V is back on TV in a glossy new update of the old miniseries. The first part debuted last night on Channel 9 in prime time position. I’m a V fan from way back. The 1983 miniseries holds the same amount of nostalgia for me as Back to the Future or Escape from LA.
During my formative years, my dad made us work through the complete science fiction VHS section of Cambridge Park Video Store (which strangely was positioned right next to the porn section, and I would forever wonder through my childhood what those weird films were). From the shop came the entire Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Wars, War of the Worlds and the original Battlestar Galactica. V was one of my favourites and the most memorable series after Star Trek. I remember watching in eager anticipation as the humanoid aliens that came in peace gradually became more suspicious, until the horrid truth was revealed. So it stole a few ideas from great sci-fi novels… So what! Their badly animated machine guns, bright red outfits and guinea pig eating enthralled me. When they peeled back of their faces to reveal… Well I won’t tell you what, but if you’ve seen the original I’m sure you’ll remember.
The new V is an interesting remake, in that the context for the series actually seems more appropriate to a 2010 setting. I would suggest that there is now potential for a much deeper exploration of what the arrival of “peaceful” aliens means for humankind, than in the 1980s. An FBI agent investigating terrorist cells that as we find out at the end of episode one, are linked to the aliens, has a much greater impact in a post 9/11 world. As do the notions of surveillance, media control and censorship that the aliens begin to enforce.
The Visitors themselves have more currency today, given their somewhat suspicious likeness to scientologists. I mean, who would trust an alien that looks like Katie Holmes? That resemblance alone would send me running to the hills. The tension builds simply by a very effective and creepy performance by Morena Baccarin as the High Commander. You know you can’t trust her, but her cult of personality still leads people astray. Also, Scott Wolf’s in it. Remember Scott Wolf? He hasn’t changed a bit since Party of Five.
While I know the ending, I will be interested to see how the V remake plays out for someone who hasn’t seen the original (or read Make Room! Make Room!). My husband is very much against science-fiction; he loves Star Wars and Independence Day, but to suggest to watch a sci-fi TV show is met with as much resistance as a Gerard Depardieu war film. Reluctantly he allowed me to watch it, so when the visitors first arrived, and the US plane came down, dead parachutist following, I was surprised when he said “Ok, that was cool”. By the end of the show, he meekly admitted, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad.”
Just wait until the end, when all is revealed. I’m sure I’ll hear a resounding “Wow”.