Dark Skies on DVD at last!

Monday, 18 October 2010 08:48

When Dark Skies was first broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK, it was seen as riding the wave created by the incredibly successful The X-Files. Granted it had aliens and conspiracies, but what gave it the edge was that it began by being set in the past, and it was our true history that it was engaged in.  For those who knew the timeline of the 1960s, it took us through the era of President John F Kennedy, on past flower power and right to the end of that decade.

The series deals with one of the biggest cover-ups ever known – the ‘investigation’ of the JFK assassination by the Warren Commission.  Famed UFO incident folk, including Barney and Betty Hill, make an appearance. We even get The Beatles and The Doors becoming embroiled in the dastardly goings-on, Carl Sagan makes a couple of cameos, and Bobby Kennedy’s one of the biggest allies of our chief protagonists.  So, despite its ultra-serious story arc, this is a fun series worthy of your attention.

Dark Skies finally makes it to DVD - the truth is here?Dark Skies did get some critical acclaim, as it was a 1997 Emmy Award Winner; admittedly this was for “Outstanding Main Title Design”, but it has to be said it is worthy of such a hat-tip.

The premise is simple, but provides a very rich backstory. 20th Century history as we know it is a lie. Aliens have been among us since the 1940s, the Roswell incident being one particular major potential exposure of this truth. The government has to initiate a huge cover-up which has prevented the public from knowing what’s really going on.

We follow John Loengard (Eric Close – now best known as Martin Fitzgerald in Without a Trace) and Kim Sayers (Megan Ward – currently a mainstay of USA daytime soap General Hospital) as they attempt to thwart numerous plans of the alien Hive.

In addition, the couple must stay one step ahead of covert government agency ‘Majestic-12’, headed up by the grizzly but tolerant Frank Bach (J T Walsh – a character actor who died of a heart attack the year after Dark Skies was cancelled at just 54 years of age), tasked with countering the aliens while maintaining the conspiracy of silence.

Coming into the second half of the series is Jeri Ryan as Majestic-12 agent Juliet Stewart, who would go on to play Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager. In many respects, this was her big break, as she’d previously only done guest shots in the likes of Matlock, Melrose Place, Time Trax and The Flash. In these early roles she also used middle name ‘Lynn’ in her onscreen credits. Had Dark Skies continued beyond its one season, then Jeri would have become co-lead with Eric.

Fans of Desperate Housewives, and in particular the character Mike Delfino, should enjoy seeing James Denton pop up in the episode, "Hostile Convergence", playing a character that simply cannot be trusted.

Three years ago, in 2007, Bryce Zabel noted that the release of Dark Skies at that time had been shelved by Sony due to the prohibitive costs of clearing the music rights in the episodes. Zabel had already expected this to be a problem.  However, sources at label MediumRare insist there have been no music substitutions on this release, so it would appear the bullet has been bitten on this overhead.

The timing of the release of Dark Skies at this point has its own level of intrigue interwoven into it. This added dimension is that co-creator Bryce Zabel is a believer, and has gone one stage further from what has already been catalogued by The Disclosure Project - a non-profit research group working to fully disclose the facts about UFOs, extraterrestrial intelligence, and classified advanced energy and propulsion systems. They have over 400 government, military, and intelligence community witnesses testifying to their direct, personal, first-hand experience with UFOs, ETs, ET technology, and the cover-up that keeps this information secret.

Bryce has played his part by co-penning a book called “A D – After Disclosure” – out on 25 October 2010. It looks to what will happen when the Governments of the world finally have to admit that aliens have been among us for centuries. A quote to illustrate Bryce and co-author Richard Dolan’s aspect on this: “The issue that was hushed up by one generation, then turned into an object of derision by another, now demands to be heard straight up in ours.”

Indeed, Apollo 14 astronaut Ed Mitchell says of the tome: “This new book by Richard Dolan and Bryce Zabel is an important attempt to prepare us for what will one day be inevitable: an open understanding that we are not alone. Not in this universe, and not even on Planet Earth.”

Bryce also has news of an impending Region 1 Release of Dark Skies on his blog.

The review copies of Dark Skies bizarrely puts “The Awakening”, the pilot movie (or the first two episodes, depending on your attitude to these sorts of things), directed by Tobe Hooper of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” fame, on the final fifth DVD of the set, listing it as a DVD extra.  This is very strange, as this double episode immediately leads into the first episode proper – which takes you back to Disc 1. If this had been an unaired version, or had cast changes, then you could perhaps understand this, but in the end it’s just perplexing that the beginning of the series is pushed to one side and almost seen as an afterthought. But you do get this and all of the 18 standard episodes uncut.

