DVD Review: Threshold - The Complete Series
By Jeff Swindoll Aug 25, 2006, 14:15 GMT
THRESHOLD is a suspenseful drama about a team of experts who are assembled when the U.S. Navy makes a chilling discovery: an extra terrestrial craft has landed in the mid-Atlantic ocean. Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey (Carla Gugino) is a government contingency analyst whose job is to devise response plans for worst-case scenarios. In a single instant, her life changes when one of those plans--THRESHOLD--is activated by Deputy National Security Advisor ...more
2005 saw the resurgence of science fiction on television with the three major networks premiering 3 sci-fi shows. Threshold is the CBS entry into the fold. The aliens obviously won since none of the shows would last past their first seasons.
Threshold is CBS’ foray into the world of science fiction television. NBC tried Surface (which lasted about the same number of episodes as Threshold) and ABC tried Invasion (which actually made it to a full season of 22 episodes). All three would cover aliens making their way to earth (although Surface’s alien isn’t what you might think) and their networks would eventually cancel all three. Threshold is about an alien probe appearing before a ship in the middle of the ocean and affecting the crew.
Some people die but the ones that live are taken over by an alien force. Contingency analyst Dr. Molly Caffrey (Carla Gugino) wrote an experimental plan called Threshold that dealt with an alien invasion, not ever thinking that it would be needed. Her plan calls for the assemblage of a “Red Team” to deal with the threat. The team consists of NASA microbiologist Dr. Nigel Fenway (Brent Spiner), astrological engineer Lucas Pegg (Rob Benedict), linguist and mathematician Arthur Ramsey (Peter Dinklage), and federal agent Sean Cavennaugh (Brian Van Holt). They all report to deputy national security advisor J. T. Baylock (Charles S. Dutton).
Episode 1: Trees made of Glass: an alien probe attacks a ship, the Big Horn. Baylock calls the Threshold plan into and Dr. Caffrey’s team is assembled, against their will for the most part. A large portion of the crew is killed when a third helix is added to their DNA. The ones that don’t die are possessed by the alien presence with the desire to pass on the infection. Dr. Caffrey, Lucas, and Cavennaugh find a video recorder with footage of the probe and are nearly infected by the sound that it makes. All three of them begin to have dreams about a mysterious forest made of glass.
Episode 2: Blood of the Children: A man walks into a fast food restaurant becomes enraged, and his head implodes. The Red Team traces him back to a military academy and one of the young cadets is infected and trying to send out the signal on a grander scale.
Episode 3: The Burning: A patient escapes from an asylum and Dr. Caffrey sees artwork of the trees of glass in crime scene photos. Raphael Sbarge and Cliff De Young guest star.
Episode 4: Shock: A Big Horn crewman kills a cop during a dock front raid and Cavennaugh and Dr. Caffrey go undercover as Homeland Security agents. The crewmember is stealing advanced microchips to build a device to spread the infection. Joe Penny guest stars.
Episode 5: Pulse: The DJ at a Miami rave plays the signal. How did she get it? The team discovers that the signal has infected machines in Miami and have to figure out a way to purge them.
Episode 6: The Order: People in Rhode Island are dreaming of the glass forest and the team investigates. Meanwhile there’s a newspaper story about the Threshold program and one of the team may be the leak.
Episode 7: Revelations: One of the agents watching the mother of a Big Horn crewmember goes missing and Cavennaugh and Dr. Caffrey investigate. The local preacher is giving sermons on the sea of glass and the end of the age, could the two be connected?
Episode 8: Progeny: Three women from separate walks of life become infected and the team has to find the connection. They’re also shocked to find that one of the women is pregnant.
Episode 9: The Crossing (Unaired): Some of the infectees attempt to escape from Threshold headquarters and the guard is infected by unknown means. Dr. Caffrey wants the guard to tell them what’s happening as the infection spreads. The guard agrees, but wants to die a human so Caffrey must kill him before he completely turns.
Episode 10: Outbreak (Unaired): Lucas becomes infected from eating contaminated food and Dr. Daphne Larson (Catherine Bell) joins the Red Team to investigate how the aliens are infecting the food. Caffrey has to find the 200 other people that might’ve been affected by the contaminated food.
Episode 11: Vigilante (Unaired): An alien is killing infectees and is locating them by their heightened brain waves. Lucas, Dr. Caffrey, and Cavennaugh have the heightened waves from their exposure (not enough exposure for full alien infection), could they be next?
Episode 12: Alienville (Unaired): Dr. Caffrey and Cavennaugh go undercover as husband and wife looking to buy a house in Allenville, but are really looking for an infected scientist. However, they find that the entire town is infected.
I really enjoyed the show, but am disappointed by the fact that a lot of the secrets will remain secret (the Civil War connection seemed very interesting to me and the fact that the invasion has happened before) since the show was cancelled. They do try and fill in some of the gaps in the commentary and documentary.
The sad part is that the show got better as it went along, so the ones at the end of the series are the better of them (most of those did not air). I greatly enjoyed the characters and the actors are excellent. Any show that casts the excellent actor Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent and the angry elf in Elf) deserves some respect. Brent Spiner, Carla Gugino, Charles S. Dutton, Brian Van Holt, and Rob Benedict are also excellent as well in my opinion.
Threshold is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include a commentary on the pilot episode by David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga and 3 minutes of deleted scenes from the pilot episode. Next is the four-part documentary “The Threshold Brain Trust.” You can watch each part separately (Origins, Assembling the Red Team, Scary Details and Possibilities) or use the play all function.
The four parts run a total of 32 minutes. It features interviews with executive producer David Herman, executive producer/writer Brannon Braga, co-executive producer/writer Dan O’Shannon, Carla Gugino, Charles S. Dutton, co-executive producer/writer Anne McGrail, Peter Dinklage, executive-producer/director/writer David S. Goyer, Brent Spiner, Rob Benedict, and Brian Van Holt.
The next documentary is the 10-minute “Threshold Visual Effects” (Alien Object, Cockroaches, and Glass Forest) and has interviews with visual effects supervisor Robert Bailey, senior visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, and visual effects supervisor Rocco Passionino. The final documentary is the 4-minute “Behind the Fractal” and interviews producer/writer Andre Bormanis about the alien symbol.
Of the three shows, Threshold was the one that I wanted to see because of the cast (Surface looked silly, but Invasion did look good). I was not disappointed and greatly enjoyed the characters. The sad part is that by the end I was disappointed to see their adventures end with a whimper (the producers didn’t learn of their cancellation until halfway through the final episode and only had time to film a short coda) instead of a