SYFY channel is developing a re-boot of a fan-fave, “Alien Nation” with none other than Tim Minear, whose past creds include Dollhouse, Wonderfalls, Firefly, Angel, X-files, Strange World. Fox 21, a production arm of Twentieth Century Fox TV will produce it.
As you might recall, “Alien Nation” originated as a 1988 movie written by Rockne O’Bannon that spun off in TV show and TV movie formats on Fox. According to Variety:
“Alien Nation” centers on the partnership between a veteran cop and his alien detective partner, set against the larger tale of alien “newcomers” who move to Earth and attempt to assimilate into society.
This re-boot of “Alien Nation” will likely set it somewhere in the Pacific Northwest around twenty years after the arrival of these refugee aliens that had crash-landed on our planet. The show opens in the year 2020 or so after the alien population has flourished from a few thousand to 3.5 million.
In an interview with Newcomers Among Us, Tim Minear shares his thoughts on his take on “Alien Nation”:
…It just felt to me like the central idea was very clear: oppressed minority. Racism. …because in a post 9-11, post War On Terror world, it just felt like here was a concept that could really be used to explore so much more.
There is a way to do an alien invasion story that is not ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, or gleaming metal ships hovering over cities with laser canons. There’s a way to do an alien invasion story that’s real, and creeping and complex, but totally recognizable. Because it’s happening right now, more so in Europe than in the States. It’s an alien invasion not through hovering space ships and laser beams, but through birth rates and demography.
“Alien Nation” would draw partly from that European clash of civilizations and drop it into the continental US. A French-like ghetto slum in Dallas, or a Gaza Strip in Seattle. The central thematic question is assimilation versus balkanization. To the wary humans, this fast growing alien population threatens to take over via demographics. To the newcomer species that finds itself in an alien world — the more radical might feel they’re being bullied into assimilating, some feel the larger culture threatens to swallow them whole; to annihilate their identity.
What the genre element allows us to do is say something — about the world, about issues, about the human condition. And it also allows us to do what is done best on cable, which is to create a complex but recognizable world. This is the The Wire with aliens. It’s taking elements of the slick, network “paranormal procedural” and dropping it into the streets of The Shield. And at the center of this you have this guy who is alienated from himself, from his life, from his humanity. And it takes an alien to help him start to appreciate his own species.
The Sykes-Francisco relationship is the thing they got exactly right. The other thing I told Sci-Fi is the other thing I’m missing on television is a ’70s cop show. What’s not on television? Starsky and Hutch. It’s not there. Lethal Weapon. It’s not there. I think you can take that sensibility, without it being kitschy, but in a post-modern, Tarantino kind of way and have that be a way in.