Friday, November 6, 2009

HouseTV Review: "V" (2009) Episode 1 "Pilot",0,512,512_SS100_.jpgI'd be hard pressed to think that there's anyone unfamiliar with the concept of "V". You've either heard of it loosely, or no doubt checked out all/part of the original mini-series (and series) as they were aired over the start of the weekend.

But just for the sake of argument, here's the loose rundown: the world is thrown into turmoil as a group of seemingly friendly aliens visit the planet under a flag of peace. Of course, the true nature of the aliens, and their actual agenda for being here, would seem to be much more sinister.

First, let's talk about what's different and good. The effects are obviously better than the original series. Twenty-five years would give you a little time to update things. So yes, all of the ships views (inside and out) are very well put together.

The Visitors themselves are also a plus thus far. The show forgoes the "pull away skin" effect from its predecessor and replaces it with a layer of human clone flesh. So revealing an alien is no longer as simple as getting a good grab of face and pulling. You need something that can cut past a layer of pseudo-tissue to get to the reptile on the inside.

And this show gives us a more novel (and some would say more relevant) twist on the alien invasion. Instead of just appearing out of the sky and having won over most of the planet in short order (which does still happen, by the way; more on that later...), the Visitors have also infiltrated society prior to their official arrival with sleeper agents. Which means that anyone on the planet could possibly be an alien agent with an agenda to cause chaos and cover their true agenda. It makes for a slightly more paranoid resistance movement.

Now for what's different and not necessarily better. It's only a minor detail, but I don't particularly like the Visitors being referred to as "Vs". If nothing else, the letter V and the tagging and such that went along with it became a sign of the Resistance in the original series, and it just feels weird for it to be used by the aliens in this particular incarnation.

Also, I find it a little unbelievable that the people of earth would be so easily accepting of an alien incursion in this day and age. It was a stretch back then to believe that it would go over so well, but at least they had the metaphor of German occupation to help mask it. Now, in an age where people still question the veracity of the duly elected President ... well, I'm not getting into all of that here, but my point is where is the Glenn Beck of this world to break into tears and love his planet... sniff... so very much?

Maybe that's supposed to be the role that Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) plays in the whole equation, but he seems very much like a second string fluff reporter. Still, his moral dilemma over reporting it straight versus "playing nice" and becoming famous does come over well.

And going back to what works, Anna (Morena Baccarin) works well as the Visitor's leader. Having spent the latter half of the weekend balking at how alternately vicious and bullheadedly ignorant Diana could be way back when, it's nice to see a new take on the alien leadership. Who's to know where this calm, reserved demeanor that the Visitors currently portray will take them? It's uncertain, but Anna definitely shows a lot early on (and I don't just mean those Amazon legs of hers... hello! Ahem...). The way she deftly manipulates Decker and his interview, initially feigning a naive misunderstanding of Earth journalism, then showing that she has a full grasp of just what it's all about, makes it clear that the cool alien exterior still has some teeth.

All in all, I have my reservations about the show. The first half follows the script (somewhat literally) that its predecessor did. What little twists and nuances that were there only serve to agitate an already unsteady foundation. It's not until the latter half of the pilot, with the introduction of the sleeper elements and a few other decent twists, that the show really starts to show itself off. Hopefully it picks up from there, and continues its momentum into the next few episodes. The show certainly has the potential and the early buzz to be a stand out series.

Rating: 7/10 (A solid start that hopefully builds better on its foundation.)

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