This release of Dark Skies is very welcome, but a little sparse in DVD extras, with a text feature “A-Z of Dark Skies” and a Stills Gallery being all that is on offer.

For further reading, I strongly recommend the Dark Skies Bible (which would have made an excellent DVD extra). It maps out what would have been the five seasons of Dark Skies.  These would have covered a decade a season, leading up to the present day and beyond by the end of its arc. Our episode guide (below) lists the original American transmission dates, and you can see from this that the show just didn’t have a chance to go forward – episodes being broadcast on Saturday nights and taking from September to the following May to transmit them all. Conspiracy or cock-up? Given network attitudes to high concept shows in the 1990s, it’s difficult to call.

So, is there truth in the fiction of Dark Skies? One can only speculate at this time, but we already know from the releases from Government archives that much of what we take to be true is far from it – there are, for instance, False Flag Incidents, and we are beginning to realise that there are more 'official inaccuracies' than we can possibly imagine.  The bigger the lie, the easier it is to believe.  Jokingly, we always say don’t believe what the Government says, or what we read in the newspapers.  Never has that been a more true statement to live your life by.

“Dark Skies – The Complete Series” is out now on five discs from MediumRare Entertainment, with a running time of 900 minutes approx, a ‘12’ certificate, and a RRP of £39.99 – or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

DARK SKIES – EPISODE GUIDE

Eric Close as John Loengard

Megan Ward as Kimberly Sayers

J T Walsh as Captain Frank Bach

 

01/02. The Awakening

John Loengard and his girlfriend Kim Sayers arrive in Washington DC eager to start their new jobs as a congressional aide and an assistant to Jackie Kennedy respectively. But John's hopes are dashed when one of his first tasks, involving disproving the validity of UFO cases, results in being threatened by a group of shady men dressed in black. Ready to drop the story, John soon changes his mind when the identity of one of the man in black is revealed to be a navy captain by the name of Frank Bach. His pursuit though leads him to a truth he couldn't have possibly imagined, one where the current Cuban Missile Crisis is the least of the country's problems.

Guest Starring: Robin Gammell (Dr Herzog),  Lee Garlington (Betty Hill), Paul Gleason (Nelson Rockefeller),  Francis Guinan (Mark Simonson), John M. Jackson (Charles Pratt),   Charley Lang (Dr Halligan),  Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), G D Spradlin (Elliot P Grantham/Patient Zero), Scott Allan Campbell (Popejoy), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Basil Wallace (Barney Hill), Don Moss (Hubert Humphrey), Marilyn Rockafellow (Mrs Lincoln), Al Sapienza (Francis Gary Powers), Alan Fudge (Major Friend), Thomas Knickerbocker (General Brown), Nancy Stephens (Mrs Bach), Grant Mathis (MIB #3), Joe Basile (MIB #4), Mark Joy (MIB #5), Jack Wallace (Mr Chesney), James Edward Lawrence (Controller), Jerry Whiddon (Goodwin), Fred Saxon (Reporter), David Svensson (Man in Crowd), James F Kelly (Robert Kennedy), Mike Kennedy (Allen Dulles), Amanda Plummer (Abducted Woman), John Shea (Grey Alien).

Writers: Bryce Zabel & Brent V Friedman

Director: Tobe Hooper

Original US Transmission: 21 September 1996

 

03.  Moving Targets

Following the assassination of JFK, John and Kim need to make sure nothing untoward happens at his funeral.

Guest Starring: Richard Fancy (James V Forrestal), Richard Gilliland (Jesse Marcel), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), James F Kelly (Robert Kennedy), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Hansford Rowe (President Harry Truman), Leon Russom (Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter), Mary Kay Adams (Alicia Bainbridge), Terry Bozeman (Robert Goodwin), Jack Lindine (Jack Ruby), Brad Blaisdell (Base Commander), Stephen James Carver (Airman Clark Balfour), William Frankfather (Local Cop), Brent Huff (Clint Hill), Locky Lambert (Jackie Kennedy), Ashley Smock (Corporal), Andrew Walker (Ground Control Worker).

