Tuesday, November 10, 2009

V - Episode 1.1 - Pilot

In 1961, during season 3 of "The Twilight Zone," Rod Serling aired a classic episode called "To Serve Man," based upon the short story by science fiction writer Damon Knight. The plot was simple: a group of ugly-ass aliens come to earth offering peace and prosperity, but really want to eat us. The aliens were called Kanamits, which was a not-to-subtle play on "cannibals," and the story was like a modern Hansel and Grethel.
In 1983, Kenneth Johnson produced the show "V." The premise was pretty much the same. Super nice aliens offer help but turn out to be not-so-nice lizards wanting to destroy us. The show is a cult-classic, and being that I haven't seen it, I won't offer any opinions.

Nonetheless, the aliens v. mankind story has been done countless times, but it seems to have more relevance than ever. With terrorism devastating the middle east, conflicts between peoples deepening worldwide, and financial collapse handicapping the world's economy, the idea of an us-v-them story is very comforting. We get a good sense of black-and-white, good cop-bad cop, white hat-black hat. If we can see the enemy and know it isn't us, then we can rest easy and feel like at least something is right with the world.

So what does that mean as it relates to ABC's remake of "V?" The time is right, I guess, for another sci-fi battle story.

Having watched the pilot, though, I was impressed to note that the writers and producers were trying to delve a little deeper into the meaning of it all. They could have given us mindless fighting, but it seems they want to offer us some disturbing ideas as well.

The most significant idea they brought up was that these "visitors" are not new; they've been hanging out on Earth for quite a long time, infiltrating all of our infrastructures in order to tear us down from the inside before landing the final blow. Personally, I liked that. It also established the visitors as baddies from the start, so I didn't have to waste time wondering when the writers would reveal it.

The idea that society's great institutions (government, law enforcement, the Church, etc.) have been compromised is not particularly new, but in this show it feels that way and that gives the suspense a bit more edge. This is mainly because our main character is Erica Evans (the ultra-hot Elizabeth Mitchell who played Juliet on "LOST"), a single-mom FBI agent. She is in the middle of a terrorism investigation that is constantly being compromised. The visitor infiltration affects her first hand. Another character who represents the almighty Church is Father Jack Landry, and it is in his questioning of the Visitor's motives as they relate to the Scripture which gives this show even more bite.

Overall, I liked "V." There were some nice twists in the pilot, yet also some fairly predictable things. This just means that it's worth tuning into again.

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