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November 27, 2014

A quick look back at the original V franchise

by Nick Zaino, posted Oct 30th 2009 11:01AM
V the original mini-seriesTo prepare for next week's debut of the remake of V, I picked up the V: The Complete Series DVD of the weekly 1984/85 series that followed the original two mini-series, V and V: The Final Battle. I remember loving the original as a kid, sparking my imagination that anyone I saw could be an alien lizard making plans to haul my carcass to a warehouse for storage.

I tore the plastic off of the package with a bit of trepidation. Not everything you loved as a kid holds up to your scrutiny, or even your tastes, when you watch it all grown up. Which is why I'm sure some people cringed when they heard about the remake.

Would it stink? Would it be just as good as I remembered it? Should I have left well enough alone and saved my fifteen bucks?
The 1984 V series has some of the standard problems sci-fi movies often face. The hair and clothing are mostly the cutting edge of 1984 and instantly date the series. And the special effects for the opening chase scene may have been decent 25 years ago, but it seems amateurish now, like something you'd see in an SNL parody of a space show. And why does any laser blast that hits within a three foot radius of someone toss them like they were standing on a pneumatic catapult? Marc Singer, in particular, seems to spend half of his time in the air.

But I didn't have to dig too deep to remember why I liked V in the first place. The overall story is appealing, and the characters, for the most part, are an interesting and sometimes unexpected mix. I like the chemistry between Marc Singer and Michael Ironside as a former television news cameraman and CIA operative, respectively, who are the most proactive members of the resistance in the weekly series. It's always fun to watch Ironside, in particular, work.

I like businessman Nathan Bates position in the plot, playing both sides for his own ends. He was probably the most complex character in the series, thinking he was in control of the fight, especially with the threat of the Red Dust his company developed to repel the Visitors. Willie, the gentle Visitor played by Robert Englund (who debuted as Freddie in Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984), was the embodiment of the idea that not everything out there wants to destroy the Earth, a nice humanizing element.

Series creator Kenneth Johnson was reportedly influenced by classic authors like Sinclair Lewis and Bertolt Brecht, and that shows. Paranoia, political treachery, and a faith in people to band together and fight fascism (whether it's Nazis or lizards hiding in man-flesh) are the underlying themes, and V might even have prepped me to recognize those when I got to them in English class later on.

I'm disappointed that Johnson's efforts to create V: The Second Generation never bore fruit, and that the new show won't use his books or ideas. But I'm hopeful the new series will at least respect the spirit of his original creation. If nothing else, it prompted me to take an enjoyable look back.

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Joe stalin

Seems like it will have much more resonance this time around. What with the evil lizards bringing Hope and Change.

But I'd have to say the most cringe-worthy thing about the new version so far is that scene with Scott Wolf, where he sits down to interview the visitor and she warns him not to ask anything that would make them look bad. And he acts surprised! I assume he's some national State Media interviewer, so what exactly would be so strange about that in the era of the Barry? Instead of a surprised "Excuse me?!?" it should be a smiley "No Problem".

November 02 2009 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CeeJ

I rewatched it this summer as well (the weekly series), and it was truly awful. It got more and more unintentionally comical as it progressed... the infighting between Diana and Lydia was more like watching an episode of Dynasty. The writing was just as good.

I do hope the new series does better than my other childhood fave fared ("Knight Rider").

October 30 2009 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
laura

the miniseries does hold up i agree, but the "complete" series that came after while worth watching, suffers from a lack of budget.

*they get rid of the reverb on the visitors voices.
*they use the same footage of the skyfighters going in and out of the mothership, chasing the resistance, shooting them and so on.
*Elias, Robin, even Julie and Ham went on hiatus for many many episodes and in thier place was elizabeth, nathan, lydia and Kyle and its just not the same!
*elizabeth the star child, great idea, completed dropped the ball on that one.
*the ending sucked ballz.

October 30 2009 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LC

The mini series still holds up, but the series that followed was just awful. I remember reading at the time that they didn't even have writers with science fiction experience on the series and it shows. I was fortunate that I was a kid when this came out, so I enjoyed the action, but I find it unwatchable now.

I too was looking forward to the second generation as I understood that it was going to erase the series and possibly the second mini series.

October 30 2009 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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