Writer: Bryce Zabel & Brent V Friedman

Director: Thomas J Wright

Original US Transmission: 28 September 1996

 

04. Mercury Rising

Kim seeks out astronaut Ty Yount who may hold some answers to the nightmares she has been afflicted with.

Guest Starring: Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), John Mese (Ty Yount), Natalia Nogulich (Dr Helen Gould), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Peter Van Norden (Henry Kissinger), Pat Crawford Brown (Clarice Brown, Hotel Clerk), Glenn Morshower (Mission Commander), Steven Barr (Patrolman), Don Clark (TV Anchor), Darryl Rocky Davis (Gate Guard), Henry Harris (Fisherman), Todd Jeffries (Gary Augatreux), George Lugg (Bartender), Grant Mathis (Cloaker).

Writer: James B Parriott

Director: Tucker Gates

Original US Transmission: 19 October 1996

 

05. Dark Days Night

The Hive are planning to use the Beatles' first trip to the USA, and their appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ to trigger an outbreak of mass suicides.

Guest Starring: Kathleen Garrett (Donna Hargrove), Stanley Kamel (Dr Ron Burnside), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Gina Philips (Marnie Lane), Joseph Carberry (Cabbie), Earl Carroll (Doorman), Carey Eidel (Brian Epstein), John H Freeland Jr (Usher), Michael Hagerty (Christopher Weatherly), Jerome Patrick Hoban (Ed Sullivan), Sandra Ellis Lafferty (Mrs Weatherly), James Lancaster (Kenneth Parkinson), Karen Maurise (Neighbour), Dominic Oliver (Technician), Carmine Grippo (Ringo Starr), Tim Michael McDougall (Paul McCartney), Rick Anthony Pizaria (George Harrison), Joe Stefanelli (John Lennon), Patricia Tallman (Aunt Hazel).

Writer: Brad Markowitz & Brent V Friedman

Director: Matthew Penn

Original US Transmission: 26 October 1996

 

06.  Dreamland

The Hive has devised a scheme to make a fortune in Las Vegas in order to finance their future plans.

Guest Starring:  Joey Aresco (Jack Gettings), Jack Conley (Rawlings), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Tyler Layton (Susan Swenson), Madison Mason (Howard Hughes), Louan Gideon (Tammy, Hive Gambler), Andrew Hawkes (George Dover), Scott Jaeck (Cochran), Gary Carter (Cashier), Paul Terrell Clayton (Lieutenant), Mark McPherson (Doorman),  Lisa Varga (Neighbour).

Writer: Steve Aspis

Director: Winrich Kolbe

Original US Transmission: 2 November 1996

 

07.  Inhuman Nature

A dairy farm run by Kester Boehm is the centre of cattle mutilations which appear to be the results of some bizarre experiments.

Guest Starring: John Dennis Johnston (Mr Castor Boehm), James F Kelly (Robert Kennedy), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Deborah May (Mrs Elwood), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Maury Sterling (Mark Waring), Ronald William Lawrence (Kaufman), Zack Hopkins (Oldest Boehm Son), Jeff Juday (Activist), Suzanne Anderson Kennedy (Marian Boehm), Seth Mumy (Youngest Boehm Son), Vanessa Munday (Jennifer Bach), Nancy Stephens (Mrs Bach), Lauren Zabel (Middle Boehm Daughter).

Writer: Melissa Rosenberg

Director: Rodman Flender

Original US Transmission: 9 November 1996

 

08.  Ancient Future

John and Kim investigate reports from an Indian reservation of possible UFO activity on their holy site. An Earthquake soon reveals a huge hidden spaceship underground.

Guest Starring:  Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Eric Steinberg (Reverend Gary Barrow), Sam Vlahos (Tug Barrow), Steven Ford (Phillips), Dana Gladstone (Ernst Mittermeyer), Joseph Whipp (General Thompson), Robert Arce (Hiver), Don Clark (Anchorman), Dan Erickson (Mission Controller), Roger Hewlett (Safe Suit Man), Dale Ishimoto (Tingit Chief), Matt Roe (Traveller).

Writer: Gay Walch

Director: Lou Antonio

Original US Transmission: 16 November 1996

 

09. Hostile Convergence

John discovers that the Roswell UFO crash was engineered by Majestic, and that the government are planning to rebuild one of the Hive ships.

