Executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, the ten-episode, 20-hour miniseries Taken
was one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by cable TV's Sci-Fi Network, ultimately costing 40 million dollars — a price that proved well worth it, inasmuch as the series posted the network's highest-ever ratings. Covering a period from 1947 to the present, the story focused on three different families, each of whom was profoundly affected by extraterrestrial visitation. The Keys family was headed by WWII bomber pilot Russell Keys (Steve Burton), who spent virtually his entire adult life haunted by his "close encounter" with aliens. The Clarkes were originally represented by lonely Texas waitress Sally Clarke (Catherine Dent), who was impregnated by a charming stranger (Eric Close) who turned out to be an alien survivor of the Roswell crash. And the lives of the Crawfords were dictated by ruthless Army officer Owen Crawford (Joel Gretsch), who was determined to prove that the government had covered up the truth about Roswell by dedicating his life to tracking down all space aliens and their half-human descendants. The story was narrated by Allie Keys (Dakota Fanning), a "hybrid" child of the present day, whose story determined the outcome of the final episodes. Boasting impressive computer-generated special effects and eye-popping facial makeup, Taken
was seen over a two-week period, beginning December 2, 2002, and ending on December 13.
Steven Spielberg's alien abduction opus Taken
is what happens when you cross-breed Close Encounters of the Third Kind
with The Waltons
. Obviously flushed with the success of the TV miniseries Band of Brothers
, Spielberg's Dreamworks studio has created an equally epic 10-part story chronicling 50 years of habitual abduction over several generations of three American families. Beginning with the most notorious alien cover-up in U.S. history, the 1947 "crash" at Roswell, New Mexico, Taken
introduces the "Greys" and the families they routinely abduct, probe, and, in a couple of cases, impregnate over the course of the ten 90-minute episodes. The three families are: the Keys, from which first Russell, then his son Jessie, then grandson Danny, are all abducted; the Clarkes, who are descended from a liaison between lonely put-upon housewife Sally Clarke and one of the Roswell crash survivors; and the Crawfords, the ruthless G-men who are committed to uncovering the purpose behind the alien visitations at any cost.
It's this question that forms the main thread of the story: but even though the Greys' actions are at best ambiguous and at worst hostile, the viewer can't help feeling that after all this systematic abuse of their human test subjects the aliens will in the end present them with a cure for cancer. In fact, Taken is Spielberg at his most touchy-feely: for all its science fiction trappings it's basically a soap opera, lacking the sinister undercurrent of either Dark Skies or The X-Files. Nevertheless, it's an engaging series with decent performances--most notably Joel Gretsch as psychotic Owen Crawford--good special effects, and an engaging enough storyline to make it entertaining, if somewhat disposable, TV. --Kristen Bowditch