Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Series Premier Review: "V"

**Spoilers Included in Review** I'm at the age when shows I grew up with are now being remade with some regularity. Sometimes it works out well, BSG-- good, other times not so much, Bionic Woman-- bad. I was in high school when "V" the miniseries first aired and it was love the first time I saw the alien leader Diana eat a live rat. Yeah, I was always this weird. But there was a lot to love about the original series. It wasn't just the aliens, but the social commentary. There was an intentional subtext to the show that drew strong parallels to Nazi Germany including everything from SS-style uniforms to a pseudo-Hitler Youth. Intertwined with all the special effects was the cautionary tale of becoming too enamored with anyone offering anything that seems too good to be true. So the question in my mind was whether or not the revamped version of the original show stayed true to the original. Turns out, the newest series seems to have a few things to say about our current political climate. The first thing we see as the show opens are the words "Where were you when JFK was assassinated?" "Where were you on 9/11?" and "Where were you this morning?" as the alien ships come into view. Scattered all over the world, the alien ships make their presence known through the tremors that shake the Earth and the military jets that fall from the sky. As panic begins to spread a giant image of the alien leader, Anna (Morena Baccarin from "Firefly"), appears on the bottom of the giant ships with a message of peace. Shockingly, they look just like us. Saying that they need resources that are plentiful on Earth, the aliens offer to trade advanced technology in return for our help. Predictably, people on Earth react with either varying degrees of adoration and suspicion to the "Visitors" as they become known. FBI Counter Terrorism Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell from "Lost") is one of the skeptical ones and notices almost immediately that one particular terrorist cell is unusually active when the aliens arrive. As Agent Evans tracks down information on the terrorist cell her son Tyler (Logan Huffman) becomes increasingly enamored of the Visitors, visiting their ship and vandalizing property with the large red "V" that has come to symbolize their presence. The Visitors work to ingratiate themselves with humanity as quickly as possible with their medical technology that cures many previously incurable diseases. But there is still a feeling of unease that permeates the population, as Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretch from "The 4400") quickly notices as his church experiences a sudden boom in attendance. Father Landry has his own doubts about where the aliens fit within his preconceived notions of God, but is told by his superiors to embrace the alien presence-- which only further increases his feelings that something is wrong. The show moves at a pretty good pace since it has to establish itself quickly but does a good job at laying a solid foundation. But, by far, the most intriguing thing about the show is the political subtext. The Visitors are determined to be portrayed as benign and helpful. As noted by a reporter soon after their arrival, they are uniformly attractive and many people are quickly drawn to the beautiful mystery they represent. The Visitors quickly try to make themselves indispensable by pushing their miraculous medical technology-- with the same reporter asking with some unease-- "you're proposing universal health care?" As the populace becomes more divided among supporters and protesters, Anna insists on giving an interview to be broadcast across the globe with one stipulation-- no questions can be asked that will portray her in a negative light. What was a commentary about Nazi Germany in the original series could now be construed to be a jab at what many call Obamamania. Given the context of the original series I don't think "V" is going to have any drawn out anti-Obama message. I think it's merely trying to expand on the message of the earlier show by skewering any over-blown adoration of a public figure, which, given the "Peace Ambassador" program, designed to appeal to the world's youth, is likely to return to the reminders of Nazi Germany. Additionally, the Visitors are represented by one leader, but she isn't enough on her own to create the kind of devotion given to them, as they all display a kind of strange disconnect to human emotion. Yet the allusions to current U.S. politics are impossible to miss. And frankly, I admire any show willing to take on that hot potato. Unlike most political leaders, they don't make promises so much as immediately deliver what appears to be the cure to all our problems. And like pretty-much all political maneuvering, the cost of the solutions are not revealed until after we're already on the hook. And if the premier is any indication, I don't think there are going to be any sacred cows as far as the show is concerned-- with Father Landry being the voice in our head that wonders what in our religious pantheon covers alien invasions. I liked the show a lot. I think it's the best premier I've seen so far this season. I know my opinion is somewhat swayed by my nostalgia toward the old series but I think this updated version succeeds quite well. Seeing old favorites from "Firefly" (Baccarin as well as Alan Tudyk) was great and it's been rumored that regulars from the original series might be making an appearance in future episodes. I also know that the show's producers have promised to include some of the memorable events from the original show -- with some twists of course-- into this new incarnation. So there's a lot to entice me to keep watching. And you know I will.

