REVIEW: V – THE FINAL BATTLE

Starring

Marc Singer (Beastmaster)
Faye Grant (Drive Me Crazy)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Michael Durrell (Sister Act)
Peter Nelson (Die Hard 2)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
David Packer (Robocop)
Neva Patterson (An Affair To Remember)
Blair Tefkin (Greenburg)
Michael Wright (The Interpreter)
Denise Galik (Two For The Money)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Frank Ashmore (Airplane!)
Andrew Prine (The Road West)
Viveka Davis (Timecode)
Jenny O’Hara (Mystic River)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 &2)
Mickey Jones (Sling Blade)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Diane Carey (Ugly Betty)

Jane Badler, Marc Singer, and Faye Grant in V (1984)Kenneth Johnson’s miniseries V was a huge May Sweeps success for NBC back in ’83. His story of alien invaders was a smartly veiled allegory for the unspeakable tyranny of the Nazi regime and the corrupting influence of power. But when the network clamoured for a longer sequel on a tighter budget and timetable, well, Johnson opted out and, sadly, it shows. V: The Final Battle (1984, 267 minutes) revels in constantly ripping off the lizards’ phony human faces and showing them tossing live critters down their gullets, while dramatically upping the gunplay, explosions and, in turn, the body count. Sure there’s some lip service paid to the not-so-niceness of fascism, the moral dilemma of abortion and especially relevant today, the sobering horrors of biological warfare.Jane Badler, Richard Herd, Peter Nelson, and Andrew Prine in V: The Final Battle (1984)When last we saw Julie and Donovan (Faye Grant and Marc Singer) they’d led their rag-tag resisters through a successful Visitor scale tanning, thus providing some measure of hope for an end to E.T. tyranny. Well, not so fast. There’s nearly five more hours to fill. This produces three cliffhanger’d together episodes of our plucky human heros cooking up and executing schemes to rain on the reptilian parade. First up, they decide to expose the alien conspiracy by yanking off Supreme Commander John’s doughy mug mid-press conference (Richard Herd). Later, they attack a pumping station that’s sucking the Earth’s oceans aboard the Visitor mothership. Then, as the title implies, there’s the final battle involving red talcum powder.Marc Singer and Frank Ashmore in V: The Final Battle (1984)New comer Michael Ironside stomps into the resistance group with the subtlety of a drunken Clydesdale and takes to telling everyone what clueless yahoos they are. And he’s RIGHT most of the time! As Ham Tyler, his checkered, mercenary past and gaggle of TNT-happy goons provide Julie’s neuvo-guerillas some much needed education in carnage creation.Jane Badler, Sarah Douglas, and Andrew Prine in V: The Final Battle (1984)There’s also the inevitable return of Robert Englund as Willie, everyone’s favorite cuddly value-sized iguana, who still can’t quite grasp the English language. Lizard Queen Diana (Jane Badler) now spends much of her time honing her bitchery by making humans wear unflattering white tights whilst subjecting them to her riotously absurd Brainwash-O-Tron. But the biggest jaw dropper of the miniseries is Robin (Blair Tefkin) offered herself up in the original as a one-woman welcoming party and got herself knocked up with a space-alien baby. When Ms. Horny Toad sprouts ghastly scales around her neck, it’s a pretty goldang strong indication the delivery ain’t gonna be anywhere near a Hallmark moment!

REVIEW: V – THE MINI SERIES

Starring

Marc Singer (Beastmaster)
Faye Grant (Drive Me Crazy)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Michael Durrell (Sister Act)
Peter Nelson (Die Hard 2)
David Packer (Robocop)
Neva Patterson (An Affair To Remember)
Tommy Petersen (An Officer and a Gentleman)
Blair Tefkin (Greenburg)
Michael Wright (The Interpreter)
Bonnie Bartlett (Twins)
Leonardo Cimino (Dune)
Richard Herd (The China Syndrome)
Evan C. Kim (The Dead Pool)
Richard Lawson (Poltergeist)
Andrew Prine (The Road West)
Frank Ashmore (Airplane!)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Viveka Davis (Timecode)
Diane Carey (Ugly Betty)

Jenny O'Hara in V (1983)Down from the clouds lumber a horde of value-sized flying saucers that creep eerily across the skies before parking over the population centers of the world. Earthlings cower below, their puny fighter jets utterly unable to approach even one of the craft, when finally, a message emanates from the invaders: “How y’all doin’?” Turns out they’re visitors from somewhere near Sirius, who just stopped by for a few billion cups of some mineral we’ve got that’d save their dieing planet. In exchange, they won’t kill us, er, they’ll give us technology. Weird thing is these rather ordinary looking folks don’t seem much like space aliens except that when they talk they sound like they’re on crummy cell phones and they insist on wearing cheesy Blue Blocker shades. Things are great until a nosey reporter by the name of Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) stows aboard the ship hovering over Los Angeles and comes face to scales with the truth.The visitors are Giant Lizards masquerading as Earthlings, and they are none too pleased when Mike tries to out them live on NBC. But it’s Fugitive City for TV boy when his transmission is blocked, and the Visitor propaganda machine somehow twists the incident around as part of their sinister scheme to brand the world’s scientific minds as conspirators and terrorists. Someone’s got to prove that resistance is no where near futile and whup some over-grown horny toad hiney, and that somebody might as well be Killer Blonde, M.D. (Faye Grant).V was an analogy of World War II, and it works really well. This mini series started it all and went on to spawn another Mini Series and two TV Shows.

 

 

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN (1974)

CAST

Cathy Lee Crosby (Coach)
Kaz Garas (Mean Creek)
Andrew Prine (V)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
Charlene Holt (El Dorado)
Anitra Ford (The Big Bird Cage)

ww-1974-featThis Wonder Woman, which aired once in March 1974 and did well enough in the ratings for a series to be considered but was seriously retooled into the Lynda Carter vehicle. Thanks to Warner Archive, that 73 minute effort is now available for completists everywhere.
Yes, she’s Diana, princess of the Amazons and sent to man’s world. Somehow the unnamed Queen mother has decided the time has come for men everywhere to learn that women are of equal value so sends Diana to teach them. The very next scene has her playing the not very liberated role of secretary to Steve Trevor, who heads some federal agency. Absurdly, ten books with the names of 39 strategic agents around the world have been stolen by international mystery man Abner Smith. With seventy-two hours before they are exposed, the United States has to recover the books or pay millions in ransom. While a bunch of suits are given an hour to ponder the dilemma; Steve, with a wink and a nod, let’s Diana to take time off to see her “dentist”.  So much is left unexplained starting with how the Amazons have learned about the outside world and how Diana has acclimated to life in America. Her exact powers are never outlined nor is her bizarre not-very-secret identity. As written by executive producer John D.F. Black, we are expected to accept things on face value and go with it which is odd considering his extensive credits in dramatic television, including an influential role in the first half season of Star Trek.

Wonder Woman tracks down Smith, based in a nicely appointed hideout deep within the north face of the Grand Canyon. There’s some fighting, some deering-do and the odd arrival of fellow Amazon Angela, who has jealously followed Diana to the outside world to seek the wealth it offers.

What is interesting, though, is the banter between Diana and Smith or Diana and Smith’s flunky George. Here, Black demonstrates some nicely handled character, letting the bad guys be a bit more multidimensional than the star. It helps that Smith is played by Ricardo Montalban, decked out all in white long before he set up shop on Fantasy Island. He nicely chews the scenery and has nice chemistry with the Amazon Princess, woodenly played by tennis pro turned actress Cathy Lee Crosby. In civilian garb or an Olympic outfit masquerading as her costume, she lacks the imposing physique of an Amazon and her action sequences are not very athletic-looking. George is played with some relish by Andrew Prine who makes the most of his sidekick role. The rest of the cast is there to advance the story, nothing more, so Kaz Garas as Trevor or the fine character actor Richard X. Slattery have absolutely nothing to work with. Director Vincent McEveety, another Trek alum, does a by-the-numbers job with the story, making it look generic.MV5BMTU1ODU3NTMzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTE4NjE2MjE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_ABC actually thought enough of this film  to go to a series a year later. Thankfully, by then, they jettisoned Crosby for Carter and in November 1975, we got our first glimpse of what would be an icon of the decade. This film is worth watching for DC fans who like to complete sets but  this is nothing compared to Lynda Carters Wonder Woman.