How Does a Nightmare Begin?
For David Vincent, architect, returning home from a business trip, it began at a few minutes past four on a lost Tuesday morning. Looking for a shortcut that he never found.
It began with a welcoming sign that gave hope of black coffee. It began with a closed, deserted diner and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey.
In the weeks to come, David Vincent would go back to how it all began, many times.
Roy Thinnes...David Vincent
Roy Thinnes...David Vincent
Diane Baker...Kathy Adams
J.D. Cannon...Police Lt. Ben Holman
James Daley...Alan Landers
John Milford...Sheriff Lou Carver
Narration by William Woodson
Act IAfter seeing a spaceship land, David Vincent goes straight to the Sheriff's office in Santa Barbara to make a report. In Lt. Ben Holman's office, he describes being out on Highway 166 on a dirt road by the deserted Bud's Diner, where he saw a glowing light emanating from a spaceship. Lt. Holman receives the information with a smirk and a cup of coffee. David offers to go with the Lieutenant to show him where it landed, claiming it happened just over an hour ago and may still be there, but Lt. Holman says it won't be necessary.
His buddy, Alan, comes in to the office and tells David that they woke him up to ask if David really had been on a business trip, and inform him that his partner was claiming to have seen a spaceship, which David confirms. Lt. Holman suggests he leave his car at the station and allow Alan or an officer to drive him home. David demands that he do something to investigate his claims. When Holman tries to brush him off, David insists he do something, so the detective directs his deputy to get a car since Mr. Vincent insists, and snidely adds that he is a very important citizen.
David and Alan ride with Lt. Holman and a uniformed officer out to the diner and drive up to a dilapidated sign that says Kelly's Diner. Lt. Holman points out that David said it was Bud's Diner. David gets out of the cruiser and walks over to the sign while the Lieutenant asks if he's ready to go home.
He walks out to the empty field where he says the saucer came down and points out the trees he recognizes while insisting it came down in the spot where he is standing.
His helpful friend claims it looks like nobody has been around for 100 years and David asserts that he saw it and that Alan knows he's no crackpot.
David runs over to the edge of the field and comes across a man shooting a bird in the sky and a woman gathering branches. He breathlessly begins to explain what he saw the previous night, but Lt. Holman catches up and cuts him off. He informs the two that he's investigating an incident reported by Mr. Vincent and the man asks what sort of incident, but gets no answer. He asks if the couple were around, and the man explains that they were around all night and have a camper truck parked by a tree. As he points, David notes that the man has a pinky finger that extends at an odd angle, which is noticeable since he's pointing with all the rest of his fingers rather than just his pointer finger, like most humans tend to do.
The man explains that they were just married and that they didn't hear or see anything unusual the night before, that they were up early in the morning getting ready to go fishing. David argues that if they were awake at 4am as they claim, then they must have at least seen him drive in. When the detective asks for the man's identification, David notices that his pinky sticks out on his other hand as well. Lt. Holman asks Mr. Brandon if the newlyweds will be around a few days in case he has additional questions. He tells the Lieutenant that they were planning on leaving that day but would stick around until night.
David is shaving himself with an electric razor while sitting at a drafting table with a sketch of the spaceship he saw as Alan examines it, asking if that's the way it looked. David remarks that the words 'creatures from outer space' stick in his throat and notes that Alan hasn't said much since morning. Alan says it's not the kind of story you hear every day and David responds that it's not the kind of thing you see every day. Alan tells David he is not the only person to have seen things. David says whether he accepts it or not, they're here. He speculates that they may be here just to look us over and hopes that's all.
Alan notices that David keeps saying 'they' which reminds him of a young man in an army hospital in Korea 12 years ago who also talked about what 'they' were doing. David says he didn't think he'd have to dig that deep and Alan responds that he was just reaching for some reason. He says he really thinks that David was tired and lost and honestly imagined that he saw something. David says if Alan told him that he saw a ship from space, he'd think the same thing, and reiterates that he did not imagine it, he saw it, it was there, and he's going to prove it.
