ABC's new serial-drama Invasion (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET) begins with a hurricane. It was set to premiere right after Hurricane Katrina hit, so the network, in an attack of good taste, postponed the episode. It finally ran-three days before Hurricane Rita. So the first episode began with a warning that "due to recent events, viewers may be sensitive to some of the following images."
The warning is comical considering that the hurricane on Invasion was not about devastating winds, tidal surges, broken levees, and homeless evacuees. This hurricane was dangerous because it blew in aliens!
Invasion sets up a mystery, similar to the X-Files, of alien invasion, mind-control, and government conspiracy. The story centers on the weird goings-on in a small Florida town. A park ranger, his TV-reporter wife, his ex-wife, and the children of their confusingly blended families-as well as his conspiracy-mongering brother-in-law-are characters who may prove engaging. As an unfolding mysterious saga, Invasion is trying to emulate the eerie and addictive Lost, but with a weaker premise.
The model for Invasion is apparently the 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which aliens take the guise of ordinary people. That film captured well the fears of the time, when communists were thought to be-and in many cases actually were-infiltrating American society.
But today our primal fear is not of people we thought we knew. In an age of terrorism, the pervasive fear is of horrible things that can happen during everyday life. Invasion has some creepy moments. But lately, it is far scarier just to watch the Weather Channel.