Watching Taken the TV Miniseries (part 1)

Taken3I was recently reminded of a TV miniseries that I was absolutely obsessed with for a while and decided to look it up and give it a rewatch after not really thinking about it for many many years. When I googled it I was surprised to learn that it’s been 11 years since it came out. Holy crap, now I feel a bit old. But I digress… I’m going to devote 15 hours to rewatching what I consider to be one of the best TV miniseries of all time and I’m going to share my rewatch experience with you and hope that some of you will watch along with me.

What show am I talking about?

Well, it’s this brilliant little thing called Taken.

Mysterious lights in the sky
Mysterious lights in the sky

Now don’t get this confused with the movie that came out a couple years ago with the same name. If you want to Google it you might have better luck searching for “Steven Spielberg presents Taken.” But really, you might want to hold off on Googling it so that you don’t get spoiled on it. I’m going to give you an episode by episode review and, save for this first review, they will be best read after watching the episode. In this review, however, I hope I can entice you enough to track it down and give it a watch. After this point it’ll be most episode recaps and discussion. That said, what the hell is Taken anyway?

It’s a science fiction drama that spans over 50 years following three families as their lives are affected by alien contact on earth. If you’re a fan of UFO history, you really can’t skip this. It has references to real key moments in UFO history such as foo fighters (no, not the band), the Roswell crash, the Lubbock lights, and Area 51 (in later episodes) just to name a few. And before you get on my case about “real UFO history,” you don’t necessarily have to believe in aliens to recognize that UFO sightings and conspiracies have played a very real part in US history, especially post WWII. Taken acknowledges most of the huge incidents in history and weaves them into a beautifully written family drama that spans several decades.

Taken1
Captain Russell Clark’s plane surrounded by foo fighters

We’re first introduced to the Keys family through Captain Russell Keys, who was saved (and subsequently abducted) by aliens when his plane went down in the skies above France. The incident itself is enough to give him flashbacks and cause a significant amount of trauma, but he quickly realizes that it wasn’t just an isolated incident. For whatever reason, his abductors keep coming back for him.  The mystery deepens when be learns that many of the other pilots that were abducted with him have begun to grow ill, yet he remains in perfect health.  The encounter has a long lasting effect on him and is a major catalyst in much of the overarching plot.

This episode also introduces us to the Crawford family through the gruff and opportunistic Captain Owen Crawford. He finds himself tangled up in the Roswell crash by happenstance, but once he gets a taste for the mystery he becomes determined to see it through. He’ll do just about anything, actually, and his skeeviness becomes apparent rather quickly. But Crawford is a character who develops a lot in later episodes, so for this episode it is best to just let his actions speak for themselves.  And boy, they do speak quite loudly.  Just watch and you’ll see what I mean.

Sally and John
Sally and John

The third family in this cast of characters, and my personal favorite, are the Clarke’s. Sally Clarke is my favorite character in the early episodes and the one that I identified with the most. Her husband is always out of town on business leaving her home alone to raise the kids and work at the local diner. She escapes into the world of science fiction (ah, and this is where the “I identify with her” thing comes into play) and, as luck would have it, ends up stumbling across one of the surviving aliens of the Roswell crash. The alien has taken the form of a handsome man who is hiding out in her shed. Most of my favorite moments in the first episode are between Sally and “John.” It really is a beautiful tale.

So at this point I hope that you’re interested enough to at least track down the first episode and give it a go. I promise you that you will not regret it.  It’s 15 hours of show, yes, but you guys are champions and have marathoned much more epic things no problem, right?  Just trust me on this one.

TAKEN REVIEWS

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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About the author

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She's contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She's written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.

Comments

  1. YES YES YES. I watched this as a child and I’ve made it one of the few series that I rewatch in its entirety at least every year or so. It’s phenomenal – the plot and characters are very well developed, and the graphics are breathtaking. So much appreciation, and I’m glad you like it too, because no one else I’ve ever talked to has seen it. You just made my day.

    1. Yay! I’m so glad. 🙂 I’m going to be posting reviews as I watch it and hope to inspire new people to try it out or others to relive the experience. It’s one of the best things SciFi ever produced. Amazing.

  2. I’m rewatching it after all these years, too. I can’t believe the series seems to be so invisible, even among sci fi geeks. It’s interesting how close to terror it gets at points, pure sci fi at others, paranormal, scientific, suspense…a well rounded series. The acting, script, effects are all fine.

    My memory was that it had been a ripoff and just barely touched on aliens or hard science fiction. Rewatching it I was pleased to have been wrong. OR…to accept that less is more, when the “less” holds such gravitas. And for sure there are 100% payoffs with lights, sounds, identities being revealed (diplomatically spoil-free). One thing that really rocks is the soundtrack. It really fits, just like Band of Brothers–an opening so musically compelling that I view through the opening credits. Also of note, I gotta say the title/logo is excellent!

    I’m about to watch the last episode and am determined to scratch together a sort of family tree. Spielberg can’t get away from epics that have more characters and names that I can keep straight. It’s not that I lose track of who is who, I’d like to keep track of whose son or daughter, grandson & grandaughter are, and how did they relate to one another within and between generations?

    A weak point is, near the end, two unsavory and whatever is the opposite of “eye candy” characters taking up undue amounts of screen time. One of them magically figures out EVERY SINGLE thing that is happening with way too little evidence. Did the pacing get such that they had to condense the story that way?

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