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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

ABC's revamp of V premiered tonight

Giant alien spacecraft arrive over dozens of major cities around the world and their leader - a sexy brunette in a revealing skirt and high heels - broadcasts a greeting in perfect English and all these other languages in 100,800,000 progressive high-def television, says her name is "Anna" and that humanity is the first sentient life they have ever encountered... and nobody on Earth is bothering to ask HOW the hell any of this is possible?!

Well, other than that...

(I'll interject that all of those previous plotholes were quickly forgotten just before the final commercial break, when Elizabeth Mitchell's character peeled back the skin and I screamed out "OH HELL YES!!")

I watched the premiere episode of V tonight on ABC and thought it was wildly and surprisingly good. I loved the original V miniseries from 1983, thought the following year's V: The Final Battle stank on ice and that the regular series that ran for one season was science fiction with an identity crisis: "Dallas in outer space" was nobody's idea of fun.

So what did we get tonight? A deftly produced update that sharply refocuses on Kenneth Johnson's original concept... which is what a lot of people wanted to see more of following the original miniseries to begin with.

Specifics? The first half was a tad bit slow, but everything ramped up like crazy in the folowing thirty minutes. In one hour we got just about all of the major elements of the classic V mythology: the Visitors, their real nature, their propaganda and how humans buy into it, the resistance, the "traitors"... all of it smartly overhauled and made meaner for a modern audience that after Lost and Battlestar Galactica is demanding more. I think V stands a good chance at delivering.

Other things: I thought Scott Wolf's character of Chad the journalist made for a far more convincing example of "situational ethics" than did the thing between the Visitors and Christine Walsh in the original. Looking back, Walsh caved way too early. Chad is a reporter who is all too aware of his career and his professional morals... and that cries out pending conflict. Elizabeth Mitchell, who has become one of my favorite players on Lost, is a treat here too: maybe a bit shallow in this initial act, but I thought the same of her Juliet character from Lost at first too, so I'm thinking she'll continue to impress as time goes on. My favorite character of the new V so far though has to be that Catholic priest played by Joel Gretsch: the sermon he gives about how trust has to be earned, not given away freely... that was a dimension that I never saw in V's original incarnation.

Overall, I thought that this promises to use extraordinarily inhuman catalysts to explore some very human conditions. So long as it remains true to character and doesn't spin out of control into a special-effects schlockfest (and keeping the rodent digestion to a minimum) I think ABC's V could develop into an exceptionally fine series.


AfterShock said...

I am going to have to give another couple episodes, but I did enjoy this premiere last night...

I have been re-watching the original on SyFy over the weekend (when they ran a marathon) and this should be an interesting update. :)

Matt said...

And of course it came out the same day as Dragon Age came out and I totally forgot to watch it.

Heh. I have no regrets.