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Cult Times #48
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The Premise:
Sikes & Francisco: Human cop, newcomer cop...This LA-based police series charts humanity’s first contact with aliens, whose slave ship crash-landed stranding almost 300,000 genetically-engineered humanoids on 20th Century Earth. These Newcomers (or Tenctonese) are given human names and integrated into society, but they find themselves at the bottom of the ladder, largely feared and despised by the human race.

Background: Alien Nation was originally a 1988 movie starring James Caan (Rollerball’s Jonathan E and The Godfather’s Sonny Corleone) as Matt Sykes and Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride) as Newcomer detective Sam (later George) Francisco. Conceived by Rockne O’Bannon (The New Twilight Zone’s story editor), when the successful movie spawned the TV series, Kenneth Johnson, who created the V mini-series, took over. With the roles recast for the series, the first episode retells the story featured in the motion picture.

First Run: September 1989 to April 1990.

Number of Episodes: The show began with a 22 episode season, and was then cancelled due to low ratings. It was revived four years later with the Dark Horizon TV movie. Four more followed.

Good Guys: Matt Sikes (Gary Graham), George Francisco (Eric Pierpoint), George’s wife Susan (Michele Scarabelli), their teenage son Buck (Sean Six) and young daughter Emily (Lauren Woodland). Also on the side of ‘truth and justice’ are luscious Newcomer MD Cathy Frankel (Terri Treas), cloddish Newcomer janitor Albert Einstein (Jeff Marcus) and loutish Police Captain Bryon Grazer (Ron Fassler).

Bad Guys:
Definitely the Newcomer slave ship Overseers, the Kleezantsun, who aim to enslave the Newcomers and the entire human race. Also, the Purists, a fanatical human political movement, who want to maintain the purity of the human race.

And Isn’t That...
Star Trek: Voyager’s Tim Russ guests as Ketnes in the series pilot; The X-Files’ Mitch Pileggi is Jean Paul Sartre in The Night of Screams; Babylon 5’s Andreas Katsulas is Coolock in The Game and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (and Buffy) regular Armin Shimerman is Cyril Roman in Gimme Gimme.

Overdone Clichés: Many of the Newcomers were given joke names by the overworked immigration officials, so we get to meet Harley Davidson, Al Fresco, Paul Bearer, and a host of other wincingly bad puns.

Fashion Statements: Typical 1990s’ Hill Street Blues meets LA Law, with George affecting a suit for his day-to-day activities on the force.

Rod Summers

Photo © Fox TV
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Nations Rejoice
Fountain of Youth
Matt discovers that an old friend is using Newcomer organs to prolong human life. .

The Takeover
With Los Angeles ablaze with riots and the police at full stretch, a gang attacks the police station. .

The Game
While the Newcomers celebrate the Day of Descent, George remembers the horrors he endured on the ship being forced to play a sort of Russian roulette. When bodies start piling up, he suspects that the game is now being played on Earth.

Generation to Generation
A Tenctonese religious box is stolen and sold at auction. The box contains a gateway which can mentally transport those who truly believe back to the Tencton homeworld.
Alien Menace
In Chains of Love, Sikes and Francisco find that a drug which makes Newcomers fall in love, is being used to trap victims, and in Real Men George is pregnant and crabby and later on gives birth. Enough said.

Alien Nation UK Transmission details

Sci-Fi: Tuesdays, 20.00 (from Sept 7th)
Sky MovieMax Digital: See magazine for details

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