As a twelve year old kid my favorite TV show was The Invaders. This weekly one hour show had everything that a kid needed, special effects, and aliens. Who could ask for more? Here we are 40 years later, and season one of The Invaders is being released on DVD. Larry Cohen was the inventor, creator, and instigator of this fine series. Although it only lasted two seasons, it left a lasting impact. Using my huge clout in the entertainment business (I groveled a lot, and then I groveled some more) I managed to get an interview with this iconic man.

Hi Larry and thanks so much for talking to us. I have to say that you are one of my heroes. I was 12 when The Invaders first aired, and it was my favorite TV Show.

Taking a step back, The Invaders and The Fugitive had much in common, both shows had the theme of one man against the establishment. Where did the idea come from, Quinn Martin?

Oh no, it was completely my idea, I had already done two series with ABC, so they knew me. I fished the idea at them, and they took the bait. Quinn Martin appeared later. This was good for me, I got full creative rights and the payments to go along with that. Yes, I suppose there are similarities between the shows, but The Invaders worked an entirely different gene, Sci Fi.

When I look back at the late 60’s and early 70’s I realize what a pivotal period it was for television. It was a watershed. And really set the stage for the next 30 years. What was it like being a pioneer, and how hard was it to convince ABC that the show was viable?

Well my pitch was to do a ½ hour show twice a week. The ‘wheels’ didn’t like that concept. One said, “But what happens if they miss an episode, they won’t get the thread”. This is essentially a show that went to prime time with no pilot. We just launched into it.

The Invaders was Sci-Fi, but we tried to make it into a realistic show. We focused on the human interaction. There are no shows like it today. There are no ‘one man’ shows anymore. The cast is 6 to 8 people. Same place, same plot every week.

About the nearest show to The Invaders in recent years would be The X-Files.

I am not sure that I was a pioneer, it’s a nice compliment, but all I was doing was trying to come up with a show that would sell to the audience.

I have not yet received the review copy of the new DVD set, they are missing, presumed to be on a Canada Post dog sled, so I am having to rely on my memory, but it seems to me that although it was sci-fi, it was much more a human drama show.

I wanted to make it a show about one man who is trying hard to not get himself written off as a nut job by his friends and associates. Maybe I wasn’t so off the mark, last night NBC aired a one hour special about UFO’s. I also tried to make each episode so that while it had references to earlier events, the casual watcher could miss an episode but not lose the storyline.

How does it feel to have this show re-released 40 years later?

Thats a hard question to answer, it certainly does not seem like it was 40 years ago. It became popular a few years ago to re-release TV series on DVD. In some ways the market became saturated with them. We opted to wait, and I think the timing is good. There are plenty of old fans out there, and a whole new generation just waiting to discover the show.

Who knows maybe we can generate enough interest to turn the concept into a full length movie, now that would be something.

The Invaders was never heavy into special effects, and I am sure that the few used look sort of dated today, if you were making the show today, would you stick to the drama, or play in the special effects?

Oh, the people aspect has to come first. People interaction comes over FX. You can watch a show loaded with FX, but it gets boring. People want to talk about the people, not the FX.

By my calculations you are 69 years old. Just getting warmed up! What is your next project?

Well I could tell you how old I am, but then I’d have to kill you! Only kidding! Actually I am spending most of my time writing, mostly for films. I did have an adventure with Showcase recently directing one of their movies, I like to keep my hand in. I am lucky, I have had a great life.

After The Invaders I moved into the movie world, and we had a good deal of success. About the only thing that I am annoyed about is the remake of “It’s Alive”. Let me say this to anyone reading this interview, “Don’t buy it, it is dreadful”.

Larry, I really want to thank you for taking time to talk with me, it is not everyday that I get to talk to one of my childhood heroes! I am sure I speak for all our readers when I say, good luck with your future projects, and I’ll second your idea of making an Invaders movie. So any of you movie moguls that happen to read this, get with the program and give Larry Cohen a call.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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