VISITORSITE.NET - V PILOT EPISODE REVIEW
Posted JULY 20, 2009
VisitorSite.net Special Feature: V Pilot Episode Review
By Craig Byrne - VisitorSite.net Webmaster
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More than 25 years after the first V mini-series hit the airwaves, V will be returning to television screens with a well-cast revival that - unlike many other recent remakes - actually delivers and in some ways surpasses the original model.
Many fans will be lucky enough to preview the series premiere at the Comic-Con International later this week - both during a Warner Bros. "Preview Night" on Wednesday and during the V panel on Saturday. If you are attending the Con and have the time, take a look; otherwise you'll have to wait for ABC's midseason launch.
V starts off with the earth shaking - literally. Very early on we meet Erica Evans, the series' protagonist who is played by Elizabeth Mitchell of LOST fame. Evans is a FBI agent who is raising a son named Tyler (newcomer Logan Huffman), and as a lead character she is the glue that keeps a lot of this together.
The 4400's Joel Grestch plays Father Jack Landry, a man who is part of a church that hosts very few members in its congregation. However, with the coming of the Visitors, things start to change. There is some debate on whether or not the Visitors are included among "God's creatures" and if this change is a good thing.
Other characters in the series pilot include Brandon, Tyler's best friend who provides several one-liners for the situation (Jesse Wheeler); Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut), a man on the edge of proposing to Valerie Holt (Lourdes Benedicto) until a major decision changes everything; Chad Decker (Scott Wolf), a reporter who has obtained interviews through unethical means before and is now chosen as the Visitors' mouthpiece; Georgie (David Richmond-Peck), one of the organizers and leaders of the anti-Visitor resistance; and Dale Maddox (Alan Tudyk), the FBI partner of Erica Evans. Among the Visitors is their leader, "Anna" (Firefly's Morena Baccarin), who can be described in two words - "extremely creepy." is one of the best ways to describe Morena Baccarin as the leader and head representative of the Visitors, "Anna." Even the way she blinks comes off as lizardlike and slimy. However, when she speaks, it's so smooth, you can see why the people of Earth are easily under her thrall. Also very alluring to the humans is Lisa (Smallville's Laura Vandervoort), a character whose charms quickly snag Tyler Evans to the side of the Visitors.
While the show deals with serious subject matter and handles it well, it really does take the time to have a sense of humor about itself. There are some pop cultural references in the show - at one point a joke is made comparing the proceedings to Independence Day, in which another character points out that that movie itself was inspired by many other science-fiction predecessors. Scott Peters also manages to slip in a reference to his previous television series, The 4400. Inside jokes don't provide the show's only humor - at one point, Scott Wolf's reporter character ask the Visitors' Anna if there is such thing as an ugly Visitor. Looking at the actors cast, I'm wondering the exact same thing.
As the original V had parallels to World War II and the Holocaust, the new V also has parallels - this time to modern times' current obsession with celebrity and search for idols. When these "idols" embrace the adoration, the devotion could become something very dangerous, and V plays with those themes very successfully.
If there is any issue I have at all with the V pilot, it is with the pacing. Maybe I am used to the way the original miniseries played out, but it seems like the story of how the Visitors came into power and won everyone over could have been spread over a longer period of time. As things were, it seemed like they arrived, then it's "Two Weeks Later," and then people are going on tours of the mothership.
The mothership, by the way, is a visual effects wonder, resembling a city inside more than a airplane hangar this time around. The production designers did a great job also of making it look alien while at the same time being as familiar and comfortable as a shopping mall. I'm sure this look was intentional. The exteriors of the ships as well as the transport ships resemble what was seen in the original V, but give them a newer, more realistic looking upgrade. The effects team for V really deserves attention for creating something that looks to be of movie quality on a television presentation. In fact, I hope that they run V trailers in movie theaters just so I can see it on the big screen.
