“We are of peace. Always.”
V: Complete Series (2009-2011), the 21st century reboot of the 1980s sci-fi mini-series about first contact and a fleet of aliens who arrive with a promise of benevolence and a plan to conquer Earth, debuted in an abbreviated but furiously paced first season filled with conspiracies, rebels, traitors, family crisis and melodramatic complications, not to mention secret experiments on human subjects, furry creatures devoured, and lots of things blowing up. FBI Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost) leads the human resistance against the insidious PR campaign waged by ruthless Visitor queen mother Anna (Morena Baccarin, Firefly) and the players line up accordingly behind these warrior women.
Erica, a single mother who discovers that there’s an alien lizard under the human skin of her longtime FBI partner in the first episode, stumbles into the conspiracy and discovers that there are insurgent Visitors rebelling against Anna’s dictatorial rule. And there’s plenty of melodrama too: her teenage son (Logan Huffman) is sucked into the idealistic promise offered by the Visitors, in part out of infatuation with Anna’s daughter (Laura Vandervoort, who played a different alien visitor as Supergirl on Smallville), but even her allegiances are softened as human emotions seep into her lizard brain. Morris Chestnut is one of the deep-cover Visitors who has gone native, married a human woman (Lourdes Benedicto) and is about to be the father of an alien/human hybrid, Joel Gretsch is a Catholic priest who sees nothing but false prophets in the Visitors, even as they rid the human race of disease, and Scott Wolf is a network newscaster who makes his name as a champion of the Visitors and ends up being fed exclusives in return for good PR.
The addition of an international terrorist (Charles Mesure) to the resistance cell gives it a little more grit, but attempts at dramatic dilemmas and tragic choices are more space opera melodramatics than human tragedy. It’s not the smartest or most original science fiction show on TV—and it’s certainly no Battlestar Galactica—but there’s no doubt that ABC really went for broke by packing in plenty of action and spectacle in the abbreviated season debut. It features plenty of plot twists and double lives and contrived conflicts that were leveraged for a little extra dramatic mileage (especially between parents and their rebelling children), but mainly it’s a dire big-budget TV action spectacle with a science fiction backdrop. It made a point of proving it with every episode.
Frankly that’s what I liked about it. V is a war of the worlds with conspiracies, double agents, revolutionary cells and aliens hiding their lizard identities and master race endgame under human skin and feigned compassion. It was a big B-movie serial with a primetime TV budget and actors who brought gravitas and grit (or at the very least commitment) to pulp fiction roles.
The second season simply upped the ante by expanding the human resistance while contriving (and I use the word purposefully) situations that isolate practically every major character within their own conflicts, compromises and personal agendas. Furiously paced, visually lavish, and highly entertaining, with CGI work that gives this pulp sci-fi an eye-popping canvas and a grand sweep, it delivers (in its own humorless, way-too-serious way) invasion spectacle and conspiracy drama with all the pulp satisfaction of a cheesy space opera
The first season consists of a brief 13 episodes and ABC followed it with an even shorter second season. Maybe they were trying to recapture that mini-series zeitgeist. Maybe they looked to the cable model of shorter, more focused seasons. Or maybe it was just the price tag of this visually lavish show. Whatever the reason, they tried for an event and ended up with a show that ultimately lasted two seasons and 22 episodes.
Morris Chestnut, Christopher Shyer, Mark Hildreth, and Lourdes Benedicto costar, and genre favorites Alan Tudyk, Oded Fehr, Nicholas Lea, and Lexa Doig have small roles.
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V: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
V: Season 1 [DVD]
V: Season 2 [Blu-ray]
V: Season 2 [DVD]
The first season features 12 episodes on three discs (two on Blu-ray) in a standard case, with commentary on one episode by executive producers Steve Pearlman and Scott Rosenbaum, deleted scenes (aka “detached memories”) on numerous episodes and well-made featurettes on the actors (and the characters they play), the make-up, the visual effects and on reworking the mythology of the old series for the new show.
The second season presents its limited run of ten episodes along with deleted scenes for most episodes and two featurettes. The 21-minute “A Visual Masterpiece for the Small Screen” may overstate the case but otherwise it’s an interesting look at the visual effects and the show’s extensive use of green screen. “The Arc of the Story: Mining the Human Emotion” is a 25-minute piece on direction of season two, with interviews apparently conducted before the show’s cancellation.