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Old 'V' vs. New 'V' - Which One's Better, the Original or the Remake?

by Donald Deane, posted Nov 3rd 2009 4:11PM
ABC's re-imagining of the 1983 'V' sci-fi miniseries premieres tonight, and one thing on almost everyone's mind is: How will this remake hold up against the original? (No pressure, ABC. It's only our childhood memories at stake.)

It's too soon to tell whether the new 'V' will put the original's rubber-faced bipedal reptilians to shame. But judging by the pilot, the show has plenty of potential to match, if not surpass, the inventiveness of the 1983 miniseries (which spawned the 1984 sequel 'V: The Final Battle,' and a TV series that lasted for one season from 1984-85).ABC's re-imagining of the 1983 'V' sci-fi miniseries premieres tonight, and one thing on almost everyone's mind is: How will this remake hold up against the original? (No pressure, ABC. It's only our childhood memories at stake.)

It's too soon to tell whether the new 'V' will put the original's rubber-faced bipedal reptilians to shame. But judging by the pilot, the show has plenty of potential to match, if not surpass, the inventiveness of the 1983 miniseries (which spawned the 1984 sequel 'V: The Final Battle,' and a TV series that lasted for one season from 1984-85).


For one thing, while we remember the original 'V' as fondly as the next guy, a recent re-viewing has shown us that the haze of nostalgia must have dimmed our memory of its '80s-era blue-screen special effects and equally implausible acting.

Dated effects aside aside, the original succeeded largely because it had a fantastic story going for it: Aliens arrived on Earth, intent on global domination. There was also an underlying Nazi allegory whereby scientists were persecuted as the most likely segment of the population to discover the true nature of the reptilian Visitors; and let us not forget the wonderfully campy Jane Badler as the sinister Visitor Diana with a nonstop perm, and the heavy-handedness of Marc "The Beastmaster" Singer. Genius.

Happily, the reimagined 'V' appears to keep much of the core story from the original intact. Ostensibly, the Visitors have arrived to replenish their stores of water and harvest a mineral abundant on earth, for which they offer technological advances in return. But the Visitor's true motives are something far more sinister.

The cast of the remake reads like a Who's Who of sci-fi alumni, including Elizabeth Mitchell of 'Lost' as counter-terrorist FBI agent Erica Evans and Joel Gretsch of the prematurely-canceled 'The 4400' as Father Jack. Diana is no more, alas, but in her place is 'Serenity's' Morena Baccarin as the Visitor Anna.

In the series pilot, the special effects and acting are leaps and bounds better this time around, but what's truly exciting is how the new series remains true to its heritage while updating the original. Playing on modern fears, for example, there's a new terrorist subplot involving alien sleeper cells.

In a head-to-head battle between the old and new shows, here's how we think things shake out:

Round 1: Special Effects
Old 'V': Crude and rudimentary, and clearly prior to the advent of spiffy computer generated images.
New 'V': Flashy and gleaming. Has that new shuttlecraft smell.
Winner: New 'V'

Round 2: The Cast
Old 'V': Marc Singer, Faye Grant, Jane Badler, Robert Englund
New 'V': Elizabeth Mitchell, Joel Gretsch, Morena Baccarin, Scott Wolf
Winner: Old 'V.' While the new incarnation features a stellar cast, nobody beats Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund. Nobody.

Round 3: The Plot
Old 'V': Nefarious alien lizards with questionable eating habits want our planet for its natural resources, and us for food.
New 'V': Producers of the new series wisely chose not to fix what wasn't broken. The Visitors are as double-dealing as ever.
Winner: Tie

Round 4: The Total Package
Old 'V': Soapy and painfully melodramatic.
New 'V': Darker in tone with a palpable sense of menace, and surprisingly bloody.
Winner: New 'V'

Decision: New 'V.' Slick and scary, the show has a huge sense of scale and looks good with its coat of fresh paint. We know exactly where we'll be when the new 'V' invades.


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Phil

I was a big fan of V in the 80's so was really excited about seeing a new series. I was a bit skeptical about what it would be like but I am so impressed with it. I would say it surpasses the original although I must watch my original boxset to check. It benefits hugely from good special effects (remember the birth of the species mixed baby in the first series) and it all seems deeper and a bit more sinister than the original. Anna is a horrendous baddy. Erica's character is class and perfectly suited casting.

Everything about it seems to have more depth. All the PR stuff going on and deep manipulation and how the visitors are already a deep part of society is all really good. We should remember the original V did really lose it later on too. The later shows which you can't even buy on dvd went pretty terrible like they were inventing new stories as they went along. Hopefully this won't go the same way.

July 04 2010 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nicola

I found an unconventional analysis of the two television series at this: http://www.mperience.com/meme/V_vs_V

May 27 2010 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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