Sunday, June 13, 2010

On the seventh dawn of the seventh day...

"In 1564, Nostradamus predicted the destruction of Earth in three terrifying waves. The first wave is here. My name is Cade Foster, these are my journals. They killed my wife, framed me for murder. Now I run but I don't hide. With the prophecies of Nostradamus as my guide, I seek them. I hunt them. I will stop the First Wave."

Thus started one of the greatest shows the Sci-Fi channel ever aired: First Wave. The show is the story of Cade Foster (played by Sebastian Spence), an ex-thief who's life was turned upside when he was chosen at random to be a part of an alien race's experiment on humans. The point of the experiment was to judge how the strength of human will in the face of adversity, and ironically enough, the by-product of the experiment was the creation of the alien race's greatest enemy. For the rest of the series, Cade Foster travels around the US using clues hidden in a book of ancient prophesies, to find and shut down various alien experiments in an attempt to stop the invasion.

Now there are tons of alien invasion shows out there. There's even a remake of a the alien invasion classic, V, on the air now. So what makes "First Wave" stand out? There are a lot of reasons. Most alien invasion storylines lay out as a backstory that the aliens have spent years prior to the invasion studying humans, but few actually explore the experiments aspect of the story. It's interesting, on an anthropological level, to see what kind of experiments an alien intelligence would design to test the various aspects of human life.

I've stated in other postings on here, dear readers, that I enjoy the blending of genres. First Wave touches upon that with the air of mysticism that is added by the usage of Nostradamus and his prophecies. I loved the idea of magical explanations for scientific concepts. Stuff like "dispatches sent on birds with wings of lightning" translating to "email" and other such coolness was fun to hear.

Another awesome aspect of the show are the alien race themselves. They're called the Gua, and they present an interesting and multi-faceted enemy. Living in genetically engineered human husks, their society seems monolithic at first, but over the course of the show, you find that the Gua are almost as fractured as we are. Some of them are overwhelmed by the various pleasures of humanity: sex (the Gua reproductive act is painful to them, unlike ours), drugs (salt is like crack to the aliens), and ego (as a totalitarian culture, some of the aliens get drunk on the power of having human followers).

Plus, as a cool side note, the third season had an unexpected bonus: the addition of a new cast member: Traci Elizabeth Lords. She played Jordan Radcliffe, the leader of a militia called the Raven Nation, dedicated to hunting down and killing the Gua. This role gave Traci Lords some much needed credibility, and she nailed it!

First Wave was a fantastic show, and it came up at the height of the SciFi Channel's popularity with me, which was during the late 90s. One of the greatest travesties of the SciFi Channel's career is that this series has not been released on DVD. I'd recommend watching it, if you can find the show. It's most definitely a good time!


  1. Spot on. First Wave was a great show, I don't get why this hasn't been released to dvd yet.
    I disagree on Traci and the 3rd season overall though, while I really like the first two seasons, I kind of dislike the third since it made a complete 180 and lost all credibility.
    What I really liked about the first two seasons is that while it is a science fiction show, it sure doesn't look like it. Except for a tentacle in the first episode and the dissolving, it looked more like a detective/mystery drama than a sci-fi show. Even though the show was about aliens, we never really saw them in their natural form, which was great, it made them seem even more threatening and sophisticated, they were among us and we don't have a clue. But then they started adding freaks in the third season, Darth Va.. I mean Mabus in the lead, probably the most cliche character on such an original show.
    Also, I hated how the Gua, a race far beyond us in technological advancements, suddenly became more superstitious than us overnight. In the first two seasons they relied on technology, in the third they sudddenly got magical powers, amulets and prophecies.
    Joshua's story is another messed up thing, for almost 50 episodes he was a patriot above all, fighting for the survival of his race, then he suddenly turned, killed millions of his own kind and ended up living as a human.

    While I really love this show, I don't get how or why they made such drastic changes between seasons.


  3. First off, Snap, thank you for reading and even more props for posting a comment! You ROCK!!

    I did think that FW made a major shift in the 3rd season, but I think most of the changes were for the better. The 1st two seasons were a little too slick and clean. The Gua, for such an advanced race, never really seemed to make any mistakes. Nothing ever backfired on them. That's why I liked when the 3rd season started displaying their screw ups and just how fractured their society was.

    But, I think it was more about how corrosive human life was to them. Even at the end of the 1st season Joshua himself was speaking as to how the Gua were being influenced by human emotions, sex, etc. By the time, Cade Foster appeared on the scene, the Gua were ripe to be broken.

    Joshua's story arc was also very well done, IMHO. He starts out as a straight up Gua and then slowly sees how they are violating themselves and their beliefs in taking over this world. And speaking of their beliefs, they were superstitious all the way through the series, they were all about the prophecies of Nostradamus right from the beginning!

    I do have to admit, the sex scene with Cade & Jordan/Mabus was hilarious to watch given Traci Lords' history.