Like many members of Generation X, I was parked directly in front of the TV set when the original NBC mini-series V premiered in 1983. The series told of a superior alien race that came to Earth, allegedly in search of water — while the truth behind the Visitors’ outing was much more dastardly: they were actually hideous, bipedal reptilian critters in disguise that had come to eat us. Needless to say, such a fantastic story became the talk of the playground for me and my friends at school — as it did with most of my generation. The series proved to be a hit for NBC, and was followed by a second mini-series and a short-lived television show.
A few years back, when television networks and movie studios started being infiltrated by Generation X-ers, many of the now “classic” series I had enjoyed as a lad were re-introduced to TV viewers — both new and old — in lavishly retold versions. This caused a great bit of anxiety to arise in some of us. And our paranoia was justified when we suffered through bastardized and inept incarnations of series like Bionic Woman and Knight Rider. Fortunately, though, the men and women behind the new, revamped V seem to be taking their production cues from such failed series.
Like the original mini-series, V begins with the arrival of massive spaceships, to wit, the inhabitants of planet Earth are introduced and subsequently assured by the alien leader, Anna (Morena Baccarin) that she and her fellow Visitors have come in peace. As it turns out, of course, they’re here for a far more sinister purpose. Fortunately, though, an FBI counterterrorist agent Erica Evans (Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell) and Father Jack Landry (sci-fi TV regular Joel Gretsch — they couldn’t get Mark Valley, I guess) manage to team up with an alleged “terrorist cell” (we can’t have TV without terrorist cells, you know) which, as it turns out, is actually a group of resistance fighters who are aware that the Visitors have been secretly permeating the governments of the world in order to enslave us all.
Oh, the humanity!
Also just like in the original V, there are certain members of the alien race that are on our side. Boyz N The Hood co-star Morris Chestnut appears here as one of the aliens in disguise: a man/critter that had grown weary of his mission when he started developing (gasp) emotions — and fell in love with a human woman (Lourdes Benedicto). The cast also includes Michael J. Fox wannabe Scott Wolf as a “star-struck” (ta-dum) reporter who gets the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to act as Anna’s personal network boy (and quickly starts to regret it), and Smallville semi-regular Laura Vandervoort as an alien beauty who lures Erica’s teenage son into the alien web of deceit.
Like creator Kenneth Johnson’s original series — and most science fiction tales in general, for that matter — V manages to make a social commentary every so often (perhaps more) about the current state of the world (politics, religion, etc.). In 1983, the aliens were comparable to the Nazis (in many respects), while the extraterrestrials in the 2009 reboot series has more of a “Trust No One” conspiracy vibe about it. At times, the new version’s annotations are pretty blatant, which may cause some viewers to roll their eyes and tune out.
That said though, the new V still manages to come across as enjoyable. The series doesn’t rely on very many elements of the first V, which gives it a chance to avoid copying it. Sure, the likes of Marc Singer and Karl Malden clone Richard Herd are nowhere to be found here (of course, that may be a good thing, depending on your point of view!), but, for the time being, the makers of the new V seem to be enjoying their time on Earth.
Warner Home Video brings us V: The Complete First Season to DVD (as well as Blu-ray) in a 3-Disc set, preserving the show’s 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The transfer here is a pretty crisp one, and all 12 episodes boast a clear and robust 5.1 English Dolby Digital soundtrack. Optional English (SDH), Spanish, and French subtitles are available. The set also includes a handful of special features, such as a few deleted scenes, a blooper reel, an audio commentary on episode eleven (“Fruition”), and several featurettes that focus on the show’s origins and effects.
As I had mentioned before, V: The Complete First Season is a fun (if rather short) ride. It’s nice to see one of my childhood memories being “re-imagined” for a change without being turned into something like the Bionic Woman and Knight Rider reboots.