If you are a devotee of time travel...

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Invasion 1.1-3: Compelling Contender

This has been a great few days for science fiction on the screen.  An excellent episode of Foundation, an outstanding first half of a new Dune movie and ... I decided to see if I could get a trifecta by watching a brand new science fiction series.  Like Foundation, Invasion is on AppleTV+, which put up the first three episodes of this ambitious series on Friday.  It had a lot to contend with, debuting just as Foundation was getting into really high gear, when Dune was making a justified name for itself the moment it opened.  And ... Invasion succeeded.

Let me say first, though, that I thought the very first episode, in which the largest part was a nearly standalone story of an aging, retiring sheriff in Oklahoma, was by far the weakest of the three opening episodes.  I mean, Sam Neill is a fine actor who was fine in the role, but the story had only the slightest to do with the interstellar invasion of Earth which is the heart of this series.  Fortunately, the second and third episodes were out-of-the-ballpark powerful and enthralling.

The stories that unfold in this slightly into the future tableau include a Japanese shuttle to a space station, attacked  and destroyed by the invaders, leaving behind a lover in Tokyo, who works for the Japanese equivalent of NASA and is determined to find out what happened; a school bus of British kids knocked off the road by an interstellar attack, which results in a Lord of the Flies scenario; and an apparently lone survivor of an American unit in Afghanistan presumably all killed by the invaders.  (Yeah, this part of the narrative obviously was conceived and filmed before the precipitous U. S. withdrawal in our reality -- we just have to assume watching Invasion that the U. S. went back in there for some reason.  This kind of thing reminds me of science fiction stories in the 1980s talking about a Soviet Union in the 21st century -- one of the hazards of writing fiction about the future.)

But Invasion is doing just fine after three episodes, even with this Afghanistan anachronism.  There's a 1950s War of the Worlds feel to it, except the personal lives of the characters are fleshed out better than in those old movies.  The family that figures in the New York part of the story features an Asian Indian couple with two kids and  a Tesla, but their marriage is falling apart even before the buildings, because the husband has fallen madly in love with another woman (a blonde, as his wife points out).  Indeed, all the backstories are notable and interesting, with the exception of the Oklahoma sheriff, but we haven't seen him since the first episode, and, who knows, something significant could yet happen out there.

The second half of Dune won't likely be seen for a year.  But now there's some science fiction on television that I'll be watching every weekend as soon as I finish my sojourn into the fate of the Galactic Empire in Foundation.

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