I think V is the final premier of 2009, and coincidentally one of the new shows I was most excited about. I’m not sure dragging the anticipation out really did them any favours.
It’s not exactly a new thing to be remaking cult classics, I don’t think the phrase “hot on the heels of Battlestar Galactica” is really valid when the heels first appeared 6 years ago, but someone clearly went searching for shows that could be made relevant to a new audience and found the 1984 series V. I will admit that despite my claims to be a science fiction and television fan, I’ve never actually seen the original V. I feel bad about that. But it does allow me to review this show without any pre-established feelings as to whether the new show is butchering a past classic.
Basic premise – a bunch of human looking aliens come to Earth in their ships and declare they are here to be our friends, they want to help and they’re basically big floating space hippies. So far so good, but then it turns out there may be something more to their story, they’re not all they seem and they may have ulterior motives. Blah blah blah.
First problem is that ‘blah blah blah’ right there. There’s a big speech at the end which says something along the lines of “we have to fight for humanity” and I just thought “oh who cares?”. Now maybe this says more about my current frame of mind than the quality of the pilot, but after being told that this may be the end of life as we know it, I just didn’t really care either way. The pilot reminded us how screwed up the world is and I utterly failed to connect with any of the human characters, so who cares if the aliens want to come and eat a few mice or inslave humanity (those aren’t spoilers, I’m guessing)? Good luck to ’em.
The pilot is very rushed, revealing a lot more than I expected it would in the first 45 minutes, there’s a couple of twists that would probably have been more impressive if they’d waited a few more episodes to reveal. But I guess they’ve decided those aren’t the stories they want to be telling, they wanted to get all the set-up out of the way so that they can move on to… whatever it is they’re moving on to. Frankly the pilot gives very little idea of what a weekly episode will be about.
I think the problem is the characters, or possibly even the actors themselves. It’s a great cast on paper, but most came with baggage attached. Elizabeth Mitchell stars as an FBI agent and concerned single mum… but all I could see was Juliet from Lost. Joel Gretsch is a troubled priest, but all I could see was the same “I’m troubled by this but I’m not sure why” face that he had in The 4400 and Taken. Scott Wolf will forever be the kid from Party of Five and Morena Baccarin was playing the same aloof alien she played in Stargate, just with a different haircut. I adore Alan Tudyk and he was the only character with any spark, but at the end of the day, he was just a slightly watered down Wash.
The whole thing left me feeling incredibly ‘meh’. The design didn’t really do anything for me, the aliens and their technology were all kind of sleek, grey and featureless. I didn’t notice any music, so I guess that was vanilla as well. The direction was resoundingly mediocre, with some crappy blue screening to get people into the alien environments complete killing any sense of connection. Also there were way too many times when I felt ideas were just lifted from other shows, everything from Battlestar Galactica to Frost/Nixon seemed to get a look in.
The other reviews I’m reading seem a lot more positive, but to me it just felt like it had all been done before (and that’s even without seeing what it’s ACTUALLY retelling). By the end of the episode I just felt bored and utterly unenthused with the idea of watching the rest of the season do exactly the same things as dozens of shows, films and books before it. I will however give it another few chances in the vague hope that it just turns out I was in a bad mood when I watched the pilot.
V will be shown in the UK on the Sci Fi Channel in 2010.