Classic TV: ‘Dark Skies’

dark skies cast w walsh

As much as I liked “Last Resort” and “Threshold” and “Firefly” and other TV series, I knew better than to give my heart fully to them.

“Dark Skies” taught me that lesson.

“Dark Skies” was an episodic sci-fi TV series that ran on NBC for only about a dozen and a half episodes in 1996 and 1997. Created by Brent Friedman and Bryce Zabel, the series was an ambitious one: Inspired by the hit conspiracy show “The X-Files,” Friedman and Zabel created a decades-spanning series about an alien invasion of Earth, the conspiracy to cover it up and the few people who sought to blow the lid off the whole mess.

And, oh yeah, along the way, the good guys and bad guys run across the most pivotal figures of the time, from John F. Kennedy to The Beatles to Jim Morrison to J. Edgar Hoover.

Heroes Eric Close and Megan Ward not only sought to expose the invasion but stay away from murderous conspirators with shadowy connections.

And bonus: Late, great character actor J.T. Walsh played a military man mixed up in the conspiracy.

darkskies

The show’s creators had an ambitious plan that would have taken their story from the early 1960s to 2001, with each of five seasons covering a different decade.

It was a bold plan considering the follies of network TV, where shows are mercilessly canceled when they fail to garner sufficient ratings. “Dark Skies” was canceled when not enough people tuned in.

The show’s first and only season had some highlights, however:

With JFK in their  corner, it was only a matter of time until the charismatic president was assassinated. The third episode did a nice job with the tragic development.

The fifth episode, “Dark Days Night,” was set against the backdrop of The Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan’s show. The aliens planned to send a sinister signal out over the airwaves during the broadcast.

“We Shall Overcome” reunited Close’s character with a former colleague from the government set during civil rights unrest in Mississippi.

What other series featured Robert Kennedy as a recurring character and spotlighted a diverse bunch of figures including and Jack Ruby, Carl Sagan and Hubert Humphrey?

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