David drives back out that night and sees the couple packing up their camper. Mrs. Brandon asks what he wants and he says he wants to ask if they changed the sign on the diner. She says she doesn't know what he's talking about. Mr. Brandon seems to be in distress and tells her to get in the truck quickly, that it's past time for him. He tells David to go away and David grabs him, demanding that he take off his gloves and show his hands. The two get into a fistfight and Mr. Brandon is about to smash David's head with a rock when his face begins to glow red and his eyes go black. He stumbles back to the camper and the headlights approach David as a thump is heard.
He sees a light overhead and a nurse leaning over him. He tells the nurse that the truck must have sideswiped him. She insists that he take a sedative and when he refuses, she tells him it will be administered intravenously. He looks at his hospital ID bracelet and sees the name Arthur Gordon and freaks out, thinking she's one of them. He runs out of the room and is brought back in and held down by an orderly while the nurse comes at him with a hypodermic.
He breaks away and stumbles into the hall as more orderlies approach. He shatters a window and attempts to escape, but is restrained by the staff. He is on the ground crying for help and looking like a madman when Lt. Holman and Alan approach with a doctor.
David Vincent appears to be a loner with no close relatives nearby, since the police have called his architect partner to come down to the station. It's possible he may have a history of paranoid delusions stemming from his time in Korea. Lt. Holman seems to be kind of a condescending jerk, possibly because he's seen his share of non-credible UFO reports that has led him to not take them seriously, or because he's just a jerk. The Invaders have an obsessive attention to detail, which makes them truly frightening beings. In a matter of hours, they were able to change the name on a dilapidated sign in an attempt to discredit David Vincent. They have enough knowledge about humans to know how to blend in, but seem unable to master the correct pinky finger alignment, and do not have an awareness of what newlyweds should be doing on their honeymoon. They seem to suffer some affliction that causes them to glow. The hospital scene with David Vincent is reminiscent of the one with Dr. Bennell from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Act IIDavid is pushed in a wheelchair onto a patio at the same time an older woman (Grandma Walton) is wheeled out among other patients. Alan shows up and apologizes, explaining that he was afraid there might be reporters and people who might twist his story which is why he gave them a phony name. He says that one of the papers did get wind of his accident. David questions his use of the word accident and Alan tells him that Holman said his car went off the road and he was thrown clear. David says that's not the way it happened and he tells Alan that he found proof that the man and woman at the camper truck were some kind of alien beings. He tells him there was something about their skin, that they started to glow and that the bone structure in their hands was different. Alan says it's over and David says it's not. Alan says they'll talk about it later that night when he picks him up.
The older lady wheels over and tells him he is not alone as she holds up an article from the newspaper entitled, "Architect Claims Invasion From Space." She said many of them believe and that they've been in contact with her since she was a child. She asks if they talked to him too and he says no. She says they're friendly little creatures and that it's a shame that nobody seems to believe them. As she wheels her chair, she takes off her spectacles to clean them with her pinkies extended.
Alan is driving David home and talking about taking a cooling off period of two weeks. He hands him the name and address of the newlywed couple he got from Holman, stating it wasn't easy for him to get. They live in Kinney, which is a little town in between San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield. Alan asks him to promise not to pick it up again for a couple of weeks. Alan drops him off at home and says he wants to believe him.
David is clothed and asleep on his bed when red glowing lights appear on his face. He wakes up to the crackle of flames as his apartment is engulfed in fire. He grabs a blanket to try and snuff them out and sees the old woman peering at him through the flames as she adjusts her spectacles with her pinkies extended. David makes it out to his balcony and jumps to the ground below. He tells the firefighter that there's an old woman up there. The captain asks if he has any idea how it started and he says the old woman must have done it, as the firefighter returns saying nobody is there.
David calls Alan from a phone booth and tells him he's going away for awhile. Alan thinks he's going on a vacation, but David tells him he's going to break his promise because he believes they just tried to kill him and he is going up to Kinney to find the couple from the camper truck.
