According to screenwriter-director-producer , Larry Cohen, it was The Invaders! The Invaders was a 1967-1968 TV drama, inspired by Don Siegel’s classic 1956 science fiction movie, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers of aliens from outer space, who land on earth, take on human form, and are hunted down by speciest humans who have this crazy desire not to be killed off, and their planet stolen from them.
I don’t think I ever saw the show, because it started at 9 P.M., which was my bedtime. I did see its striking opening once or twice, however, with the theme by future convict Dominic Frontiere, and William Conrad’s now immediately recognizable voice-over. (The Invaders was produced by Quinn Martin, who would later make Conrad a TV star, playing the fat, short, middle-aged PI with the look of an English bulldog, in Cannon.) I heard mention of the show from “cool kids” at school, who claimed their parents let them stay up late to watch it.
Almost 50 years later, I have my doubts about the “cool kids’” braggadocio. Either they were pretty dull, or fibbing, because they never gave any details about the show. Granted, they didn’t want to share, because not sharing one’s knowledge is central to being cool. However, I learned in grad school that classmates who flash Cheshire Cat smiles, and act as if they knew all the answers, tend to be just bluffing. They’ve got nothing, and in their case, nothing ain’t a real cool hand.
Anyway, here goes Cohen:
[on how he came up with the idea of the aliens' signature extended pinky finger on his series The Invaders (1967)] The extended pinky used to be a symbol of effeminacy . . . you know, the effete [person] holding a glass of champagne with the pinky extended? When this show was done back in the '60s, the homosexual community was kind of a submerged, invisible community. People were living secret lives. I thought, here are these aliens living amongst society, keeping their true identities secret, their true selves secret, and this is funny because the pinky kind of symbolizes homosexuality in some way, and nobody will get the gag, but I'll put it in there anyway.Yeah, but weren’t the invaders here to wipe us out, and steal our planet from us? You know, like the aliens “living in the shadows” today?
(Sigh.) Artists—even hacks—say the darnedest things.