V (2009): Season 1
In television remakes, or as they are commonly called today, re-imaginings, typically reflect a lack of imagination more than anything else. Traditionally there is a genre that has a significantly better track record when it comes to the resurrection of a popular TV show, science fiction. In the past two groundbreaking anthology series that define the genre, ‘Outer Limits’ and ‘Twilight Zone’ enjoyed revivals that could match the originals for content and quality. A few years ago the SyFy network proved a popular series could be re-worked from a camp staple of the seventies into a thought-provoking modern drama with the retooling of ‘Battle Star Galactica.’ This series swept through the fan base like a wildfire exploding into one of the best shows on television. Now the ABC network has decided to try this methodology with the revisionary return of a popular mini-series ‘V.’ Although the follow-up series was considered a failure, the premise behind the pair of mini-series was strong enough to warrant revisiting it. Perhaps this is one reason why science fiction is amenable to being revamped; it tends to deal with underlying social issues frequently under a thin veil of space travel or technology just beyond our grasp. The original inception of ‘V’ created by Kenneth Johnson used extraterrestrials with a hidden agenda to demonstrate how easily a fascist state such as Nazi Germany can come into existence and displace the existing government. Now the main threat our world faces is terrorism, so it is only natural that this inventive premise focuses its revealing yet entertain eye in that direction. There were fans of the original, I included, you expressed some degree of trepidation at the news of this show, but then I remembered similar feeling before the premiere of ‘Battlestar’, a series that become one of my all-time favorites. With that in mind I gave it a shot and now, as I look back on the first season, I have to admit they producers are on to something. They don’t quite have all the kinks worked out yet but at this point they are on track to reaching the potential held by the show. The series has been picked up to return in January so hopefully the network will allow the series to flourish in the manner it deserves.
While it was fairly clear that the original series was about the initial seduction of fascism the allegory in this remake is not as overt. Terrorism is certainly part of the picture although it is frequently depicted from the anti-establishment vantage point. Many have forwarded the idea that the central theme revolved around the presidency of Barack Obama. While many elements of the storylines give credence to the position, it may be too early in the series to pin it down to one avenue of exploration. When the aliens arrive in 29 huge ships hovering over the major cities of earth their leader, Anna (Morena Baccarin) gives the standard ‘We come in peace’ prepared statement going on to talk about change and new hope to the people of the earth. A major part of this incentive is the use of their advanced technology to bring us universal health care. While they can diagnosis, treat and cure diseases beyond our reach, it is soon revealed that their motives may not be pure. I guess nobody on this earth ever saw the ‘Twilight Zone episode ‘To serve man.’ One point in favor of this incarnation is that the interpretation of the meaning a metaphor is left open to the subjective view of the audience. Mentioning the current presidency or the topic of terrorism is certain to spark a lively if not heated debate. By making some of the plot points flexible and subject to differences in the analysis the produces not only ignite discussion with the viewers but provide a good deal of potential latitude to the writers in what direction that can take the story. This will allow them a way to avoid being a carbon copy of the original and establish its own identity. This is balanced by the involvement of Kenneth Johnson in this production.
No sooner than the ‘V’s arrive than some people start to suspect their true motives are forming an underground resistance. Some themes from the original are added, but fortunately, the form taken is typically different. This is an alien, Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut), helping the humans but instead of the bumbling comic relief, he is in love with a human woman who is carrying his hybrid child. The Newsman turned V’ press agent is handled by Scott Wolf as Chad Decker. Initially, he is an ambitious local TV newsman who sees the aliens as his means to go national or even global in recognition. This would be pretty straight from the original except here Chad has more of a covert agenda of his own possible as an inside agent for the resistance. At times it appears that the primary casting for the show took place during a break in a Sci-Fi convention. Most all of the pivotal roles are filled by people extremely familiar to the devotees of the genre and principle demographic targeted by the series. Baccarin was featured in ‘Stargate SG-1’ and stared at the cult favorite, ‘Firefly as did Alan Tudyk who appears here as a ‘V’ in deep cover as an FBI agent. His partner is a principle member of the resistance, agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell). Fans will remember her from the enigmatic series ‘Lost.’ Now she has a son, Tyler (Logan Huffman) who joins the visitor youth group and is in love with Anna’s beautiful daughter Lisa (Laura Vandervoort). Most will recognize her from her role as Supergirl on ‘Smallville.’ This was a Catholic priest in the resistance in the original, but now that concept has expanded to the second leader, Father Jack Landry (played by the former star of ‘The 4400’, Joel Gretsch. Just to keep this casting trend going another ‘V’ fifth columnist is Dr. Leah Pearlman played by Lexa Doig of ‘Andromeda’ fame. Lastly, in a nod to the original fans, Jane Balder makes an appearance as Anna’s mother aptly named Diana. Rounding out the Sci-fi casting is Sarita Malik a ‘V’ mole in the FBI portrayed by ‘Battlestar Galactica alum Rekha Sharma.
The high definition release of this series shines. The video is crisp and clear demonstrating that there is a difference between the 1080p on cable and 1080i used in Blu-ray. In most places it subtle but discernable. It is also reinforced greatly by the upgrade from 5.1 audio to the lossless variety presented here. The series has a way to go yet, but it is well on its way. Being a standard network, ABC cannot get as cutting edge as SyFy could but the standards are such, and the material is flexible enough that this is barely a concern. The series is already far ahead of the short-lived series following the mini-series, and I greatly look forward to season two starting up.
Posted 11/03/2010 Posted 01/21/2018