I think we're all very sensitive about Hurricane Katrina right now, and there are some admittedly startling images at the beginning of Invasion (the build-up of the storm, the live reports from reporters on television, the hospital being evacuated), but I'm not sure that a warning was needed before the show started. I mean, the people who were hurt by Katrina probably aren't watching it, and even if they are, do we really feel we have to baby them by saying that, yeah, this show has a hurricane, but it's not like Katrina? I'm not really sure I get it the warning.
But on with the show...
First off the show has quality written all over it. It's created and written by Shaun Cassidy (don't laugh - the ex-Hardy Boy/teen heartthrob also did American Gothic and Cover Me, so he has the chops) and produced and directed by Thomas Schlamme, who has done everything from The West Wing, Friends, and ER to SportsNight, Jack and Bobby, and The Wonder Years. So you know it's going to have a lot going for it before the first few frames.
But those first few frames are really well done. Out of all the spooky shows vying for attention this fall, this is the best looking by far. There's some nice camera work and images in the first several minutes as the hurricane approaches. The storm scenes are well done.
I also like how they set up the family dynamic. Who was married to who, which kids belong to which couple, how the beer-guzzling uncle is related to everyone (check out his blog!). Out of all the scary shows, this feels the most like a 50s B-movie (and at first I thought Threshold would hold that crown): the small town settings, the arguing, the tension, the "this person isn't acting quite like themselves" observations, the weird stuff found by someone and no one believes him. Even the music. Like Surface, it has moments of tension, but it's building it all slowly instead of having overdone campy scares. There's something going on during and after this hurricane, but we're not exactly sure what (though a couple of the characters have their own ideas). The use of TV reporters and coverage of the storm is really effective, giving the show some more realism. And the way the missing priest and the other people are acting...it's like Invasion of the Body Snatchers in Florida.
During the hurricane, the kids mom goes missing, but is eventually found. What happened to her during the storm? Where are the many other missing people? And what is that creepy glowing thing that the uncle and the little girl find in the water? Why does the sheriff/boyfriend of the mom act all mysterioso?
I just hope Invasion, or any new show that deserves a chance, isn't lost in the complete onslaught of new shows that infest the airwaves every fall now. So many channels, so many time slots, so many shows. Invasion will be helped by the Lost lead-in for sure, but I hope people don't get tired of having to keep track of yet another ongoing, plot-heavy show. It's the reason I forced myself not to get involved with Reunion and Veronica Mars, and why I choose to watch Martha's Apprentice over Donald's. There's just so much attention you can give to these shows.
But Invasion is one I'll be giving my attention to. This is a really good pilot episode, and I'm curious to see where it all leads.
(The only thing I would have changed about the pilot is the very last scene - I think it would have been even more intriguing if they didn't show us two of the characters all but say that "yeah, something is wrong with us and we're up to something," but that's just me).