Erica Evans -
Jack Landry -
Ryan Nichols -
Chad Decker -
Tyler Evans -
Valerie Stevens -
Kyle Hobbes -
OTHER V SEASONS
V The Final Battle
OTHER ALIENS AMONGST US SERIES
3rd Rock From the Sun
On an otherwise normal-seeming morning, the world is turned upside down by the arrival of giant spaceships over a number of the world's greatest cities. The ships also double as the biggest screen TVs every and Anna, leader of the 'visitors' announce that they are 'of peace, always'. As negotiations for the trading of our water for their technology gets underway, there are those who don't quite believe these newcomers re all they promise and an FBI investigation into terrorist cells leads to an underground meeting where the Visitors are (literally) unmasked.
Blame BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. The astonishing success of the overhaul of a camp 70s space saga has led to a re-evaluation of just about every old science fiction property as potential remake fodder and we get the new, updated V.
To be fair, the story of the mysterious, apparently benign, visitors from outer space has room for improvement adn this opening displays a canny knack for picking the right things to update and the right things to leave alone. Changin the lead character from a nurse to an FBI agent means that she can hit the action stuff running, though teaming her with a doubting priest opens up some interesting ethical opportunities. And the traitorous V this time isn't a mild-mannered technician, but a businessman with a shady, kick-ass history.
The biggest change, though, is that the arrival of the visitors is only the latest step in a plan that has been underway for years. Sleeper cells of visitors have been destabilising Earth for decades with unnecessary wars, religious strife and financial unrest, preparing us for their open arrival. It all ties in with the current western fears of the enemy within, the stranger who looks like us but is ating for our destruction. It's the same, fertile ground that was so well-mined in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.
The arrival of the alien ships is impressive, even though it has already been done in the namechecked INDEPENDENCE DAY. The FBI investigation strand gives a nice, earthbound contrast to the coverage of the aliens until the two converge in the action-packed final few moments. LOST's Elizabeth Mitchell is a strong central lead and it's nice to see DOLLHOUSE and FIREFLY's Alan Tudyk playing normal again. The priest's tale is less convincing, but it does have Joel Gretsch of THE 4400 to anchor it. Much less successful is Morena Baccarin (also FIREFLY) as the V leader Anna who is by turns to much like a mannequin and too smug for her own good. Nobody would trust this woman for a second. The manner in which she manipulates her first major TV interview sows the first seeds of the Visitors' true nature. The weakest link of all is the story of Erica's struggle to connect with her son Tyler which is both hackneyed and hamstrung by some terrible dialogue.
The special effects are excellent, though the design of the spaceship exteriors make those of the original series seem like masterpieces of artfulness in comparison. The alien interiors are well realised and though the full nature of the aliens is not revealed, their human-cloned skin suits and a small patch of lizard face are glimpsed.
V isn't as skilful a reboot as BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but this opening episode shows plenty of promise.Top
The FBI want to know about the man who died in Father Landry's church. Erica's boss wants to know what happened to her partner. Ryan tries to get into contact with his former partners in the Resistance, but finds them to be, well, resistant. And Tyler learns that punching someone in the face isn't considered good behaviour for a peace ambassador.
The brakes are abruptly applied in this second instalment of the new V series. After a short reappearance of the Visitors' PHANTASM-ball gizmo right at the start, everyone rushes home and tries to make like nothing ever happened. That might be how it would go in reality, but it doesn't make for rivetting TV. There are a couple of tense moments as Erica struggles to keep her story straight in the face of her boss's enquiries, but otherwise the episode veers towards the dull.
Already deep into the dull is the Tyler/Lisa romance thing that is predictable in the extreme. Journalist Chad's taking on Anna in revenge for the way that she treated him and winning is more fun and final shot of the episode promises a plot development that might liven things up a bit next time around.
