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Apple's latest sci-fi drama Invasion starts off too slow

Apple's latest sci-fi drama Invasion starts off too slow

For a show about an alien invasion, there's certainly a lack of invasion into aliens so far. The latest sci-fi drama on Apple TV Plus, the series begins with three episodes, which should theoretically give viewers a good sense of what to expect. Instead, those episodes introduce you to the characters and stories, without giving any indication of how it all connects differently from the teaser. Three hours in, and I'm still not sure what it's about.

The big hook of the invasion is that it is a global story. The idea is that you'll be able to see the impact of this event from a bunch of different perspectives, and at the very least, it succeeds at that (albeit with the expected American-centric approach). In the first few episodes, you are introduced to a sheriff in Oklahoma, a housewife in Long Island, an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan, a teenager in London, and a specialist in Tokyo working with the International Space Station.

And the show's producers really want you to know each and every one of these people. The first three episodes are spent almost entirely on setting up her life and circumstances. You'll see a marriage slowly unravel (with some help from Find My iPhone in one of the more obvious bits of product placement on Apple TV Plus) and the struggle of a boy who is almost a pathological bully at school. I was especially drawn to a secret affair between two women at the Japanese space agency that is tragically short.

Many of these stories are interesting, even though they often turn into clich├ęs; Of course, the sheriff is one day away from retirement before the invasion begins. The problem is that the ratio of human drama and science-fiction story is completely useless. In the first three hours only there are signs of foreign elements. Crop circles and runaway animals are common, as well as a few more disturbing moments like when an entire music class frowns at once. Eventually, things begin to crash into the planet, causing havoc while TV news reports blame it on the terrorists.

I'm for a slow burn, but after three episodes, I should have some clear understanding of Titanic Assault. (Apple's other big science-fiction drama, Foundation, is similarly slow, but at least it's beautiful to watch.) The pacing here feels like it's stopping this invasion in its tracks. It's great to meet the characters and have a firmer understanding of their lives before the aliens took off, but I'm also here to see the actual aliens.

It's totally plausible that things catch up soon, and the sci-fi elements are really interesting. We still have seven episodes. (New episodes will be released every Friday, like most series on Apple.) But initially, Invasion demands a lot of viewers, hoping they'll keep up without much assurance of a final payout. Please, show me an alien already.

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