V is for Vomit
Aired On: ABC
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
In 2009, ABC launched a retelling of the 80's sci-fi classic, V. Our very own G-POP leader gave her first impressions of the show based on the pilot episode and expressed hope to the show's potential. I too, when watching most of the first season, was enthralled by the show and found myself very interested and very hopeful as to the direction the show would take. I approved of the immediate reveal to the protagonists that the Visitors were in disguise, I loved the fact that Visitors were among humans and had been so, in secret, for a long time, and I thought the choice to have a priest as a key member of the resistance was clever and opened the door to a whole new angle at which to view a global alien encounter. Through the eyes of the priest we see the spiritual repercussion of being bumped out of the 'superior being' category humans liked to place themselves in when they thought they were the only sentient beings in the universe.
That was season one.
Then, everything went horribly, horribly wrong, leaving the mangled entails of a great legacy to drag behind this insultingly bad melodrama.
The premise of the show follows the original's at first, and in several key ways. Lizard-like aliens with human disguises come to earth; they promise peace in exchange for resources; a resistance-underground forms to fight them; indoctrination of human youths into liaisons programs; cross-species affairs. Sounds pretty close right? So it should be a sure thing, right? Wrong. That's not to say the show does not have it's merits, it's just that the negative parts of the show far outweigh the positive parts.
Melissa Minners, in her First Impressions review of the remake, lamented the constant reference to the Visitors as V's, as if the word Visitor is too complex or time-consuming to verbalize. Well, since the pilot episode, the term V has became so ubiquitous that even the Visitors, in their own ship, with no one but their own kind around, call themselves V's. Some people may equate this with people of a shared ethnicity calling each other by a slang name to reverse the negative meaning of the word. I equate it with poor writing. They Visitors are not Visitors to each other, and I'm pretty sure they do not come from a world called Visitation, under the moons of Visit and Visiting, so why do they call themselves Visitors. Do they not have a name for their species or are they so ashamed of the name that they chose to stick to the first name a hairless monkey species throws at them like so much unwanted feces?
The first issue I had with the show was the ease with which the world's nations accepted the Visitors. To me, this just showcases the laziness of the writers. No nation—America in particular—would trust a foreign country, let alone an alien race so readily and completely in this post-9/11 world. Not only do they roll over and accept these Visitors, but they allow them to build centers all over the world, take humans aboard their spaceships, even give them jurisdiction to travel to different countries without need of any kind of escort or documentation. I feel that some interesting and exciting avenues of story were lost in the writers eagerness to skip ahead. I would have like to see some more political machinations between the governments of Earth and Anna (Morena Baccarin, Serenity), vying for concessions and permission to gain a stronger foothold on Earth. Instead, the Visitors use a new journalist to convince the whole world that they are likable, because if Dan Rather told me that Hitler was just a misunderstood painter, I'd let the bastard into my home...wouldn't you?
Another problem I can not get past is that the names the Visitor's use to describe things feel like they came from the mind of a five year old. Anna's Bliss—a psychic link she shares with all her people –Blue Energy—the energy source used to power all Visitor technology—Red Rain, Red Sky, Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons, Orange Stars, and Green Clovers...Wait, four of those were from Lucky Charms cereal. I'll let you decide which ones were which.
And speaking of Blue energy...it makes the Virgin Mary weep. That was not a metaphor or some play on words, Anna actually released Blue Energy in the Vatican and it made a statue of Mary weep blood. I'd call that stepping outside of the boundaries of technology and crossing into the realm of idiocy.