They certainly need it.Top
Erica is summoned to the Visitor Ambassador Building on the day that the Vs get their American visas. There has been a death threat and sheis part of the detail tryin to prevent an assassination. Father Jack, meanwhile, manages to make contact with other members of the fledgling resistance. Tyler gets caught up more with attractive V Lisa and Ryan learns why there are so few of his old resistance pals still around.
Erica's time at the Visitors' Centre is the highlight of another slow-moving episode. By the time any resistance movement gets off the ground here all the Vs will have died of old age. The twists are easy to see coming, but there is at least some action as Ryan meets with old comrades and Erica's ex-partner (and V plant) starts to remember what happened to him in the warehouse.
The show still has enough for us to keep watching, but as a big televisual event it is less than eventful and however much the original was nonsensical it was much more fun.Top
The first four members of the new resistance learn of a plot to introduc poison into a new Visitors vaccine that is to be offered to all humans. It is finally time to act. Tyler is invited aboard the New York Mothership to meet Anna. Joshua, the fifth column's most importatnt member comes under suspicion following the death of a V sleeper agent and Ryan gets some very surprising news.
The fourth salvo in the new revamped V finally gets the show around to some real action. The assault on the warehouse storing the dodgy vaccine is entertainingly thrilling, though the whole plot does smell a lot like old alien invasion show THE INVADERS. Since this is only the beginning (according to Anna) there are far more questions left unanswered than is comfortable, such as what are Anna's plans for Tyler and why do the Visitors need to gain our trust when they have such a huge fleet waiting out in space. In the UK, however, we are going straight onto the rest of the series rather than having to wait and so those answers will not be long in coming.
Hopefully, the reaction to the first four episodes will have given the makers enough notes to improve on what hasn't worked and bring us more of what we have liked.Top
Father Jack is saved in one of the Visitors Healing Centres, but is dosed with a drug that means he can be tracked by the Visitors at any time. Erica is told that the Visitors can identify who set the bomb in the warehouse, but it turns out to be a set up for someone that the aliens want dead. That makes him someone that Erica wants to recruit. Valerie's pregnancy is not going well.
Without the break that the US audience had, V races straight on into the rest of the story, wrapping up the cliffhanging storylines fairly smartly and delaying the arrival of the superfleet that was the last thing that we saw.
There's some action with an early attack on Erica and the race for the suspect has some tension. The manner in which Anna blackmails Chad is chilling and the moment when Erica learns the extent of her son's involvement with the Visitors is a touch chilling in itself, but the whole piece lacks any real drive and comes across as fine without being more than that.Top
Valerie's pregnancy is not going well and she is going to die unless Ryan can get her a compound from aboard the mothership. Sneaking aboard proves to be simpler than he thought, but remaining at libety once there is something else and will cost the fledgling resistance.
The original V series saw the alien motherships infiltrated by the resistance so often that it became a joke. It isn't quite a joke here, but the interiors vary from the impressive to the appallingly false CGI variety. The episode tries to use the mission as an exercise in tension, but since it is only moderately exciting it fails in that.
The side story about Erica and her son is becoming increasingly tedious whilst Father Jack is given nothing to do other than to prick the conscience of journalist Chad. As a result, the episode is somewhat padded.Top
John May formed the original resistance against the Visitors' underground agents and had in his posession an untraceable communications device for contacting Joshua on the New York mothership. The search for that device leads to some startling revelations about John May and his relationship with Ryan. Tyler and Valerie also learn a few secrets.
The ease with which the Resistance locate John May's belongings, and hence the comms device, makes you wonder what the rest of Anna's underground agents have been doing all this time, especially since there is one assigned to watch over Mays' son. More surprising is the insight into Ryan's backstory that this brings and the fact that the show has the courage to follow one of its plotlines to an inevitable end.
The soap opera story of Tyler and the fact that his parentage is in question continues to be annoying and trite whilst Chad Decker uncovers something that is clearly going to be a plotline in the future.Top
Someone is killing off the Fifth Column cells. One survivor gives Erica's group a chance to catch the V responsible, but they are in for a shock. Anna's playing politics leads Chad to some uneasy conclusions. Lisa fails her mother's empathy test. Valerie takes her pregnancy to the Visitor Healing Centres.
