V: The Visitors Return

Anna: quite good, but no Diana

Diana: The original and still the best

So last night, on the newly re-named SyFy, began the much anticipated (by me anyway) remake of V, the classic 1980s mini-series and TV series that feature alien visitors to earth with a dark secret. For a generation, the sight of walking, talking reptiles eating birds and rats whole was the stuff of nightmares. It was great, and Diana, the evil scientist and beautiful visitor leader, was a character never forgotten. There was a certain amount of over-excitement when I heard that V was being remade. The first two episodes of the new series were on. How were they?

I liked them. They succeeded in quickly establishing the shock, uncertainty and excitement caused by the alien landing, the alien claims to being a benign force offering and advanced technology and medicine in return for water, and the harsh reality of their planning to do something – as yet unclear – very evil indeed that would wipe out humanity. Judging from the first two episodes, the new series is trading depth for breadth. There are fewer characters than the original, but we can expect them to be traced in more depth. The new show also, like the Battlestar Galactica remake before it, reflects on the war on terror. Visitors have already been on earth for some time, and the crazy people claiming to have had contact with aliens are in fact telling the truth, and some of them form the bones of a resistance. Equally, the fifth column is also in place. The new female lead is an FBI agent (rather than a scientist) involved in monitoring suspected terrorist cells, and I suspect that the current American paranoia about conspiracy and the enemy within will feature largely in the new show. It’s a good move, both dramatically and in terms of bringing it into today’s world. Other lead characters include a priest struggling with what the visitors’ existence says about his religion, the FBI agents teenage son who joins the visitor youth corps, an engaged professional couple, and an ambitious TV news anchor who seeks to ingratiate himself with the visitors. These characters reflect some of those from the original series, either directly or as composites.

And then there is Anna. Diana started out not as chief commander, but as head of the scientific mission. Anna is in charge. She is more understated than Diana, but also forceful and scheming like her predecessor. If Diana was a power female who could have fit into Dallas or Dynasty, Anna so far seems to be a different personality type, but equally ruthless. She is similar enough in appearance and personality to be something of an homage, but different enough to be her own person. This stripped down alien command structure will also make her a more effective figure I suspect. The new show is also liable to be a lot less silly than the original.

To over-analyse the show, the reduction in numbers of central characters has had the consequence of embourgeoisement. Whereas the original featured characters who were working class, like plant workers or Mexican labourers and their families, the new humans, so far anyway, are all noticeably more affluent and more middle class. That might reflect changing tastes within the US television audience, or a different target audience. Or it could mean nothing at all, though I suspect that it does mean that this show is chasing the young professional market, as well as teenagers seeking to stare at Laura Vandervoort. While the original was something of a kid’s show, this one doesn’t look like being so.

So overall, a good start. Gone however are the red uniforms and the funny voices that originally marked out the visitors, and the V grafitti has already taken on a different meaning than in the original. And also gone – and this was a big mistake in my view – is the music of the original. Enjoy.

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14 Responses to “V: The Visitors Return”

  1. Madam Miaow Says:

    Diana’s bone-structre was just perfect. You believed there was a reptilian skull under there.

    First two episodes are quite bland an formulaic so far. Do we think the elderly priest in one of Them?

    Do they draw the actors from the same pool? So far one Battlestar Galactica (Cylon) and one Buffy (former black principal). Any more I’ve missed?

  2. Garibaldy Says:

    You’re totally right about Diana Madam Miaow. I could never put my finger on it, but it is her bone structure. I think the hair had something to do with making her look intimidating as well, at least when I first saw V.

    I see your point about them being bland and formulaic, but I guess they had to set up certain things to establish the rest of the show. They certainly ensured that I’ll watch the rest of them. Unlike The Human Target, which I stopped watching half way through the second one.

    It does seem like there is a pool of actors for these things. Battlestar Galactica stars are turning up all over the place, especially Tricia Helfer who I’ve seen on Burn Notice and Two and a Half Men as well as that Human Target rubbish. Good to see Starbuck in 24 too. I thought I saw Gaeta in Human Target too but it mightn’t have been.

    I’m not sure that is the principal from Buffy, but it seems Anna was in Firefly, and the FBI woman’s partner – as well as being Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball – was in Dollhouse. So definitely a Whedon influence. Throw in Laura Vandervoort from Smallville (which itself feature Spike from Buffy) and you can see the pool.

    I think the priest might be a misdirect rather than one of Them, but he certainly could be. It would be a bit too signposted if he were I think.

  3. WorldbyStorm Says:

    Sounds somewhat interesting.

    Elizabeth Mitchell (FBI) was/is in Lost.

    Almost finished Season One of Dollhouse. Hmmmm… well, it’s not Buffy. Or Angel. Or Firefly. Great concept. But.

  4. Garibaldy Says:

    I think it’s shaping up nicely WBS. Clearly a lot of money spent on it. And when US TV has a will to do something interesting, it often succeeds.

    I liked Dollhouse a lot, even if one was forced to lament all that weight lost by Eliza since she was on Buffy.

  5. Madam Miaow Says:

    Ha! So you saw Human Target as well following V. I thought it was just us with no life. My partner was eager to watch as he remembered it as an obscure comic from his childhood. We stuck it out for both episodes but NEVER again. I didn’t see the point. Wot, no superhuman power? Just vehicle of the week? (Train and then plane.) Woo, a bullet-stopping kevlar jacket. How modern … for the 1960s!

    The lovely Tricia/Six was wasted. So was my two hours.

    But I will be watching V.

  6. Garibaldy Says:

    In my defence, I only watched Human Target for more than five minutes because Tricia was in it along with Rorschach from Watchmen, and because I’ve watched all the various Law and Order episodes on Hallmark at least once before. But definitely two wasted hours never to be repeated. It is rubbish. Vehicle of the week sums up its vacuousness nicely.

    Hoping for an equivalent of Michael Ironside – or preferably Michael Ironside – will turn up on V soon.

    And don’t all bloggers lack a life?

  7. WorldbyStorm Says:

    Garibaldy couldn’t agree more about Eliza. You’d wonder why… as a further note the man who was Wash, surely a little old in the context he was presented to us as? Although actually quite good as that character.

  8. WorldbyStorm Says:

    Sorry, forgot you’re not a Firefly fan… Wash was a character in it.

  9. WorldbyStorm Says:

    And darn it I see now that you’ve said Alan Tudyk who played Wash is now in V as well. It is a small world.

  10. Garibaldy Says:

    WBS,

    The obsession with losing weight for people like that is ridiculous. Totally unhealthy looking. Willow’s girlfriend from Buffy now looks awful because she gave into pressure to lose weight. The whole thing is perverse. I take your point about Tudyk being too old for Dollhouse, but he was good I agree.

  11. DublinDilettante Says:

    I saw the first episode of the new V, it didn’t grab me. Elizabeth Mitchell is pretty odd-looking, I’ve always thought. She has a strange androgynous physiognomy which makes her look like a teenage boy. The new Diana is very New Labour…

  12. Garibaldy Says:

    She is odd-looking DD I agree. I watch fragile things like her punching huge muscular men and knock them down, and just think, nah. The new Diana just became much more sinister in my eyes.

  13. V and the Untouchables « Garibaldy Blog Says:

    […] Shame they couldn’t shoehorn Lee Marvin, the hardest of hard men actors, in as well. My previous V post ended with the music from the original. I’m going to top that with the opening and closing […]

  14. #1 V FAN Says:

    Did this post die, somehow? How on Earth? V Forever man. MORE V – MORE V -MORE V …FOR ME!!!

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