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The Return of "V"

By admin Published: November 3, 2009

I have been doing this long enough to have previewed the original "V" miniseries back in 1983. Even though that preview tape was missing the special effects -- leading to lots of shots of awestruck people pointing toward an empty sky -- it was still a moderately amusing piece of cheese. In a sequel and then a weekly series, Nazi symbolism combined with heavily made-up, wicked vixens like Jane Badler, left, who were common in prime-time soaps of that period.

I bring all this up because the new "V," premiering tonight and pictured to the right, wants to be taken much more seriously than its predecessor -- to be use the "V" mythology the way "Battlestar Galactica" used its old-TV origins as the basis for something considerably more ambitious and impressive. As for whether it succeeds, let's continue after the jump.

UPDATE: The series has hired a new showrunner.

Tonight's premiere of "V" is heavy on atmosphere and moderately suspenseful, and the storytelling is much more comprehensible than in "FlashForward." Elizabeth Mitchell, who was so good as Juliet on "Lost," is on hand as are a couple of "Firefly"/"Serenity" veterans (Alan Tudyk as a cop and, more prominently, Morena Baccarin
as the representative of the alien Visitors). Baccarin does charming-chilly very well, especially in a confrontation with an ambitious TV newsman played by "Party of Five's" Scott Wolf, although I kept thinking that the part had been designed for Tamara Taylor. Currently on "Bones," she is also of the "Firefly" crowd, co-starred on "Party of Five" and does charming-chilly even better than Baccarin.

And, while the show is brooding, it's also slow. The opening effects are well executed but things we have seen before in other productions. The good-aliens-who-are-really-bad story has many antecedents, perhaps most significantly "To Serve Man," one of the great episodes (and punchlines) on "The Twilight Zone." A couple of the plot twists in the new "V" will be evident from miles off. And there's nothing in the premiere as boldly nutty as the original miniseries' first demonstration of what the Visitors were really like underneath their human skin.

Because the material is so familiar, I also wonder if the show has anywhere interesting to go; the older version had to huff and puff to keep its concept moving, and still didn't do it very well. So I expect to be back for at least one more episode, though I'm not so engaged as to watch it in real time. Schedule depending, it may be a placeholder on the DVR while I watch things that interest me more.

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