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Featured TV on DVD Review: Dark Skies: The Complete Series

January 17th, 2011

Dark Skies: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon

There are shows that seem like they were made for TV on DVD, shows with a deep mythology where we learn pieces bit by bit, week after week. Dark Skies was one of those shows, but it is also a nightmare to put out on DVD and after it looked like it might be released in 2007, its chances of hitting the home market seemed dead. It is coming out this week, but was it worth the wait? Were sacrifices made to certain aspects of the show to allow it to be released on DVD?

The Show

In the pilot movie, we meet John Loengard and Kimberly Sayers as they arrive in Washington, D.C. It's 1961 and JFK is starting his first term in office, while John is starting his career as an intern for a congressman. Initially, he is used as little more than a gopher, but he gets his big break when he's asked to look into some government programs that can be cut. One of the candidates is Project Blue Book. At first he thinks it is a waste, untill he find some surprisingly convincing evidence. But as soon as he finds it, he's roughed up and the evidence stolen. This only makes him more determined to find the truth, which is when he encounters Frank Bach, who tells him about Majestic, the government agency set up to deal with an alien invasion, which began at Roswell many years before.

At first, John does he duty to help Majestic learn more about the threat, but quickly realizes the people at Majestic don't exactly have the best interest of everyone at heart and they've been keeping information from the president. When he tries to get this information to the president, Majestic turns on him, and he has to go on the run.

Apparently, Dark Skies had a five-year run planned out, with each season representing a decade. So season one would be the 1960s, season two the 1970s, etc. Unfortunately, this plan never came to fruition, as the show was canceled after just one season. Part of the reason it didn't last was the competition. It was on at the same time as The X-Files, Millennium, and some other similar shows. Going up against The X-Files in direct competition was practically suicide, especially since this show was not quite as good. It does have some elements that are better, including the period piece / 1960s feel. Because we know how history actually went down, the alternative timeline involving aliens and government conspiracies feels strangely more grounded than in The X-Files and the inclusion of many real world events and characters really help the show. On the other hand, this caused a bit of a problem for the show. Two in fact. Firstly, I think the cost of maintaining the period look meant there were fewer dollars that could be spent on other aspects of the show. It looks cheaper than The X-Files did; at least that's my recollection. Secondly; the music rights, but more on that in a bit.

I do like the chemistry between Eric Cole and Megan Ward, while J.T. Walsh was practically made to play characters like Frank Bach. Also, any sci-fi nerd will get a kick out of seeing Jeri Ryan in a very early role for her.

Overall the positives outweigh the negatives by a considerable margin and I do recommend checking out the show, but I'm not as enthusiastic as some others will be. The show might not have had a large enough audience to survive, but it had a dedicated fan base.

The Extras

First of all, apparently all of the original music is included on this DVD. I know that's technically not an extra, but that alone will be enough to encourage a lot of fans to pick it up, as issues with the music rights were the reason the DVD was delayed for so long. I think a lot of people were starting to think it would either never come out, or be released with generic music instead of the original songs.

Extras include two audio commentary tracks, one on the pilot movie and one on the season finale. If you are only going to have audio commentary tracks on two episodes, those are the two you want. The rest of the extras are on disc two and start with the International Pilot Movie. There is a three-part making of / retrospective that runs nearly an hour and it is very in-depth. There is a 23-minute glossary of all of the terms that appear in the movie. Finally, there are a number of promos, including original sales presentation, and a promo for the second season, which was not to be.

The Verdict

Dark Skies is a show that had a lot of potential, but because it only lasted on season, it never fulfilled its promise. The Complete Series offers better than expected extras, plus all of the original music, so fans of the show will absolutely want to pick it up. And if you've never seen the show, but you are a fan of The X-Files, it is at least worth a rental.

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