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V: The Complete First & Second Seasons (2011) (TV series review).

December 14, 2020 | By | Reply More

I have to confess to being a bit dubious about watching the second version of ‘V’. The original 1983 mini-series was good with its metaphor to WW2 invasion and occupation. The brief TV series that followed it was a lot more iffy relying more on occupied WW2 as its basis. This time, even with Kenny Johnson’s guidance noted in the opening episode, bringing it up to modern times and different outlooks, there are similar patterns. I mean, we don’t see how they connect to various countries governments, only to the people even more this time. The world-wide effect is only gone into in the second season and that was more of the insistence of the studio according to the extras.

Having an underground of Visitors already infiltrating and posing as humans before their 29 motherships arrived does lend some push to getting things done, even if a few of them are also rebelling against their own people’s intentions of world domination but not human oeuvres or showing what they were eating. Considering they mixed and lived with humans, you would have to wonder how they coped with terrestrial meals. These Visitors are more interested in turning humans into a breeding stock than eating them.

Everything after that gets down to the usual suspects. Those who lead the covert human rebellion as the Fifth Column, the sympathisers and the rest of the population who appear to be in awe and welcoming them. You would have to ask where are the world governments in all of this. It’s all very well focusing on people stories but with invasions, even apparent benign ones, rule comes from the top, even if its incompetent or being over-run by disguised Visitors. It took until the 8th episode before we saw Anna discussing helping the UN and there was unrest from the top there as its leader/secretary confides that from all intentions the Visitors aren’t passing through but likely to stay. You would have thought we might see some reaction from the likes of the American President, whoever she was.

What is weird is seeing a disguised Visitor committing suicide and incinerating like an Invader from the 1960s TV show. The Visitors or Vs also appear to be addicted to a drugged state called Bliss induced by their queen. I know there are a limited number of choices for aliens dying without revealing their identities or addictions but these were too obvious. If anything, you do have to wonder why the Visitors’ own Fifth Column hasn’t succeeded before now on their homeworld. But like seeing Anna’s true nashers, I doubt if we’re seeing the complete story. It does present an interesting contrast to the original in that we’ve seen hints of what they’re supposed to look like under the skin and yet no proper look at an adult until late in the second season. None of which is helped by only a single track down of one particular group of scientists who working on a way to unknowingly stop reptiles.

An interesting move away from the original series is the Visitors aren’t seeing humans as a meat source but as a means of DNA extraction to improve their own species. It did make me wonder how sophisticated they are, though. They are obviously doing a variation of gene splicing but you would have thought that recognising the DNA combination they needed, that they were sophisticated enough to build it from the raw materials than theft from live specimens.

The audio commentary with the episode ‘Fruition’ does contain a lot of spoilers and hints as to what they were planning for the second season and an emphasis on the focus of the series is really about Anna and Erica contrasting as mothers with children. I did have a ponder on this as if aliens could have a connection such as this. I mean, since when did the Visitors have laws against child abuse or violent attitudes? Come to that, do they have any civil law police? In many respects, I came away from it thinking that give another 20 years, we’ll have a third variation of ‘V’ as the next production team decide what they’ll do next time and remind themselves this is supposed to be a covert led invasion or Earth, beguiling a false sense of security not about family.

The pace of the last episode of season one was awfully fast, like they were either working towards a truncated season or needed to cover a lot of ground quickly. With the extras, it also showed how much was green screen and I hadn’t seen this much since ‘Sanctuary’. Granted much of this would be for the spaceship scenes but elsewhere as well. This no doubt gives some thought as to costume colour choices and such, not to mention the Visitors real skins. Although CGI just needs to remove all but actors and usable props.

