Movies: 1135
Comments: 67725
Members: 718
Online: 0 Guests: 467
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/views.module on line 823.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1684.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1684.
  • strict warning: Declaration of date_plugin_display_attachment::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 33.
  • warning: Attempt to modify property of non-object in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 24.
  • warning: Attempt to modify property of non-object in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 25.
  • warning: Attempt to modify property of non-object in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 26.
  • warning: Attempt to modify property of non-object in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 28.
  • warning: Attempt to modify property of non-object in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 29.
  • warning: Attempt to modify property of non-object in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 30.
  • warning: Attempt to modify property of non-object in /home/corona/public_html/modules/date/includes/date_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 31.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_comment::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_comment.inc on line 48.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 48.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_comment_username::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_comment_username.inc on line 48.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 699.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 584.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 584.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/views.module on line 823.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/views.module on line 823.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/views.module on line 823.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/views.module on line 823.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/corona/public_html/modules/views/views.module on line 823.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/corona/public_html/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 170.
exclusive news

Exclusive: The pilot for the new V series reviewed

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Monday, March 9, 2009

I was one of the kids from the original Star Wars generation when pop culture entertainment suddenly became obsessed with space ships, alien worlds and robots. If you didn’t live around the late 1970s to early 1980s it’s hard to illustrate just how big shows like the original Star Wars, Superman, Close Encounters and even the dodgier ones like Battlestar Galactica were to kids from that time. We ate it up the way that today’s teen girls and single moms looking for Mr. Right write the surname “Cullen” after “Mrs.” and their first name on the inside front covers of their Twilight books.

But while a show like the original Battlestar Galactica seemed on paper to be a for sure success with its weekly dose of space battles and casino planet aliens, it felt silly even to kids like me and the grade school crew that I called friends. TV science fiction, at least the stuff we were being shown in North America, was mostly pretty lousy.

That changed in 1983 when the original two-part V mini-series aired on NBC. Again, if you weren’t around back then consider that video stores were still pretty new, people still tuned in to watch the shows in prime-time and owning a satellite dish to watch cable channels like HBO was an exotic thing. When the old network ploy of branding a mini-series as a “television event” was hyped in 30-second commercials and on the cover of TV Guide, those shows always captured huge ratings. And while NBC's hype machine certainly did its’ part in branding V as one of those must see events, when people tuned in to watch Kenneth Johnson’s modern day alien invasion, most of uswere surprised to find out that it was actually pretty good. Instead of just giving us scary aliens that wanted to steal our water and eat rodents, Johnson also gave us human characters-turned-resistance fighters from all walks of life. He also drew an allegory between our so-called alien Visitors and the early days of the rise of the fascist Nazis. Looking back I think it was that stroke of genius that cemented V in the public consciousness of a generation.

After the first V aired the next year there was a second mini-series that didn’t rise to the same level of distinction – or let’s just call it the way it was and say that even with the addition of Michael Ironside and a bigger budget, V: The Final Battle was weak sauce. The big determining factor was that Johnson had exited the franchise and his ghost was definitely felt in the weaker quality of the storyline. That didn’t stop people from tuning in and giving the peacock network even bigger ratings for V the sequel, so inevitably a weekly TV show was given the greenlight for the fall of 1984. The less said about that piece of soap opera dreck the better, but if you’re curious and like to hurt yourself YouTube is your friend.

Which brings us to 2009 and the return of V. After several false starts at bringing the idea back, either as a feature film or new TV show, ABC has ordered a pilot for a 21st century V. The show is scheduled to start filming this week in Vancouver, Canada and most of the cast members have been announced. If ABC digs what they see, a series will follow. After greenlighting stuff like Alias, Lost and Life on Mars, and with another pilot being made for Robert J. Sawyer’s dizzying future history novel Flash Forward, when did the alphabet network suddenly become the cool place for all the genre shows to go to?

But is the new V going to be cool? Will it do what Ronald Moore did for Battlestar Galactica? I’m here to offer you a sneak preview of what the blueprint for TV’s new V is like. How ABC or the show’s creators choose to construct their house and with what materials remains up to them.

Before I get deep into it, I’ve got a little bit more education for you. The man chosen to resurrect V and write the pilot, creating the characters and tone and generally being V’s God is Scott Peters. His IMDb profile shows that he’s got a decent list of genre credits including writing and executive producing on The 4400. Nothing there suggests to me that he’s going to fail in his mission but there’s also nothing that warrants getting too excited either. However, tucked away on a corner of the internet I came across a quote from Peters that Variety had just after the news broke that he was writing V, and this sounds like something that I would’ve said in his shoes so I’m warming to the guy: “Whenever I mention V to anybody,” Peters said to the mag last January, “they still have a lot of good memories about the original movie and series. Everybody has that imagery of their uniforms, or the visitor eating a hamster. It's a science fiction icon and too good to pass up.” And he’s right; there is a layer of warm, fuzzy memories associated with V. People have generally forgotten the shitty TV show that followed and only remember the start of it. But after the advancements to special effects and the level of quality for science fiction TV raised by shows like Battlestar and Lost, any new V series has to also step up its game. Nostalgia will get the audience to turn in opening night but it won’t keep them around.

Peters’ script for the V pilot begins by asking us three questions: Where were you when President Kennedy was killed? Where were you on 9/11? And where were you this morning? It’s a quick and snappy way to introduce the show’s concept: the world is about to change and you’re tuning in to witness it. I can dig that.

