to track down Kim and finds her at a peace rally in Los Angeles. The rally is a focal point for the Hive, who want to turn it into a riot so that the police will use tear gas grenades that have been doctored with deadly poison. The resulting outcry will force the government to reconsider the Vietnam War. Majestic 12's funding is hidden within the war budget and so the end of the war will cripple the organisation. Kim, meanwhile, is being given the choice to rejoin the Hive and be with her baby.
More muddled plotting from this series. Whilst the Hive plot to damage Majestic's finances through ending the Vietnam war makes sense, there is little reason as to why Kim's indoctrination could not take place somewhere private, thus making it impossible for John to locate her. Less interesting in plot terms perhaps, but much more likely from a Hive perspective. Still, at least the ending doesn't cop out on its promise.
The budget of the show is clearly limited and this really shows with scenes of the peace rally looking more like a peace coffee morning through lack of extras for the crowd.Top
To Prey in Darkness
New York is blacked out from a power failure. This is the night that is said to have brought about the phrase 'baby boom'. It is, in fact, a desperate ploy by the Hive to prevent film of the original meeting at Roswell being broadcast on TV. Majestic 12 also want to stop the film being shown and have sent John and Juliet to get it back, but with Kim Sayers now working for the other side, nobody can predict how John's going to react.
A game of 'follow the film' provides a simple enough plot for this episode that manages to steer clear of some of the more confused storylines of recent times in the show. Loengard's confused loyalties make him a more interesting character and bringing him face to face with Kim, now fully compliant with the aliens, proves a high point, as does a cat fight between Hive-enhanced Kim and super-assassin Juliet.Top
Strangers in the Night
The russian equivalent of Majestic 12 is attacked and new lovers John and Juliet join the team that goes in to find out what happened. There they find survivors, prisoners who may contain Hive parasites, but don't show up as such and a failsafe device that, once activated will give them only 10 minutes to get out.
This is a fun episode that plays a couple of riffs on sources such as THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. Trapped in a research lab with things that might be people, might be aliens and paranoia is running rampant. There is a plan here, but whose plan, who's part of it and what does it mean for John, Juliet and Majestic 12?
It doesn't move the main plot forward an inch, but abandoning the historical event of the week format has always been good the quality of the writing.Top
Flower power comes to the US and John and Juliet go undercover to flush out the makers of a new drug that connects minds directly into the Hive consciousness, allowing it to read their minds, but also allowing them to get information back. John takes an unplanned trip and comes back with information that his son is on the Hive Mothership. He volunteers for an operation that can put someone aboard, but has no real chance of bringing them back. The fact that he now knows about this project means that there is a traitor in Majestic 12 and Frank Bach finds his control being challenged.
It is the final episode of the series and there is as much plot as can be shoved into it in order to set upt he cliffhangers for a second series that never materialised. The goings on within Majestic are more interesting than those on the mothership, the sight of john in full hippie gear is laughable, the death of Bach is a shock and the introduction of a tenth planet due to arrive in Earth orbit just before the Millennium will never come to fruition.Top
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