×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

First Wave

It isn't every day that the Sci-Fi Channel, a relative midget in the network primetime universe, is able to land an original series executive produced by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola. But it has done exactly that with "First Wave," a legitimately creepy and compelling alien-invasion series blessed with a lead you can't take your eyes off in relative newcomer Sebastian Spence.

With:
Cade Foster - Sebastian Spence Hannah Foster - Stacy Grant Emmett Mayhew - Myron Natwick Alexander Dray - Eric Schneider Sam Hitchens - Gordon Van Ieperen Alien Gentleman #1 - Terry Arrowsmith Alien Gentleman #2 - Richard Sargent

It isn’t every day that the Sci-Fi Channel, a relative midget in the network primetime universe, is able to land an original series executive produced by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola. But it has done exactly that with “First Wave,” a legitimately creepy and compelling alien-invasion series blessed with a lead you can’t take your eyes off in relative newcomer Sebastian Spence. Even with the abundance of “X-Files” clones and drones popping up all over TV’s landscape, this hour (which already has 66 episodes in the can) has it over most by being not only smarter, but visually spare.

One of the mistakes that sci-fi projects typically make is in taking the view that more is more, that elaborate effects and pyrotechnics drive the genre and can compensate for any shortcomings of script and performance. Not even close. “First Wave” succeeds by being plenty unsettling, yet subtle. It looks weird, it feels weird, but it’s more perceptual than purely visual. The storylines, too, are uniquely original and complex.

At the show’s core is Cade Foster (Spence), a former thief who gets a tad too little sun, but is otherwise a swell dude who now works in a high-tech security firm after having turned his life around with the love of a good woman named Hannah (Stacy Grant). But all of a sudden, things begin to go south for ol’ Cade. He starts suffering severe hallucinations in which he envisions a severed head. He gets set up and fired from his job. His bank account is drained mysteriously. His credit cards won’t work.

If Cade were Dennis Rodman, he would simply withdraw and work things out in Las Vegas. But he needs answers, particularly after he comes home to find the number “19” smeared all over his walls in blood. He notices a few other men going through a similar nightmare. But Cade really knows something is up after a serpent slithers from his Hannah’s neck during lovemaking and tries to crush him, killing his wife and framing him for a murder he didn’t commit. Bummer city.

Persistence ultimately wins knowledge for Cade, now a fugitive from justice. But it’s not good. Seems he is one of 117 test subjects used by alien beings as part of a master psychological warfare plan to take over the Earth, and the “19” refers to the goal of 19 million human beings killed on the coming first day of invasion. It was all apparently predicted by Nostradamus back in 1564.

A future episode will expose how the dastardly aliens are implanting worms in human brains to record their memories and upload a breed of look-alike clones. It all sounds quite preposterous, but the well-constructed pilot teleplay from exec producer Chris Brancato holds together uncommonly well, bolstered by some intense direction from Brenton Spencer and a solid lead performance from Spence.

Kudos likewise go to director of photography Henry Chan and his team, and to art director Jason Sutherland for some bracing visual artistry that never overwhelms. Rest of tech credits are solid.

First Wave

Sci-Fi Channel; Fri. March 19, 7 p.m. PT

Production: Filmed in Vancouver, B.C., by Sugar Entertainment Ltd. and Pearson Television Intl. Executive producers, Francis Ford Coppola, Chris Brancato, Larry Sugar; producers, Tara McCann, Matt Loze; director, Brenton Spencer; writer, Brancato

Crew: Camera, Henry Chan; production designer, Katterina Keith; editor, Stein Myhrstad; music, Claude Foisy; sound, Stuart Bardsley; casting, Stuart Aikins. 60 MIN.

With: Cade Foster - Sebastian Spence Hannah Foster - Stacy Grant Emmett Mayhew - Myron Natwick Alexander Dray - Eric Schneider Sam Hitchens - Gordon Van Ieperen Alien Gentleman #1 - Terry Arrowsmith Alien Gentleman #2 - Richard Sargent

More Film

  • VICE

    Adam McKay Explains the 'Vice' Musical Number He Left on the Cutting Room Floor

    Adam McKay’s “Vice” has clearly divided critics, with some calling it a bold and daring analysis of one of the most pivotal figures in American politics, and others mincing no words in labeling it, full stop, the worst film of the year. (Truly, in the year of a Dinesh D’Souza movie, people are grandstanding with [...]

  • Penny Marshall Dead

    Penny Marshall, 'Laverne & Shirley' Star, Director, Dies at 75

    Penny Marshall, who starred alongside Cindy Williams in the hit ABC comedy “Laverne & Shirley” and then became a successful director, died on Monday night at her Hollywood Hills home due to complications from diabetes, Variety has confirmed. She was 75. Marshall was the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 [...]

  • 'They Shall Not Grow Old' Box

    Peter Jackson's 'They Shall Not Grow Old' Collects $2.3 Million on Monday

    Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” earned $2.3 million at 1,122 theaters in North America on Monday. Warner Bros. released the movie five weeks after it aired on Armistice Day on the BBC. The studio partnered with Fathom Events in the U.S. for a one-day event, marking the largest single [...]

  • Dua LipaVariety Hitmakers Brunch, Portraits, Los

    'Alita: Battle Angel' to Feature New Song by Dua Lipa

    Robert Rodriguez’s “Alita: Battle Angel” will feature a new song by Dua Lipa. “Swan Song,” co-written by Justin Tranter, Kennedi Lykken, Mattias Larsson, Robin Fredriksson and Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL), in addition to Dua Lipa, will drop ahead of the film’s U.S. opening on Feb. 14. The Twentieth Century Fox action-adventure movie was produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau [...]

  • Les Arcs Festival Unveil Prizes For

    'System Crasher,' 'White on White' Win Work-in-Progress Awards at Les Arcs

    Nora Fingscheidt’s “System Crasher” and Theo Court’s “White on White” won the top prizes at Les Arcs Film Festival’s Work-in-Progress session. Both titles were among the 18 films in post-production pitched during the 10th edition of the Work-in-Progress showcase which is spearheaded by Frederic Boyer, the artistic director of Les Arcs and Tribeca festivals. “System [...]

  • Actress Shirley MacLaine poses at the

    Shirley MacLaine Selected for AARP Career Achievement Award

    Shirley MacLaine has been selected as the recipient of the AARP’s 2018 Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award. MacLaine will be honored at the 18th annual Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony on Feb. 4 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. MacLaine has credits on more than 50 feature films, won a best [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content