ABC's CGI remake of the 1983 sci fi miniseries is just about as broad as it gets, but ticks a lot of boxes.
The Visitors have arrived. Again.
They are here to share their technology with Earth. And they offer universal health care. Not even President Obama has managed to pull that one off.
Most of the best science fiction tales serve as allegories for social or political truths. In 1983’s original V miniseries many observers noted the thematic similarities with the rise of the Nazi movement. Glamorous aliens wooed a race, shielding their sinister motives. It was a series that has become renowned for its thrilling plot and camp style. But it wasn’t camp at the time, only attracting such status in retro-hindsight.
In ABC’s CGI remake the use of metaphors remains, but they have shifted. Now it’s message is one of anti-terrorism. Fittingly, the first spaceship arrives high above New York City not long after an opening title asks if we all remember where we were on 9/11…
V propels straight into the action. It opens Irwin Allen-like with multiple characters going about ordinary business in the middle of an ordinary day. Suddenly water in a glass trembles like a scene from Jurassic Park. There are aerial shots of huge shadows darkening a city -straight out of Independence Day. While they could well be homages, the opening shots feel more like genre hallmarks designed to put a broad audience on the same page. It is effective if simple.
Representing the humans’ frontline are FBI counter-terrorism agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) who is also mom to teenage son Tyler (Logan Huffman), plus TV news anchor Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) and Catholic Priest Father Jack Landry (Joel Grestch). They cleverly tick all the boxes of law, media, religion, youth and family.
What happens in New York has been replicated in 29 cities, and while the Visitors are ready to address the United Nations, it is Decker who lands a career-making interview with their High Commander, the drop-dead gorgeous Anna (Morena Baccarin). In return for water, the supposedly-peaceful aliens will share their knowledge to cure the incurable. But Decker becomes suspicious of Anna’s request to avoid questions which would portray them in a bad light.
Meanwhile an underground, rag-tag movement of non-believers are convinced the arrival is merely the open declaration of what has been suspected all along: that there are sleeper cells of aliens amongst us all over the world.
This treatment is just about as broad as it gets. It is a shiny, handsome production with heart-on-sleeve emotions from its aesthetic actors (Scott Wolf even asks the High Commander if all the Visitors are as perfect as she is… it’s a bit ironic, really). While it isn’t trying to be intellectual it is trying to be wholly entertaining, and on that score it hits its mark. Ambitious sci-fi shows like FlashForward promise much but don’t always sustain the ride. If we get to those scenes with rodent-eating aliens that infested the original series, this should prove satisfying.
Check your brain at the door (lest it be eaten) and break out the popcorn.
V premieres 8:30pm Sunday on Nine.