One of the strongest elements of V lies with the casting - both from a publicity/fan standpoint and from a creative standpoint. There are so many veterans from previous popular shows, it really feels like an all-star cast. In addition to Elizabeth Mitchell from ABC's soon-to-conclude LOST, Alan Tudyk and Morena Baccarin come from Firefly; Joel Gretsch hails from The 4400; Scott Wolf was well known and well liked for Party of Five; and - most likely the reason many of you are reading this, considering this website's KryptonSite connection - Laura Vandervoort portrayed another sexy blonde alien last year on The CW's Smallville. These familiar faces fortunately do not distract from the show and if anything, make it immediately comfortable.
Despite the foreboding doom that comes with knowing the Visitors have evil intentions, V also gives off a sense of hope. Also unlike many other genre-related series in recent years that try to be like LOST, it doesn't seem like the continuity is a confusing mess - everything, or almost everything, is right there on the table to be enjoyed. That is such a refreshing feeling. At no time does V feel like a chore; but instead, you are glued to the TV to find out what the Visitors will do or inspire others to do next.
There is one mystery that is unearthed throughout the course of the pilot, however. [Spoiler Warning] The Visitors have been here before, and during previous organizations of a resistance, a backstory that involves Chestnut's Ryan and Richmond-Peck's Georgie, very bad things happened. I'm very curious about this plot nugget and hope it is picked up on much more in the future. I've got to admit, I really liked that a resistance force is already forming and I look forward to seeing where that storyline will lead. I'm also interested in seeing more of the younger characters - casting Laura Vandervoort was a great move by the V crew, and seeing "Lisa"'s interactions with Tyler Evans despite his mother's inevitable protests will make for some good television that will hopefully cross over into a younger generation of viewers as well.
Another thing I'm kind of hoping for, I'm almost reluctant to admit. When it comes to my TV I'm not often a "shipper," but there is a lot of chemistry between Erica and Father Jack, and considering his profession, there will surely be some complications if their relationship becomes anything more than platonic. Mitchell and Gretsch have a lot of on-screen chemistry which may contribute to that.
Often times when a TV franchise is revived, there is also the temptation to compare the new version to the original model. I admit I was guilty of that with regards to the pacing issue. However, beyond that, this new V is its own beast with its own legs. I love the original V. There were characters in the original two mini-series, like Mike Donovan, Juliet Parrish, Willie, Diana, or Ham Tyler, who are definitely among my favorite TV characters. But, I am glad to see that that well wasn't revisited. By creating a new set of characters, independent of the creations of Kenneth Johnson, V is a unique "revisiting" (no pun intended) of a great franchise, and that keeps us from making unfair comparisons between the versions. Because at the end of the day, while people are willing to accept a female Starbuck, most TV viewers won't accept a Bionic Woman that is not Lindsay Wagner, just like I don't think people would react too well if Joel Gretsch was playing Mike Donovan or if Morena Baccarin was trying to fill Jane Badler's shows. This way both "universes" can operate independently, though I would not complain if any of the original V actors wanted to show up at any time.
I'm surprised and a little disappointed that ABC is holding V for midseason. It would be a powerful show to launch the year with, though more time might give them more time for scripts, effects, and perfecting the 13-episode first season. There's also the hope that it can ride the promotional wave of the final season of LOST. Either way, this is by far the most satisfying TV pilot I have seen in years. It was everything I had hoped to be and more. Maybe my midseason disappointment is knowing I'll have to wait several months for Episode Two... if the second episode and beyond are this good, then, ABC will have another Top Ten ratings hit. 5 stars out of 5 for me - I can't wait to see more!
The V pilot is executive produced by Scott Peters, Jace Hall, and Steve Pearlman, written by Scott Peters, and directed by Yves Simoneau. The weekly series will also be executive produced by Jeffrey Bell. The show is currently planned to premiere at midseason; stay tuned for more formal announcements as they become available. Be sure to check out the V pilot preview and panel at the Comic-Con International in San Diego!
This site is in no way affiliated with ABC, Warner Bros. Television, the show's producers, or V's original creators. V, its logo, characters, and related imagery are ©2009 Warner Bros. Television and this page is ©2009 KryptonSite unless material is noted as coming from someone else or being by an individual author. If you're involved with this new project and would like to send news tips, please don't hesitate to send an e-mail - your contact will be confidential. We are of peace, always.