Who would ever suspect that a sweet little old lady could be an alien invader? The Invaders are diabolical! Having David Vincent die in a fire would look like an accident that nobody would question. They are aware of his intent to expose them and are determined to stop him.
Act IIIDavid is driving through the deserted town of Kinney. He stops at a gas station and walks across the street and stands out in the road shouting "HELLO" several times before going in to the Hotel Palomar, which has a No Vacancy sign posted. He asks if anyone is there and gets no response. He exits and Mrs. Adams calls out to him from the yard, asking if she can help him since she runs the place, and he says it looks as though she's lost a town and asks where everybody is. She tells him the total population is down to 12 now, including 2 dogs and a Siamese cat. He points to the No Vacancy sign and notes it hasn't affected business and she explains that they're not open to the public right now.
David explains that he's looking for a man and woman named Brandon, who gave the Hotel as their last address. She says it doesn't ring any bells but he can check the register. She adds that if they were clients of Mr. Kogan's then they wouldn't have registered. He asks who Mr. Kogan is and she explains that he is the head of investment group that is buying up the town. David asks about how you go about buying a town and a police officer appears at the door in a helmet saying you have to find the right town and walk in with a suitcase full of cash.
He introduces himself as Carver and asks if he's looking for someone, and when David responds that he's looking for a couple of friends, he says they've probably moved away. He relates that the state closed down the hydroelectric plant, that there are a few holdouts but they will sell in the end. David asks if that includes Mrs. Adams and she explains that she sold out after her husband died and is staying on as caretaker until Mr. Kogan's group takes over. She says he sometimes sends clients down and Carver asks Kathy if he can have some lemonade.
David asks what his clients do when they come. She guesses they go hunting and fishing and he asks where. She points out the direction of a wooded lake and the river on the other side of town. She says she's sorry she couldn't help him more and he thanks her twice.
Carver is on the phone asking when Lt. Holman is due back, that he was right about the psycho and that he'll keep an eye on him. David is walking down the street, looking over his shoulder, and starts running across a lot as Carver's police cruiser rounds the corner. David ducks under a bridge and Carver stops at the Kinney Hydro-electric Station and checks the gate before getting in his car and driving away. David goes up to the gate and squeezes through it.
He easily breaks the lock on the power plant door and goes inside. Unbeknownst to him, he walks by a lighted indicator which connects to a station with a map, as a transmission from Kinney Station to Bakersfield control indicates a red alert, where men in green suits are working on tubes laid out on tables with flasks and cylinders of colorful liquid. The men hear the alert and some of them leave in a truck from the Home Office of Kogan Enterprises in Bakersfield.
David enters a room with tubes and equipment with metal prongs that might fit around an upright body. He approaches one and notes that it lights up and the tube descends until he removes his hand. He runs out of the room as the truck from Bakersfield races down the road toward Kinney, which is 20 miles away. David sneaks back out the gate and runs down the road. He sees Carver hanging out where David's car is parked and he decides to go in to a beer joint where a juke box is playing and and old man with a hearing aid is enjoying the view of two girls attempting go-go dancing.
David goes to the pay phone and calls Alan and tells him he's found proof and he needs to get there right away or all the proof will be gone. He tells him he's seen the evidence in an abandoned power station and he believes it's some kind of invasion. The juke box stops, making him lower his voice. He tells him they may be all over the planet and he needs a witness. He says if he can't ask him, who can he ask? Alan says he'll be there as soon as he can and David tells him he'll wait for him at the hotel.
Could Carver be one of the aliens? Why else would he be wearing a motorcycle helmet to ride in a car? Why do the aliens wear green uniforms? Keeping up appearances as little green men? They've got a base of operations and a man acting as head of investment group, so they already have a significant degree of organization on Earth. David Vincent is on to something nefarious.