Rather curiously, there is some emphasis on the Vs being transformed by emotion, no doubt explaining how the Fifth Column Visitors turning against their queen. Anna, herself, is not exempt from this problem after a particular incident. The thing is, she issues Bliss, an apparent narcotic state to her people and if that isn’t some kind of emotional nirvana then I don’t know what is. Emotionless aliens goes back to the old idea with Vulcans, who later turn out to have suppressed their emotions than actually getting rid of them. With the Visitors, I’m not sure what is happening. Yes, they are reptilian but also advanced aliens who would have developed their own emotional make-up. The information presented tends to show them as highly adaptive, so you would have thought as they travelled through the cosmos and met other species that they would have already been prepared for all of this already. Oh, do I need to tell you who plays Anna’s own mother? Don’t step in for a bite.

The physiology of these Visitors isn’t comparable to the iguanas of the original ‘V’ and we only see mostly hints for most of the two seasons. They also appear amphibious when young. You do have to wonder how the bonding to the human flesh works when cutting it off is fatal. Likewise, you also have to wonder what kind of mouth and skull they have with such big nashers when they are retractable. The same also applies to their retractable stinger tails. There is more of a look of snakes about them than other reptilian species, more so as to how compact their bodies are. It is only with the final stories that we see an adult queen sans a human skin and it automatically raised some questions as she was much taller and had a massive abdomen and you have to wonder how it could be compressed to human proportions. Brings a whole new dimension to the saying, ‘does my bottom look big in this?

Their society seems to suggest that the queen lays eggs for each generation but would also make them vulnerable for takeover, as witnessed by Anna’s mother. There must be more than one breeding female and how quickly they can grow to adulthood and being quickly educated. Any future queen, like Anna, must have to wait for her children to mature to adulthood before any takeover bid but the speed of that can vary a lot. Having an instant army wouldn’t be that much of a problem. Any species that relies solely on a single queen would also lack species divergency. Saying that, this might explain a need for their search for other DNA matrixes.

The duplicity on both sides is odd and hypocritical when you discover so many of them are doing it, all for various reasons of their own. There are some parallels to the original 1983 series in particular profession choices being used, although the main groups on each side are much smaller. The emotional make-up is more to our current century though which makes me wonder if we expect less from our population these days. One thing that is avoided is showing in public what the Visitors look like under their skin. I mean, if you want to show the Visitors duplicitousness, then why didn’t any of the Fifth Column do it on the media? A missed opportunity, if only to see how Anna talked her way out of that fix. I do suspect they didn’t want to be compared to the original series but, really, what other option would you want?

A big nuisance with the blu-ray edition is even if you choose the individual episode option, it will automatically roll into the next episode. Even worse, as you can’t go back to the menu without rebooting the disk so you can’t directly look at cut scenes. I found the best way on each night was to look at the previous episode’s cut scenes before starting the next episode but, even so, it’s a messy arrangement on blu-ray.

With the second season, watch the extra on disk # 1 after its over as it does contain spoilers for the rest of the season. The second extra on disk # 2 hints at problems with consistently appearing on American TV for its first season and I suspect the same problem, together with not high enough viewing figures contributed to its unresolved cancellation after the second season.

Showrunner Scott Peters objective of the Visitors problems with the human soul is odd. Whatever the sentient species, there had to be its own emotional mindset. Basic things like love, hate, envy and jealousy would be pretty common emotions to any sentient species. He also seems to not to want to get on with an alien invasion story concentrating on different things instead. No matter which way you look at a ‘V’ series, it is an alien invasion with humans fighting back.

It’s a shame Warner’s didn’t even allow an end episode to resolve the events of season 2 and left everything hanging, albeit seeing the direction it was going in. At least the original ‘V’ did go a few more steps than that. An odd curio that turned out not to be as bad as I thought it could be but could have done with resolution.

GF Willmetts

December 2020

(blu-ray region free: pub: Warner Bros, 2011. 23 * 45 minute episodes with extras. Price: I pulled my copy for about £20.00 (UK). ASIN: 5000131746)

cast: Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Logan Huffman, Laura Vandervoort, Morena Baccarin, Scott Wolf, Christopher Shyer, Charles Mesure and Jane Badler

check out website: www.warnerbros.co.uk

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Category: Scifi, TV

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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