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Dark Skies

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

"History as we know it is a lie!"

This short-lived series (only nineteen episodes, or twenty if you count the pilot film as two), originally broadcast on NBC in the 1996-97 season, is one of my favorites of recent years. As with quite a few others on my list, it had been repeated on the Sci-Fi Channel (which is when I first saw it), and had aired in several different time slots for a couple of years. They change their schedule too often in my opinion, and at the current time neither Sci-Fi nor any other channel (that I'm aware of) is running this show at all.

Dark Skies suffered unfair comparisons to The X-Files because of its alien conspiracy theme, although it was more successful in being consistent with that theme than the show it was said to have copied. The best element of the series was its incorporation of historical figures and real-life incidents into a revisionist view of 20th Century history. From the downing of Francis Gary Powers' spy plane to the Kennedy assassination, from the tragic murder of civil rights activists in Mississippi to Vietnam's Gulf of Tonkin incident, many of the pivotal moments of recent history were given a new spin to tie them into the alien invasion storyline. Historical personages utilzed in the show ranged from Jesse Marcel, an Air Force officer involved in the alleged Roswell incident, to President Truman, Jack Ruby, Robert Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, J. Edgar Hoover, Earl Warren, Howard Hughes and The Doors' Jim Morrison, just to name a few. If I am not mistaken, the only real-life person featured in any episode who is still alive was Colin Powell. [Correction: on a recent viewing of some episodes I realized that statement is slightly off. Episode 4, "Dark Days Night," featured The Beatles in their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, however John Lennon was the only one that had dialogue and interacted with the series regulars, the other three were just in the background.]

The series starred Eric Close (also of "Now and Again," "Taken" and "Without a Trace") as John Loengard, an idealistic young man who comes to Washington as an aide to his local congressman. Making the journey with him is his girlfriend, Kim Sayers, portrayed by Megan Ward. She is successful in landing a job in the White House, as a secretary working for the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. In the course of his duties Loengard begins an investigation into the Air Force's Project Blue Book, and thus comes to the attention of Major Frank Bach (the late J. T. Walsh), head of Majestic 12. This secretive but powerful agency was created by Truman to cover-up the facts surrounding the alien threat. Loengard initially resists Bach, wishing to inform the public of the menace among them, but later becomes a Majestic operative himself when he realizes the information he can gain from the organization will help his cause. About midway through the series Jeri Ryan (Star Trek Voyager's Seven-of-Nine) was added to the cast as a Russian agent recruited by Majestic.

Unfortunately, like many other aborted series, it leaves the viewer hanging with too many unanswered questions at the conclusion of the final episode. It had been rumored that the Sci-Fi Channel would possibly revive the series, or at least produce a tele-film which would have tied up all the loose ends of the plot. At this time this does not appear to be a possiblility, which is perhaps best considering what the network did with Sliders. I hope that in the near future, the Sci-Fi Channel (or anyone else for that matter) offers viewers another regularly scheduled opportunity to discover this great show. It may never be released on DVD since the rights to all the period music is cost-prohibitive.

[UPDATE]: I have never been so happy to have been wrong in my life. SHOUT! Factory released a complete series set (including all the original music) on January 18. You can order it from amazon.com now.

Now let's see what else I could be wrong about...I hereby declare that there will never be a revival of the Firefly series nor a sequel to Serenity! ;-)

 

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Creator
Bryce Zabel

Producers
Bryce Zabel
James D. Parriott

Premiere Date
September 21, 1996

Final Broadcast
May 31, 1997

Cast
Eric Close
Megan Ward
J. T. Walsh
Conor O'Farrell
Tim Kelleher
Jeri Ryan

Full Credits at IMDb

DVD available now from amazon.com.