The opening narration (by Bill Woodson) reads as follows:
- The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose: to make it their world.David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found. It began with a closed deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.
The series was produced by Quinn Martin, who was looking for a show to replace the immensely popular The Fugitive, which was ending its run in 1967. Larry Cohen, the show's creator, had conceived two earlier series with similarities to The Invaders. Chuck Connors starred in Branded (1965) as a soldier court-martialled for cowardice, who traveled the West searching for witnesses and proof that he acted valiantly, and Coronet Blue (1967) about Michael Alden, a man suffering from amnesia who was being pursued by a powerful group of people. All he could remember were the words "Coronet Blue."
Another inspiration was the wave of "alien dopplegänger" films which had come ten years before in the 1950s, typified by Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and the British film, Quatermass 2 (1957), known in America as Enemy from Space. While these paranoid tales of extraterrestrials who posed as humans and lived among us while planning a takeover are usually linked with a Red Scare subtext, Martin simply wanted a premise that would keep the hero moving around and that would explain why he could not go to the authorities (not only had the aliens infiltrated human institutions already, but most humans would dismiss a claim of alien invasion as a paranoid delusion).
Roy Thinnes starred as architect David Vincent, who accidentally learns of an alien invasion already underway and thereafter travels from place to place, trying to foil the aliens' plots and warn a skeptical populace of the danger. As the series progresses, Vincent is able to convince a small number of people to help him fight the aliens, most significantly millionaire industrialist Edgar Scoville (Kent Smith) who became a semi-regular character as of December, 1967.
The Invaders were never given a name, nor was their dying planet. They were not even shown in their true, alien form; their human appearance was a disguise. Unless they received periodic treatments requiring equipment that consumed a great deal of electrical power, they would revert automatically to their alien forms. One scene in the series showed an alien beginning to revert, filmed fuzzily and with pulsating red light.
They had certain characteristics by which they could be detected, such as the absence of a pulse and the inability to bleed. Nearly all were emotionless and had "mutated" fourth fingers which could not move and were bent at an unnatural angle, although there were many "deluxe models" who could manipulate this finger. There were also a number of mutant aliens, who unlike the majority of aliens had emotions similar to those of humans, and who even opposed the alien takeover. The existence of the invaders could not be documented by killing one and examining the body: When they died (at least while in human form), their bodies would glow red and evaporate — along with their clothes, any items they were carrying at the time and anything they touched when dying. On several occasions a dying alien would grab or otherwise make deliberate contact with a piece of their technology, to prevent its being taken by the humans as evidence. Also, in a number of episodes, the aliens would also employ powerful laser weapons whose radiation would disintegrate witnesses, vehicles and - in the case of one episode - a sick member of their own race whose infection's side effects was causing dangerous notoriety
The type of spaceship by which they reach the Earth is a flying saucer of a design derivative of that shown in the contestable early-1950s photographs of self-proclaimed UFO "contactee" George Adamski, but instead of having three spheres on the underside, the Invaders' craft has five shallower protrusions. It was a principle of the production crew to not show them with set and prop designs and control panels that were utterly alien from the conventional human ones (such as H.R. Giger would later present in Alien). The Invaders' preferred means of killing someone was by applying a disk with five glowing lights to the nape of the neck, which would cause an apparent cerebral hemorrhage.
Since the 1960s, recurring public interest in UFO lore may have helped to revive interest in the television series, and commentary on the DVD collections acknowledges that, in private life, Thinnes has kept up a strong interest in UFO-related information.
For many viewers, the theme of paranoia infusing The Invaders often appeared to reflect Cold War fears of Communist infiltration that had lingered from the McCarthy period a decade earlier. Series creator Larry Cohen has acknowledged that this was intended, along with a political theme for the series as a whole. In audio commentary for the episode "The Innocent," included in the first-season DVD collection, Cohen said his experience of the blacklisting of Hollywood screenwriters for alleged Communist connections inspired him to make "a mockery" of the fear of insidious infiltration of society, by substituting space aliens for Communists.
Cohen also acknowledged he was not the first to turn Cold War fears into science-fiction drama. As noted above, such fears had influenced such films as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Cohen also stated in his commentary that the political intent inherent in some of his creations, including The Invaders, was not always appreciated or shared by producers and actors.
In 1995 the series was reprised as a three-hour television miniseries also titled The Invaders. Scott Bakula (of Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise) starred as Nolan Wood, who discovered the alien conspiracy, and Roy Thinnes reprised his role from the series of David Vincent, now an old man handing the burden over to Wood. The miniseries has been released in some countries on home video, edited into a single movie.
The pilot episode of the series, "Beachhead", was remade years later in 1977 for another Quinn Martin series, Tales of the Unexpected, where it was retitled "The Nomads". Frank Black's "Bad, Wicked World", on Teenager of the Year, is about The Invaders. The Irish Punk Band Stiff Little Fingers were named after the condition attributed to the aliens in The Invaders.
Books & Literature Edit
There were a total of seven paperbacks and two hardback books published based on the television series:
- by Pyramid Books in the U.S., all in 1967 : Invaders and Enemies from Beyond, both by Keith Laumer; Army of the Undead by Rafe Bernard.
- by Corgi (a Transworld imprint) in the UK : Halo Highway by Keith Laumer (1967), Meteor Man, by Keith Laumer under the pen name "Anthony Le Baron" (1967), The Autumn Accelerator by Peter Leslie (1967), Night of the Trilobites by Peter Leslie (1969).
- by Whitman (a subsidiary of Western Publishing) in the U.S. in hardback : Dam of Death by Jack Pearl (1967).
- The Invaders: Alien Missile Threat, by Paul S. Newman, A Big Little Book, Whitman Publishing Company, 248 pages, hardcover, 1967.
Note that Army of the Undead by Pyramid and Halo Highway by Corgi are the same story.
- Gold Key Comics published four issues of an Invaders comic book based upon the television series in 1967-1968, years before Marvel Comics published their own, unrelated Invaders superhero series.
- Starlog published an episode guide, in an issue in the 1980s.
Syndication outside the US Edit
"The Invaders" was aired in Brazil in the sixties and in the eighties, with its title translated to Portuguese, "Os Invasores".
"The Invaders" was also aired in the UK in the 60's and 70's, and more recently on BBC2 in the early 90's, and then the complete series on channel "Five" in 2004 (at around 5am on a Sunday morning). It has seen occasional repeats on the Sci-Fi channel.
DVD Release Edit
Season one was released on DVD in the United States on May 27, 2008, and Season Two was released on January 27, 2009. Season One has been released in the United Kingdom - without the extras present on the American set.