Alien Nation
The Complete Series

Starring: Gary Graham, Eric Pierpoint, Michelle Scarabelli, Lauren Woodland, Sean Six and Terri Treas
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: 39.99
Certificate: 15
Available 08 January 2007

A flying saucer crashed in the Mojave Desert and its inhabitants turn out to be alien slaves, bred to be super intelligent and strong, and controllable by their Overseers. These Tenctonese, or "Newcomers", have been assimilated into the population of Los Angeles. One of them, George Francisco, is a police detective with a human partner, hard-edged Detective Matt Sikes. George and Matt fight crime together, walking the beat in Slagtown, Los Angeles, a Newcomer slum teeming with vice and corruption while learning to respect the other's culture, and question his own. They also fight prejudice, as personified by the Purists, and fear, in the form of the unseen Overseers, who seek to regain control over their slaves...

Alien Nation: The Complete Series contains all of the episodes from the 1989/1990 TV series. The show follows the lives of George Francisco, an alien police detective, and his cop partner, Matthew Sikes, as they fight crime in Los Angeles. It also examines George's happy home life, as well as Matt's more lonely private life and his "will they, won't they"? relationship with Cathy, his alien neighbour.

At it's heart though, the show is all about racism. Right from the show's opening we are shown that the aliens (or slags as they are known when being insulted) are resented by some members of the human race for invading our planet and taking our jobs. This is a clever way for the writers to tackle racism in America without seeming to preach to the audience.

Matt ranges from being supportive of the aliens, to being racist. For example, in the opening episode he helps George's daughter to enter her school (there is a large demonstration with protesters chanting that they don't want slags in their schools). Matt gives a patriotic speech about how everyone is equal, and then goes home to discover that a newcomer is moving into his apartment block, much to his disapprovement. While at work Matt is occasionally racist towards George too.

This collection starts off with the pilot episode (or TV Movie as it's more commonly known) which helps set the scene. This also introduces the world's most annoying theme tune. Remember that Ewok song at the end of the original version of Return of the Jedi? Well the Alien Nation theme is almost as annoying.

Highlights of this collection include:

The First Cigar: George is being investigate by the IRS. He accepts a loan from a newcomer loan officer and accidentally winds up running drugs.

Night of the Screams: A Halloween episode - just ignore the fact that George's household seem to be ignorant of America's Halloween celebrations despite the fact they've been on earth for a number of years now. But while Emily is getting ready to go to her first Halloween party George is investigating the case of a serial killer who only kills newcomers, and is re-creating one of the Tenctonese's most grisly legends.

Three to Tango: This episode is noteworthy as it delves a little deeper (no pun intended) into the sexual habits of the Tenctonese.

The Game: When the bodies of newcomers are found with holes bored through their chests, George has to relive horrors from his past. It appears that an old Russian Roulette style game, that was used for entertainment by the Overseers on the spaceship, has started being played on earth.

The Red Room: Sikes and George become involved in a federal search for a Newcomer who was programmed to kill while in the quarantine camps. George seems to know more than he is letting on, but he can't explain how he seems to know so much.

Generation to Generation: Sikes and George are on the trail of a mysterious ancient Tenctonese box which is deadly for those who open it. What is inside the box, and why is someone so keen to keep it hidden?

Partners: Matt's old partner turns up. George is under investigation after it appears that he is one of only two people who could have stolen some drugs that were seized in a raid - the other person is Matt's old partner. Matt is determined to prove George is innocent. The episode also sees Susan preparing to transfer the pod that contains her and George's baby, to her husband so that he can carry it inside his pouch until it is ready to be born.

Green Eyes: While investigating a series of mysterious Newcomer deaths, Sikes and George discover a plan to eliminate the Newcomer population with a lethal bacteria. This episode ends with a cliff-hanger which must have been frustrating at the time - as the series was pulled. Thankfully a number of TV movies were made a few years later, so at least we got to catch up with the characters again.

Extras are a little thin on the ground. All we get is a three minute look behind the scenes featurette and an audio commentary with writer/director Kenneth Johnson on the TV movie. Johnson's commentary is one of the best I've heard - although I was a little concerned (for his sake) to see that he gives out his personal e-mail address for fans to contact him. Johnson also takes us through the numerous amusing alien names used as well as a few they didn't managed to fit in, including Sarah Bellum, Beverly Hills and Ann Teake.

The show feels a lot older than the '89/'90s period it was shot in. If I had to make a guess I would have put it around the early to mid-'80 period. Those hair styles and fashions really have aged the show quite badly. But that doesn't take away the fact that this is still an enjoyable series.

Pete Boomer

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