First Impressions

V (2009)

Aired on: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When I first heard about a remake of one of my favorite television sci-fi miniseries of all time, I scoffed.  It seems that nowadays everyone has to take a classic and remake it in their vision, regardless of how misguided that vision may be.  I vowed not to watch the new and improved V, despite all of the hype.  And when the series hit the airwaves on November 3, 2009, I held my ground.  But then I learned something that I didnít know - that Kenneth Johnson, creator of the original V was actually a writer on board this new and ďimprovedĒ version.  Now, I was curious.

            The storyline is basically the same - aliens arrive on huge ships causing fear and creating chaos until they reveal their intentions.  According to them, they are here to spread peace and well-being throughout our planet, offering to share technological advances with the people of Earth in exchange for some natural resources of our own that the Visitors are sorely lacking.  The Visitors are all pleasant to look at and seem to have our best interests in mind.  But underneath that pretty faÁade is a frightening reality - the Visitors are really here to conquer us.

            Okay, sounds much like the original miniseries, right?  Well, hereís where things become rather different - the improvements if you will.  Apparently, these Visitors have been on Earth a lot longer than we thought.  They didnít just arrive on those huge ships that simultaneously appeared over all of the major cities on our planet.  Actually, they have been here for many years as a terrorist sleeper cell, causing turmoil, strife, famine, economic disaster, unnecessary war, you name it.  With all of these horrible things going on, of course the people of Earth would welcome in a savior, one with peace as their ultimate goal.

            Now, we return to the original plot in which people who have some sort of knowledge as to the evil the Visitors can do uniting to fight for the survival of mankind.  Only this time around, there is a twist.  It would seem that one of the resistance fighters has been posing as a human all of these years, but is really a VisitorÖa traitor to his own people who has the ability to round up other traitors to the Visitor cause in an effort to help save mankind.

            The cast is different.  My favorite characters - scientist and med student Juliet Parrish, cameraman Michael Donovan, reformed street thug Elias Taylor - are out of the picture.  For now, this series is focused on the East Coast, namely New York City.  Of course, we may later run into my favorite characters on the West Coast if this series lasts a while, but we shall have to wait and see.  This time around, we are introduced to a television newscaster with plans for upward mobility (Scott Wolf), an FBI agent whose whole life has been dedicated to fighting terrorism who now finds herself becoming one (Elizabeth Mitchell), the FBI agentís son who has become enthralled with the Visitors (Logan Huffman), a priest who questions the Archdioceseís unquestioning embracement of the Visitors (Joel Gretsch) and our sleeper cell visitor who has managed to lead a normal life among us humans until now (Morris Chestnut).  Except for Scott Wolfís character who is very similar to the deluded news reporter of the original series and the priest, all of these characters are relatively new and offer us different perspectives on the arrival of the Visitors.

            As for the major Visitor characters, they are very similar in nature to the original series.  The leader of the Visitors is a charismatic, beautiful woman (Morena Baccarin) with a hint of sinister.  She seems to be a cross between the original seriesí John and Diana.  Her assistant (Christopher Shyer) seems to be a lot like the original seriesí Steven.  And then there is the youth leader (Laura Vandervoot) - this time around, she is a beautiful young lady as opposed to the good looking young man in the original series. 

            Now that I know that Kenneth Johnson is heavily involved in this new version of V, Iím not surprised to discover that the pilot episode was not half bad.  But I do have some complaints.  The fact that the Visitors are called Vís is rather annoying.  I know it is in keeping with our society that we should shorten the names for everything.  I know that this could be a social commentary in that the way we shorten words and take shortcuts in daily activities leaves us quite unable to see the bigger picture.  However, every time I hear the Visitors called Vís I canít help but cringe. 

            Also, the original series had people spray painting huge V emblems in red spray paint as a sign of resistance, but in this series, the spray painted emblems are a way of spreading the Visitorsí message of peace.  I find that simply ridiculous.  Since when is defacing something representative of peace?

            The ships themselves also bother me.  What happened to those saucer-like ships with the strange looking shuttles bearing that marker reminding us so much of the Nazi emblem?  I guess we are foregoing the idea that the way the Visitors are moving in is much like the Third Reich did all those years ago.  This new V is less about the repetition of history and more about keeping with the times.  Terrorism is the talk of the day and so this new Visitor is outwardly normal in appearance and how it interacts with humans.  But behind closed doors, the Visitor is really a terrorist out to conquer us.  Although I can understand this modern skew, somehow I like the original seriesí take on things much better.

            Iím still not sold on this new version of V.  The pilot episode was surprisingly much more enjoyable than I expected.  Also, I really enjoy Elizabeth Mitchell and Morris Chestnut in their roles.  However, Iím not quite sure that V will survive in regular series format.  Iím also unsure as to what other vast changes from the original format might take place as the weeks go by.  While I can make allowances for new technology - letís face it, some of the tech from the original series just wouldnít fly nowadays - I wonder how much else will be changed to make this series more modern and ďwith the times.Ē  But, surprisingly, Iím willing to sit back and watch another couple of episodes to find out.


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