Movies That Molded a Geek: Taken

taken Taken, this month’s movie, might not have been from my formative years, but I think my formative years explain why I like it so much.

No, I’m not talking about that movie with Liam Neeson.  Technically, the Taken I’m talking about is a miniseries that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel (RIP) in 2002.  It was a relatively big-budget Spielberg project that followed in the wake of Band of Brothers but didn’t get near the popularity or acclaim.

And I totally love it.

I was in college when it first aired, so it completely slipped past me.  I came home for a school break, and my mother and one of my sisters insisted that we watch it.  They’d taped it, you see, on more than one VHS.  I was slightly annoyed; I was in college, watching good films, and wasn’t particularly thrilled  with the idea of a Sci-Fi-produced miniseries (I’d seen more than one D-grade Sci-Fi creature feature).

It only took one episode to get me totally hooked, and I spent the next few evenings watching as many episodes as I could before passing out (and then I had Taken-themed dreams for a few nights).

The basic idea behind Taken is that it’s a look at history, with the premise that aliens are real.  The series begins in World War II, with a foo fighter sighting, and follows three families whose lives intertwine at various points over 50+ years.  All major paranormal trivia is covered: Roswell, Area 51, abductions, crop circles, Rhine-Zener cards, and more.  It’s a fun, clever look at the “history” of aliens in pop culture, woven around the pain and triumph of individuals.

In retrospect, it’s no surprise that I liked this miniseries so much.  It has the essential content of every show I loved growing up – The X-Files, Sightings, Are You Afraid of the Dark – with the expansive, comprehensive feel of an epic film.

The cast featured barely-known actors, which, in my opinion, allows the viewer to become even more absorbed in the story and further suspend disbelief.   Nowadays, the best-known Taken alum is probably Dakota Fanning, but I react with fondness whenever I catch one in another project - Dexter, The 4400, Watchmen, etc.

The show might border on sappy from time to time, and it might not be cinematic art, but it’s a major staple around my home, I assure you.  It’s also one of my “comfort” DVDs – my memories of my wisdom teeth extraction pretty much consist of hazy DVD-episode changes and psychedelic alien-themed dreams.

If you haven’t seen Taken, give the first few episodes a shot – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like to think “what-if,” you might have just found a new favorite.

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