To state right off the bat, I realize that I’m probably among the few who remember this show — but honestly, if anything, that’s only more reason why it’s so important to preserve this incredible piece of ’90s pop culture history. They Came From Outer Space, ostensibly a spoof on the title of the 1953 film It Came from Outer Space, debuted in 1990 and aired in syndication on whatever your local television network affiliate was, usually on Saturday afternoons.
Starring the floppy-haired slacker from Summer School (Dean Cameron) and Jason Bateman’s mulleted sidekick from Teen Wolf Too (Stuart Fratkin, who starred alongside Cameron in the film Ski School around the same time), They Came From Outer Space was about two “teenage” aliens — the outgoing party dude “Bo” and uptight, reserved “Abe” — who were sent from the planet “Crouton” by their parents to attend Earth’s Cambridge University. I’m going to pause here to say that I used “teenage” in quotation marks because Fratkin and Cameron were twenty-seven and twenty-eight at the time the series aired, respectively, but given some of the subject matter it’s probably best that they didn’t use actual teenage kids.
At any rate, Bo and Abe were like, to hell with this college thing, instead landing their spaceship in California, where they decided to travel the United States in a cherry red Chevy convertible with the short term goal of picking up chicks. That was literally the entire premise. It was amazing. To keep up this lifestyle, Bo and Abe would pick up random odd jobs and come up with hair-brained schemes along the way, which set the stage for the weekly dose of wacky hi-jinx. It was basically The Monkees set in the ’90s, only with just two guys and the guys were also aliens.
I should also mention that during all this, Bo and Abe were being hunted by two agents from the Air Force who wanted to study them, a sub-plot which factored into most of the episodes and provided a slick cat and mouse element to the series. So in retrospect, maybe the red convertible was not the most inconspicuous vehicle — but hell, it was the early ’90s. We basically lived in the cultural embodiment of “Poochie” from The Simpsons.
Speaking of the most ’90s thing ever, here are the opening credits for Came From Outer Space:
You may be asking yourself, if Bo and Abe were just two normal looking dudes who could physically have sexual intercourse with human women, what was it that made them “alien?” Excellent question. Croutonians had an variety of superpowers that distinguished them from human beings, including object transference, the ability of physical projection into inanimate objects, energy transference and the power to communicate with animals. Despite these incredible powers, each week they would only barely manage to escape from the two Air Force dudes who were hunting them.
Also, like everyone born on Crouton, Bo and Abe were fraternal twins, which meant that they literally felt each others pain. Like if you hit one, the other would feel it. When the twins became sexually aroused, their bodies would make boiling sounds and they would give off steam like a human, I mean alien tea kettle. It was a really good show.
Pinpointing my fondness for They Came from Outer Space is tricky. I’ve always had an inclination towards cheesy TV and movies, so I wonder — was I just always a weirdo like this or did exposure to stuff like They Came from Outer Space at a young age help cultivate this obsession? On that note, imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that this show was released on DVD a couple of years back — a day I thought I would never see come! I am not lying when I say that I am seriously considering purchasing that DVD set. In the meantime, there are enough full episodes on YouTube to hold me over, and anyone else interested in checking out one of the most important television offerings of the year 1990.