We’re quickly introduced to Erica Evans who seems to be this show’s version of Mike Donovan, the TV cameraman that Marc Singer played in the original V. She’s an agent in Homeland Security and she’s got a 16-year-old son named Tyler who’s got a typical sense of teen alienation and wanting to fit in. We’re also quickly shown the pilot’s other important players like Father Jack, a young priest serving in a soon-to-be-decommissioned parish in the heart of one of Los Angeles’ poorest districts; Ryan Nichols, a 30-something guy wanting to propose to his sweetheart in the near future; and Chad Decker, an ambitious, good-looking rising reporter on a cable news channel. There’s supplemental players too, Ryan’s soon-to-be-fiancée and her daughter from a previous marriage; Tyler’s best friend Bryce; Erica’s partner Dale; Father Jack’s mentor and a few others. Almost but not quite the same supporting number of secondary characters found in the original V but still, a sign that Peters seems to get that part of the allure of the original V.

The money shot of the aliens’ motherships arriving to park themselves above the major cities of the world happens pretty early into the story and propels the plot forward. The aliens’ arrival is quicker than what took place in the ’83 V but it feels proper in this version. Since the airing of the original V we’ve had Independence Day thrust upon our collective psyche and its imagery of mammoth, circular and silent flying saucers positioned above the skylines of L.A. and New York. Today’s newer generation is going to remember watching ID4 on home video and might even believe that V is stealing from that movie, which is why I was happy to see a sly little mention of which came first in Peters’ script.

I’m not revealing any secrets by mentioning the leader of the Visitors is a beautiful human-looking woman named Anna (and Firefly’s Morena Baccarin was just been announced in the role, a nice choice and visual successor to sexy Jane Badler from the original series.) After the Visitors park their ships and humanity has a few moments to WTF-out, the holographic projection of Anna cascades from the motherships and speaks in the native languages of the cities’ populations, albeit in an accent that makes a nod to the strange accent of the original ‘80s Visitor; this time the Visitors’ speech possesses a lilting harmonic quality to it. The message that Anna delivers is that the Visitors are here in peace. They need our help, a supply of water and a mineral native to Earth. If we agree they will share their advanced technology and knowledge. We have the option to refuse and if so, they go away as friends.

The arrival of the Visitors (or V’s as their soon referred to in shorthand) follows similarly to Johnson’s older storyline. The world governments open a dialog and within a few weeks the start of an exchange of goods for technology begins to take place. In a few spots Peters shows us slices of the huge cultural impact that’s happening off-screen such as with a special broadcast on a channel that’s showing around-the-clock programming of crippled humans being healed by the Visitors’ medical knowledge and technology. A crippled boy rises from a wheelchair and for the first time in his life he walks. The way it’s presented it’s a wondrous, chilling scene that illustrates the tremendous temptation the Visitors are beckoning humanity with to be their ally.

But of course this is V and we know that the Visitors are up to no good. I’m not going to go into the details surrounding later portions of the pilot’s story but you have probably already guessed that Erica’s job in Homeland Security brings her directly into the frontlines of conflict. So too with several of the other main characters that I’ve mentioned and by the pilot’s conclusion the beginnings of a human resistance has been formed. Still, it’s not as easy to say that Peters’ V pilot sets up everything that Johnson’s four-hour mini-series did. While the major brush strokes are there, there’s still a lot to be left in the details. There’s also some nice suggestions that not everything or everyone is going to be neatly choosing which side they’re standing on in the battles to come.

An hour-long pilot doesn’t give the writer much room for much subtlety but from what’s presented here there’s room for exploration that’s exactly what a decent pilot episode should do. Getting back to the blueprint analogy, Peters has made a solid start for resurrecting the core concepts of V by pouring a solid foundation with his script. Even though none of the original V’s characters are in it, Peters hasn’t desecrated Johnson’s ideas about the Visitors or neglected the multiple points of view from different characters caught up in the story nor altered the mission of the aliens. If ABC greenlights a series from this pilot there will be opportunity to spend time exploring the show’s universe and how our characters deal with the threat and arrival of the Visitors and of course for showing us more of the real reasons why Anna and her pals are here. Peters has included one new dimension about the invasion of the Visitors that was never touched on in the original show, one that adds an interesting twist about the current political turmoils and financial troubles our world is facing. That would definitely be an interesting angle to explore as well as more about the effects the Visitors are having on the world’s religious people, our technology and where they come from.

You’ll notice that I’ve kept back from talking about whether there are any scenes that reveal the true form of the Visitors. If you’re looking for an updated moment showing Anna eating a live rodent, sorry to say that it’s not arrived just yet. That’s not to say that you won’t be seeing a quick glimpse of what the V’s look like under their perfect human skin -- but that also may mean what you’ll see won’t be what you expect to see.

If I say that I may not have the same energy level of wanting to see what happens next when the final scene ends in Scott Peters’ new V pilot as I did when the final scene of Julie and Elias spray-painted the V symbol on the door of the radio telescope at the end of the first mini-series back in ’83, one factor is that Peters can’t cram in four hours worth of revelations and characterization into an hour script. He's setting up the premise and more importantly establishing the tone for any future stories to follow. What I do have is the impression that we have a better than average second chance for a decent V TV series, one that has the marks of living up to the potential of Johnson’s original but also branding it for the audience living in the world of 2009. I’ll take that.

 

-Review by Patrick Sauriol

There are currently no comments