Act IVKathy Adams walks in to the sole entertainment center in Kinney, where the old man with a hearing aid is getting a kick out of the girls enthusiastically gyrating to the juke box tunes. She meets up with David, who is consuming a bottle of orange pop, and asks if he met Mr. Kemper, one of the last hold outs, and the Ackerman girls, who live just outside of town. She offers him some coffee and he puts down his pop, saying it's a good idea. She tells him Deputy Carver is looking for him and says he doesn't look like a dangerous psycho to her. He says he's not. She reassures him that he's already checked there and won't be back for awhile. She offers him a cup of coffee and he suspiciously observes her fingers.
He asks how long Carver has been there and she tells him he came about the same time the Kogan people began buying up the town. David asks when they're taking over and she responds as soon as Mr. Kemper and a few others set a price. She calls over to Kemper and says he's going to really make them pay, to which he responds, "in the refrigerator." He asks if what Carver said about him bothers her at all and she shakes her head. She intimates that her husband also was talking about seeing something for months before he died of a heart attack. David asks her to tell him what her husband saw, but she says he's dead and doesn't want to talk about it. She tries to evade him, but he appeals to her, asking her to sit down, saying he's going to tell her something she won't believe. We see the Kogan truck barrelling down the road, now only 6 miles away from Kinney.
David is describing transparent tubes, large enough to fit a human form, saying he believes they need these tubes to regenerate themselves somehow. David says he wants her to see them when his friend gets there. He suggests that when Kogan finishes buying up the town, his people are going to take over, that they'll have a foothold, and it's got to be stopped. He questions how many towns like this there are. She asks what she can do to help him. He asks if her aunt is at the motel and asks her to call her and tell her that his business partner named Landers is coming and that she should have him meet David at the juke box joint, but not to let Carver find out about it.
Carver pokes his head in at the hotel and tells Aunt Sara to stall that Vincent fellow if he shows up. The camera pans to Aunt Sara, who is the old lady with the crooked pinky fingers that burned David's apartment down. She says she'll do what she can and Carver says he's not dangerous, but that fires and accidents happen when he's around and he wants to keep an eye on him.
Alan is on his way to Kinney. Kathy tells Mr. Kemper that she'll close up because they are waiting for a friend. She pours a cup of coffee for herself and David. He states that it's funny how a man's life can change so fast. He explains how seeing the saucer made him feel as though he'd been cut off from everything, piece by piece, and he asks if it was the same for her husband. She says it was the same. He suggests that what happened to her husband may not have been a heart attack and that they may have ways of arranging that. She says if that's true, it could happen again with David. He doesn't think so because he's already talked too loud. He believes the fire in his apartment was their last safe shot and that anything more would cause a lot of attention that might make people think he was right. They hear Carver's footsteps as he calls for Kemper and jiggles the door handle, causing them to duck down.
Kathy says his friend may not come, but David insists that he's been delayed and he'll be there. Alan stops suddenly at the Hotel Palomar when he sees Aunt Sara appear in front of his car, wearing evening gloves to hide her crooked pinkies. She asks if he's looking for Mr. Vincent and tells him he said he was to meet him at the power station and that he should park his car there. She tells him it's easier to walk since it's only a couple of blocks.
David asks Kathy if she heard a car, but she says she did not. She says to forget about Alan, that he won't come and that he's no different than anybody else. She tells him that nobody wanted to hear the truth from her husband and that if he'd thought about it he would have wondered what he was fighting for. She asks what is there in this world that's so special, so worth preserving as she walks over to the juke box and starts playing loud music. He angrily asks why she did that when she knew he was listening for Landers. She tells him she did it to wake him up, that he shouldn't spend his life listening for cars that will never come. He examines her fingers, which she notices, telling him they're not all like that and that they're always learning. She tells him not to go and not to fight them because he can't stop it, and it's going to happen. David runs out into the street.
