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ABC debuts “V”: How does it stack up to the original?

newvTuesday night, ABC debuted V, a revamp of the ’80s mini-series/television series that aired on NBC.  While the original mini-series paralleled the alien Visitors plot to destroy humans to the spread of fascism in Nazi Germany, the 1984-85 run of the show was more of a straight-forward sci-fi drama. 

The new version of V adds new versions of old characters and employs a lot more of the socio-political allegory that the 1980s franchise’s mini-series (V and V: The Final Battle) had contained.  In place of Nazis, the relaunched V taps into current social phobias such as terrorism, religious extremism, and apocalyptic mania (Have the Mayans ever been so popular?!) as well as the zeitgeist of optimismistic change. 

The story is still the same: Visitors from another planet zero in on Earth to use its inhabitants for some as-yet-to-be-revealed nefarious plot and commit genocide.  They wear the guise of uber-attractive humans and initially come across as peaceful and helpful allies to humanity, but are actually calculating, scaly reptillian creatures beneath their cloned, human skin.  An underground collective of humans has been tracking the Visitors and have known they had implanted some of their own to rise through the ranks in all walks of life, making their transition and sudden, near-miraculous appearance on Earth a smooth one.

The cast of characters has a few constants.  The names change from the ones in the original show, but the character archetypes are firmly in place:  the freedom fighting leader, the creepily hot female alien commandant, the skeptic, the good alien who really loves humanity, etc.  You get the idea. 

Scattered among the relatively huge ensemble cast of the new V are a few familiar faces.  Morris Chestnut is the new Robert Englund from the original as the alien traitor and human sympathizer with a human wife.  Firefly‘s Morena Baccarin is Ana (an interesting play on the original’s alien femme fatale Diana’s name), the beautiful, seemingly serene yet coldly calculating leader of the Visitors.  Scott Wolf (Party of Five, Everwood, The Nine) makes his return to weekly television as an ambitious human journalist who becomes a reluctant and somewhat unwilling Minister of Propaganda for the Visitors.

The new V uses a lot of the same plot devices as the old one.  One of the show’s main characters, a butt-kicking, terrorist-tracking mom finds her teenage son’s growing obsession with the Visitors to be positively disturbing.  Wait until she gets a load of him joining the Hitler Youth-esque branch of teen Visitor sympathizers as laid out in the pilot episode. 

Overall, the pilot episode of V was solid and has potential to become a good series, even for a remake.  It touches upon relevant issues and there are some interesting characters with more of a sophisticated sheen than the original television series of the ’80s.  The one caveat is that there is very little humor, not even a speckle of camp.  I tend to be a bit skeptical of a series that seems to take itself a tad too seriously and goes for nothing but top-to-bottom heavy drama.  Additionally, even beyond the fact that it is a redux, the show can get rather predictable at times, even in its early stages.

Pending on the Nielsen numbers that have yet to manifest themselves, ABC may have a hit on its hands.  With Lost in its last season and depending on how long Desperate Housewives can hang on, the network will need another hit series to reel in the viewers.  V, still in its early stages, has potential to do that, both as a nostalgic throwback and as a new series construct.

Topics: V | 1 Comment »

One Response to “ABC debuts “V”: How does it stack up to the original?”
Watch V Online - November 12th, 2009 at 9:27 am

It seems to do the original 80 show justice 🙂

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