On July 2, 1947, a spacecraft of unknown origin crashed in the New Mexico desert outside Roswell Army Air Base. Four bodies – known as the Grays – were recovered. From that moment on, everything you think to be true about American history has been influenced by that event. On February 17, 1962, another event occurred, related to the first, but one that has, until now, been kept completely suppressed. You are being trusted with that secret. In 1996, television audiences were introduced to John Loengard (Eric Close) and Kimberly Sayers (Megan Ward), two heroic freedom fighters charged with the unearthly task of protecting humanity against an alien infestation known as the Hive while showing us- through their own experiences and actions – the truth behind our own recent past. Call it alternative history or call it the unthinkable truth. Either way, call it Dark Skies.
The X-Files told us, “The truth is out there.” Dark Skies, the ambitious and audacious NBC series that lasted just one season, warned us we couldn’t handle the truth. It created an incredible alternate universe in which 20th-century history as we know it is reinterpreted through the framework of a conspiracy to cover up an alien invasion. Francis Powers? He wasn’t spying on Russia. He was involved in an aerial dogfight with a UFO. The assassination of President Kennedy? The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show? The disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi? The Vietnam War? Pollution? Each is revealed to be a pivotal event in the secret war being raged on members of the alien Hive who first arrived at Roswell. “They’re here, they’re hostile, and powerful people don’t want you to know,” as the Emmy-winning opening credit sequence informs us. But John Loengard (Eric Close), an idealistic congressional aide, stumbles onto the conspiracy, and together with his girlfriend Kim Sayers (Megan Ward) becomes embroiled in the alien-quashing campaign being waged by Majestic, “the most secret organization you’ve never heard of.” John is one of those “the public has a right to know” kind of guys, but Captain Bach (the late, great J.T. Walsh) will stop at nothing to ensure that doesn’t happen. Dark Skies has a more accessible mythology than The X-Files, and it’s a kick to see such 1960s icons as Jim Morrison, Timothy Leary, and John Lennon figure (unwittingly or not) in the action. The series also benefits from its meticulous period re-creation (it’s Mad Men for the Close Encounters set) and above-average special effects. For a short-lived series, this six-disc set includes an impressive lineup of bonus features that will thrill the show’s devoted following, including an excellent three-part series retrospective featuring the show’s creators, Bryce Zabel and Brent V. Friedman, as well as Close and Ward; the international version of the impressive feature-length pilot directed by Tobe Hooper; original NBC promos; the electronic press kit used to promote the show; and a what-might-have-been proposal for a second season. –Donald Liebenson