ALIEN NATION: THE COMPLETE SERIES
While the show only lasted a single season on Fox, ALIEN NATION was one of those series with a strong following that did not fade quickly into a distant memory. ALIEN NATION returned to the airwaves five more times in a series of television movies that continued the story lines and help tied up a few of the loose ends involving the characters. Based upon the theatrical film written by Rockne S. O'Bannon and developed for television by Kenneth Johnson, ALIEN NATION was one of the truly bright spots on the Fox schedule during the 1989-1990 season.
Set in Los Angeles, ALIEN NATION takes place five years after an extraterrestrial space craft crash lands in the Mojave desert, depositing a quarter of a million aliens on Earth. The Tenctonese or Newcomers, as they are referred to by terrestrials, are a genetically engineered slave race that were bred to work in harsh environments and therefore are stronger and more resilient than average humans. The basic premise of ALIEN NATION takes your basic cop/buddy formula to a new place by partnering human police detective Matthew Sikes (Gary Graham) with Newcomer detective George Francisco (Eric Pierpoint). As expected, this leads to the typical culture clash amongst our mismatched detectives, not to mention providing the series opportunities for much of the social commentary that is often laced into so much of the science fiction genre. The cast of ALIEN NATION also features Michele Scarabelli, Sean Six, Lauren Woodland, Terri Treas, Jeff Marcus, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Ron Fassler.
ALIEN NATION: THE COMPLETE SERIES ($50) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features the following pilot movie and all twenty two episodes that were aired in the show’s first and only season: Alien Nation: The TV Movie, Fountain Of Youth, Little Lost Lamb, Fifteen With Wanda, The Takeover, The First Cigar, Night Of The Screams, Contact, Three To Tango, The Game, Chains Of Love, The Red Room, The Spirit Of '95, Generation To Generation, Eyewitness News, Partners, Real Men, Crossing The Line, Rebirth, Gimmee, Gimmee, The Touch and Green Eyes.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made the pilot movie and all the episodes that comprise ALIEN NATION: THE COMPLETE SERIES available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The shows look pretty good on DVD although their television production origins are very much apparent. Sharpness and detail are television caliber, appearing mildly soft, but generally good for a TV show from the late 80s / early 90s. Colors appear fairly natural and saturation is more than respectable. Blacks are accurate and the whites are stable. Contrast is decent, although the television lighting can be a little less than inspired. Mild grain is occasionally noticeable, but the film elements are free from serious defects. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.
All the episodes that comprise ALIEN NATION: THE COMPLETE SERIES come with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtracks, which decode to standard surround in a fairly effective manner. As expected the forward soundstage is completely dominant, but the rears do offer some ambience and musical fill. Channel separation is respectable across the front, but it is of the TV sound mix variety. Fidelity is good for this type of production, but never touching the realm of the theatrical. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. Spanish monaural soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. Producer/director Kenneth Johnson is on hand to provide a running audio commentary for the pilot movie, plus the set also features a vintage behind-the-scene featurette that was created to promote the then new ALIEN NATION television series.
As I stated above, ALIEN NATION was one of the truly bright spots on the Fox schedule during the 1989-1990 season. The show really should have lasted longer than it did, but at least it did return as series of made for television movies. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has done a nice job with ALIEN NATION: THE COMPLETE SERIES, offering fans fairly solid presentations and a couple of nice extras. Hopefully, Fox will follow up this release with another box set containing the follow up television movies. Recommended.
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