Based on Characters Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon
Developed by Kenneth Johnson
September 1989 to May 1990
The story of the Newcomers (Tenctonese) and their integration into society is continued albeit with some changes from the film.
Alien Nation: The Series was obviously based on the movie but as already said made some changes. Some changes were small and some changes in my opinion were so big that whether or not you could see it as directly related to the movie is hard to say. You could make a better argument for it being in a parallel universe than an actual continuation of the film but that gets into a whole other thing.
Gary Graham takes over the role of Detective Matthew “Matt” Sikes with a spelling change in the last name. Why the spelling change? I don’t know. He is obviously no James Caan but he did an amazing job here. His character was essentially a younger character than presented in the film. The series supposedly took place after the movie, but Sikes’s daughter was an unmarried young woman in the series so the wedding in the film never occurred. That confused me as a fan of both the film and the series, but in the end I took them as two different animals. He also did not have a house anymore. He lived in an apartment.
Eric Pierpoint takes over the role of Detective George Francisco. Here George lived in a nicer neighborhood than in the film. He also gained an additional child in Emily (Lauren Woodland) and his son’s name is changed from “Richard” (after Nixon) to being named Buck (Sean Six). And the kid grew up fast. I mean the kid went from toddler to teenager between the two. George’s wife is still named Susan (Michele Scarabelli) but she is now a successful career woman.
Buck was perhaps more bigoted than Sikes at times. In the beginning he had little love for human beings and saw Newcomers as almost superior. He was a troubled youth type that had one of the stronger character arcs of the show’s only season as he confronted his biases and grew more spiritual as he started to overcome them.
The show out of necessity added additional characters. The core cast of the film was Sykes and Francisco and everybody else of significance in the movie were the drug dealers that died so there was not much to pull from the film to put in the series.
Cathy Frankel (Terri Treas) is Matt’s Newcomer neighbor and occasional girlfriend. Matt’s general bigotry could not reconcile with his growing feelings for her. Albert Einstein (Jeff Marcus) is a Newcomer janitor working at the police department. While intelligent he is not intelligent in comparison to Newcomers. He fills the role of representing special needs individuals in the series. Uncle Moodri (James Greene) was added to the family. He was portrayed as a bit eccentric. During the course of the series he provided council to George and greatly aided Buck in his character growth. He even implied at times that his people needed to accept their new home on a more spiritual level in order to overcome things like the acidity of saltwater. Heck, he even stood in the ocean water unaffected at one point!
Cpt. Bryon Grazer (Ron Fassler) is Matt and George’s superior. Captain Warner (Frank McCarthy) was the captain in the movie. The switch is never explained, and both appeared to be in their position long enough to be very familiar with Matt.
Being a television series there was more time to examine culture clash issues, ideas on cultural assimilation, childbirth and even race relations in a science-fiction setting. And the show could be much more heavy handed in his presentation than other shows could since it was set only a few short years into the future. The message of each episode went down very easily.
The investigations that Matt and George were involved in were important to each episode but were ultimately secondary to what was going on with the characters in that episode or the message that may be conveyed. The show inverted roles at times. The most famous is that men are involved in the gestation of the child. In this case what would normally be expected to occur with women was experienced by the character of George.
The character of Sikes took a few steps back in growth in comparison to the end of the movie. He was a little more bigoted and forced to re-confront his own bigotry and biases. It was mostly jerk assumptions but also he confronted the flaws in himself as he felt a growing attraction to his newcomer neighbor. It was an on again off again relationship mostly because of what was wrong with him but it was a relationship that fans began to cheer for.
This was a very good show with a lot of potential that was cut short far too soon. The thing is it holds up even today and the messages it delivers resonate stronger now than before. Seek this show out.