Why The New “V” Doesn’t Work for This Nerd

November 6, 2009 | By More

I’ll be up front with you. I didn’t really watch the original mini series or full season runs of the original “V.” I can’t tell you why, it seems like something my young mind would have liked at the time. I remember watching a few of them, but never really following it. So I think, like a number of people, I remember the concept, but not the actual story.

The premier episode was okay. I know some radio DJ’s were raving about it on my Wednesday morning commute.  Yeah, it had some action. The special effects were as good as anything on “Lost.” There were also a number of actors in the cast worth watching.

The thing for me was the concept seems worn out. Since it has came out we have seen a number of different versions of aliens come to Earth for their own purposes scenario. The film version Alien Nation spawned a TV series and several TV films about aliens among us. “Independence Day” gave us aliens that didn’t really want us around. Even “The Matrix” was about aliens enslaving the human race.

The other part that seems to be wearing on me is the multi thread plots that are played out by an ensemble cast. “Heroes” does the best job of this by only concentrating on a couple of characters at a time. “Flash Forward” is also in this camp along with the show it’s destined to replace, “Lost.”  “V” really reminds a lot of “The 4400” in this regard.

I like all of these shows and films. What bothers me isn’t the aliens, plot, or large cast. It’s that all of them combined make me feel like it’s been done before. Oh wait, it has. It’s a remake of a show that spawned copies that inspired the remake.

In case you didn’t know the original show was two mini series and 19 episodes of weekly television. A little more than one season, basically. Yet, ABC decided that it was time to remake a show that really wasn’t a big hit at the time. Why now?

I’m betting there is a couple of reasons for this. The first being to compete with “Fringe” and some of the other Sci-Fi offerings that are out there on various networks. The other reason I suspect is that a good portion of the show happens on Earth in cities. Shooting on existing backlots is a lot cheaper than creating whole new alien environments.

I’m guessing most of us have been somewhere and seen a cover band. But, how many of you have ever paid the same price to see a cover band as the real performer? And that’s what this version of V feels like to me, a cover band that has pulled up a nostalgic 80’s hit. You might like it, but it’s because you like the lyrics or the tune. Occasionally, a cover improves on the original, but that normally requires a new twist on it.

I can’t believe that ABC would give a retread like this a chance. I’m sure they were hoping people of Mrs. Nerd and my generation are going to be nostalgic about it. To be fair, Mrs. Nerd kind of liked it. But, she isn’t a huge Sci Fi fan. For her the song is a newer and fresher.

Both of us do agree on one thing. We’d rather have an original show like “Pushing Daisies” back instead of this. It’s sad to see a major network spinning cover tunes instead of giving us some new music that we can dance to.

I’ll keep watching with Mrs. Nerd to see if it improves. Okay, and I think human eating lizard babies are cute.

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  1. james says:

    I have to completely disagree with the review (except for the last statement about “Pushing Daisies” because I really do miss that show).

    I just re-watched the two original “V” miniseries and so far this retelling is not only worthy of its heritage – it’s actually better. There are more effects in the first twenty minutes of the new show than all the other “V” projects combined. They are not only faithful to the source material, they have built upon it. There are interesting new additions to the material. More information is conveyed in the first 43 minute episode than in the 90 minutes of the miniseries. Pilots and first installments are hard and this one hit it out of the park!

    Who knows how original this take on the material is going to turn out? They gave viewers A LOT! “The 4400” and many other programs stood on the shoulders of “V” so it’s not appropriate to cite that material as the facsimile. Alien landing stories were created as a way for Hollywood to communicate their feelings about the current state of affairs with government and politics long before even “V”. “V” just became the series that made it popular in the 80s miniseries format. That’s what this is. Actually, all of the V series are very much about the Holocaust. It’s not really your typical invasion story. The recruitment factor is much creepier than the lizard faces.

    And don’t get me started on Lost. After Alias I realized that Lost is likely all MacGuffin and chain-yanking. Should I fault it for not being Twin Peaks? Ahem…no. It’s just not interesting to me, but others love it. I predict the end will be disappointing to most viewers. I have no desire to invest, but it is based on Abrams’ previous television work.

    There are many vampire movies, but nobody’s going to stop making those…ever. This is the problem I have with your review. Basically, you didn’t like the pitch. Maybe you should have skipped it because there’s no way the premise would have pleased you if you are not interested in seeing an alien arrival series. You can’t fault this project for not being something of an entirely different genre.

    This series could be good, it could suck. Right now is not the time to accurately judge that. The one thing that’s for certain is that nobody should go by a radio DJ’s taste for anything!

  2. Engineernerd says:

    Wow, James. Really well put together comment.

    I have to say, in rereading what I originally wrote, I may have been harsher than I intended on “V” itself. My overall point was intended to be a bit different.

    What I was really trying to convey was my frustration with how most network TV is becoming cookie cutter cookies with just a few sprinkles on top to make it look different. I’m very cool with the material, but do we really need another sci-fi large cast show right now? (Fringe, Flash Forward, Sanctuary, Lost, etc…) I just really want to see something different.

    Since I wrote this, I’ve actually wondering how I would have felt about V if it had been on during the Summer before the new season started. I really think I would have been much more accepting.

    The other thing that bothers me is that there is so much original material out there, that it seems like an easy way out to remake something from the 80’s. I’d love to see Piers Anthony’s Xanth book series made into a TV series. Or how bout a Blade Runner TV series?

    We’ll probably never see eye to eye, James. But, I do see your point. I’ve already set it on the DVR this week. I’ll keep watching with a little more open mind.

  3. james says:

    I was floored by how much “V” crammed into 43 minutes. Television as we knew it is dead. Gone are the days when we’d gather with friends and watch (non-sport or award event) programs as they air at a scheduled time. Nearly all media is downloaded, Tivoed or Hulued. “Event television” is hard to come by and I guess my passion comes from the idea that “V” is trying to bring that excitement back. (Please excuse the level of that passion.)

    Let’s face it, technology has made every day like Christmas morning and there’s a sweeping apathy in viewership. The alien landing theme has been done to death, but if there’s any program that deserves a revamp – it should be V. The story itself is really one of recruiting young people to exterminate the human race and rob the world of its resources. This time the aliens are pulling the strings so that humanity does all this to one another. There’s the potential for a very sly story element here if they play it right. It’s somewhat original but set into a familiar framework.

    There are a lot of shows out there that I don’t watch. Lost is one of them. However, I applaud the efforts of Lost, V and a variety of rare programs trying to create that active feeling in television as something special shared with friends rather than merely product to be consumed like aliens consuming resources.

    I wish Pushing Daisies could have been picked up by USA, FX, HBO or Showtime and made into mini-series seasons. I think 4-6 episodes a year is adequate for that program and a movie channel can pay a premium for quality. But nobody’s even watching cable anymore. I too fear for the unique shows that are getting lost. I still miss Veronica Mars!