With a socio-political issue disguised as a lighthearted sci-fi, SMOKING GUN uncovers the many layers to the concept of an alien invasion. In a world where UFO sightings and alien invasions have become the topic of every discussion, a podcast host named Bobbi Calhoun (Played by Caitlin Alyn) has dedicated her life to informing the masses of the extraterrestrial infiltration that is going on in everyone’s backyard. When challenged and publicly humiliated by an astrophysicist named Dr. Mendez (played by Pablo Bobadilla), Calhoun takes matters into her own hands and confronts her opponent head-on.
What makes this web series pilot stand out from your everyday alien sitcom is the deeper meanings and subtle political nuances that are sprinkled throughout the episode. In the show, aliens have been body-snatching families on the Mexico-United States border in order to invade the US undetected. By taking a literal approach to the term alien that is given to undocumented immigrants, SMOKING GUN is making a statement on the polarizing conversations that are happening among politicians and people in the US. Throughout the episode, there are subtle nods to the current political climate such as a reference to the antagonizing phrase “all lives matter”, and a cameo of President Obama‘s photo, which is framed on Dr. Mendez’s dresser, next to a photo of his significant other. The script, written by Bobadilla, even mimics remarks said by political figures. At one point Calhoun delivers the line, “I have a problem with the extraterrestrials who invade our property, our land, and abduct our loved ones.” Sound familiar?
With many layers for the audience to peel back, SMOKING GUN has a compelling storyline that is even further supported by a strong production value. The cinematographer S’alfrico Watson Grant captured a crisp, yet smoky look, whose muted color palette emphasized the sudden pops of purple, red, and blue seen in key characters such as Dr. Mendez and the aliens. The smooth pans, clean focus pulls, and motivated lighting made it clear that the episode was shot by a professional.
The makeup took its own spotlight with a calavera (also known as sugar skull) inspired makeup look that is seen on the aliens. By incorporating Mexican art in the makeup and costumes, Bobadilla is celebrating the vibrant and beautiful aspects of a culture that has been villainized by the Trump administration.
If the unique story, diverse casting, and powerful message wasn’t enough to draw you in, the last two minutes of the episode will have you itching for answers. SMOKING GUN hits all the marks when it comes to a good pilot and has the potential to become a successful web series.