Tuesday, September 27, 2005

TV: Invasion

Part two of the aquatic-originating alien menace trifecta (along with Threshold and Surface), Invasion suffers from a great many faults, not the least of which is over-familiarity. Already, it seems like every new drama that isn't another police procedural is a "big mystery" type thriller, in the style of (if not a direct ripoff of) Lost, and Invasion doesn't seem to offer anything special to make it worth following.

The actors are decent; I like Eddie Cibrian from Tilt, and William Fichtner is always good as a menacing creep. But the characters aren't very interesting; they're either jerks or blahs. Or stupid. Cibrian is an Everglades park ranger, and a nice blah; Fichtner is the town Sheriff and vaguely jerkish. He's also married to Cibrian's ex, played by Kari Matchett, who is a major jerk. That is, until she gets infected by whatever alien menace lands in the water following a major hurricane; then she becomes a slightly menacing blah. Fichtner is aware that Matchett has been changed by the alien whatevers, and has either orchestrated it, or has been changed himself. That's slightly interesting, but not enough to keep me coming back.

There's a lot of ho-hum family drama getting in the way of the extraterrestrial plot. Cibrian has a new wife, a TV reporter, who is pregnant. Cibrian's got two children from his marriage with Matchett, and Fichtner's got a daughter of his own, and the relationship between them all is strained, primarily due to Matchett's jerkishness. During the hurricane, Matchett comes over to Cibrian's house to interfere with everybody, and her oldest son yells at her to leave. Which she does. In the middle of a hurricane. They're both jerks, and they're both stupid. Then there's Dave, Cibrian's new brother-in-law, the stupid conspiracy theorist who, when strange stuff starts happening, it turns out might not be so stupid after all. He's almost an interesting character, but he starts off the episode wanting to abandon Cibrian's kids during the hurricane to go pick up some more beer, so he's just another jerk. And Cibrian's young daughter actually wanders off during the hurricane to look for her missing cat; she's not a jerk, but she is stupid.

I don't like any of these people, and I don't care what happens to them. The pilot had a nice look to it; the hurricane action sequences were well-filmed by director Thomas Schlamme. But there was nothing here to make me want to check out a second episode. I was hoping for something on the level of the smart and creepy American Gothic, a previous series from Invasion's creator, Shaun Cassidy. Instead, it's just dumb and dull.

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