THE new V has been popping up around the net with increasing frequency of late, including on the excellent Life For Films blog with some nice pictures and the trailer above.
I am one of the generation that is old enough to remember the original V and based on what I have seen so far, I think the new one has its work cut out for it. Here’s my reasons why.
1. Event television
The first V – a two part miniseries – was shown in 1983, in other words younger readers, the days before hundreds of channels with nothing on.
As such, because the choice was so limited, millions of people talked about it again and again before it was broadcast, watched it and then talked about it again and again the next day.
It was an event, like JR being shot or Morecambe and Wise’s Christmas special and event television nowadays is much harder to make happen against the multi-media, satellite, iplayer, Sky Plus world we live in.
People find it far easier to watch something else or watch the programme in question the next day, the next week, the next month.
I think the best example of event television recently has been Doctor Who, particularly the cliffhanger for the last series. The whole country stopped – or so it seemed.
For something to stand out and gather that immediate reaction, it has to be truly excellent and even that isn’t a guarantee.
2. What’s come since
Enormous spaceships floating over cities, lizards disguised as humans, laser guns – back then you had to go to the cinema to see that sort of stuff. It was groundbreaking television, backed up by a massive budget and some clever special effects work.
Now that’s not the case – any sci-fi show worth it’s salt has got top of the line effects that are completely believable and affordable.
Yes, the giant ships over cities look good – and the big screen broadcast was a nice touch – but it does not carry the dramatic weight the original series did.
Plus new sci-fi has to stand out in a world that has just watched the masterwork that was Battlestar Galactica, with other shows such as Firefly still fresh in the memory or readily available on DVD or download.
3. V School Musical
Maybe I’m getting old, but half of the cast in the new version look about 12. In the original series, the focus was on the adults, with children only ciphers to help drive the plot. Plus they looked like real children.
This lot seem to have come direct from central casting, having failed the High School Musical audition. Go Wildcats!
4. Jane Badler and Michael Ironside
As an impressionable 12-year-old, I would happily have surrendered to our new lizard overlords if they all looked like Jane Badler.
Hot damn, she was a total 1980s big haired space babe, with hints of lesbianism thrown in too for extra sauciness, and as good as Morena Baccarin – the new Visitor leader – was in Firefly, she just doesn’t compare. Plus, look what Diana could do with her mouth!
On top of that – and although he wasn’t in the original miniseries, V had Michael Ironside (check out this great You Tube tribute, which captures his on screen stylings perfectly) in it, a fantastic actor as long as you want someone moody, gruff and balding with serious anger management issues – in other words Ham Tyler and every other character he has ever played.
Having him in anything to do with sci-fi is like a guarantee of quality, although Alan Tudyk is in new V, and he has much the same effect, minus the furious internalised rage waiting to boil over at the slightest provocation.
Original V was originally going to be about the rise of fascism in modern day America, before TV execs decided to try and cash in on the popularity of Star Wars by adding a sci-fi angle.
The series still served as a broad allegory for the rise of the Nazis and the persecution of the Jews and because of that it carried some real weight, especially through the character of Abraham, a Holocaust survivor.
He saw the Visitors for what they were – Nazi-style symbols and all. I recently re-watched the mini series and it still packs a punch, especially when Abraham says to his son they could not flee from the Visitors because then they would have learned nothing.
On top of that, when you consider what has been happening in the world – extraordinary rendition, people being imprisoned without trial, Guantanamo Bay – it still has resonance with modern audiences.
By contrast the remake seems to transform that into a question of exploring ideas around faith and belief, which I have already seen on BSG. (and if they are taking that series on in the mythology stakes, I’d think there would only be one winner)
So, there we are. For my money, new V is on a hiding to nothing – but what do you think? Comments – as always – are welcome.