From Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to Ridley Scott's Alien, there are hundreds of alien-centered movies and television shows to choose from. The aforementioned films continue to thrill, touch, and shock audiences decades after their releases. Though on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of the genre, E.T. and Alien are forever winners. Good storytelling shouldn't rely on special effects. However, both CGI and practical effects have come a long way since the 1980s.
It's no secret that Apple TV Plus is rolling in dough, so it's quite surprising that its highly anticipated new alien invasion series, creatively named Invasion, features, like, no aliens. Apple TV Plus heavily hyped this show up, even having “Just Chatting” Twitch vloggers suffer fake nosebleeds on camera as part of a creepy promotional stunt.
After releasing four painfully slow-burning episodes clear of celestial beings, almost halfway through the season, money has seemingly been put elsewhere. The show instead focuses on the diverse lives of several people across the world simultaneously enduring the mysterious, hazardous aftermath of an alien invasion. We can accept fashionably late, but these aliens are taking their sweet time. With a tragic Rotten Tomatoes score of 36 percent, critics, too, are getting frustrated with Invasion.
Why don't critics like the Apple TV Plus series 'Invasion'?
While Invasion and Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead are similar in the sense that both episode-by-episode endeavors highlight the protagonists' lives following the terrifying interruption of inhuman beings — the former dealing with zombies, and the latter (sort of) dealing with aliens — The Walking Dead succeeds in a way that still features loads of flesh-eating zombies.
The Walking Dead also boasts fully fleshed-out characters (keep in mind this was done over the course of a whopping 10 seasons), which Invasion is already failing at.
"Rather than so much as utter the word 'alien' in these initial episodes, Invasion focuses on the global ripple effects of increasing panic — which might be fine, if it also did a decent job developing its many characters along the way," wrote Variety's Caroline Framke.
"The urge to include as many perspectives as possible is an understandable one, especially when you’re working with the kind of budget and reach that a backer like Apple can offer. And yet, as Invasion hops from storyline to storyline to yet another storyline, its blunt dialogue and characterizations fail to make any of its disparate threads as immediately compelling as its scattered narrative needs to stay afloat," Caroline continued.
Not only are these characters — who range from a Syrian immigrant (Firas Nassar) to a Middle-of-Nowhere, Okla., sheriff (Sam Neill) — lackluster, but their struggles soon stray from the invasion almost altogether, pushing the aliens even further into the periphery of the story.
Vulture's Kathryn VanArendonk hilariously called her review "Invasion Made Me Root for the Aliens," pointing out that the sci-fi series focused so much on its protagonists' painful, woe-is-me lives that viewers are left, well, annoyed. "Invasion is a 10-hour season devoid of nearly all humor, where characters across the globe continually bumble around in their own misery, resentful that aliens keep interrupting their tragic lives," Kathryn wrote.
"Invasion takes longer than the entire runtime of the film Independence Day before anyone actually says the word 'aliens,'" Kathryn continued, verbally assaulting Invasion in the most wonderfully snarky way.
The discrepancies within Invasion's ambitious premise make it confusing, frustrating, and unpalatable, especially for those thirsting for enticing, awe-inspiring alien content. If you're searching for a great series to watch on Apple TV Plus, give Calls or Ted Lasso a watch instead. Sometimes, it's not that deep. Sometimes, the people just want freaking aliens.
Episodes of Invasion drop Fridays at 12 a.m. EST on Apple TV Plus.