Monday, September 26, 2005

The New TV Show Review Challenge: Invasion

Invasion is the third alien show to premiere this season after CBS's Threshold and NBC's Surface...and it's arguably the best. Filled with genuine drama, mystery, and interesting characters, this show is one of the best new dramas I've watched so far.

The show has aliens making their way to Earth under the guise of a hurricane. ABC aired a disclaimer before the show due to the content. I have to give it to ABC for showing the disclaimer instead of outright delaying the show. In this premiere episode, we meet the cast of characters, all of whom are part of an extended family of sorts. Eddie Cibrian plays Russell Varon, a park ranger (I believe) who is divorced and has two children, teenager Jesse (Evan Peters) and young Rose (Ariel Gade). He lives with his girlfriend Larkin (Lisa Sheridan) and her brother Dave (Tyler Labine), an alien/conspiracy fan, lives with them as well. Russell's ex-wife is a doctor named Mariel (Kari Matchett). She is currently married to Sheriff Tom Underlay (William Fichtner) who has a daughter Kira (Alexis Dziena) by his previous (deceased) wife. Even without the alien element, these characters could provide enough material for a straight-up family drama.

As the hurricane approaches, Dave and Jesse are preparing the house for the oncoming storm as Russell tries to make his way home. Rose looks for her missing cat and soon enough, she disappears from sight. Mariel, who was at the hospital, comes by to check on the kids since they are staying with their father. She and Russell get into a big argument just as everyone realizes that Rose is missing. Russell goes out to look for his daughter and Jesse tells his mom to go home. Little Rose sees mysterious yellow lights going into the water. Her father finds her and while they are on their way back home, they get into an accident that has their truck upside down on the roadway. They are found the next morning safe and sound, but it is revealed that Mariel did not make it home after she left Russell's house. We then find out that she has been found alive near a swamp...but completely nude. She has a strange look in her eye as she awakens, which gives the audience the hint that the aliens may have had something to do with her unusual state.

Rose tells Dave about the lights after she and her father are found. Dave believes her and goes back to the scene of the crime on a boat. After finding an unusual looking skeleton, he tells Russell about what happened, shows the mysterious skeleton to him, and convinces him to go with him back to that swamp. The two of them have an encounter with a strange creature and subtle hints make you believe that the aliens may have affected more people.

I liked a lot about this show. The show had a nice brisk pace to it and didn't drag on. The scenes of the storm and its aftermath were very well done. I liked the family dynamic of the show. It's something that will probably work to its advantage in the long run. One thing I definitely enjoyed was the way the aliens were handled. There is a lot of mystery left to explore about them, their intentions, and what the aliens actually do to the people they (possibly) inhabit. The actors did a good job with the material and some actually manage to make simple stares look very creepy.

Invasion is off to a great start and I think that it just might become ABC's breakout drama of the season. The premiere episode got very good ratings and relatively little dropoff following Lost. After creating such short-lived shows as Roar and American Gothic, Shaun Cassidy may have finally created a show that will last.

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