Newsnight Review discussed Steven Spielberg's TV series Taken which is a story of alien abductions, starting with the theory - held dear by many Americans - that extra-terrestrials landed at Roswell in New Mexico in 1947.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review)
The first episode is directed by Toby Hooper, who before this made The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then made Poltergeist for Steven Spielberg. It was said Hooper couldn't have directed it. Spielberg must have held the reins and Hooper just helped. I have to say, I am not a Spielberg fan. I think actually Hooper did direct Poltergeist and he directed this and he does a very good impression of a particularly rubbish Steven Spielberg. This, to me, was absolute twaddle. It was the worst kind of saccharin, sweet, sentimental, dreary, little child voiceover looking up to the skies. I just couldn't believe that, in these post-X File days, it was even legal to make something this infantile. It may be the next ten episodes are better directed, but on the strength of this it's a stinker of intergalactic proportions.
I can't be more elegant than Mark. This is viciously, dangerous, subversive, nasty American apple-pie crap. It's awful.
It isn't even very well told. It violates the first rule of sci-fi. I am no sci-fi fan, but I am a big enough fan to know, at least surprise me. I was aware of the story the whole time.
I enjoyed it myself. It's a $40 million B-movie or series. Absolutely sunk within the genre. Beyond the fact that it chooses to work entirely within that, never straying beyond that, because fascinated by the old-fashioned tropes, 1950s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and so on. You have to think about how and why it comes to be made. Never underestimate the ambition of Steven Spielberg. He has done a great deal, as we know, in movies, but really he is a cultural coloniser. The thing about Band of Brothers was he wanted to take over the war movie, as he did with Saving Private Ryan. Now he has taken over TV.