DVD: Look out for 'The Invaders'

  • Article by: RANDY A. SALAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 24, 2008 - 1:01 PM

The 1960s TV series that influenced later shows such as "The X-Files" comes out Tuesday in a five-disc set.

How does a nightmare begin?

For architect David Vincent, it starts when he sees a spaceship during a long middle-of-the-night road trip and then uncovers evidence of an alien invasion of Earth. It escalates when no one believes him.

That's the premise behind "The Invaders," a well-loved series that ran for two seasons on ABC in 1967 and 1968. Its first season debuts Tuesday on DVD in a fabulous five-disc set (CBS, $37).

The show was a major influence on later TV series such as "The X-Files." In fact, star Roy Thinnes, who played Vincent, went on to guest-star in a few episodes of that Fox series, which returns this summer with the theatrical film "The X-Files: I Want to Believe."

In a half-hour interview on the DVD, Thinnes said that he was reluctant to do "The Invaders" for fear of being typecast as a sci-fi actor but that producer Quinn Martin talked him into it. The man behind classic TV shows such as "The Fugitive" and "The Untouchables" persuaded Thinnes to sign on by capturing the gist of the show in a simple concept:

"The Invaders" is not about special effects; it's "a study in paranoia."

Thinnes also provides introductions for each of the set's 17 episodes, one of which, "The Innocent," includes commentary by series creator Larry Cohen. The DVD also contains original promos for the series and an extended version of the pilot episode (besides the one that actually aired) that adds about 10 minutes of new and extended scenes, as well as an alternate ending.

To catch another 'Thief'

I fell in love with the "Thief of Bagdad" long before I had ever seen Alexander Korda's 1940 fantasy based on "The Arabian Nights." My introduction came courtesy of Varese Sarabande's mid-'80s CD of Miklos Rozsa's enchanting film score.

Other fans actually grew up with the film, such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. The Oscar-winning directors rhapsodize about the groundbreaking film in a commentary track on Tuesday's indispensable two-disc set (Criterion, $40), which renders obsolete MGM's throwaway DVD of 2002.

Other big-name fans are special-effects gurus Ray Harryhausen ("The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad") and Dennis Muren ("Star Wars"), who cite the film's influence on their work and praise its innovations, such as the first use of blue-screen technology to create fantastic flying carpets and horses.

The many extras also include a 1976 radio interview with Rozsa, separate commentary by film and music scholar Bruce Eder and "The Lion Has Wings," a 1940 British propaganda film that Korda made while the production of "The Thief of Bagdad" was shut down during World War II.

Digital bits

• To go with Tuesday's DVD and Blu-ray release of the new "Rambo" film (Lions Gate, $30-$40), the first three films in the Sylvester Stallone action series -- "First Blood," "Rambo: First Blood Part II" and "Rambo III" -- are also coming out in the high-def format individually ($20) and as a set ($50).

• Tuesday also brings a three-disc release of "Holocaust" (Paramount, $40), the 1978 World War II miniseries with Meryl Streep and Michael Moriarty that won eight Emmys and was nominated for seven more.

Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542

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