V, the series is out on DVD and the remake will air in November

ABC television is unleashing a remake of the 1984 mini series and regular series ‘V’ this November.  The adverts for the program look enticing enough and I wondered how much better than the original could it be.  After all, the original was a pretty decent and action packed show, right?

Well, funny thing. Memory has a habit of, shall we say, becoming rose colored.  Turns out, the original was not all that after all.  I purchased the ‘V’ series on DVD and have been re-watching it.  Now, I memory serves (ha!) the show was cancelled because the ratings were not strong enough to justify the show’s cost.  Well, I’m not sure what they spent the money on, but it wasn’t writing and it wasn’t the ‘special’ effects. 

If you don’t recall, V started out as a mini-series about aliens who came to Earth looking for our help.  They established bases and enlisted humans to help with replenishing their food supply. Only, the humans didn’t realize that THEY were the food supply.  A smear campaign against Earth’s brightest people was begun by the Visitors and, soon, the real reason they were here was established.  A resistance group, lead by Mike Donovan and Dr. Julie Parrish eventually defeated the Visitors, who…returned in a follow up sequel and the subsequent series.

The series lasted just 19 episodes before being canned by NBC.  The show re-united much of the cast from the mini-series including Marc Singer and Faye Grant.  Sadly, where the two mini-series were pretty well done, for the time, the series was, not so much.  The series was serialized, for the most part.  It followed a story arc, but not all that strictly.  And the continuity was pretty thin as well.  Cars that had nasty dents in one scene were pristine in others.  Hub caps that fly off in one scene, are back in another.  Spaceships spontaneously change (even in the show, they were not supposed to do that) and the same stock footage was re-used, over and over, even when the time of day was different than that in the footage (day scenes when it is supposed to be dark, etc.)

Because the show was shot and takes place in the mid 1980’s, it’s fun to see the technology and the automobiles used.  Lots of Chevrolet Impalas, Jeeps, VW vans and Chryslers…LOTS of Chryslers were sacrificed during the making of the program.  The computers-and, remember, it’s 1984-85, so we are talking about HUGE (by today’s standards) IBM AT style computers.  Green screens, no color.  There was no internet, at least, not like the Internet of today.  No cell phones and the two-radios were big.  Nathan Bates, the man who owned the Microsoft-like science and textile company, has this killer video phone/terminal on his desk and three smallish color TV’s built into a wall.  But, that’s about it. 

Perhaps the more charming aspects of the show were the cheesy and cardboard like interiors of the spacecraft.  The ‘mother ships’ (which, btw, the exteriors were reused in the movie and TV series ‘AlienNation’) interior was an odd mix of high-tech looking corridors and Batman like control panels.  Keyboards had no letters and the screens seem to show the same video loop.

It always amazed me that, even when they were aboard their mother ships, the Visitors ALWAYS wore the human skin and faces.  And, once they were defeated, what would be the point of wearing the masks and human skin?  Humans knew the true appearance of the Visitors.  Visitors would only need to maintain a disguise if they wanted infiltrate society, which they pretty much never did.  Likewise, I was always impressed when our heroes always seemed to know which buttons to push, no matter what the technology was.

For all of its faults, though, V is pure fun.  Bad acting, bad writing, bad special effects all make for a fun show.  Filled with allegories and a bit preachy at times, V was/is tremendous fun.  That’s probably why my memory of the program is much better than the show really was.  And, because the original wasn’t a work of art, the remake can easily be better.  I’m hoping it gets the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ treatment and becomes more realistic and believable.  I’m not going to hold my breath.

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