Alien Nation (1988) is a Buddy Cop movie with a Sitcom twist: the minority partner is a space alien, part of a ship of "Newcomers" who ended up on Earth when the slave ship they were being transported on crash-landed. After Det. Matthew Sykes' partner is killed in a shootout, he is partnered with Sam Francisco (whom he insists on calling "George"), the first Newcomer detective. While investigating the death of Sykes' partner, they uncover a dangerous Newcomer drug.The film was adapted into the 1989 TV series Alien Nation, which lasted for one season and five TV movies.
Provides examples of:
Adaptive Ability: The Newcomers were a slave race bred to adapt to any environment; Earth is a tough one for them, though...
Alien Among Us: The Tenctonese/Newcomers are refugees and slaves. In this case it was over 250,000 aliens, who form their own community in Los Angeles. Therefore the cultural misunderstandings went both ways, as humans learned to deal with odd newcomer traditions.
Balls of Steel: Sykes groin-kicks an alien, who laughs it off. Later, George tells him that he'll get the result he was looking for by hitting an alien in the side of the torso. Sykes tries this out later, and it proves as effective as a groin shot.
Bizarre Alien Biology: Saltwater burns Newcomers, they also require any meats they consume to be raw, can get drunk on sour milk, require a member of their third sex to catalyze pregnancy, and have a nerve cluster under their arm that has the same effect on them as a Groin Attack
Drugs Are Bad: The Newcomers' former alien overlords kept them under control by feeding them a blue substance. Sam/George Francisco keeps this a secret from his human buddy-cop partner because he fears what humanity would do to the Newcomers if we ever found out they were a bunch of drug addicts. Near the end of the movie, a rogue Newcomer consumes an entire giant tube full of the concentrated drug and turns into a mutated rampaging monster.
Exploited Immunity: A Newcomer drug lord has his human henchmen pull another Newcomer into the ocean to kill him.
Fantastic Drug: The drug that was used to pacify Newcomers, and an overdose causes them to turn into a monster. The Big Bad tells Sykes that even though it's "more powerful than any human drug", it's still just an alien drug, and legally, it might as well be grape jelly.
Fantastic Slur: Human bigots refer to Newcomers as "slags" or "spongeheads".
Foreign Cuss Word: Inverted, in that in the Tenctonese language, "Sykes" roughly translates as "excrement cranium" ("shithead"). However, it's pronounced differently ("see-ikes") than his name is normally pronounced ("sikes").
G-Rated Drug: Newcomers get intoxicated on sour milk. The yeast-fermented stuff that we humans prefer has no effect on them.
Hand Cannon: Sykes upgrades from his police-issue sidearm to a Freedom Arms Model 83, a 5-round .454 Casull revolver, in order to combat the Newcomer gang that killed his partner. At the time the film was made, this was the most powerful handgun/cartridge commercially available.
Human Outside, Alien Inside: Although they look moderately similar to humans, Tenctonese cannot metabolize cooked protein, so most of their diet consists of raw animals.
Many of the Tectonese, especially George, believe that Humans Are Special because they welcomed The Newcomers into their world, gave total freedom to a species bred to be perfect slaves, and asked no more of them then they would themselves. Racism aside that's pretty damn impressive.
That's not their heroin, their heroin is a blue substance that tastes like detergent to humans, but has the (nearly) same or a stronger effect on Tenctonese than heroin would on humans, including deadly side effects. This dope was used to keep them docile as slaves, more work equaled more dope, to the bitter end, literally.
Invisible President: Averted; the film uses a clip of the "If not us, who? If not now, when?" quote from Ronald Reagan's second inaugural address to reference the legislation that recognized the aliens as refugees (and future citizens).
Product Placement: Pepsi, Bartles and James, Tic Tacs - a lot of placement in the store robbery early in the movie.
Pun-Based Title: Alien nation; alienation.note The original title was Alien Heat, which was fairly uninspired.
Punny Name: Most of the Newcomers, including George (whose human name officially was "Sam Francisco"). Explained as the immigration authorities getting burned out assigning names to the Newcomers and resorting to a form of sarcastic humor.
The Series suggests that this weakness may have been introduced artificially into the genome of the Tenctonese to make them more easy to control. It's also gradually going away, and will probably be gone within a generation or two at the most.
Whatever Happened To The Mouse: The Newcomer coroner's assistant recognizes the signs of the drug and after dropping off the report for George goes home early. He has no bearing on the rest of the film.
Your Mom: A really nasty Tenctonese insult: "Your mother mates out of season".