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Alien Nation is a science fiction television series, loosely based on the movie of the same name. Gary Graham starred as Detective Matthew Sikes, a Los Angelesmarker police officer reluctantly working with "Newcomer" alien George Francisco (from the planet Tencton), played by Eric Pierpoint. Sikes also has an on again-off again flirtation with a female Newcomer, Cathy Frankel, played by Terri Treas.


The storylines generally revolved around morality plays on the evils of racism and bigotry using Newcomers as the discriminated minority. As fictional immigrants, Newcomers could "stand in" for hot-button social issues about African-Americans and Mexican-Americans (as well as sexual minorities like gays) and invert the usual expectations. For example, during the run of the series, George became pregnant (the male of his species carrying the fetus for part of its gestation) and during much of the episode dialog included such lines as, "If you females had to feel the pain we males feel during pregnancy, there wouldn't be any babies." The series offered insightful social commentary by illustrating what it means to be human and the often bizarre rituals we observe.


In an April 2nd, 2008 episode of Fanboy Radio (#463), creator Johnson explains: Having been responsible for science-fiction television series such as The Six Million Dollar Man, V and The Incredible Hulk, was approached for the television adaptation of the 1988 film Alien Nation. He had no interest in the project and agreed to watch the film which left him unimpressed except for one scene when a Newcomer leaves his suburban wife and child and goes to work.The show returned to the network, which envisioned a weekly science-fiction version of Lethal Weapon, sold them on a different concept of social commentary about what happens when a new minority appears overnight. He intended his version to be more akin to the film In The Heat Of The Night than a traditional action film.

Differences between the movie and the TV series

  • In the movie version the human detective is named Detective Matthew Sykes (played by James Caan). In the TV series Gary Graham plays Detective Matthew Sikes.
  • Detective George Francisco (originally named "Sam Francisco" by the human Immigration authorities), the Newcomer detective, is played by Mandy Patinkin in the movie, and Eric Pierpoint in the TV series. These are played as much the same character.
  • The TV series has a much lighter tone than the movie, with extensive subtle humor and wordplay. The movie is essentially a noir piece, very gritty and hard-bitten.
  • Many aspects of Newcomer culture are explored in the TV series, including childbirth, religion, family, history, longing for their home planet, etc. In the movie Newcomer culture is hinted at, but never explored.
  • In the movie Francisco has a wife named Susan (played by Kendall Conrad) and a son (called "George Jr." in the credits; although, Mandy Patinkin states, within the film, that he was named "Richard", after Richard Nixon) played by Brian Lando. In the TV series his wife is still named Susan (Michele Scarabelli), but his son is named Buck (Sean Six). He also has a daughter Emily (Lauren Woodland), and gives birth to an additional daughter, Vessna.
  • Both detectives work for Captain Warner (Francis X. McCarthy) in the movie and Captain Bryon Grazer (Ron Fassler) in the TV series.


The weekly series ran for one season, from 1989 through 1990, and was one of the few successes the fledgling Fox Network had at the time. However, the network suffered from financial shortage caused by lower-than-expected advertising income. As a result, Fox executives canceled all of their dramatic series for the 1990-1991 season. A second season of Alien Nation was clearly expected by the producers, as the season ended with a cliffhanger. The show built a strong fan base, and popular demand led to "Dark Horizon", the episode that would have begun the second season, being novelized and adapted as a comic book as well as spawning a series of novels. Four years later, after a change of management at Fox, the story of Alien Nation continued with five television movies (including all the original cast).

Television movies

Main cast

The cast of Alien Nation

Episode List

Ep# Title Original airdate Production code

DVD release

The series was released on DVD January 3, 2006 by 20th Century Fox. The five telefilms that followed after the series was cancelled were released in Region 1 by Best Buy exclusively on September 11, 2007, and worldwide on April 15, 2008

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Alien Nation- The Complete Series 22 January 3, 2006
  • Commentary by Kenneth Johnson on the two-hour pilot telefilm
  • Behind-the-Scenes featurette
Alien Nation- Ultimate Movie Collection 5 September 11, 2007


In June 2009, Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi Channel) announced that they were developing a new take on the series. Tim Minear (Angel, Firefly) will pen the series.


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