V Official Site

The Time:
Tuesdays, 8:00 PM, ABC

The Show:

In this remake of the 1980s miniseries and short-lived TV series, the world is collectively stunned when aliens in 29 gigantic motherships appear suddenly over the major cities of the world.  Initial panic turns into acceptance and excitement, as well as fear and mistrust of the self-proclaimed “Visitors” or “Vs.”  Professing to be “of peace, always,” the Vs promise to better mankind with their technology in exchange for much-needed resources that Earth has in abundance.  However, it isn’t long before the darker truth of the Visitors’ presence here is starting to become revealed to a select few.

The Stars:

- Erica Evans – Elizabeth Mitchell
- Chad Decker – Scott Wolf

– Anna – Morena Baccarin

– Ryan Nichols – Morris Chestnut

– Father Jack – Joel Gretsch

– Tyler – Logan Huffman

– Valerie – Lourdes Benedicto

– Lisa – Laura Vandervoort
- Dale Maddox – Alan Tudyk

The Episode:Pilot”

As the world is captivated by the Visitors, various stories and characters are introduced, including FBI Agent Erica Evans, who is dealing with both a suspected terror cell and a rebellious teen son who is becoming infatuated with Earth’s new friends.  Also, a businessman, Ryan Nichols, is struggling with his impending proposal to his girlfriend and a strange man who won’t leave him alone.  A skeptical priest, Father Jack, is dealing with his skepticism of the Visitors, and ambitious newscaster, Chad Decker, is given the opportunity of a lifetime to become the mouthpiece of the Visitors…if he’s willing to swallow a little pride and a lot of journalistic integrity.

The Lowdown:

After watching this premiere, I was, in a word…underwhelmed.  Practically the entire episode seemed more like a tour of the story than the story itself and there was little if anything I could find to hold my interest beyond the commercial breaks I was DVR-ing through.  Most of the performances were pedestrian or just downright boring and the entire arrival of the Vs was virtually glossed over.  Now that could be attributed to the pilot trying to hit the ground running, but it came at the expense of exploring the real impact of the Visitors’ arrival.  In the words of Costanza, they “yadda yadda-ed the best part.”  25 years after the original, the special effects are of course much better, but it doesn’t make up for a lackluster take on the franchise.

In terms of the characters, beyond Morena Baccarin as Anna and Elizabeth Mitchell trying her best to deal with a douchebag son, no one’s performance grabbed whatsoever.  I dig Morris Chestnut’s work, but even he seemed hamstrung by a fairly uninteresting character.  Good seeing Alan Tudyk getting some work, but his Agent Dale Maddox is also a victim of uninspired writing, at least up until the last ten minutes.  Looks like he might be bringing a tad of Dollhouse’s Alpha into the mix. 

Scott Wolf was passable as Chad Decker, but he dialed back Decker to the point that, he either should have been an opportunistic asshole or a principled journalist who had to go through more turmoil to sacrifice his integrity to get the interview.  Logan Huffman was forgettable as Evans’ son, Tyler, and I actually found nothing that would make me hope that he doesn’t end up as a V blue plate special very soon.  Laura Vandervoort’s Lisa wasn’t given much more to do other than pique Tyler’s herpetology interest.  If they adapt any of the original’s plotline, could she end up being the hybrid babymamalizard?  Might be a safe bet.

As for the formation of the resistance, shrouding it in terrorism fears that draw in Evans is a logical step, so no issue with that from me.  It turns out, though, that the Vs have been here for years, fomenting unrest and strife, starting “unnecessary wars” and the like.  On a side note, a fun comment from Ludwig on the boards that this means in effect that “George Bush is a lizard.”  But this also means that probably the Cylon skinjob infiltration angle is now going to be utilized.  Couple of characters unexpectedly turned out to be space geckos. 

Special effects were fine, and the design of the motherships was also good.  Didn’t think that would be a major issue though, considering the reported money spent on these initial episodes.  I’m on the fence as to whether keeping the old school meatsuits as the Visitors’ camouflage is better than say, some sort of retrovirus or genetic engineering that changes them from reptilian to human or not.  Did anyone notice how thick the human skin was, though?  Compared to the original’s makeup, this is deep dish compared to thin crust.

The Visitors themselves definitely lacked the flair of their 1980s counterparts.  Doubtless that the Space Nazi motifs of the original wouldn’t play in today’s hypersensitive, overly-PC society.  But the Visitors come across as little more than Abercrombie & Fitch models in Armani and Vera Wang.  Makes sense for how they plan to influence and ingratiate themselves into that human society, but makes for rather dull antagonists.  Jane Badler just oozed evil sensuality as Diana.  By comparison, Baccarin’s Anna is more that hot, creepy corporate type.  She plays the duplicity well, but it’s a sterilized rendition that contributes to the overall dullness of this interpretation.

In summation, this entire first hour crawled.  The parts that bore further fleshing out, like the impact of the Visitors’ arrival, was done away or glossed over for expediency.  But too much expediency took the teeth out of the narrative.  Few if any of the characters grabbed and the Visitors lost a lot of their appeal in the translation.  And for a show with global implications, as the Visitors arrived worldwide, the first hour hardly touched upon that whatsoever.  I can stick with this for three more hours, just to see if it improves and because curiosity compels me.  But V has the misfortune of premiering post-Battlestar Galactica, remake, post-District 9 and hell, even post-Alien Nation and easily pales in comparison to all of them

 5.2 out of 10

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