Alien Nation (1989 – 1990)
Financial difficulties for the network it was on ensured that Alien Nation – one of my favourite shows growing up – got the axe after only a single season of 22 episodes. Several years later five TV movies were produced, which continued the story, but it was never the same.
Alien Nation was set several years after an extra-terrestrial ship had crash-landed in the desert and these aliens had been integrated into society. It was another in the long line of California-based cop shows that proliferated TV at the time, but its unique selling point was its overarching sci-fi theme, and the fact that it offered a human and alien partnership in place of the usual mismatched cop premise.
The Newcomers – as the alien race is called – have many quirks, which is the genesis of much of the show’s humour. They are bald with spotted or striped skulls; they have two hearts; they get drunk on sour milk; and the male of the species gives birth… after roughly four months.
Almost every episode of Alien Nation is a somewhat blatant social commentary on (usually) racism and (sometimes) sexism. It’s rarely subtle and never particularly clever, but these are such emotive subjects that sometimes obvious works just as well.