So, I wrote this back in November when the first four episodes of V began and thought it was time to actually publish these. None of it addresses nothing beyond the first four episodes of the current series.
I decided to watch the original series, from the first mini through the last episode of the failed series. I figured it might make a nice companion to the new series and see how things, besides characters and effects, are different.
Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers…
The first thing I noticed? It’s in wide screen. I do not recall any other television being done in 16×9 in 1983. I guess I should have remembered seeing the black bars. But it is nice to see it fill the screen.
Anyways, this starts out really nicely, amidst chaos, where we meet our hero the Beastmas-er Mike (Marc Singer) a cameraman/journalist filming a firefight between an army and guerrilla rebels. It is here we get our first glimpse of the Visitor’s ship. We are treated to a series of witnesses, some skeptical and some excited. Some terrified and some hopeful.
As the hours pass, a countdown begins, and everyone gets nervous, until the aliens send a small ship. Out steps the Supreme Commander who makes a pitch. They need water and food. In exchange they will share their knowledge to help us to solve our environmental, agricultural and health problems. One scientist suggests this is an offer we cannot refuse, while scientist Juliet (Faye Grant) observes that she wonders what would happen “if we refused”
Mike and a fellow journalist, Kristine (Jenny Sullivan) get to visit the ship. Mike is far less enthralled than Kristine who wants to celebrate and seems enamored with them. Kristine and Mike apparently have a past, and appear to be re-kindling that flame. So far, this has handled the reaction better than the new show. It has given us ample opportunity to see the human reaction to the visitors without feeling hasty.
On the other-hand, I felt the new incarnation of V gave us the better presentation of the Visitor Pitch. We saw the lovely Anna hovering above the skies, we saw her speaking multiple languages. It also made the interior of the ships seem far more awe inspiring. In the original, they are very industrial looking. Now each ship is a mini planet, so to speak.
Mike’s parents, Arthur and Eleanor are people obsessed with fame and appearing important, unlike Mike, they quickly embrace the Visitors. We also find out about the Visitor’s Youth Leaders program, which instantly sucks in Daniel (David Packer), while Robin (Blaire Tefkin) gets a crush on a Visitor named Brian (Peter Nelson), who also seems to notice her.
We are soon introduced to one of the more charming characters, Willie. He is played by Robert Englund, and you will be surprised at just how…non-menacing he can be. Willie is a sweet-natured Visitor who you instantly feel sympathetic to. So far, all the Visitors we have met were quite emotionless. When trouble occurs in the plant, Willie shows himself to have a heroic nature.
In the meantime, Kristine is offered the position of Press Secretary for the Visitors. She instantly takes the job. We start to see the beginnings of dissent, as people meeting the Visitors start observing strange things, such as their cool temperatures and birds seeming to panic in their presence. A neighbor notices burnmarks on the door of a car and people start to disappear.
Mike visits his son, who is excited that his dad gets to fly in the Visitor ships. Meanwhile, Juliet is secretly trying to learn more about the Visitor physiology. Her co-worker provides her with a skin sample she snatched up at the hospital. The co-worker goes into her house and discovers a Visitor in waiting, with a gun. So, clearly, the disappearances are connected to the Visitors.
A scientist publicly calls out scientists as conspirators against the Visitors. He creates a lists, and some come forth to confess. Understandably, people are appalled, and scientists are required to be registered. This bothers Abraham (Leonardo Cimino), a Holocaust survivor. A friend tells him he has no reason to worry. Afterall, there are no scientists or doctors in his family. So, why should he worry, this won’t impact him. It’s a clear reflection of the old saying regarding how the speaker never worried when the Nazi’s came for the gypsies, or the Jews, or the Christians, etc…but when they came for him, there was no one left to defend him.
Mike is pulled aside by Tony (Evan Kim) who has started to suspect something about the scientist who outed the conspiracy. He points out that is older footage, the scientist was right handed, but in all the footage of him telling on the conspiratorial scientists, he has become left handed. This makes Mike a full on skeptic and he sneaks on a shuttle craft.
The first thing Mike notices is Visitors pumping chemicals into the atmosphere-turns out the processing plants are making a chemical they do not actually want, it is just a cover. Mike starts crawling through the air ducts and spying on the aliens. He stumbles upon Diana (Jane Badler) and Steven (Andrew Prine) discussing ruling the world and how they will try and brainwash scientists (after spying on a cute brunette). Then to top it off, Steve eats a mouse and Diana swallows a guinea pig whole. This effect is very fake, with a lifeless rubber head standing in for the actress. But they make up for it as Mike goes to another vent and sees and alien pluck out his eyes to reveal a creepy lizard like set of eyes. But this time, the Visitor sees him and rips him from the wall. He then reveals a forked tongue. In the midst of the battle, Mike rips the Visitors face off, revealing the true lizard skin beneath. Here, we see something that was not thought out. There is no way the Visitor’s face could support the mask, it’s a very different shape from the human face.
Mike gets away and brings his footage to his bosses, but right as they take it to the airwaves, the Visitors interrupt the broadcast. They tell the viewers that there have been insurgent violence from the scientists, and they reveal Mike to be a traitor to the Visitors and instate Marshall Law.
Some do not worry, believing the Supreme Leader as he declares it is only temporary. We start to see posters promoting the Visitors as our friends, and promoting news stories about how helpful the Visitors are. Meanwhile, young Robin is secretly meeting with Visitor Brian.
Mobs start attacking the children of scientists. Scientists are starting to go into hiding. Bills start getting higher. Children begin turning on their parents for being critical of Visitors. Juliet starts the underground resistance, comprised heavily of scientists. One is Juliet’s co-worker Ben Taylor (Richard Lawson) who tries to get his streetwise brother Elias (Michael Wright) to join him in the new underground.
Meanwhile, Robin’s family finds life getting tougher, since her father Robert (Michael Durrell) is a scientist. Abraham hides them in his house, over the objections of his son Stanley (George Morfogen). Stanley’s discomfort is understandable. His son Daniel is a member of the Visitor’s Youth Leaders program and he already fears that he cannot trust Daniel.
Meanwhile, Mike finds himself still on the run and under heavy fire. Mike attempts to communicate with Kristine, but she sells him out to the Visitors. Mike manages a quick escape. Unable to stand staying in the Bernstein pool house, Robin sneaks into the main house where she is discovered by Daniel. It has become increasingly clear he has a crush on Robin, but she only has eyes for Brian, and this is clearly going to put Robin’s family (as well as Daniel’s) in danger. Juliet and Ben try and steal equipment to make an underground lab. The end result is Juliet and Ben getting shot. Juliet drives Ben to his brothers for help. It’s to late for Ben, but this is the turning point for Elias, who no longer feels so nonchalant about the Visitors. This sequence has some overly hokey writing, but Michael Wright works hard to try and sell it.
We close out the first half with some kids defacing Visitor propaganda posters. Abraham steps in and tells the children they must do it write and proceeds to use red paint to create a “V”…for Victory. This is inverted on the new series where kids tag walls with “V” for Visitors.
It’s clear the storyline is meant to parallel the rise of the Nazi’s, which gives the events some perspetive. Some folks have tried to suggest that the new series is unrealistic in how well received the Visitors are. This is, I fear, overly hopeful and truly naive. In both versions of V, we see people enamored with the Visitors and a small number opposing them. We have seen this throughout history with human regimes. Why do we think we would be any different if attractive Aliens came bearing the gift of healing and peace?