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TV Series Review

The ABC series Invasion featured a killer hurricane in its premiere just three weeks after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and as Rita was bearing down on Texas. Still, it debuted strong. It’s one of several dramas out to cash in on the popularity of Lost and the lone contender fortunate enough to have that smash hit as its lead-in.

Far scarier than any natural tempest, this storm was manufactured by aliens using it as cover for an invasion. They sent lights cascading into the storm’s eye as it passed over the Everglades. Young Rose Varon saw them when she was out trying to rescue her cat. Sheriff Underlay also saw them.

While others didn’t witness the phenomenon, they’ve noticed strange goings-on since the storm. Rose’s dad, Russell, a Florida park ranger, finds a wet suit-clad Air Force parajumper in the ruins of his ranger station. The unconscious man has curious bite marks on his body that look suspiciously like those Dave Groves sustained while investigating bizarre, post-storm occurrences in the swamp. (Doctors blame gators, but they don’t leave behind little spheres with protruding spikes. There’s also the matter of a deformed skeleton Dave found before he was attacked.) Dave’s sister, TV reporter Larkin Groves, wonders why Sheriff Underlay has quarantined the town and why he’s covering up U.S. military activity in the area.

Most unusual, though, is the odd behavior of several key citizens. Dr. Mariel Underlay (Russell’s first wife, Rose’s mom) got lost in the tempest and was found naked and unconscious, floating in the swamp. The same is true of a Catholic priest and the manager of Larkin’s TV news team. None of them seems the same since the storm. The perceptive Rose notices it first. Giving Mariel a hug, she observes, “Mommy, you smell different.”

This show smells different from its lead-in, too. The characters aren’t nearly as interesting as those on Lost. Except for little Rose, it’s hard to care about any of them. There’s more casual profanity, and in the second episode viewers encountered full nudity as Larkin and Russell showered outdoors —albeit at a distance and out of focus. And unlike Lost, we know what’s happening: It’s an alien attack remarkably similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The only mystery is how long it will be before viewers tire of it.

Episodes Reviewed: Sept. 21, 28, Oct. 5, 2005

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Tom Neven

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