Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Alien Nation

I killed my DVD player. It no longer recognized when you put a disc in. Which means I can treat myself to a DVD Recorder as soon as I can afford it. I don't know how much longer the TV set has either. After you turn it on and go to the channel for the DVD player (usually after the electricity was forced off by a storm), it turns itself back to what I call the power-was-disrupted channel (#53) for some reason. It usually only does it once and I already made sure nothing is messing with the remote in my house.

But in the mean time, I had a three-day weekend and DVDs to watch. I borrowed an extra DVD player at my parents house that they got from one of my sisters. GE Digital no longer made by GE, and the remote has disappeared. (Which is why my sister left it with my parents). There is no way to navigate the DVD menus with the controls on the box. You can play the movie, and maybe play the first special feature if that menu comes up after the movie. But for TV episodes on DVD, you could only watch one episode a disc--no matter how many episodes were on the disc.

I'm not going into the saga of trying to make the universal remote work. The one code that would register, but using the arrows was not allowed. I happened to hit the numbers by accident and figured out that I can count the menu items and punch the number in to get to it.

So I could finally watch all the episodes in Alien Nation the series (Top 10 Movie-to-TV Adaptations).

The movie came out in 1988. I didn't see it then, being introduced later in college by a roommate with a crush on Mandy Patinkin. I forget when I picked it up on VHS, but I upgraded to DVD this year. The series ran for 1989 - 1990 season, which I did watch in bits and pieces. I saw the heart-stopping cliffhanger that turned into cardiac arrest with the news the series wasn't coming back in the next season.* Fans eventually won, having bought enough of the books and comic books continuing the story to get 5 made-for-TV movies to really finish the series (which are supposed to be out on DVD this month). I picked up the series last year, and decided to start watching this past weekend.

Like most of the shows of my childhood, I remember loving it with only bits and pieces. I think my viewing schedule must have gotten preempted by everyone else in the house until my senior year in high school, when I could watch around my sisters' schedules. So I was honestly surprised by how much the show picked up from the movie. No, I was shocked and pulled the movie out to confirm my gut feelings right after watching the pilot.

Most of the adaptations on the list don't acknowledge the movie that spawned it. Typically, you have a new cast and I think the makers want you to forget about the movie cast they can't afford. I remember being mildly surprised that Buffy mentioned it in the first episode--changing things to her freshman year rather than senior. Changes you do expect. Alien Nation the series changed a lot with George and Matt's kids from the movie. I picked up on that as soon as I watched the movie.

What I didn't expect was that the pilot episode used movie footage and wove in the death of Matt's first partner into the plot. They even pulled out an extra from the movie for the resolution (and if it wasn't the same actor, he looked close enough for the part). I think I gibbered at the TV. And I already told you I pulled the movie out next to confirm what I thought. I like being right.

And you can probably trace my cross-genre love straight back to this show. Like much good science fiction, Alien Nation holds a mirror up to us and make us confront our fear of the Other and the bigotry it creates. But every episode had a crime to solve, and Matt and George solved them. I took Zy the human to outer space instead, but the same principle applies.

*1990 was not a good summer. This was also the third season cliffhanger for Star Trek: the Next Generation. Picard is Borg-ized and it ends with Riker saying "Fire!" And pre-Internet for my family. I kept watching the entertainment news waiting for them to tell me Star Trek was cancelled now too. And people wonder why I don't trust Hollywood.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

There is a new renaissance festival in Louisiana! Check out the Acadiana Medieval Faire at:

No comments: