Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TV Review: "V"

I rarely watch Prime Time television in real time, especially since the advent of the DVR. So, it wasn't until tonight that I saw ABC's re-tooled version of their early 80's Mini-Series (and short-lived regular series) "V."

In preparation for the new series, I did watch most of SyFy's original "V" marathon on Sunday. It was just as ridiculous and cheesy as I remembered, but still an interesting take on modern fascism and the notion of people as sheep, blindly following those who promise a better life for doing so.

The original mini-series starred Beastmaster's Marc Singer as a network camera man who uncovers the Visitor's secret plot to steal Earth's water and eat her people. It took its time revealing plot points (as a mini-series, it had the luxury to do so) and I remember being shocked as all hell by that revealing shot of the Visitors' spokeswoman Diana (Jane Badler) opening her jaws (in a typically unrealistic '80's physical effect) to swallow a guinea pig whole. The Nazi allegory was deliberately unmistakable and the acting and special effects unintentionally cheesy.

In the latest version, "Lost" alum Elizabeth Mitchell plays FBI agent Erica Evans, who is as shocked and disturbed by the aliens' arrival as anyone. Joel Gretsch ("The 4400") is Father Jack Landry, a priest who has doubts about the Visitor's intentions and Morena Baccarin is Anna, the leader of the Visitors, who insist they are here to help Humanity in exchange for water and a "plentiful mineral" they need to sustain their lives. Alan Tudyk (Death at a Funeral; "Dollhouse" and the original cast of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told) is Erica's partner and "Party of Five" alum Scott Wolf is the ambitious reporter Chad, who is soon taken in by Anna's charms and becomes the Visitors official media outlet. Add cutie-pie Logan Huffman as Erica's Visitor-enthralled son and hottie Morris Chestnut as a surprising ally, and you have quite an interesting cast.

The new "V" doesn't waste anytime in revealing the truth behind the Visitors' real intentions, but jumps right into the conspiracy plot in the first hour. No one can be trusted (without surgical proof of a skull beneath their skin) and it's immediately clear that the Vs intentions are far from honorable. Using state-of-the-art special effects; crisp, no-nonsense writing and an excellent ensemble of some of television's most interesting actors, the new "V" is surprisingly entertaining and well-done. Mitchell is particularly good as the single mom struggling to maintain both her career and her relationship with her increasingly distant and rebellious son, while Gretsch is convincing as the Man of God who questions if the Visitors are in fact part of God's divine plan for the human race.

It will be interesting to see where the series goes and whether or not the writers are able to maintain the momentum they have put in place in the show's first episode. And while I must admit that I had my doubts about this particular reboot, I can only hope that the showrunners are able to keep our interest long enough to sustain a long-term run. *** 1/2 (Three and a Half Stars out of Four).

More, anon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked it well enough to tune in next week.

I found the close-up camera angles very distracting and there were some seriously annoying plot devices - especially not panning down during Scott's shower scene.

Dustin on The Primetime Dish says that V is a on season series, like Harper's Island.