I watched Apple TV’s Invasion last night. In the interest of full disclosure, I watched the first episode, then fast-forwarded through the next two that are available. It was that fast-forward you do in the vain hope that something that is slow and boring and off-topic might actually veer back to what the title promises: an INVASION. By, you know, something. Anything. Other than dark skies, occasional meteorites, something in a crop circle, something in a dust storm, a spaceship accident caused by something, and just all-around vague threats.
Where to begin?
The blurb for the series is: “Earth is visited by an alien species that threatens humanity’s existence. Events unfold through the eyes of five ordinary people across the globe as they struggle to make sense of the chaos unraveling around them.”
Hmm. Okay. Right there, as a writer, I see a problem. This is a thriller where the entire planet is at stake. You know, like what, some millions, billions, whatever, I haven’t counted lately. WTF should I care about these five people? Well, damn it, the show is going to spend most of its time trying to make me do exactly that. Whether you find it interesting or not. Which it isn’t.
There is an American SEAL (really, folks, there are other special ops than SEALS, but in this case you can have him, in the desert in Afghanistan, where SEALS are, of course, trained to operate) who goes through something—perhaps the best glimpse we have of the aliens or their ship or something except there’s a lot of, you know, SAND, flying bout to obscure things. He’s the Lone Survivor (that’s been done, I think) then wanders in the desert (forgetting to grab the extra water from his vehicle which won’t start, probably because he’s a trained SEAL and figures there’s water over the next sand dune) and is saved by a wandering Afghani. The two then spend a pleasant evening sitting around a campfire in the desert, where combustibles are just lying around, each telling their life tale of woe in their own language to the other who doesn’t understand because . . . . . THE EARTH IS GETTING INVADED PEOPLE!!!!! I don’t care about their backstory.
Then there’s Aneesha, who is bad timing and bad luck personified. On the night of the invasion; well, that’s another problem. The timeline is confusing. How long this plays out and the time jumps are very confusing. Anyway, she comes off as a jerk right away because she takes her kid to the doctor because he has a nose bleed, as does every kid in his school, except, ding ding, cue foreshadowing, his brother. Anyway, she must have good health insurance and a doctor who isn’t booked for the next six weeks like all of ours, because she gets right in and she spouts some medical stuff at him and he asks her if she’s a doctor and she says no, but adds “I went to medical school”. And snotty doctor asks where, expecting I guess the one on Grenada (is that still open?) and she replies “Harvard.” He lamely says he went to Hofstra as if it’s something to be embarrassed about (do we need to invade Long Island to rescue all the students?). Which begs the question of why she took the damn kid to this poorly educated doctor when she went to HARVARD. I know why the writers did this—because she gave that up for her husband, who makes the word asshole look like a compliment. At home after being told—hey, Harvard trained lady, it’s a nose bleed, they cover that in fourth year, her kid is looking at his ipad and says “Gosh, mom, I thought dad was out of town, but his phone is here in the city.”
Which means Dad is stupid before we even meet him. He gets worse. So, she bundles the two kids in the backseat and drives out to see where he is and, of course, he’s with a beautiful blonde in a mansion. Of course, the blonde might be having cash flow problems because she can’t afford curtains. My wife firmly believes in curtains at night, not because we’re gonna shag on the kitchen counter like they do (not hygienic) but because she worries about snipers. You can tell why we’re together.
Anywho, yeah. Poor Aneesha’s husband is a cheater. She confronts him when he comes home by cooking a recipe she found on line from the blonde who makes her living cooking meals that can be downloaded to confront your husband with. In the midst of this marital spat, something, we don’t know now what, lands and explodes in the street. Which is the dream of every cheating husband as he’s getting confronted by their spouse who always thinks—“Gosh, this would be a great time for aliens to attack!” So, he is actually the luckiest cheating husband in the world. The world on the other hand . . .
So they finally get in the car and run—she takes him, dumb move, one supposes because he is the father of their kids. More chaos ensues as they head to upstate NY, which anyone from the city can tell you happens once you cross out of the Bronx heading north. She’s worried about getting a roll-away for her husband in the motel room they stop at, because she doesn’t want him sleeping in the bed with her because . . . . . THE EARTH IS GETTING INVADED PEOPLE!!!!! I don’t care about their marriage or where he sleeps.
There are three more of the five, including poor retiring sheriff Sam Neill who looks like the paycheck for this sucker might not be worth it; a bus load of kids that crash in a bus 200 feet down into a quarry that they can’t climb out of, which, means, duh, they should all be dead when you look at it; and the Japanese lesbian whose lover went up in the space shuttle that gets blown out, but no one seems to be care about when they don’t hear from it for three hours because . . . . . THE EARTH IS GETTING INVADED PEOPLE!!!!! I don’t care about their retirement, Lord of the Flies in the quarry, dead lover in space problems.
Now these five may be more important, the saviors of mankind and we need this litany of backstory—sort of like in the reboot of War of the Worlds, but if your blurb says ORDINARY then you’re negating that.
I do have some expertise on alien invasions having been on board the mothership and let me tell you folks. What an ego humans have. We really think Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are going to defeat a species that can fly something that big across intergalactic space. Right.
I also wrote an invasion book, smartly titled Area 51: Invasion. And I have monsters literally out of Lovecraft, hello Cthulhu, and other nasty critters and we get out asses kicked. Because, that’s what’s going to happen if it ever occurs. But that would mean some alien species capable of FTL travel would even bother to stop here. More like we’d be a piss break for them on the way to something more interesting. Except they wouldn’t request the roll-away.
Recommended if you like watching a slow moving train crash except the train never crashes. At least for the first three episodes.