Tuesday, November 3, 2009
V - MY REVIEW
I'll be the first to admit that I met the idea of a new series based on the 1983 mini-series V with great trepidation. Every time I saw commercials for it I would get Battlestar Galactica flashbacks. I realize most found the new BSG to be the greatest reinvention of an old series ever but for me it failed on every single level save for Edward James Olmos who I pretty much love in anything. With my Post Traumatic BSG Stress Disorder in full swing I sat down to watch V hopeful but wary.
For those who never saw the original V it tells the story of a group aliens who land on our planet claiming to be a friend of humanity, one that will cure our ills and save our world. Beneath their human exteriors they're actually reptilian beings looking to turn humanity into either slaves or food. The original mini-series ended with the human resistance defeating the aliens and driving them out of our planet for good. That was before the ill fated TV series which lasted one season.
The new V series is more in depth, more dramatic and obviously looks better than the 1983 series. Being this is just the pilot episode I wasn't expecting everything to be perfect and was pleasantly surprised at how much actually worked. Don't get me wrong, there are some major issues with V but as far as pilots go I enjoyed it and I'm interested in seeing episode two.
What works with the new V series is mainly the slant on how the resistance is formed. Instead of just whipping one up as the aliens did in the original it turns out the aliens had placed sleeper cells throughout the world to prepare for the coming invasion. I thought that was a great idea, it really strengthened why the traitor aliens would turn against their home world to help us. In the original the resistance aliens just felt bad while here they have grown to know us and care for us.
I also liked the way V spoke to humanities love of instant gratification. Aliens land, give us cures and technology and suddenly we worship and love them with open arms. Playing off of that and how the aliens manipulate the media updates the series but still stays in line with the original. Character wise the new series stays pretty true to the original formula. In the '83 V the resistance was lead by news cameraman and ultimate do-gooder Marc Singer as well as emotional scientist Juliet Parish. The man-woman leaders are still intact only this time around it's FBI Agent Erica Evans and Father Jack Landry. I'm hoping they've made the male lead a Priest in order to do away with any lame love interest angle.
What doesn't work with the new V series mainly stems from the producers taking a good idea way too far. For instance the V's are all supposed to be attractive in their fake human skins but here they all look like movie stars. While I understand that speaks to America's celebrity fascination it doesn't work here. I feel like nobody would instantly trust a bunch of supermodels from outer space. What made the original V aliens work was that while they did look nice and respectable they were all different. These aliens all look too much like a Milan runway show.
The same can be said for the sleeper cell idea. Instead of just having the story maintain that the sleeper cells arrived and learned our strengths and weaknesses in the new series the sleeper V aliens are responsible for every bad thing happening right now from the economy to terrorism. So it wasn't an age old devotion to an ancient religion that drove the 9/11 terrorists to crash the planes it was a bunch of aliens? It was too much, too grandiose and too hard to swallow. It would have been just as effective for the sleepers to have contacted the aliens when our world was falling apart and said that now was the time to strike.
The other problem with the sleeper cell idea is that of character Ryan Nichols played by Morris Chestnut. When the aliens land he's called back into action to help gather the resistance but he refuses because now he has a girlfriend he's about to ask to marry him. Huh? How exactly would that work out? Didn't she ever ask about his family? What did he think would happen when the aliens showed up? What about kids, didn't it worry him that they'd have an alien hybrid baby? There's too many variables to believe that any sleeper alien would marry a human.
One funny thing is that the new V series carried over a problem the old V series had which was why didn't they just annihilate us and take what they wanted? Why be coy? Why this gigantic master plan? I was happy that one character in the new V actually asks that question because they never addressed it in the old series. I was also glad that the new series got right down to the reptile angle because it wouldn't be the big reveal that it was in 1983, we all know too much about the show.
All in all the new V was pretty good and held my interest enough to want to come back for more. I'm still really interested in how the producers are going to make this an ongoing show. Part of what made the old show so miserable was the idea of continuously fighting the aliens grew old fast. How they plan to keep it interesting this go 'round only time will tell. If they don't it'll be the shortest alien invasion in celluloid history.