TV Series Review: V (the 2009-2011 reboot)

I just finished watching V (2009-2011), a reboot of the 1983-1985 TV miniseries and series (which I immediately found dated and unwatchable). “V” stands for “Visitor,” a member of a race of humanoid looking aliens come to earth in “peace,” or so they say. Overall, this newer series is intriguing, amusing, and visually impressive with its state-of-the-art special effects. The show indeed ends on a cliffhanger, due to abruptly being canceled. But, I didn’t find the finale as incomplete feeling as I thought I would.

This production is a playground for conspiracy theorists’ imaginings. I read, however, that the original inspiration for it was Sinclair Lewis’ anti-fascism 1935 novel IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE. And I did see a basic Antifa thread throughout. I appreciated the ethical dilemmas the show effectively explores.

I enjoyed watching Elizabeth Mitchell as Erica Evans, an FBI agent and single mother, who becomes the leader against the villainous Anna (played by the beautiful and compelling Morena Baccarin), high commander and queen of the alien Visitors. In each of their starring roles, Ms. Baccarin is effectively sinister and creepy while Ms. Mitchell is both bad-ass and caring. I was annoyed by the racist overtone tropes of blonde, “good” mother vs. dark-featured “bad” mother portrayals here. Nonetheless, Morena as Anna steals the show time and again.

The overall cast is strong and well-acted, with one exception being Brett Harrison as Sidney Miller, a young scientist who is introduced in the second season. He is brought in to provide tech. support brainpower for the rebels against the V’s but, also, for some comic relief and to represent non-heroic, human vulnerability. While I appreciate the creators’ intentions behind this character and acting choice, I was not impressed with Harrison’s lack of gravitas in the role. I found it difficult to see him as a scientist boy genius. He should remain doing light-weight comedy television, which largely comprises his resume. In this show, Harrison does not believably mix well with all the heavy hitter, dynamic actors around him. A more emotionally skilled and nuanced, slightly grittier actor would have made for a better fit.

The first season had a bit more intensity and plot precision to it than the second, which did manage to pick up steam and focus after the first three episodes or so. I was tickled to see Jane Badler, who stars as Diana, the V’s high commander and queen in the original miniseries and series, reprise her role in this remake’s second and final season. The wonderfully posed archness of queen against queen, with them always wearing fabulous designer dresses or gowns and high heels while standing elegantly within grand, high-ceilinged sets (to emphasize their own highness), made for deliciously campy fun. And the lizard features of the Visitors beneath their human skin disguises were colorfully imaginative, adding to the camp factor, even if there was a bit of copying from the ALIEN franchise.

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