US tv series (2005-2006). Paramount Television Network/Heyday Film/Brannon Productions for CBS-TV and SKY-1 TV (UK). Created by Brannon Braga, David S Goya, and David Heyman. Produced by Andre' Bormanis. Karen Moore, and David Livingston. Directors include John F Showalter, Norberto Barba and Bill Eagles. Writers include Braga, Anne McGrail and Michael Sussman. Cast includes Robert Benedict, Peter Dinklage, Charles S Dutton, Carla Gugino, Brent Spinner and Brian Van Holt. Thirteen 45-minute episodes. Colour.
The US Navy cargo ship Big Horn encounters a UFO whose transmitted "high-frequency signal" causes some of the crew to die from a grotesque mutation (see Mutants), while the rest vanish. Dr Molly Anne Caffrey (Gugino) is the leader of a government-sponsored programme to develop contingency plans for extreme situations, including First Contact with Aliens. After discovery of the ship, and a videotape showing much of what occurred, Caffrey realizes this has happened, and forms Threshold Team Red to deal with developments. The team consists of Dr Nigel Fenway (Spinner), a NASA microbiologist, Lucas Pegg (Benedict), an aerospace engineer, and Arthur Ramsay (Dinklage), a Mathematics and Linguistics genius, plus government liaison J T Blaylock (Dutton) and a former Special Operations soldier who provides the team's "muscle". It is soon learned that the aliens are attempting to rewrite the human DNA code into one apparently more closely resembling their own; they are able to infect people by an audible sound, as well as via contaminated foods and other routes. The team searches for "vanished" survivors of the Big Horn, who are now actively spreading the infection – in some cases creating human/alien hybrids and in others killing those infected. It emerges that part of the alien agenda is to mutate humanity sufficiently to survive the radiation burst from an ancient collision of two Neutron Stars which is due to impact the Earth in roughly six years. NASA has been aware of this for some while (the agency's past silence is not explained), and confirms that the event will bring about rapid human extinction. After limited exposure to the alien infection, Caffrey and two others are able to receive mental messages from the aliens, apparently through Telepathy. Ratings for the series dropped quickly, and a move to another evening caused them to sink faster, resulting in cancellation halfway through the season. Four episodes unaired in the US were broadcast in the UK on the SKY-1 network.
Threshold was the first CBS network programme to be made available for re-airings on its website five days after its original showing. Braga later stated that had the series continued, the aliens would have eventually established a strong foothold on Earth; he has apparently never revealed what would have happened when the neutron-star radiation struck the Earth. [GSt]
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