Filmed in Los Angeles by National Studios Inc. in association with Kenneth Johnson Prods. for Twentieth Television. Executive producer, Kenneth Johnson; producer, Paul Kurta; director, writer, Johnson; camera, Shelly Johnson; editor, David Strohmaier; production design, Colin Irwin; sound, David John West; music, David Kurtz; special visual effects, DreamQuest Images. TX:Cast: Gary Graham, Eric Pierpoint, Michele Scarabelli, Terri Treas, Sean Six, Lauren Woodland, Jeff Marcus, Ron Fassler, Jenny Gago, Kerrie Keane, Steve Flynn, Herta Ware, David Faustino, Brian Markinson, Freda Foh Shen, Susan Diol, Ellis Williams, Jason Behr. Alien Nation” tackles the turn of the century in the latest installment of the TV movies spun off from the canceled TV show that was spun off from the successful theatrical film. Mixing sly humor, solid plotting and acting and some eye-grabbing special effects, “Alien Nation” once again delivers an entertaining two-hour journey into the near future. Wisely conservative, his vision includes nothing wacky — aiding the pic’s credibility — just consumer electronics that are already on the horizon, such as integrated computers, televisions and phones, and the emergence of a new street drug, supernova.
The aliens, or Newcomers as they are called, are fully assimilated into society, although racism is still a huge problem. Main characters Matthew Sikes (Gary Graham) and George Francisco (Eric Pierpoint) are LAPD detectives with a standard cop show plot: Tracking down a cult of humans using the Portal, a sacred entry into enlightenment and peace for the Tenctonians (aliens). Portal play is highly addictive, and the cult’s leader, the beautiful and charismaticNewcomer Jennifer, stands to make millions as the addicted humans practically throw money at her to keep her “religion” going.
Fact is, the Portal only should be used by those Newcomers who’ve studied for years and are prepared for the visions of peace and enlightenment visited during the journey in the Portal. To those unprepared or carrying dark emotional baggage, the Portal can be fatal.
To George, tracking down the cult is personal, since his troubled teenage son , Buck, has become entangled in the cult.
On “Kojak” or “The Streets of San Francisco,” this is standard cops-and-cults stuff, but “Nation” twists the genre with the interesting timing (end of the century), aliens (natch) and wry in-jokes (“I’m sorry I’m late, the Metrorail tunnel caved in again!” apologizes Buck). The mix is highly enjoyable and original.
Johnson’s script touches on religious and human themes. He’s stronger at raising issues about racism and child-rearing than plot: The last half-hour exposes some holes that get the gloss.
Special effects look great and helmer Johnson’s pacing is perky.