Alan is walking down the road and David sees his car parked at the hotel. He calls for him inside and goes outside and yells for him. Aunt Sara sees him and smiles. Alan enters the gates to the Hydro-Electric Station, which are now open. He calls for David and enters the power plant. David is in the street screaming for Alan. Alan is descending the staircase. Carver pulls over in front of David as he runs down the road. He tells him that they've got to get to the power station and if he's not one of them, he's got to help him. He tells him his partner is there alone and that they're going to kill him. Carver says they'll call Kogan first thing in the morning to go look at his power station. They get into a scuffle.
Alan enters the room with tubes and sees men in green uniforms dismantling them. He backs away, but is intercepted and surrounded by the guys in green uniform, who place him into one of the descending tubes as he screams and glows red.
David knocks out Carver and runs through the power station gates as the Kogan truck departs. He finds Alan's lifeless body slumped over some crates outside. Carver approaches and David's voice breaks as he tells him they did it. Carver knocks him unconscious with his flashlight. Mr. Kemper and some local citizens come running over and he asks them to help him load David into the car. Aunt Sara states it's a shame, that he looked and talked so normal, saying you just never know. Kathy watches as David is carried away.
So not all the aliens have crooked pinkies, which means David can trust no one. What makes him think the aliens need the tubes to regenerate from his brief experience with them? They seem to have the opposite effect on humans. While the aliens may not want to draw attention by killing David, they sent a clear message that they are willing to kill his friends. He does not seem to have many friends for them to threaten him with, which makes it all the more sad that they have killed the one person he could trust that would be willing to believe him. I wonder if the mention of David Vincent as a dangerous psycho was a nod to Vaughn Taylor's appearance in Psycho.
EpilogAlan's body is wheeled out on a stretcher as David exits the Sheriff's office in handcuffs, followed by Carver, as Kemper and other citizens look on. Lt. Holman drives up and shakes hands with Carver, who remarks it's good to see him, that it's been four or five years. The detective tells Vincent in his characteristic snide manner that Alan would still be alive if he hadn't wanted to believe his crazy dreams. He says Sheriff Carver checked out the power station and found nothing. He tells him the Coroner's report was heart attack no matter what he believes it was. Carver asks what Ben wants him to do with him and he tells him to let him go. Carver reluctantly removes the handcuffs and tells him not to come back. David says he has no reason to any more as Alan is loaded into the meat wagon. David tells Lt. Holman he can find an answer to this if he will only help him. The detective tells him to let it end here for his own sake. David says he wishes he could. He walks over to a Notice of Demonlition sign posted by Kogan Enterprises and removes it. He gets in his car and drives away, passing Mr. Brandon getting out of his car.
How does a nightmare end? Not here in the forgotten town of Kinney. Perhaps in Bakersfield. Perhaps in some undiscovered Beachhead in another state. Or another continent. Perhaps, for David Vincent, it will never end.
Ellen Corby...Aunt Sara
James Ward...John Brandon
Bonnie Beecher...Mrs. Brandon
Director of Photography:
*End credits in the extended pilot version are shown over David driving his car down the road out of Kinney.
Dominic Frontiere really knows how to create suspense and set an ominous tone with music. What an asset he is to this show. This was a great beginning that leaves a lot of questions that make viewers want to tune in to find out more. What are the Invaders' intentions here on Earth? They have a base of operations in one town, but how many other towns have they infiltrated? They can mask themselves as old ladies, fresh faced newlyweds, and attractive widows, but what do they really look like? They don't always have a characteristic pinky jutting out, which inspires complete paranoia, since absolutely no one can be trusted. To make matters worse, they are adept at covering their tracks and either eliminating or discrediting anyone that would expose them. I love it all! The Frontiere music, the paranoid suspicions, the alien invaders, and the rugged David Vincent will make me come back for more.
I'm not much for rating episodes, as it creates contention, but I can't resist wanting to give alien finger ratings. Ratings will range from 0-4 deformed pinkies and are simply based on my own personal enjoyment of each episode, and therefore can not be wrong. This episode receives four pinkies for a great start to the series! Feel free to share your own reflections and opinions in the comments section.