When the curtain closes on what I’m guessing will be the second and final season of ABC’s reboot of the classic 80’s NBC show V, I’m fairly certain all I’m going to be thinking about is all of the missed opportunities this new version fell victim too.
After a spectacular opening episode, the first season of V was hit and miss in my mind, never really hitting any sort of stride until the last two episodes. Sure, Visitor head Anna (Morena Baccarin) was attractive and evil and Elizabeth Mitchell’s FBI agent and single mom Erica was a suitable resistance leader (a resistance of four, mind you – not a lot of strength in those numbers). I also had no problems buying into citizens embracing the Visitors as saviours, since they were offerring healing centers for all sorts of diseases. This new version of V was just lacking in the sort of excitement and storytelling the original had. However, the first season ended on an extremely high note, with the birth of a Visitor/human highbred (I’ve got the perfect name for her) and a raging Anna letting loose on Earth Red Sky, a take-off of the original’s red dust (a bacteria lethal to the aliens). Add in the news that original series star Jane Badler would return as Anna’s mother Diana (same name, different character) and I was pretty stoked to see the season premiere, which aired this past Tuesday night. Sadly, by the end of the episode my enthusiasm turned to boredom, as I watched what I feel certain will be one of the series final 10 episodes.
The thing about any sort of storytelling is that you want things to make a certain amount of sense (unless you’re watching a David Lynch film, at which point you’re walking in with expectations of the exact opposite). Watching V, I just saw too many things that didn’t add up. At the beginning we learn that it’s been days since the Earth’s sky had been turned red by the Visitors. People are panicking and crying that it’s the end of the world while the aliens remain quiet. Great. Perfect. Makes sense. But when Anna finally is pressed to reveal the meaning of Red Sky by Erica (and why the Lizard Queen would allow herself to be pushed around by an earth woman is beyond me), not only does it ring hollow (it’s a gift to the people of Earth that will replenish land and reverse global warming), but people’s reactions (relief and applause and excitement) is absolutely ridiculous. There’s just no way that people would react that way after days of being held hostage by fear and uncertainty. I’m not sure how the writers can justify such a ludicrous stretch.
This was an unfortunate turn of events after watching the first 15-20 minutes, where what lay underneath the Visitors false faces was revealed a little more during a scene between Anna and her various captains. While the CGI lizard tail was far from perfect, the reptilian face of the victim of her beating looked great. It was also fun seeing Baccarin play the vicious heavy. That momentum was lost, however, during the previously mentioned encounter between Anna and Erica.
Finally, I have to admit serious disappointment that Jane Badler didn’t make her on-screen appearance until the final seconds of the episode. I’m not surprised, mind you, but figuring that she was credited at the beginning and every fan knew she was coming, I would have actually utilized her right away. Holding Badler back just causes ill will. Believe me.
Poor pacing. Poor story lines. Some suspect acting. That’s the legacy of the first season of V and it looks as though it will likely be part of the second as well (the resistance, still only four, recruit someone and reveal all about themselves in a matter of moments? Come on – talk about horrible choices and scripting). Judging by the ratings for the episode, down 60% from the series premiere in November 2009 and flat with its finale, it’s clear that V’s show runners and producers missed the boat in creating a memorable sci-fi series. There’s nothing unique and too much doesn’t make sense. Taking a terrorism slant or even incorporating the Nazi undertones of the original would have made for compelling television. Even if V does somehow improve, I have a feeling there won’t be anybody left watching by the time the season reaches it’s tenth and final episode. As a die-hard fan of the original, I’m hugely disappointed by how it’s all turned out.
Maybe it’s time to call Michael Ironside?