Guest Starring:  Robert Carradine (Lonnie Zamora), Diane Cary (Cassie), Jamie Denton (Robert Winter), Stephanie Faracy (Joan Sayers), Richard Gilliland (Jesse Marcel), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Jack Lindine (Jack Ruby), Lisa Waltz (Andrea 'Andi' Sayers), Sam Whipple (J Allen Hynek), Conrad Bachmann (Mayor Holm Bursum), David Brisbin (Joe Edermeyer), Terrence Evans (Clark Balfour), Mike Kennedy (Allen Dulles), Wendy Robie (Kate Balfour).

Writer: Javier Grillo-Marxuach

Director: Perry Lang

Original US Transmission: 7 December 1996

 

10. We Shall Overcome

John travels to Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of a number of civil rights workers.

Guest Starring:  Roger Aaron Brown (Reverend Poole), Tracy Fraim (Andrew Mendel), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Dean Norris (Clayton Lewis), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Raphael Sbarge (Mark Simonson), Wayne Tippit (J Edgar Hoover), Lorraine Toussaint (Eda Mae Tillman), Mike Kennedy (Allen Dulles), Kim Robillard (Arthur Dalton Rogers), Art Bell (William Paley), Arell Blanton (General Nathan F Twining), Edward Edwards (Agent Foote), Terence Mathews (Lance Taylor), Sean A Moran (Lionel Tillman), Don Moss (Hubert Humphrey).

Writer: Bryce Zabel & Brent V Friedman

Director: Oscar L Costo

Original US Transmission: 14 December 1996

 

11. The Last Wave

John and Kim meet Jim Morrison of rock band The Doors, who has filmed evidence of the aliens taking away the dead body of a surfer friend of theirs.

Guest Starring:  Brent David Fraser (Jim Morrison), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Brittney Powell (Gina), Christopher Wiehl (Nat Heller), Mark Bramhall (Whitman), Daniel Markel (Robert Dewey), Carl Ciarfalio (Supervisor), Kristoffer Ryan Winters (Surfer), Scott Duthie (Hiver 2).

Writer: Melissa Rosenberg

Director: Steve Beers

Original US Transmission: 4 January 1997

 

12.  The Enemy Within

John faces the fact that his brother may have begun working for The Hive, just as the Warren Commission investigation into the JFK assassination begins.

Guest Starring:  Dorie Barton (Lucy 'Luce' Loengard), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Kent McCord (Dick Loengard), Joan McMurtrey (Jo Loengard), Sean O'Bryan (Ray Loengard), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Terry Bozeman (Goodwin), Tim Choate (Jeff Gale), Mike Kennedy (Allen Dulles), Ed Beechner (Deputy), Annie O'Donnell (Waitress), Don Pugsley (Earl Jarvis), Tyler Inloes (Young Ray), Anthony Medwetz (Young Loengard), Terry Woodberry (Cooper).

Writer: Brad Markowitz

Director: Jim Charleston

Original US Transmission: 11 January 1997

 

13.  The Warren Omission

John is called to give evidence as the Warren Commission investigate the assassination of John F Kennedy, but he realises that the odds are stacked against the truth coming out.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), Jay Acovone (Max Kinkaid), Dennis Creaghan (J Lee Rankin), James F Kelly (Robert Kennedy), Gary Lockwood (Earl Warren), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Drew Snyder (Gerald Ford), Arthur Taxier (George Barrett), Wayne Tippit (J Edgar Hoover), Susan Griffiths (Marilyn Monroe), Mike Kennedy (Allen Dulles), Gunther Jenson (Captain Norman Schwarzkopf), Jack Ritschel (Clyde Tolson), Ed Beechner (Deputy ), Scott Allan Campbell (Popejoy),   Richard Fancy (James V Forrestal), Lee Garlington (Betty Hill), Francis Guinan (Mark Simonson),   John M Jackson (Charles Pratt), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Jack Lindine (Jack Ruby), Grant Mathis (MIB #3), Kent McCord (Dick Loengard), Hansford Rowe (President Harry Truman), Leon Russom (Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter), Basil Wallace (Barney Hill).