Red Rain/Red Sky were far less sacrilegious but only marginally less annoying. Anna cuts off communication with the whole Earth with the push a button to turn the skies around the world red and subsequently, all clouds begin to produce blood-colored rain. Now, aside from all the humans and governments on Earth immediately trusting Anna after a three day silence while the newly decorated sky poured down alien urine on them, I found it laughable that both the humans on Earth—who were cut off from Anna at the time—and the Visitors in the mother-ships, referred to the phenomenon using the same words. Anna hadn't gotten on her giant videophone under her ship and announced that she was about to release Red Rain from our brand new Red Skies, but somehow everyone knew what to call it. Now granted, the skies and the rain were both red so it's not hard to make that connection, but maybe one or two people could have phrased it differently. Maybe someone could have said, “Why did Anna turn the skies red and stop talking to us?” Not “We haven't heard from Anna since Red Sky.” Is turning everything into a proper noun really so important to the earthlings? No wonder the V's are going to eat them.
I'd like to clarify that the second quote was not a direct quote, but more of a paraphrase. A direct quote was not possible to obtain on account of me having pistol whipped my TiVo into oblivion for continuing to record this show.
In the original show, the Visitors looked mostly human, even without their skin; the same can not be said for the Visitors in this remake. I don't mean to nitpick, but they should never have shown the Visitors' skeleton on the show, because that just made their human disguise seem that much more impossible to swallow. They have elongated skulls and a large tail that can be whipped around and used as a weapon. Where exactly do these tails go when they put on human flesh? Its not like hiding a few extra pounds underneath a large coat. It's more like hiding an extra leg inside a pair of tights. And the sizes of their skulls would warp any flesh placed over it, making them look, not human, but like a freakish deformed scarecrow.
Speaking of skin...wearing human skin makes them behave human? Really? So if I wear a cowboy hat long enough, I'll become a real cowboy. What happens if I wear a Freddy Kruger mask? Will I become the dream-hopping, teen killer, or just Willy, the vegetarian lizard-alien who has a bleeding heart for the human's his people are going to enslave?
When I heard that the original Diana (Jane Badler) was returning to the show as Anna's mother, I thought maybe they might do something interesting and somehow connect the V of old with this latest incarnation. But had I known her role would herald the hunt for the human soul I would've stopped watching the show then and there.
That wasn't a typo. You read it correctly. Anna goes on an all out hunt for the human soul, believing that it's the soul that allows the humans to resist her, and thus it is the key to defeating us. Let's not mention the fact that her own people have been resisting her for years, without aid of humans or our souls. I know that we are talking about an alien species that has no concept of a human soul or what that means, but if they know enough about our society and our culture to infiltrate every nation so successfully, then they should know that the soul is an intangible thing that is believed by religious orders to be the immortal part of ourselves that joins with our deity upon death. No one believes it to be a physical thing that can be examined, caught or removed.
To be fair, however, there are some good points about the show, mostly involving the characters not the plot. Joel Gretsch's (4400) character, Father Jack Landry, is one of my favorites. I love how his devotion to his faith is balanced against his desire to protect the human race from the monsters at their doorsteps. There are some great inherit moral dilemmas in that contrast. Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) also does a brilliant job as Erica Evans, juggling her three roles as mother to a misguided, troubled son, dedicated agent of an FBI that is increasingly pro-Visitor, and member of an underground resistance movement.
Scott Wolf's (Party of Five, The Nine) portrayal of Chad Decker, the greedy, self-absorbed news reporter was so exact as to make me hate him. I spent most of the series wanting to see Chad Decker die a horrible death, but not nearly as horrible as a death as I wish upon Tyler Evans (Logan Huffman), Erica's son, junior alien liaison and naive mark for the Visitors. I don't know whether my intense dislike of Tyler means that Logan has done an excellent job or not—I guess it depends on the intent of the writers—but I can't wait for Tyler to go the way of the original show's Visitor liaison, and literally enter the belly of the beasts.
In fact, there are so many good characters that are excellently portrayed by the actors that the show should be amazing, but this is a case where the writing fail the actors. It's as though porcelain dolls were given to chimps to play with. The monkeys wouldn't know what to do with them other than toss them around and smear them with feces.
Well, that's all I have to say about that. If you're still interested in V (2009) I can't tell you what to watch, but I strongly recommend not wasting your time.