Alien Nation: The Complete Series

Officer Matt Sikes (Gary Graham) is a world-weary police detective in Los Angeles. His new partner, George Francisco (Eric Pierpoint), is a Newcomer, or "Tenctonese," one of 250,000 alien beings held prisoner on an intergalactic slave-ship that crashed into the Mojave Desert five years earlier. Newcomers are distinguished by the spots on their bald heads and their fondness for sour milk. Highly adaptable, strong-willed and intelligent, they have successful acclimated to their new environment. It is perhaps because of their superiority that they find themselves the target of such virulent bigotry. Sikes and Francisco battle their personal demons, families and each other as they attempt to cope with the conspiratorial crimes they are presented with. Series highlights include "Chains of Love," in which a Tenctonese seductress appears to be drugging and luring men to their deaths, and "Night of the Screams‚" in which the detectives must solve a series of grisly Newcomer murders (on Halloween, no less). Alien Nation was a highly lucrative project for Fox. Pairing a bigoted cop with a "spaceman‚" the 1988 theatrical film followed a long line of "buddy-cop" comic thrillers that dominated'80s American action cinema: 48 Hours, Stakeout, Lethal Weapon, and Running Scared among them. The film, which starred James Caan and Mandy Patinkin, was redeveloped for television by Kenneth Johnson (a veteran of The Six Million Dollar Man and Incredible Hulk franchises). In the years that followed the series' abrupt cancellation, the Fox Network turned out five TV movies to continue and conclude its storyline. As a show steeped in allegory, there are only passing mentions of concrete historical hate crimes, such as the Holocaust and incidents in the Civil Rights movement. The series' depiction of a society in transition proposes that traditional prejudices fade to disuse in the face of a new, universal threat. In the place of conventionally characterised examples of bigotry and xenophobia we are instead treated to takes on taboo issues such as drug abuse and child prostitution via illustrative Newcomers. The pilot has an audio commentary by Johnson, and there is a manufactured "behind the scenes" featurette for die-hard fans. This inexpensive six-disc set is a great buy for fans of social-issue-geared science fiction. (Fox)