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This ambitious miniseries, a coproduction between the BBC and the American cable entity the Sci-Fi Channel, is an unusually intelligent and demanding example of the genre. The story begins when a cocky pilot shoots down a UFO inside British air space, but the following revelations only hint at the scope of the predicament. A few soldiers and civilians, led by an American general with the NATO forces (Fred Ward), find themselves in the middle of an intergalactic war and discover they are the next target of a mysterious civilization that has already conquered most of the galaxy. Working with a limited budget, the filmmakers concentrate on creating a palpable sense of fear of the unknown while punctuating the story with sparse but startling effects: dimensional portals that open out of nowhere, a hellish otherworldly land where prisoners appear to be digested in a monstrous stomach, our first and only glimpse of the demonic-looking enemy as it lays waste to an Earth laboratory. These eerie moments only intensify the moody dread that permeates the series. Though an unconvincing romantic subplot occasionally slows the pace, the consistently smart writing and dense, delirious plotting makes this unusual epic compelling viewing right through to its jaw-dropping conclusion. --Sean Axmaker
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