An unexpected success, Alien Nation hit the big screen in 1988. The story takes place three years after an alien race called the Rookies arrived on Earth and integrated into human society. James Caan plays Detective Matt Sykes, who works with rookie detective Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) to track down a killer on the loose. A mixture of crime noir, science fiction and buddy cops, the film turned into a TV spin-off a year later, starring Gary Graham and Eric Pierpoint.
This new version, reimagined by series creator Kenneth Johnson, is less of a buddy cop series and more of a gritty cop drama that explores real-life issues. In an interview with Radar GamesJohnson said he wanted to use science fiction elements in the film to explore social and political issues and racial politics. In addition to the police stories, the series focuses on the issues of bigotry that the alien Francisco family faces as they integrate into Earth culture.
The series collected mixed reviews upon release, and ratings at the time were not strong enough to keep it afloat, leading to cancellation after just 22 episodes. Fortunately, perhaps due to the success of The X-Files later that decade, Fox was able to resurrect Aliens as a series of five TV movies, the last part of which was released in 1997.