It seems as though every other week some new version of an old television show or movie is making its way onto the screen (either big or little). The latest of these reimaginings appears this week on ABC, with V. The original V miniseries aired in 1983 and was successful enough to spawn a second miniseries and then an actual TV series which only managed to last one season.
"V" is short for either "Victory" or "Visitor," the latter of which is the name given to a single member of the alien race (collectively, The Visitors) which, in the opening of the series, appear in massive spaceships over many of Earth's cities. The Visitors promise that they have only come for water and a "mineral which is common and abundant" on our planet. In exchange for giving them access to our resources, they'll do nice things like help cure diseases, give us some swell new technologies, and generally make the world a better place.
Of course, the immediate question arises as to whether the Visitors are in fact of the nice, friendly, E.T. variety, or if they're more of the lay-waste-to-both-our-entire-species-and-planet-as-a-whole sort. Their leader, Anna (Morena Baccarin, Firefly), would certainly have us believe the former, but not every human is entirely convinced of their goodness and even in the first episode, a group of the population feels quite strongly that the Visitors are not all that they pretend to be. It's a question which the show ought not take very long to answer definitively, particularly as anyone who has seen or heard of the original versions (or paid any attention to the name of the second miniseries) ought to already know definitively.
The question still remains, as to how much this new series will forge its own way, and how much it will borrow from the original versions. Assuredly, it will do its best to both appease fans and to bring new members into the fold. ABC, though hugely successful with Lost and that show's mythology and sci-fi elements, has been less successful in launching other shows, like V, which may require significant devotion on the part of fans in order to be successful.
That does not mean that ABC will not try their best however. In fact, one can see from the cast alone, that they will. The cast as assembled for the series, is most definitely a good one. Outside of the aforementioned Baccarin, it includes Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Morris Chestnut (Boyz in the Hood), Joel Gretsch (The 4400), Scott Wolf (Party of Five), Lourdes Benedicto (NYPD Blue), Laura Vandervoort (Smallville), and relative newcomer Logan Huffman. Many of the shows that the stars come from had (or have) significant fan following, something which ABC is almost certainly trying to leverage for V.
Primetime science fiction series have a spotty track record at best, and even though the word "frak" and other terminology used in science fiction shows may have become more common as of late, success in the genre tends to be elusive. One only need look at the massive success Heroes was for the majority of its first season and the way it has tailed off ever since for an example of this.
What V has going for it, though, is not just its pedigree – in terms of original as well as cast and crew for this version – but the fact that the pilot is certainly above average. The characters' various stories, from Elizabeth Mitchell's FBI agent, to Scott Wolf's news anchor, to Joel Gretsch's priest, to everyone else's character are all interesting and show huge potential for development. Not a perfect pilot, it unquestionably lags from time to time, V still shows significant promise in its first episode.
Several questions, however, remain. While chief among these is the question of whether or not ABC can sell a sci-fi alien drama to the masses on a weekly basis, the question also exists about just how far the producers (whose various credits include The X-Files, Angel, and The 4400) can take the tale. At the very least, V's pilot episode is strong enough – and the story itself interesting enough – that subsequent episodes ought to be sampled.
V premieres on ABC, Tuesday November 3 at 8:00pm. ABC's current plan is to air a mere four episodes in 2009 before having the show return in 2010 following the Winter Olympics.