17 comments:

Michelle G said...

I was in the 6th grade when the original mini series premiered and my sister was in the 3rd. I remember we would watch every night and it was such a big deal. :)

My daughter and I spent the weekend watching the marathon on the SyFy channel and it was still just as great as I remembered - a little cheesy on the special effects - but still great.

So I was more than pleased with the show last night and the new updated version we were presented with. I know I'll be tuning in to see how this plays out.

Great post.

M

DesLily said...

yeah.. but it doesn't have a young mark singer! lol.. wanted to watch this but... tsk tsk it's up against "new" NCIS... V lost the toss! maybe I can catch it in total reruns!

logankstewart said...

Excellent review. I really enjoyed the pilot episode, and I'm looking forward to watching as the season progresses. Alas, I was too young to watch the original and I missed the repeat of SyFy, but this one looks promising.

SQT said...

Deslily-- According to Marc Singer's bio, he's already scheduled to make an appearance on this one. Now you have to watch.

Michelle, I wish I would have re-watched the original. I need to see if they're going to re-air it. Maybe I'll even buy it.

Logan, glad you enjoyed it. I thought they did a good job.

Daelith said...

I didn't remember much about the original series, but caught an episode or two on the SyFy channel this past weekend. They had hubby and I cracking up.

NCIS won out for me too.

T.D. Newton said...

Hey SQT, it's also good to note that Joel Gretch is from the USA series, The 4400. If you're unfamiliar, you might want to check it out.

Sounds like a decent show. I'll pick it up in reruns or something, probably. I'm generally unimpressed with ABC's productions but, then again, I don't watch much TV anyway.

SQT said...

TD, I saw that in his bio. But I didn't watch the show so I didn't know if he was a big part of the show.

T.D. Newton said...

Yep, he played the main DHS agent working on the case... kind of like Joseph Fiennes in FlashForward. Despite being produced by USA and only running 4 seasons, left unfinished, I enjoyed the show. Decent premise and whatnot.

SQT said...

I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

RyanB said...

I was 8 years old when the original miniseries aired and was immediately mesmerized, following it all the way through the subsequent regular series. I marked my calendar weeks in advance to catch the re-imagined series premier and will continue to tune in. I like the V sleeper cell twist as an update, as well as the cloned human tissue (a la Terminator) vs. the simple masks the original V's sported. Are they still going to take a hiatus for the Olympics? If so, what terrible timing.

SQT said...

Ryan-- I think they are taking an Olympic hiatus, which suuuuucks.

Nick said...

I totally agree with you about the social commentary in the original. Here's a link to my own thoughts on the pilot episode. Let me know what you think:

http://nickleshi.blogspot.com/2009/11/comparing-new-v-to-original.html

KT said...

And an olympic-sized hiatus, at that. I believe it's coming back in March, sigh.

Loved your comments on the premiere. I haven't seen the original, but am very interested in how they work in the social commentary -- and precisely what the message will turn out to be! Hope the series does well. :)

Dan said...

Glad to hear you liked it! I wasn't really looking forward to it (actually because I didn't much get into the original series-didn't dislike it, just didn't make time for it), but maybe I'll have to check it out.
Other remakes I'm anticipating nervously: Yellow Submarine, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mad Max, The Hobbit...

Cheers!

-Dan

Nick said...

They're remaking Jesus Christ Superstar???

Bionic woman episodes said...

According to me also they had done very good job. Bionic woman tv show
is my favorite one. I cannot miss its any episode. I have watched its 3 season. And Now I want to Download bionic woman Episodes of next season also.....

SQT said...

Eh, I'm sure the Bionic Woman link is just a spambot.

Either way, I didn't think the show was that great.