Vacuous Verisimilitude; Or, V has arrived

How did this show get past the ABC censors? How did the folks in Hollywood—good Progressives, all—let this program sneak onto the air? Were movie studio heads so distracted by attending yet another Washington fund raiser that a genuine alternate viewpoint was allowed to air?

We may never know, but we can be grateful for the remake of V. Because it turns upside down every well known Left Coast trope.

A Catholic priest (Joel Gretsch) has doubts. No, not those kinds. He distrusts the milky language of the Visitors and says so in his sermons. A Monsegnior insists the Vs are part of Heaven’s plan. The priest answers, “Rattlesnakes are God’s creatures, too. Doesn’t mean they’re good for us.” The Monsegnior counters that the people are grateful for the Vs appearance. Reply: “Their world’s in bad shape, father. Who wouldn’t welcome a savior right now?…[And] under the right conditions and with enough time, gratitude can morph into worship. Or worse. Devotion.”

V

He admonishes his credulous flock, “We’re all so quick to jump on the bandwagon…but let us at least examine it and make sure it’s something we want to get on.” The strangest thing of all is that the priest is portrayed sympathetically! There’s not a choir boy in sight.

The evil leader lizard woman Anna (played by Morena Baccarin) is subdued and quiet, like a snake lazing in the sun. She blinks like a reptile. And she speaks with a forked tongue (no, silly; I’m being metaphorical).

Thrill-up-his-leg journalist (Scott Wolf) rhetorically asks, “Should the press be so tough on the Vs?” He readily sacrifices his integrity for unrestricted access to The One—oops, I mean Anna. She threatens to walk off the set of her first broadcast interview unless he agrees to lie for the greater good. “We can’t be seen in a negative light,” she says. Naturally, once the camera rolls, Anna tells the world, “Please feel free to ask me anything and everything. I’m here to discuss all topics without reserve.” She then announces the creation of the Visitor-imposed “universal health care”.

Our reporter feels a slight tinge of guilt over what he’s done. A V assuages him with, “Compromising one’s principles for the greater good is not a shameful act. It’s a noble one.”

There’s a slick scene where a doctor notches some ‘V’s onto the mastoid processes of some Underground members to reveal bone, and, hence humanness. Geeks will be happy to see Alan Tudyk, who plays a resurrectable alien. (I note parenthetically that he ought to keep away from sharp metal objects. Right, Serenity fans?)

Morris Chestnut—Morris Chestnut! that’s his real name, I swear—plays a renegade lizard. They had them in the original series, too. Patriots who rebelled against their autocratic one-party government.

The 1983 version alluded to Nazis, using a story line seen through the eyes of an aged Holocaust survivor. It was that survivor who taught kids who were defacing Alien posters to do so in the shape of a “V for victory” and so give the show its name.

In this updated version, the kids “tag” for the Vs. That is, they vandalize property in the name of Progress. One kid’s mom (Elizabeth Mitchell), who is an FBI agent and the heroine who will learn that the Vs long ago planted sleeper cells on Earth, catches her son misbehaving. He proclaims duty and says, “The Vs. They call it spreading hope.”

Eventually, our young hopeful (Logan Huffman) joins the V’s “Peace Ambassador program” This NGO is a pro-V grassroots neighborhood organizer organization. Initiates get brown shirts! No, just kidding. They’re gun-metal blue. They toast their pact with, “To the dawn of a new day!” Change has come!

In the original, the Vs were softening us up for Alien Chow. Now it looks like they just want to clear us out to make way for Progress, and perhaps slavery.

A beautiful plot point has the Vs lamely announce, “We came to borrow some water”. Now, any species that can build and power ships that can traverse the vastness of interstellar space can trivially make water. Anna even admits that her planet is “ocean filled.” But the will to believe is strong so that nobody bothers to question this transparently idiotic plea for cooperation—-strike that, for dialog. Anna gushes, “We are honored by your friendship. We will cherish it. Nurture it. And never abandon it. We are of Peace. Always”

After a setback and Awakening, our FBI lady shivers with the priest on a rooftop and echoes his thoughts about the gullibility of the People: “The [V’s have] armed themselves with the most powerful weapon out there. Devotion.”

Anna leaves us with these prescient words: “[E]mbracing change is never easy. But the reward for doing so can be far greater than you can ever imagine.”

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V is on Tuesday’s at 8 pm on ABC. It’s also available on Hulu and ABC.com later in the week.

Update: Reporter asks White House Press Secretary Gibbs about Obama’s resemblance to Anna.

8 Comments

  1. I wonder if any of the V’s ever have sex with the humans? In their disguised form, of course! LOL. That lead female one s HAWT.

  2. Was thinking of adding “V” to our Tivo mix, but since we’re already heavily invested in the plot lines of “Fringe”, “Fast Forward” and several other sci-fi wannabes currently floating around out there we decided against it. Thanks to our leader’s most excellent revue we now don’t need to. Wonder if the “fabler” party will list it alongside FNC and Rush unless the plot line morphs?

  3. Oh, but the writing is so bad. All the potentially interesting anti-left political stuff is incredibly ham-handed (I apologize abjectly to any muslim or kosher-keeping jewish writers of the show who might be offended by such criticism). In general, there was way too much stuff packed into one episode.

    And then there was the inexplicable skipping-the-three-weeks-right-after-the-aliens-arrive bit. ‘Cuz, you know, probably nothing interesting happened during those three weeks, so let’s get right to plot points that we could have built up to over the course of a season or so.

  4. noahpoah,

    Amen on the writing, but “ham-handed Kosher-keeping Jewish writers”? Hmm.

    Ari,

    I was at a pre-release audience test of Serenity. Packed with fans. There was an enormous disbelieving gasp when Wash got pierced.

    49er,

    “Fabler”?

  5. Matt,

    I sure believe that. I always know to expect characters to die in Joss Whedon stuff, but Wash? Man, that was just mean. It’s one thing to have the nice sorta sentimental death like in Khan, but Wash just died suddenly and without any real warning. Oh well. At least he didn’t kill Zoe…

    I watched some clips of V on Hulu and just decided it wasn’t likely to add much to my schedule. I do look back on the original fondly, however. Especially the small animal eating.

    Honestly, I’m generally lukewarm about most politics in network shows. It’s usually either boring touchy-feely liberal hug fests (typical Democratic stuff that isn’t really new to this guy), or it’s ham-handed sorta kinda Ayn Randian “screw thy neighbor (literally?)” crud. Nothing in-between. Granted, that’s a great analogy for a lot of American political dialogue, so maybe they can’t be blamed for it. Hah.

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