Take "Lethal Weapon" and make one of the two cops an alien, and you begin to get an idea of what "Alien Nation" is like. Still, although it's not always a terribly original picture, the main performances are generally enjoyable, if the dialogue and story ideas aren't always up to the potential of the storyline. The film takes place in 1991, three years after an alien race called the Newcomers has landed on Earth and integrated themselves into society. Smart, strong and reliable, the newcomers do face anger from humans who think they will soon be out of a job.
The film version starred James Caan as a human police officer teamed up with a Newcomer partner (Mandy Patinkin). While the movie was a minor success, writer Rockne S. O'Bannon ("Farscape") believed that the storyline could be continued into a series, which ended up running only one season - despite a very strong following - on Fox.
Not long after the show's cancellation, it was brought back in the form of five television movies that aired between 1994-1997 - "Dark Horizon", "Body and Soul", "Millennium", "The Enemy Within" and "The Udara Legacy". The movies continued the adventures of Detective Matthew Sikes (Gary Graham) and his partner, "newcomer" Detective George Francisco (Eric Pierpoint).
The first of the TV movies, "Dark Horizon", picked up where the series ended, with a threat to return the Tenctonese ("newcomers") to the slavery they had escaped from when they came to Earth. The second film, "Body and Soul", sees Sikes and Francisco investigating the case of a girl who may be half Tenctonese and half Human. "Millennium" sees Francisco's son drawn into a cult as the 20th century draws to a close. "The Enemy Within" follows Francisco's investigation of the death of an Eeno, a member of low ranking within the Tenctonese race. Finally, "The Udara Legacy" sees Sikes and Francisco investigating possible ties between Newcomers commiting violent crimes and an extremeist movement.
While Fox could have released these movies separately, the studio smartly put together a box set that will please both casual and hardcore followers of the series alike. The set includes all 5 films, as well as a good deal of extras.
Alien Nation: Dark Horizon (1994)
Alien Nation: Body and Soul (1995)
Alien Nation: Millennium (1996)
Alien Nation: The Enemy Within (1996)
Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy (1997)
VIDEO: Fox presents all five films in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. Image quality really isn't too objectionable, considering these were fairly low-budget TV movies from over a decade ago. Sharpness and detail are certainly not outstanding, but remain reasonable considering the material. While the picture does have a soft appearance overall, softness is not excessive.
Some mild print flaws are spotted at times, as are some instances of light artifacting. However, no edge enhancement or other concerns were seen. Colors looked flat and subdued, but the film has likely always looked this way.
SOUND: The films are presented with their original stereo soundtracks. While remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 presentations would have been a pleasant surprise, the stereo presentations offer fine audio quality, with clear dialogue, score and effects. Audio sounded rather flat, but I wasn't expecting too much warmth or bass from decade-old TV movie soundtracks.
EXTRAS: Exec producer/director Kenneth Johnson offers commentary for all five of the movies. We also get "making of" documentaries for each, as well as still galleries and/or gag reels for the films. Included with the final movie is a reunion featurette that lasts a little over twenty minutes and brings together members of the cast and crew for a fun chat where they share some great behind-the-scenes stories and jokes.
Final Thoughts: Offering reasonably good audio/video quality and a good deal of extras, this set of all the "Alien Nation" films will certainly be of interest to fans of the series. Recommended.