Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Aliens Infest The Airwaves!

Alien TV Invasion
'Lost' Among Aliens

This TV season is being invaded by extra-terrestrials and it's too much.

By Matt Manochio
The Daily Record
9-28-05

     In the words of baseball owner/evil tyrant George Steinbrenner, "Enough is enough!"

     I direct this outrage to television producers who've inundated the airwaves with alien dramas on ABC, CBS and NBC.

     Here's the rundown:
• CBS is airing "Threshold," a protracted drama about the discovery of an alien craft in the ocean by the Navy, leading investigators to believe that an invasion is possible.

• NBC is airing "Surface," a lengthy drama about the discovery of unidentified sea creatures that could be aliens, or possibly Snorks, meaning an invasion and cross-promotional toy tie-ins are possible.

• Finally and most glaringly, ABC is broadcasting "Invasion," a -- surprise! -- drawn-out suspense thriller about aliens (body-snatcher types) who concoct a hurricane to use as a distraction to invade Florida.
     (Item! ABC ran this show's commercial every five minutes throughout August, to the point where I felt morally obligated to watch the premiere. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and ABC pulled the ads out of sensitivity. Is it lost on ABC that the people who probably would've been the most offended by seeing these ads lost power when Katrina hit? And then ABC went and aired the actual show as Hurricane Rita was preparing to destroy parts of Texas and Louisiana.)

     The reason the networks are so desperate to air these shows is simple: "Lost."

     The Emmy Award-winning drama about plane crash survivors marooned on a mysterious island has snared a devoted horde of fans -- me included -- who slavishly watch a television show that has a million plot twists, leaves open countless questions and answers none of them, and keeps fans consistently frustrated by how little is revealed. But we watch anyway.

     The networks are now cranking out dramas along the same lines but using aliens as the vehicle.

     I asked some experts -- an astronomer and a UFO aficionado -- about why producers are so fixated on aliens.

     "I'd like to think there's a basic interest in space that is drawing people down this road," said John Scala, 47, planetarium director at Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope.

     I asked him if aliens could somehow engineer a hurricane to invade the planet.

     "Oh, my Lord," he said. "That's why they call it science fiction."

     George Filer, of Medford, who's both the state and eastern director of the Mutual UFO Network, said people have always been really fascinated by aliens.

     "Next to pornography on the Internet, UFOs get the biggest interest," Filer told me. (Journalists learn new things every day of their lives, and by the time I hung up the phone with Filer I felt like Einstein.)

     "I saw 'Invasion' the other night," Filer said. "It appears that at least two of the key players are aliens, although they look like normal people. I get people calling me from all over the world who claim they are aliens. I have no way of knowing if it's true or not."

     Well how could you? It's not like you pee in a cup and if it turns blue, you're an alien.

     "I think that a large percentage of the population ... have seen strange things in the skies and that science doesn't really explain much of what people are seeing," Filer said. "In other words, there's this underlying secret that everybody wonders about."

     I'm not so na├»ve as to think that we're the only beings in the universe. It's quite likely that in some distant galaxy there is intelligent life, or possibly Snorks.

     By the way, Filer said that President Reagan also hinted at the existence of alien life and was prepared to launch a counter attack against an extraterrestrial invasion with Mikhail Gorbachev by his side.

     His Web site, www.nationalufocenter.com, refers to the Gipper's remarks before the U.N. General Assembly in 1987:

     "In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity," Reagan said. "Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us realize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us?"

     Of course there was! It was the 1980s, and "E.T." stole the hearts of the world by munching Reese's Pieces and guzzling all the beer in Elliott's fridge.

     "What the public doesn't realize is (UFOs are) photographed and videotaped regularly, and the news doesn't pick it up," Filer said, adding that newspaper circulation has plummeted because of this.

     "My personal feeling is you can counter that by having more articles like this," Filer said. "And that's why I think that TV is going to these shows. 'Lost' (and) 'Medium' delve into this kind of thing. Science kind of ignores the problem."

     Regardless, I won't be looking out for aliens. "Lost" is my baby, and the idea of becoming drawn into four different dramas that never reveal anything substantial is a bit too much for me.

     I still want to know what the heck that thing is that goes crashing around the jungle in "Lost."

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