Invasion: Earth


BBC, 6 50-minute episodes

SF elements

alien invasion


[Maggie O'Neill and Vincent Regan] Oh dear.

This was the BBC's great attempt to do 'serious' SF (as opposed to all that good stuff they seem to be somewhat ashamed of, like Dr Who , and Star Cops , and Red Dwarf , and even Blake's Seven ). Well, I'm sorry, but just because a TV series has slick production qualities and alien invaders, doesn't make it good or SF. Especially not when the alien menace could equally well have been any stock set of 'bad guys' to allow the 'good guys' a chance to run around shooting at things. (I wonder if the BBC think that having a Scientist Doctor and Companion helping a Military Unit fight an Alien Invader is an idea original to this series?) Coupled with a stodgy script, acting so wooden you are looking for the strings, and plot discontinuities that make you wonder if you missed an episode, this is a big disappointment.

The supposedly science fictional aspects of it are just a joke. We have alien 'nDs' -- living in n-dimensional space, apparently solely for the opportunity to show off some not-very-imaginative swirly special effects, since very little use is made of nD-ness, apart from allowing the Scientist to techno-babble on occasion. These nDs' technology is biologically based -- for example, their spaceships are grown: cue gobs of icky goo -- and they are so advanced that they can implant mind-controlling devices in people's brains, selectively wipe their memories, alter their biochemistry to give them strange diseases, even grow human-nD hybrids. But it is incredibly expensive for them to open the portals through which they harvest the humans. And yet they are going to all this effort just to farm serotonin from us. They can't manufacture it any easier way? Puh- lease!

The humans aren't much better. They discover a toxin that destroys some alien cells that are infecting one of the team. So they instantly decide this toxin, given to the aliens harvesting the serotonin, will wipe out the entire nD civilisation . Why? (And no points awarded just because it doesn't.)

And the other aliens -- the implausibly-humanoid Echoes -- do virtually nothing to further the plot before their entire civilisation commits suicide, at the most inconvenient possible moment for the humans, to avoid being 'used' by the nDs. Oh, well.

Well, lots of points for spending money on the production values -- no wobbly sets here. Next time spend something on the script and a science fictional plot, too, eh?

Rating: 5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 13 June 1998