- Extended 60-minute version of the pilot
- New interview with and episode introductions by Roy Thinnes
- Commentary by series creator Larry Cohen on The Innocent episode
- Closed Captioned
The Invaders was a series of its time -- in the mid-1960s, almost as a counter-point to the grim realities of the Vietnam War and racial strife in the streets, a portion of the public became increasingly fixated on the matter of Unidentified Flying Objects, and the notion of visitors from other worlds. Officially, the government -- through the United States Air Force -- denied the existence of UFOs, and the most public naysayers, insisting upon their existence, were often treated as members of a marginal, potentially lunatic fringe on the talk shows of the period. (There was even a peripheral connection to the racial stresses of the day, as included among the most visible supporters of the existence of UFOs were Betty and Barney Hill, an inter-racial couple who claimed to have been kidnapped by extra-terrestrials -- a book about their experience, which was alleged to have occurred in 1961, was published in 1966). The public was dismissive, but perhaps not quite as much it seemed on the surface -- even in 1967, there was growing unease among the general population that what the government, especially the federal government, was telling us about matters such as the Vietnam War (particularly its origins and progress) might not be the truth.
All of these social tides seemed to coalesce in The Invaders, which dealt with a young architect named David Vincent (Roy Thinnes), who chances upon a saucer landing while driving down a lonely country road one night. The authorities do their best to dismiss him and his report, but he won't let it go -- especially when he sees one member of the married couple who insisted nothing out of the ordinary took place undergo a hideous transformation -- and finds that the aliens have been here for years, preparing for their invasion, and have replaced people in key positions and worked their way, by the hundreds, possibly thousands, into American society.
The first season of the series, in particular, played into the paranoia that was starting to burrow inside of seemingly complacent viewers. For the entire first season, which was a truncated one consisting of 17 episodes (as the show only went on the air as a mid-season replacement in January of 1967), and the first half of the second season -- Vincent fought his battle alone, ridiculed and reviled by most of those he encounters, while trying to feret out the invaders and uncover their plans. The sense of unease and threat, multi-layered and sometimes operating on several levels -- do these people believe anything about what Vincent claims? or do they believe him, and plan to kill him, because they are not "people" -- ran deep through every script and story, and most scenes, and it made for a very creepy viewing experience. Thinnes was a sufficiently internalized actor (reminiscent, in some ways, of Jeffrey Hunter) so that he could carry the role, and convince audiences that he believed in the psychological tightrope his character was walking from moment to moment; and in his own quiet manner, he seemed to wear loneliness like a badge of honor. The series, created by Larry Cohen and produced by Quinn Martin, resembled earlier series on which both men had worked -- as in Martin's earlier series The Fugitive, the plots took us across the country in the hero's quest; and, like the protagonist in The Fugitive, though not in so secretive a fashion, David Vincent sought both vindication and evasion of capture; and, as in Cohen's earlier series Coronet Blue and, to a lesser degree, Branded, the hero was both pursued and pursuer, on different levels. The series' first season went on the air just at the right moment, as interest in UFOs was on the rise, and it was renewed for a second season. ~ Bruce Eder
Cast & Crew