It’s safe to say that I’ve been waiting for something new from the world of V for nearly 25 years. Last night, my wait finally came to an end.
Back when I was 8 years old I was obsessed with V, the Kenneth Johnson created sci-fi series about the Visitors, an alien race who claimed to come in piece but were actual lizards in disguise with a taste for human flesh. Though I hadn’t seen either the original mini-series or its follow-up V: The Final Battle, I was a devotee of the ongoing series than ran from 1984-1985. That is, when I was able to watch it. You see, the braintrust at NBC thought that after the huge success of both mini-series, it would be a good idea to put their fledging series up against the powerhouse that was CBS’ Dallas. It was a bad move. Midway through its run, there were budget and cast cuts, and the stories were far from compelling. V: The Series lasted one season and just barely. While it was franchised into a short-lived comic book series and various novels, a la Star Trek, by the end of the 80’s V had pretty much faded into the pop culture history books. The series did gain in recognition, thanks to video reissues and the timelessness of its Holocaust subtext. Come the new millennium and V was ripe for a remake.
But while original creator Kenneth Johnson has been trying to bring his own version to the big screen (he even wrote a decent sequel in 2008, V: The Second Generation, that ignored the second mini-series completely) but its ABC that finally managed to bring V back to the public eye with its contemporary reimaging. Thankfully, this longtime fan is satisfied with the results.
Truth be told, the producers would have really had to screw things up for me not to give the shows a pass. But in many ways, the pilot episode that aired last night exceeded some of my expectations. Core aspects of the original were still prominent – the resistance movement, the human sympathizers to the Visitors, the media personality swept into the role of Visitor spokesperson. The special effects, especially the Mothership arrivals across the world at the very least equalled the original’s sense of drama and awe. Alright, it may even have been more impressive. There were strong performances from all involved, especially Elizabeth Mitchell and Scott Wolf (what is it about Party of Five leads and science fiction?). I’m also pleased that the series got the inevitable out of the way – the Visitors are reptilian wearing human costumes. A good reveal was used, and doesn’t give everything away.
There were aspects of the original series that I did miss, mind you. The Nazi analogies have been replaced with 9/11 terrorism, and I’m not sold on it. It feels a little too obvious to me. While I know terrorism is timely, I wonder what would have happened should the same themes as the original been utilized. It would have been less predictable, to be sure. While Morena Bacarin does a solid job as Visitor leader Anna, she does quite measure up to the awesome Jane Badler’s iconic baddie Diana.
The talk is that V has had a bumpy road since its pilot was filmed and whether it makes it past its original four episode run during November sweeps depends on how it does in the ratings. The plan is to bring the show back in March and treat the series as event programming rather than a weekly series. I’m hoping that it works out and that I get to live in the Visitor’s world a little while longer.
At least I won’t have to wait another 24 years for my next fix.