The Wayback Machine: The Invaders (1967)
The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet. Their destination: the Earth. Their purpose: to make it their world. David Vincent has seen them. For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found. It began with a closed deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy. Now David Vincent knows that the Invaders are here, that they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.
If you were alive during the late 1960s, these ominous words from announcer Bill Woodson may be as familiar to you as the Pledge of Allegiance.
This was the truly scary first words you encountered before watching architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) run for his life, ala The Fugitive (the historic drama this TV show replaced), while trying to convince the U.S. military and citizens at large that the Earth was indeed being taken over by … The Invaders!
So let's rev up the ol' Wayback Machine and take a voyage back to the year 1967.
As were many of the best shows of the day (Fugitive, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, etc etc), The Invaders was produced by Quinn Martin. Or, as many announcers put it: “A Q.M. Production.” Believe it or else, those things were big deals back then.
In this terrific two-season science fiction program, Vincent accidentally learns of a secret alien invasion already underway and thereafter travels from place to place, trying to foil the aliens' plots and warn a skeptical populace of the danger. (Get the Fugitive “feel” already?)
As the series progresses, Vincent is able to convince a small number of people to help him fight the aliens, most significantly millionaire industrialist Edgar Scoville (Kent Smith) who became a semi-regular character as of December 1967.
Neither the Invaders nor their planet were ever named. Their human appearance was a disguise; they were never shown in their true form except in one episode, "Genesis," in which an ill alien researcher loses his human form and is briefly seen immersed in a tank of water. Unless they receive periodic treatments in what Vincent called "regeneration chambers," which consume a great deal of electrical power, they revert to their alien form. One scene in the series showed an alien beginning to revert, filmed in soft focus and with pulsating red light.
They had certain characteristics by which they could be detected, such as the absence of a pulse and the inability to bleed. Nearly all were emotionless and had mutated little fingers which could not move and were bent at an unnatural angle, although there were "deluxe models" who could manipulate this finger.
There were also a number of mutant aliens, who experienced emotions similar to those of humans, and who even opposed the alien takeover. The existence of the Invaders could not be documented by killing one and examining the body: When they died, their bodies would glow red and disintegrate -- along with their clothes and anything else they were touching -- leaving little more than traces of black ash. On several occasions, a dying alien would deliberately touch a piece of their technology to prevent it from falling into the hands of humans.
The type of spaceship by which the Invaders reach the Earth is a flying saucer of a design derivative of that shown in the contestable early-1950s photographs of self-proclaimed UFO "contactee" George Adamski, but instead of having three spheres on the underside, the Invaders' craft has five shallower protrusions. It was a principle of the production crew to not show them with set and prop designs and control panels that were utterly alien from the conventional human ones (such as H.R. Giger would later present in Alien).
They use a small, handheld, disc-shaped weapon with five glowing white lights applied to the back of the victim's head or neck to induce a seemingly-natural death, which is usually diagnosed as a cerebral hemorrhage. They also employ powerful weapons to disintegrate witnesses, vehicles and, in one episode, a sick member of their own race whose infection's side effects were resulting in unwanted notoriety. Also in their arsenal is a small device consisting of two spinning transparent crystals joined at their corners which forces human beings to do the aliens' bidding.
My father and I stuck around for both seasons, but in the bedroom my mom had enough of The Invaders, turning over to The Red Skelton Hour on CBS instead.
Hunh! No accounting for taste in this family.