With a murder plotline focus the story, this makes for a solid, if unspectacular episode. It is nice, however, to see someone realise that Anna's up to no good simply by the way she plays polotics, showing that not all humanity are blindly trusting morons.Top
Ryan goes on the run with Valerie, telling her truth about himself and her pregnancy. They hole up with other members of the fifth column, but Anna sends a Visitor superwarrior to deal with them.
Ethics are starting to get a bit murky as V gets a bit darker. The soap operatics based around Erica's son Tyler continue to be a big bore, but the fact that the prisoner that the resistance has taken is human and has been forced into these deeds by the Visitors fixing his disabled daughter leaves the heroes with big moral issues. They can't keep him alive, but they are morally opposed to killing humans. Thank goodness that Hobbes is around. This is the kind of murky waters that the show really needs and gives events some real depth for a change.
It's also quite nice that Chad Decker the journalist has turned into a character that is hard to read. Is he willing to turn in the Fifth Column to get closer to Anna? Is he secretly trying to find them to help? Is he just searching for the truth?
We also get to see the V supersoldier for the first time and he doesn't appear too impressive, though he provides the action quota for the episode. A whole army of these things would be a problem and there is a whole army incubating aboard the New York Mothership.Top
The Resistance brings down a Visitor shuttle full of alien trackers only to find that it is full of humans. Devastated by this turn of events, Father Jack leaves, but Erica continues to investigate the crash for the FBI and finds out that they have been set up by Anna.
In the best episode yet, the realities of the war that the Resistance will need to fight dawns on them when their target turns out to be full of humans. That it's all a trick by Anna becomes important later, but only after saying some interesting things about the nature of terrorism, mainly through the amoral and practical character of Hobbes.
Anna is turning into a formidable adversary, despite Morena Baccarin's inability to invest her with any real threat, even when she turns on her own daughter and orders her legs broken to serve the cause.
For the first time, V shows what it might be capable of in its recently confirmed second season.Top
Having broken her daughter's legs to make it look like she was attacked by the Fifth Column, Anna announces that she is going to leave. The prospect of losing his job pushes Chad Decker into makeing a plea to the world to make their feelings on the matter plain. The US governmetn is forced into offering the Visitors everything they need to hunt down the Fifth Column. Hobbes is identified as one of Lisa's attackers, but it is the other man that interests Erica.
Anna continues to be a fine villain evien if Morena Baccarin still isn't up to the job of making her truly great. It's really the plot that is driving her and once again she manipulates the situation fabulously to her own benefit.
On the other hand Hobbes is continuing to grow as a character. We're still not sure what side he's actually on, but he upcoming finale ought to shed light on that. And Chad Decker is soon going to have to pick his side as Anna blatantly tries to make him shake off what few ethics he has left.
The plotlines are coming towards a climax, but there are so many of them that still show no sighn of converging that it seems unlikely that everything can be neatly wrapped up in a single episode.Top
Erica is invited to visit Anna aboard the New York mothership with her son Tyler. This is her chance to take action against the army of soldiers that are close to hatching. Ryan is also aboard the ship as Valerie gives birth. Both Joshua and Lisa takes great personal risks to help and Chad finally learns some of the truth about Anna.
It's season finale time and whilst it has been a rocky road at times, V has just about done enough with this final episode to make us happy that it's getting a second season (over FLASHFORWARD). This final episode combines the best and the worst of the show as storylines come together and twist about nicely, there is action and the interior of the ships remains CGI on the edge of cartoon. The shot of a Visitor tracker eating a deer is deeply unconvincing at the same time unnecessary, so it's a shame that's at the start.
The new show also doesn't make the original's mistake of showing the hybrid offspring, though the measures taken to hide it are almost as ridiculous.
The cliffhanger ending is intriguing as Earth's skies boil red, but what does that mean? At least we know we will get a chance to find out.Top
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