I just need to use this post to talk about a very special series dear to my heart. I’m talking about a series that every young lad can remember watching every school day morning, waiting anxiously for each new, exciting episode. I am, of course, talking about the children’s classic, Alien.
Alien was a stable in the early 80’s to late 90’s children’s animated block for ABC. Who could forget the action-packed yet surprisingly family-friendly adventures of our ass-kicking protagonist, Ridley, her on-again-off-again love interest Lt. Licks, her annoying little sister Mute, and the mysterious but reliable cyborg Castle as they fight against a sinister alien menace? I sure can’t.
What I did forget was the rather bland music associated with each of the four series, each composed by a bunch of no-name up-and-comers that I haven’t heard of. Nonetheless, I haven’t seen much cover art for their music, so I thought I’d at least give you the courtesy of some cover art for your iTunes if you ever seek out these rather lacklustre scores.
The series that started it all. First airing daily on a 7AM block in 1979, it serves as the introduction of Ridley and her classmates at Nostromo High, and the wacky hijinks that ensue as they try to convince the dour hall monitor and nameless school principle (referred to only as “Mother”) that there’s an alien from another planet running around campus!
This first series was action-packed and full of laughs. Unfortunately this isn’t represented very well by an admiringly beautiful but cold and frightening score by newcomer Jerry Goldsmith, who to my knowledge didn’t go on to do anything of interest after this. What a wasted opportunity.
After the climatic series finale of the first series (in which the alien was finally defeated by being flushed down a toilet), Ridley moves to a new school, Sulaco Secondary, and immediately butts heads with the “jocks” of the Sulaco Secondary Swans football team: Captain and fullback Doorman, the brave halfback Hudsbun, the petite and girly fullback Leslie, and the dashing quarterback “Lieutenant” Licks, among others.
Ridley somehow gets roped into joining the football team, and we follow the everyday school life of Ridley as she attempts to balance schoolwork from her creepy maths teacher Quirk, discover the mysteries of the mysterious transfer student Castle, who is revealed to be a cyborg in the series finale (he prefers the term “organic robot”), learn to be “one of the boys” on the football team, and work out her feelings with the gorgeous Lt. Licks while a new, even meaner alien threat lurks in the shadows! And the prom’s tomorrow!
The score, composed by another amateur, James Horner, is very loud, militaristic and in-your-face, very much at odds with the peaceful high school setting that the series tries to establish. Probably why he didn’t get much work afterwards.
Alien 3 continues the tale of Ridley, who is forced to break up with her boyfriend Licks when her parents send her to the all-girl prep school Fiorina 161. Her little brat of a sister, Mute, is also sent to another school (she was introduced in Aliens but had a small part, she wasn’t that important to the story). Ridley must learn to fit in all over again with the stuck-up prep mean girls of Fiorina, who feels alienated due to their teasing of her sorry excuse for a wig (all the girls of Fiorina have beautiful, luscious hair).
This series received controversy for its shocking plot-twist that the alien in the last series got Ridley teen-pregnant. Once again going against the grain when it comes to the soundtrack is composer Elliot Goldenthal, who writes a dark, gothic and twisted score full of malice and malcontent, very much at odds with the private school atmosphere of Fiorina. What a shame.
The series concludes (although the adventure continues on with numerous videogames, comic books and other literary works) with Alien Resurrection, after the cliff-hanging ending of the previous series in which Ridley got an abortion against the wishes of Castle Unit LV-426 (Castle’s evil robot twin). At the ripe old age of 17 she undergoes a strenuous facelift surgery which, well, I won’t spoil it here.
This series was the most well-received of the original four Alien cartoons, and got universal critical praise. What didn’t get universal praise was John Frizzell’s dark, stormy and seductive score, with its intriguing melding of orchestra and electronica. Yuk. Why do these cartoons get such ill-fitting scores?
Well, hopefully you enjoy these scores a little more than I do. If you enjoyed these cartoons growing up like I did, make sure to check up the prequel story: Prometheus, a straight-forward and down-to-earth character study with a different set of teenagers that is sure to answer any unanswered questions left dangling by the previous series. As always, hope you enjoy!
Since you’ve scrolled all the way down here, please let me to ask you a question: Have you actually read this blog post? If you did so: you rule! If not: How dare you! I command you to do so immediately. Really, I mean it! Go straight up again and do as I say, as this custom covers collection only exists because of this hilarious fake review written by my friend GlassButterflies. It inspired me to come up with a bunch of mockups and together we started to flesh out his concept of an old-school television cartoon – and we had an absolute blast! So feel free to read it again :) And now excuse me while I wax nostalgic.
P.S… a huge THANK YOU goes out to Mr. Ive Bastrash for letting us use his brilliant illustrations.