Writers: Bryce Zabel & Brent V Friedman

Director: Perry Lang

Original US Transmission: 18 January 1997

 

14.  White Rabbit

John has to venture into Vietnam in order to try and find a Hive ship that has been shot down.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), Art Chudabala (Tay Ma), Brian Cousins (Lev), Jennifer Hetrick (Mrs Bach), Tom O'Brien (Kellogg), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Arell Blanton (General Nathan F Twining), Ray Chang (VC Soldier #2), Bradford English (General Brown), Pavel D Lynchnikoff (Josef), Ingo Neuhaus (Hodgson), Phuong Vo (VC Soldier #1), Thomas A Woolen (Radio Operator), Don McGovern (Scientist)

Writers:  Bryce Zabel & Brent V Friedman

Director: James A Contner

Original US Transmission: 1 February 1997

 

15. Shades of Gray

Bach attempts to persuade Juliet to let Majestic use the decoder she has obtained, which is capable of taking down alien ships.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), David Carpenter (Dale Gresham), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Jamie René Smith (Monica Gresham), Grant Mathis (Pyne), Liza Smith (Svetlana).

Writer: Brad Markowitz

Director: Perry Lang

Original US Transmission: 8 February 1997

 

16. Burn, Baby, Burn

Kim is well gone into her pregnancy, but has to assist in helping to stop race riots that are imminent in Los Angeles.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Duane Davis (G T Briggs), Keith Diamond (George Thomas), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Paul Lieber (Dr Mark Merrick), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Vaughn Armstrong (Lee Minikus), Troy Winbush (Quentin), Dean Denton (Cop), Stephen Quadros (Lab Worker), Vince Ricotta (Simon Rodia), Garland Whitt (Marquette Frye), Hansford Rowe (President Harry Truman), Leon Russom (Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter).

Writer: James D Parriott

Director: Stephen L Posey

Original US Transmission: 1 March 1997

 

17. Both Sides Now

Has Kim gone over to the Hive? If not she’s pretty convincing, which means that Juliet is determined to kill her.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Jeff Juday (Ben Kendall), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Timothy Omundson (Jerry Rubin), Don Stark (Gallagher), Bradford English (General Brown), Brett Wagner (Huge Inductee).

Writer: Melissa Rosenberg

Director: James A Contner

Original US Transmission: 8 March 1997

 

18. To Prey In Darkness

John tries to discover what has happened to a missing film of the Roswell Incident, taken from Majestic. John and Juliet also have to stop denying the attraction they have for each other.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), Robin Gammell (Dr Hertzog), Spencer Garrett (Ed Hawkins), James Karen (Harry Carruthers), Jack Lindine (Jack Ruby), Marilyn McIntyre (Dorothy Kilgallen), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Mitchell Ryan (William Paley), Ryan Cutrona (Detective), Thomas Wagner (Guard), Alan Gelfant (Beat Poet), Barry Grayson (Technician), Fred Saxon (Reporter), Hansford Rowe (President Harry Truman)

Writers: Bryce Zabel & Brent V Friedman

Director: Thomas J Wright

Original US Transmission: 15 March 1997

 

19. Strangers In The Night

John and Juliet have to investigate the events surrounding the collapse of the Russian equivalent of Majestic-12.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), Simon Billig ('Ballerina'), Wolfgang Bodison (Major Colin Powell), Charley Lang (Dr Halligan), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Beata Pozniak (Ludmila), John Saint Ryan (Colonel Dimitri Mironov), Joseph Urla (Carl Sagan), Silas Weir Mitchell (Convict), Kirk B R Woller (Pavel Antonovich), Grant Mathis (Pyne), Wiley Pickett (Lead MP).

Writer: Brad Markowitz

Director: Michael Levine

Original US Transmission: 24 May 1997

 

20. Bloodlines

John manages to board the Hive Mothership in an attempt to rescue his son, who is being held captive.

Guest Starring:  Jeri Lynn Ryan (Juliet Stewart), Tim Kelleher (Jim Steele), James F Kelly (Robert Kennedy), Mike Kennedy (Allen Dulles), Ernie Lively (Dr Cliff Rasmussen), Don Most (Timothy Leary), Conor O'Farrell (Lt Commander Phil Albano), Christopher Thomas (William Paley), Joseph Urla (Carl Sagan), Bryan Clark (Ronald Reagan), Lindsey Lee Ginter (Sergeant Linson), Don Moss (Hubert Humphrey), Sydney Anderson (Nancy Reagan), Arell Blanton (General Nathan F Twining), Erin MacArthur (Subject), Jonathan Zabel (Loengard's Son).

Writers: Bryce Zabel & Brent V Friedman

Director: Perry Lang

Original US Transmission: 31 May 1997

 

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