Fri 30 Sep 2011
In 1984 when we escaped the ’1984′-shaped Communist Romania and became free people one of our first sources of fascination and the only entertainment we could afford as new immigrants was the TV. Coming from the 2-hours-a-day programs filled with propaganda the (then) only Israeli TV channel broadcasting all day long in colors seemed heaven. We did not understand much Hebrew, so films and TV series were some of our main points of interests. Most series combining science-fiction and action like A-Team, Manimal or Wonder Woman and re-runs of the older series of Star Treak which I was so lucky to see, having missed the Captain Kirk and Captain Picard phenomena during all those years. One series step apart with a somehow darker vision of the contacts between human and alien species and the title was simply V. The V was for Visitors and they were in this case a cruel race of reptilians who were hiding their identity under well fabricated human skins and whose superior technology allowed them to invade planet Earth and put humanity in bondage. Of course, mankind fought back.
The remake of the 1984-85 series brings the Visitors to the present. The Visitors do not invade in the 21st century, they just put huge spaceships atop the big cities of the world and make spectacular demonstrations of their might and apparent good will. As expected most of the humans are inclined to collaborate, and only a handful of people see the true nature of the visitors and decide to fight back. As one can expect the graphics in the new series are spectacular, we are in the post 9/11 world where terrorism is fought with earthly and sometimes alien technology, and and the special effects support well a paced action line which plays all the time on the uncertain balance between the longer story line and the need to provide enough story, substance and conflict resolution in the 45 minutes of each episode. The build-up of the characters is excellent and it is supported by good acting so we soon start to care about FBI officer Erica Evans (Erica Mitchell) and her son Tyler (Logan Huffman), V-deflector Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut), his human lover Valerie (Lourdes Benedicto) and father Jack Landry and learn to mistrust, fear and hate the Visitor’s Queen Anna (Morena Baccarin), and we watch with interest the evolution of a few characters that oscillate between the interests of the two species like TV anchor Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) and Anna’s daughter Lisa (Laura Vandervoort).
The ambitions of the series goes however beyond the pure action story and even the longer thread of the conflict between species. Some critics read in the plot an allegory of the American politics which I was not to fast to decipher. What was obvious to me however especially in the second season was the moralistic and even religious line taken by the authors in defining the differences between the species as lying mostly in the existence of feelings like compassion and love with the concept of ‘soul’ representing their incarnation in one concept. I think that the religious terminology got too explicit at some point and a more abstract definition of the concepts of Good and Evil would have looked better, but overall the show gained amplitude and led to some emotional moments as it advanced in its second season. I can regret even more the decision to take the show off the screens exactly when it became more interesting and broadened its plot with a new chance for the freedom fighters and a new secret organization becoming part of what seemed to become a hopeless fight to save mankind. Sometimes commercial realities kill dreams exactly when they start being more exciting.