Alien Nation #7: The First Cigar

Sikes and Francisco are up against a community leader who's dealing drugs. Buck gets accidentally involved in a timeshare scam.
SLAGS LIKE US: "Jack" is the crack of the '90s. More ozone layer problems; they lead to freon appliances being outlawed and recalled (another indication that Alien Nation's U.S.A. is far more liberal than it actually was, environmentalism in addition to the integration of a large immigrant population). In the 80s, timeshare sales peaked, and timeshare fraud along with it, making Sam Simian's scam a crime very much of that era.

REVIEW: The common thread running through the episode is the corrupting influence of money, whether one needs it or has vast stores of it. No doubt because the Newcomers are new to money, some have a certain naive attitude towards it. George can't recognize a bribe when he sees one, and can't be bought in part because he can't see someone is bidding on him, and in part because he believes Newcomers should be doubly careful of following human rules to the letter to be better accepted and ensure the survival of his culture. The one time he breaks the rules, by standing up to the IRS, he does so thinking he's within his rights, but it's an idealized misreading of American history. Meanwhile, Buck falls prey to a con artist, and helps him scam dozens of Newcomers with an imaginary housing development, including Buck's own sister. Even when Emily puts money into New Tencton, it is out of a juvenile and naive kind of greed, a game. And all the hero Newcomers seem to engage with money the same way.

The character who is most under pressure to be corrupted is George who almost folds under the weight of his debts, and Sikes amiably prodding him to skim a little blood money off the top is ambiguous at best. George chooses to believe his partner is only joking, and certainly TV's Sikes isn't as dodgy as his movie incarnation, but it's doubtful he would have judged George on it. Still, they commend each other on their integrity at the end, so regardless, they respect each other the more for making the right choices. That's really too bad for community leader Betty Ross who thinks she's bought herself the only Newcomer detective in the force, because she really hasn't. As an overseer, she had other means to control her people. Now it's money and drugs. She's basically the Terrence Stamp of the TV series, without the hulking out. It wouldn't have taken much for her to become a recurring villain, seeing as Captain Grazer was happy to let her ply her trade in exchange for some showy busts of other dealers - another kind of corruption. Annoying journalist Burns (in the regular cast even if we see little of him) is only there for the cops to strong-arm Grazer into doing the right thing. Why redeem Grazer in the previous episode only to make him fall again though?

In a way, it's too bad he DIDN'T get his way because Betty WOULD have made a good villain (despite being derivative of the movie's villain). She's pretty badass, and supplies the show with one of its better explosions. Good action beats throughout, in fact, including a dynamic fight with drug pushers around a disgusting toilet in the opening sequence. Over in the subplots, it's nice to see Buck try to turn his life around, getting a suit'n'tie job and everything. It's not his fault he went sideways, and he could use the skills he demonstrates here in more legitimate jobs. The IRS stuff is a fine, a set-up for the Franciscos' money troubles, and as such, is solved rather conveniently. As for the Sikes/Cathy element, ugh. Tepid will they/won't they scenes that feature plumbing gags and forced laughter. No thanks.

THE MOVIE LEGACY:
The A-plot is very much taken from the film, though "jack" works just as well on humans and doesn't have a connection with how the slaves were kept in check.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A good A-plot, a coherent theme, and Buck shows signs of evolving. Unfortunately, we've been this way before, and not all subplots were created equal.

0 comments:

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine