REVIEW: V (2009) – SEASON 1 & 2

CAST

Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost)
Morris Chesnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Joel Gretsch (Taken)
Logan Huffman (Final Girl)
Lourdes Benedicto (Drive Me Crazy)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Scott Wolf (Go)
Charles Mesure (Xena)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alan Tudyk (Dollhouse)
Christopher Shyer (Smallville)
Dacid Richmond-Peck (Sanctuary)
Britt Irvin (The Vow)
Scott Hylands (Earthquake)
Roark Critchlow (Mr. Deeds)
Michael Flipowich (Earth: Final Conflict)
Mark Hildreth (Earthsea)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Nicholas Lea (Andromeda)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Lexa Doig (Stargate SG.1)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came A Spider)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Bret Harrison (That 70s Show)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)
Michael Trucco (How I Met Your Mother)

A City-sized alien ships have appeared over twenty-nine cities worldwide, and the aliens’ leader “Anna” (Morena Baccarin) declares that, “We are of peace.” The Visitors offer their advanced technology to better the world, and cause massive changes — social, religious, medical, and so on.

While hunting a terrorist cell FBI agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) stumbles across an anti-Visitor resistance — and the shocking discovery that not only are the visitors reptilian creatures in humanoid skins, but some Visitors are hiding among us. She and the skeptical priest Father Jack (Joel Gretsch) begin forming their own little resistance cell, along with the V-in-hiding Ryan Nicholas (Morris Chestnut) who is trying to reactivate an alien rebellion known as the Fifth Column. At the same time, news anchor Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) finds himself the media ambassador of the V’s, caught between ambition and his growing doubts.

But the resistance has more than Anna’s cruel, duplicitous nature to deal with — Erica’s gullible son Tyler (Logan Huffman) has become a “peace ambassador” for the V’s and is falling in love with Anna’s daughter Lisa (Laura Vandervoort). Ryan’s girlfriend is pregnant with a hybrid baby. One of their number is captured by the V’s and brutally tortured, even as Anna hatches terrifying new plots to wipe the Fifth Column from existence…

“V: The Complete First Season” is very different from the 1980s version — there are sweeping changes to the story, characters, the political commentary and the aliens’ manipulation.  the writing is good — it’s full of suspense and some amazing plot twists. The characters are painstakingly sketched out and developed, along with strong dialogue, and  yeah, there’s some creepy stuff too, such as when Erica gets her shocking first glimpse of a V face. Not so much rodent-eating, though.

Season 2’s most welcome surprise was the introduction of lizard Queen Anna’s mother, Diana, played to perfection by the original series’ Jane Badler. Though Jane played a character with the same name over 20 years ago, this Diana was not the same Diana audiences loved to hate in the 1980’s. This Diana was a Queen in exile playing cat and mouse with her own daughter. The dynamic between both actresses was electrifying and you frequently felt Anna had met her match. While the humans stumbled around trying to figure out how to save humanity from a vastly superior alien force, Diana tormented her daughter, creating doubt and sewing division with the raise of an eyebrow and a carefully planted suggestion.

 

In addition to Jane’s highly publicized return, season 2 also gave audiences a great many twists and turns, including:
– the return of Mark Singer, the original series’ Mike Donovan;
– an international resistance that finally started to do something other than debate the need to take action;
– technology versus the power of the human soul;
– Visitors without their human skin;
– critter eating in all its disgusting iconicness;
– Erica Evans finding her inner bad ass;

If season 1 was good, season 2 was excellent. Yes, it has it’s short falls like any young series, but in a remarkably short time the series found it’s feet and created a drama that was exciting and surprising. With outstanding performances from actors like Elizabeth Mitchell, Morena Baccarin, Joel Gretsch, Scott Wolf, Morris Chestnut, Laura Vandervoort, Charles Measure, Christopher Shyer, Josh Hildreth and Jane Badler, season 2 was a lot of fun and incredibly easy to watch and get lost in.

As with the original series it ends on a cliffhanger and then cancelled so we will never know what was to be.

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REVIEW: V – THE SERIES (1985)

CAST

Marc Singer (Beastmaster)
Faye Grant (Drive Me Crazy)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
June Chadwick (This is Spinal Tap)
Jennifer Cooke (Friday The 13th – Part VI)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Lane Smith (Lois & Clark)
Blair Tefkin (Greenburg)
Jeff Yagher (Mr and Mrs Smith)
Michael Wright (The Interpreter)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Frank Ashmore (Airplane!)
Michael Durrell (Sister Act)
Pamela Ludwig (Over The Edge)
Xander Berkeley (Terminator 2)
Nicky Katt (The Brave One)
Sybil Danning (Halloween)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha)
Anthoyn De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
James Daughton (Spies Like Us)
Duncan Regehr (The Monster Squad)
Judson Scott (Blade)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
Brett Cullen (Lost)

 

I was really happy to hear that the struggles of Mike Donovan and the rest of the resistance were coming back as a series. the series follow up was always dismissed as crass exploitation of the franchise.

Highlights of the series were –

1. This series isn’t bad. It is not as good as the two mini-series but it is entertaing in its own right. I also think that this show was innovative in the field of TV Science Fiction. Prior to “V”, Science Fiction was very episodic. Star Trek, Space: 1999, Logan’s Run, Planet of the Apes, Buck Rogers and to a certain extent, Battlestar Galactica all told self contained stories. The plot was resolved by the end of the hour. “V” The series was different in this respect. It had story arcs and continuing plot threads. Every episode ended in a cliff-hanger and it left you wanting more. In this aspect, it has a modern flavor.

2. People could die on “V”. For most TV shows, you know that the heroes will make it in the end. Not on “V”. Over the 19 episodes, long-standing characters like Dr. Maxwell and Elias Taylor buy the farm surprisingly abruptly. This raised the stakes dramatically and kept the viewer involved in the narrative.

3. The cast was great. Marc Singer was perfectly cast as heroic Mike Donovan. Micheal Ironside ruled as perfect tough guy Ham. Jane Badler was very memorable as Uber-Bitch, Diana. June Chadwick was suitably catty as Diana’a rival Lydia. Duncan Rehgar was fantastic as Charles, the leader’s envoy. His fight with Donovan in “The Hero” is classic. He was a great villain and it is a great shock when he is killed after a mere 4 episodes.

4. There is a sense that this is merely a peek at a global war with the Visitors. For the first 12 episodes or so, The Freedom Network newscaster, Howard K. Smith ( A real journalist by the way) reads the headlines on the state of the war. We learn that the Visitors are sweeping through Spain and so forth. This makes us understand that The resistance in LA is only one story in this global conflict. It really gives the story a certain gravitas.

5. The stories are often action adventure tales that are on par with anything that was on the air in the mid 1980s. Unfortunately, the sociological aspects that made the first mini series so memorable are ignored completely. The show, even though it is watered down, is entertaining in its own right.

As the series goes on, it is clear that there was less and less money bugeted for each episode. The first episode, “Liberation Day” has an outdoor crowd scene with hundreds of extras. By the last episode, we only have the main characters walking around on the standing sets. By the end, the production valules of the show looked rather thread bare. The producers decided to exploit the alien lizards by showing them without their Human masks. This was a mistake. The people who created the lizard makeups were not as artful as John Chambers. As a result the lizard appliances were very stiff and immoble. By showing the Lizards in their natural state too often, it undermined their credibility as a frightening threat. The full face lizards were about as scary and convincing as a halloween slip on mask. It became a bit silly. I hate cliffhangers that are unresolved. I can’t understand why they would create a cliffhanger for a show that was doing poorly in the ratings. It is really unfair to viewers who watched every episode.One can only wonder how it would of been resolved.

 

REVIEW: V – THE FINAL BATTLE

CAST

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)

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.

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.

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.

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

CAST

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)

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.