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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's a shame it's so hard to do good science fiction.
I really don't like to be negative. I try not to be. But when confronted with lack-luster writing, cliché characters and a polished-off old and obsolescent story, I have to call 'em as I see 'em. The new V is not a rethinking or a re-imagining; it is simply a brainless and uninspired remake. The setting is updated, but nothing else is. A story that worked passably well in the early '80s (because people back then didn't know any better, and TV sci-fi hadn't progressed very far) does not even begin to work as tolerable science fiction today. Why do the V implement some big conspiratorial and ridiculously convoluted plan when they essentially have the technology to just do whatever the heck they want to do to the Earth and the Earthlings? This is one story that *should* have been thoroughly re-imagined, and altered to make more sense.
Why is nobody asking the obvious questions? How come the V appear totally humanoid? How come they have Terran names like Anna and Lisa? These are some of the very basic things people would wonder about if something like this actually happened, and ask about, and which the show should consider its first duty to provide answers for. But it's not addressed at all. And any aliens who appear to us like beautiful human women would, in the real world, be *instantly* suspected of being deceitful manipulators. The seduction and ingratiation shtick is simply too obvious. Which also means that anybody who falls head-over-heels for it can only be pitiful lechers without two brain cells to rub together.
In sci-fi more than in mainstream fiction, the characters have to be fairly rational and (like the viewers) at least half-way intelligent. If the viewer is forced to sit and groan about the ridiculous stupidity of the characters' actions, we know we are dealing with unintelligent television. Also, what of subtext? Even though it was heavy-handed and obvious in the old show, at least there was a subtext (analogy to Nazi Germany). Here, there's nothing; at least none that I can identify. The show doesn't address what's going on beyond the little world of the main cast of characters. What happens to our male teenagers must be happening to millions of male teens all over the world. Somebody would at least see the pattern. Why is there no scientists among the human cast? The show sorely needs some people who actually exhibit some inquisitiveness, and who can provide useful advice.
And what's the official reaction to the presence of the V? Three weeks go by, and virtually nothing changes? It's not convincing. I also had to flinch when they mentioned universal health care. Evil aliens want universal health care? That's pretty much like comparing Obama's administration to evil reptiles for wanting health care to be available to all Americans. The last thing I need is an openly Republican sci-fi show... The producers probably meant it to be another element of seduction, akin to the sexiness of the alien women, but the evil of these aliens is just so totally obvious to the viewers that their every gesture is instantly colored in a negative light. So this sort of thing can very easily backfire. OTOH, maybe the producers *are* Republicans...
Another disappointment in the pilot was that we didn't see (in their entirety) the V's reptilian bodies. I hoped for something new and different in that area - it would have made for an interesting and dramatic end shot - but nothing suggests that it's anything other than what it was in the old show. It is quite plain from the mediocre writing and bland production values that this remake will not last long. One or two seasons, tops. Hate to preach impending doom, but that's how it seems to me, and from what I've seen so far that's what it deserves. The only character I cared for at all - Alan Tudyk's - was killed off by the end of this first episode. Now there's only Morena Baccarin's face left to be excited about.
I'd rate the pilot a 3, but I raise it to a 4 because of the one new element, which was actually a surprise, and provided some much needed depth of character for Ryan Nichols: the revelation that he was an alien, and on the side of the humans. Just for that, I may even keep watching. The show is not a total loss (I'm not rating it a 1 or 2, after all); it just fails to be interesting, intriguing, innovative, impressive or exciting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not being a scientifically illiterate person, I have to say that I'm so
far not impressed and that I have seen far better stuff then this in
episodes of the TV-show The Outer Limits (1995).
The characters introduced so far aren't that interesting, let's see how they form "La Résistance" will they use Youtube to accomplish this? How about the reporter who has direct dialog access with the alien leader, he only needs a hidden camera to expose the obscured personality of that camouflaged female leader.
I don't want to sound negative but I have seen a lot of sci-fi shows and movies failures in this past decade, now that any movie director can afford CG animation it is becoming very depressing watching scientifically failed shows being aired.
When I read a few months ago that V, the 1983 original miniseries, was
reimagined I thought it wasn't such a bad idea. After all it happened
to Battlestar Galactica (1978) and its 2003 miniseries was awesome.
However now that I've seen its pilot it didn't live up to all the hype
that surrounded its airing.
The beginning reminded me of the film Independence Day but instead of Will Smith it was Elizabeth Mitchell as Erica Evans. Other characters were introduced but some profiles are such clichés that it felt like watching a twenty years old production at times. Erica is a FBI agent, she's divorced, her teenage son is rebelling, the Father questioning his believes But others are more interesting. First there's Ryan Nichols played by Morris Chestnut. I found the actor's performance quite convincing and his profile was intriguing. I wasn't thrilled by Morena Baccarin as Anna even if I think she has potential. I'm sure she'll grow on us in the upcoming episodes. Moreover at first I found her eyes twitching a bit awkward but I quickly realized it helped us see the reptile behind the attractive flesh mask. Last but not least the news reporter could have been better because his profile was predictable and poorly scripted. It's the writer's fault because the way he was mind controlled was just lazy. I thought Anna would use some sort of charming voice like in Frank Herbert's Dune but instead she only convinced him with words. I found the idea wasn't creative at all, specially for a sci-fi production. The Visitors can travel at the speed of light but they use old lines like some politicians. However their respective story arcs could get more interesting if the writers focus on linking them, developing character connections in original and twisted directions.
It leads us to the story. Scott Peters's work is dated and now I better understand why Kenneth Johnson wrote on his website that he hadn't been involved in the writing process. When V was first aired back in 1983 I'm sure most viewers were blown away by his refreshing ideas but nowadays people have higher expectations. With all the tragic events that happened since then I'm surprised Peters didn't take the risk to develop a more controversial script. The Visitors came from nowhere and their motherships happened to just pop up in the sky. Don't they have radars in their fictional world ? However a few events were unexpected so it should intrigue some viewers enough to give it a second chance.
Moreover I have to admit that the visual effects were good and the production quality correct in general. However when money is not well spent I can't help complaining. Indeed some scenes looked like they were shot for a brainless blockbuster. A plane crashed but it was a non-event. The sun was shining and the sky was deep blue when the ships appeared. Don't they know anything about weather effects and haven't they seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind ? They could have at least hired some guy to operate the smoke machine. An other anecdotic effect was the mothership turning into a giant television, revealing Anna's face. If your civilization was so technology advanced would you just do that or broadcast your messages on mobile phones and televisions ? I couldn't help thinking of how Mars Attacks successfully introduced us to the invaders and their ambassador. There were so many creative ways to do it differently.
In fact the major problem is that it didn't feel at all like if Visitors were arriving. In ID4 we spent half the film listening to the president of the United States but here he was just MIA. Even the people didn't look scared at all when large ships were hovering over all major cities in the world. An other disappointment was how they reacted to Anna's speech, applauding like sheep. Of course it helped the skeptical characters to shine for some seconds but I quickly realized that the writer chose to do it by the book instead of thinking out of the box. To sum things up it didn't feel like V had been reimagined but more rehashed. So it's definitely not the modern version Kenneth Johnson's miniseries deserved. People who thought of V as the new Lost, considering they both air on ABC, should also be quite disappointed.
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