One of the creepiest of ’60s TV series, The Invaders makes its long-awaited DVD debut with a first-season box set from CBS Video. Since the show was a mid-season replacement, debuting in January of 1967, that first season, or half-season, ran 17 epsidoes, but by today’s standards that’s virtually a full season. The Invaders would return that fall for a full season and another 26 episodes.
Its premise echoed the “running man” setup of another series produced by Quinn Martin, The Fugitive. Only in this case, it wasn’t a man unjustly charged with murder but architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes), who was in the wrong place at the right time and witnessed a saucerlike spacecraft landing on Earth. (We’re told in offscreen narration it’s from “another galaxy.” Riiiight. Try “interstellar” or “another star system”. It would take the aliens millions of years traveling at light speed to cross the gulfs between galaxies.)
Naturally, hardly anyone believes Vincent, and it doesn’t help that the aliens, when killed, instantly disintegrate. Even so, Vincent utterly devotes himself to his mission to track down and thwart the furtive alien invasion.
This premise often echoes It Came From Outer Space and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in that the aliens walk among us in human form. And the production is first-rate, including impressive guest stars such as Suzanne Pleshette, William Windom, Roddy McDowall, Ed Asner and Dabney Coleman. Thinnes also is a strong lead character, known more for steely resolve than frantic desperation. In other words, he didn’t overact. He also looks good — cool, even — as a dapper 70-year-old in onscreen interviews for the new DVD (which also offers commentary, network promos and an extended version of the original pilot).
Also impressive is the show’s first-season composer, Dominic Frontiere. He’s the same man who composed perhaps the greatest TV score ever, for the first season of The Outer Limits (1963-64). In fact, that music was so good that he used it again throughout The Invaders’ pilot episode (as he’d also done in 1965 film Incubus, and sometimes in The Rat Patrol). But after that he used mostly new music.
One piece of Outer Limits music persists on The Invaders. Just as the theme music to Star Trek: The Motion Picture became the theme to TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frontiere’s theme for a single Outer Limits episode became the theme for The Invaders as a series.
I’m speaking of the opening musical theme, used throughout Season One. That music was first used in the final Outer Limits episode of Season One, The Forms of Things Unknown. It was actually shot as a pilot for a new anthology show (which never was produced) called The Unknown (clearly geared more toward gothic fantasy than Outer Limits’ sci-fi). Since Frontiere never got to use it as an ongoing theme for The Unknown, he made it the theme for The Invaders.
By the way, Frontiere’s ex-wife, who recently passed away, was Georgia Frontiere, owner of the Los Angeles — then St. Louis — Rams.
At any rate, The Invaders is quality sci-fi TV from a time when the only other such worthy series was the original Star Trek (which also shares many Outer Limits elements). So savor Thinnes’ running man. He may not have won much support while defying invaders, but he’s certainly worthy of yours.