COLONY. 10 tonight, USA.
What would it take to turn Los Angeles into a bicycle-friendly city? An alien invasion, suggests "Colony," a new sci-fi drama premiering tonight on USA that's not so much about extraterrestrials as it is about life in a U.S. city under occupation.
A city that seems finally to have tamed its legendary traffic and made the roads safe for two-wheelers.
There may be something peculiarly American about the belief that we could be conquered only by a force from beyond the stars, but "Colony," from Carlton Cuse ("Lost") and Ryan Condal ("Hercules"), seems more interested in how humans behave toward one another when resistance might be futile.
Josh Holloway ("Lost") and Sarah Wayne Callies ("The Walking Dead") play Will and Katie Bowman, who live in an inland sector of the city, cut off from the Pacific coast by a wall of whose size and splendor Donald Trump can only dream.
Somewhere on the other side of that wall, in the Santa Monica bloc, is one of their three children, 12-year-old Charlie, who became separated from his family during The Arrival and hasn't been heard from since.
So, bikes aside, things are tough. Killer drones patrol the city, gunning for lawbreakers (including anyone carrying a weapon). Curfews are strict. The black market may be the only source of some necessities.
Will, a former FBI agent working incognito as an auto mechanic to avoid being put to work by the totalitarian proxy government, wants to find Charlie.
Kate, missing her lost son but protective of their remaining two children, is also trying to help her sister Maddie (Amanda Righetti, "The Mentalist") locate insulin for her diabetic child, diabetes being one of the conditions the government's deemed unworthy of treatment.
"Colony," which pits a nascent resistance against the well-armed and cared-for collaborators - including an almost impish Peter Jacobson as a proxy government leader named Snyder - hits some of the same notes as Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle," inviting viewers to ask themselves how far they'd go to seek freedom if their loved ones' safety lay in just keeping their heads down, or even helping their oppressors.
Holloway and Callies, no strangers to speculative, high-stakes drama, make a formidable pair as characters human enough to be relatable, skilled enough be potentially heroic.
Los Angeles, to be honest, has never looked better.
Starting next week, Carl Weathers and Kathy Baker turn up in recurring roles.
In the three episodes I've seen, the aliens remain distant, revealing themselves mostly in a flurry of high-velocity comings and goings and in the fear they generate in the conquered.
"Colony" doesn't miss them. This story's all about us.
On Twitter: @elgray