Updated: March 31, 2013
THE INVADERS PHOTO GALLERY #04
Theme music composer
Alan A. Armer
Andrew J. McIntyre
Running time (43 Episodes)
Original run - January 10, 1967 – March 26, 1968
The Invaders is an American science fiction television program created by Larry Cohen that aired on ABC for two seasons, from January 10, 1967 to March 26, 1968. Dominic Frontiere, who had provided scores for Twelve O'Clock High and The Outer Limits, provided scores for The Invaders as well.
The series was a Quinn Martin Production (season one was produced in association with the ABC Television Network - or as it was listed in the end credits, "The American Broadcasting Company Television Network").
Roy Thinnes stars as architect David Vincent, who accidentally learns of a secret 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.
Neither the Invaders nor their planet were ever named. Their human appearance was a disguise; they were never shown in their true form except in one episode, "Genesis", in which an ill alien researcher loses his human form and is briefly seen immersed in a tank of water. Unless they receive periodic treatments in what Vincent called "regeneration chambers", which consume a great deal of electrical power, they revert to their alien form. One scene in the series showed an alien beginning to revert, filmed in soft focus 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" little fingers which could not move and were bent at an unnatural angle, although there were "deluxe models" who could manipulate this finger. There were also a number of mutant aliens, who experienced 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, their bodies would glow red and disintegrate — along with their clothes and anything else they were touching — leaving little more than traces of black ash. On several occasions, a dying alien would deliberately touch a piece of their technology to prevent it from falling into the hands of humans.
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-martialed for cowardice, who traveled the West searching for witnesses and proof that he had 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 doppelgänger" 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 lived among us, posing as humans 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).
The flying saucer design was influenced by two famous UFO photographs. The first case happened in 1965 in Santa Ana, California. On August 3, the highway traffic engineer Rex Heflin took several pictures of a flying craft, while working near the Santa Ana freeway. Heflin did not report his sighting, but the photographs were published by the Santa Ana Register on September 20, 1965. The second is the Adamski case. On December 13, 1952 in Palomar Gardens, California, USA, the contactee George Adamski took a series of photographs through his telescope, of a bell-shaped craft, today well known as the Adamski Scout Ship. The upper hull, and flat top from the Heflin case were combined with the bell-shaped outer flange and three rings of the Adamski case. The five hemispheres in the bottom of the craft seem to emulate the three semispheres in the Adamski Scout Ship.
Before each episode, an "in color" promo bumper, typical of most ABC programs of the era, appears, as ABC was the last network to adopt color programming: Next... The Invaders, In Color!
Then, following the bumper, each episode begins with a cold open, to help set up the plot of the episode to come. After the prologue, the main title appears, announced by Dick Wesson:
The Invaders! A Quinn Martin Production. Starring Roy Thinnes as architect David Vincent.
(A different shot of Thinnes' face was used for the second season.) This would be followed by the opening narration (by Bill Woodson):
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.
Then in a manner typical of Quinn-Martin productions, Wesson would announce "The guest stars in tonight's story..." (including special guest stars), and finally, the title of tonight's episode.
The type of spaceship by which the Invaders 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).
They use a small, handheld, disc-shaped weapon with five glowing white lights applied to the back of the victim's head or neck to induce a seemingly-natural death, which is usually diagnosed as a cerebral hemorrhage. They also employ powerful weapons to disintegrate witnesses, vehicles and - in one episode - a sick member of their own race whose infection's side effects were resulting in unwanted notoriety. Also in their arsenal is a small device consisting of two spinning transparent crystals joined at their corners which forces human beings to do the aliens' bidding.
Cold War overtones
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.
The Invaders after the original series
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.
In 1995 the series was reprised as a three-hour television miniseries also titled The New 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, A Twist in the Tale (a.k.a., Tales of the Unexpected), where it was retitled "The Nomads".
Thinnes also provided audio commentary for the official The Invaders DVD releases. He has also filmed special video introductions for every episode, which are an optional "Play" feature on the episode menus. The "in color" bumper follows each of these introductions.
Other media - Books
Ten books based on the television series were published.
Army of the Undead by Rafe Bernard (US, Pyramid Books, 1967) – the same story as Halo Highway
The Autumn Accelerator by Peter Leslie (UK, Corgi (a Transworld imprint), 1967)
Enemies from Beyond by Keith Laumer (US, Pyramid Books, 1967)
Halo Highway by Keith Laumer (UK, Corgi, 1967) – the same story as Army of the Undead
Invaders by Keith Laumer (US, Pyramid Books, 1967)
Meteor Man by Keith Laumer (writing as Anthony Le Baron) (UK, Corgi, 1967)
Dam of Death by Jack Pearl (US, Whitman (a Western Publishing imprint), 1967)
The Invaders: Alien Missile Threat by Paul S. Newman (US, a Big Little Book from Whitman, 1967)
Night of the Trilobites by Peter Leslie (UK, Corgi, 1969)
The Invaders by Jim Rosin (US, Autumn Road Company, 2010)
The Screen by Phillip Donnelly (UK, Smashwords, 2011)
Gold Key Comics published four issues of an Invaders comic book based upon the series in 1967-1968, years before Marvel Comics published their own, unrelated Invaders superhero series.