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‘Alien Nation’: The Return: Again?

Alien Nation

The original movie felt like the pilot for a TV series but the ensuing small screen version became a casualty of studio financing. Now with the concept of inter-species relations everywhere in franchises such as X-MEN, Fox are banking on another attempt to revive ALIEN NATION. The 1988 introduction saw James Caan and a heavily made-up Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) as a mismatched pair of cops, one of whom just happened to be from a race of recently-integrated extraterrestrials. Featuring Terence Stamp as the villain, it was a crime thriller with a sci-fi twist that certainly felt fresh back then but was perhaps a little ahead of its time for audiences to get on board.

Alien Nation the series (co-created by V‘s Kenneth Johnson with the film’s scribe Rockne S.O’Bannon) lasted one season in 1989, though the storyline was picked up in telemovies and novels. The single outing was a result of a lack of advertising income at Fox, who cancelled it despite its popularity, so the demand for the saga  is there for the taking. In 2009 Fox produced a pilot in association with SyFy, but this failed to launch. For the newest incarnation executive producers Mark Roybal (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) and Ryan Jones (who will also be overseeing the adaptation of MAGIC: THE GATHERING) have been assigned the task of updating the core idea for the 21st century. The “Newcomers” of previous versions had a distinct allergy to saltwater and a passion for sour milk. Their heads also resembled novelty bowling balls, with a striking appearance akin to Telly Savalas midway through transforming into a leopard.

Whether these traits will be kept or if the aliens will be rebooted along with the script is a matter for the coming months. Writers and cast are yet to be announced – the central conceit of ALIEN NATION is so simple and effective they’d be silly to ignore it, but with TV Land’s culture of unnecessary retooling nothing is certain. I could suggest a whole raft of actors who would be suitable for the lead roles –  Michael Keaton and Matt Smith seem just about right to me. However the answers to such questions, as ever, are in the laps of the dome-headed gods.

Sources: UpRoxx, The Tracking Board

Steve is a journalist and comedian who enjoys American movies of the 70s, Amicus horror compendiums, Doctor Who, Twin Peaks, Naomi Watts and sitting down. His short fiction has been published as part of the Iris Wildthyme range from Obverse Books.

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