Its 6:40 pm
dark/not as coldish
So I decided to take the cheetah for a ride in my parsonal time machine after he asked me what I watched growing up. I thought that was a fair question so I reached out to my asset/pal “M” over at Warner Brothers Archives for a little help. Soon a small package showed up on our doorway and I showed him the cover of “V” and said that while this series was almost 40 years old,sadly it seems we are almost living the same story that creator Kenneth Johnson first wrote as a reminder of Nazi Germany.
The series starts out with the introduction of the main cast and many key support cast. We meet the two main heroes,cameraman Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) who is covering a revolution in South America. He is there with his fellow journalist friend Tony and trying to stay alive from being shot at…..we meet Dr. Juliet Parrish (Faye Grant) who is part of a medical research team and her group of fellow scientists. Scenes of other various folks swiftly follow which helps set the big moment when 50 huge city ships suddenly show up all over the world.
Earth now knows there is alien life and that the Visitors have come in peace. As each spacecraft settles over a main Earth city,tension rises until the Visitors make an announcement in each country’s language. They have come as friends and have traveled a great distance to get to Earth. They request the head of the United Nations unto one of there smaller ships for a meeting before the Vistors reveal themselves.
It is then that we see The Leader,the aliens have taken on human form and speech,as he he gives a welcoming message,they need certain chemicals from Earth and are willing to trade and share their vast tech and medical advancements for what they need.
But others are leery about the aliens and are distrustful,they have such overwhelming power that it frightens many…the aliens talk with a certain metallic tone and they all wear the same type of uniforms. But they seamlessly blend in with humans and being seen or hosting an event with the Visitors becomes very trendy and popular.
But then small events start to happen – several key and important scientists start to disappear around the world and then some are accused of plotting against the Visitors.
These scientists are paraded in front of the media and public opinion turns against them.
When Mike Donovan’s friend Tony makes a shocking discovery,Donovan sneaks aboard the Mother ship and discovers the Visitors really aren’t our friends and have terrible plans for Earth. But many Earthlings don’t believe it and continue to embrace the Visitors. The Visitors start to recruit the young people by starting the Visitor Youth,those selected get a uniform and trips to see the huge city ships.
And because they look like humans,its only a matter of time for an Earthling and Visitor mate and that happens when a young teen named Robin and a Visitor named Brian do so with shocking results.
Soon a Resistance is started against the Visitors,the Los Angeles group is led by Juliet Parrish and in which Mike Donovan also joins. The group secures equipment and weapons and Mike develops a friendship with a 5th columnist named Martin who says not every Visitor approves what is going on…
The end of the miniseries has the Resistance seeking help from any other alien races that may be close by…….
I remember watching “V” when it came out on NBC back in 1983. It was such an exciting watch and it was very popular. Fanboys were having “Juliet or Diana” debates,the effects were really cool and most of all,that cutting science-fiction could survive on network TV.
This was important because “Star Wars” was everywhere and except for two very short-lived shows,there wasn’t a science-fiction presence on any of the major networks.
The ratings were so strong that a sequel was rushed into production and aired on NBC in 1984.
Writer-director Kenneth Johnson’s story is a clear allegory of the rise of Nazi Germany…little is talked about today about how much territory and resources that Adolph Hitler took without firing a single shot and how many people in those same areas welcomed the Germans with open arms.
Instead of the Jews,Johnson used the scientists as the scapegoat for all of the Visitor’s “problems” much like today’s Republican Nazis use illegal immigrants and the media in today’s world. Russia and Vladmir Putin have managed to do the same things that Hitler did,creating a terrible divide here in America and not firing a shot in doing so.
It was a very weird viewing experience when I was listening to Johnson’s commentary about how much of a sci-fiction show of 36 years ago is ringing quite loudly today.
On a lighter note,what “V” may be best known for other then it its storyline is how many future stars were launched from the show….Jane Badler as the cunning Diana had many rooting for the bad guys because let’s face it,she was drop dead beautiful and the thing is,many men DID drop dead whenever they were around Diana for very long!
Badler got her start on the soaps and while she wasn’t as well known as some of the cast,her take as Diana was fun to watch and she was a commanding figure to watch.
Marc Singer,who played Mike Donovan was a solid leading man and had made a name for himself in the sci-fi/fantasy world when he starred in “The Beastmaster” in 1982. But he was no overnight star,he had racked up an impressive list of credits including the outstanding “Something For Joey” where he played football player John Cappelletti.
Faye Grant,who played Dr. Juliet Parrish and the leader of the Resistance,was no stranger to sci-fi as she got her start on the cult favorite “The Greatest American Hero” playing high school student Rhonda Blake. Grant became well known because of “V” and seemed on the verge of becoming a big star with a nice supporting role in 1990 American remake of “Internal Affairs” with Richard Gere and Andy Garcia but it just never happened. She eventually married actor Stephen Collins and was married to him for 27 years before they divorced in 2012.
Of course those of us who were old enough also recall the tragic story of young actress Dominique Dunne who was murdered during the filming of the series. Dunne was only 22 when she was killed by an angry ex-boyfriend. Johnson shares his reaction when he was told the news,it was a terrible and high profile crime when it happened.
Now I know there are TWO huge names you are expecting to see here but we thought we would wait until we look at “V: The Final Battle” before talking about them.
The effects for “V” while tame and outdated by today’s standards,actually hold up well and I was really surprised at just how many props were practical,including the smaller spacecraft which could be configured to be bigger or smaller. The gun battles and effects are still pretty tight and quite exciting.
All in all,this is a must have for any true sci-fi fan but also for the average viewer as well because of Johnson’s story and direction.
“V”-The Original Series has a run time of 3 hours and 17 minutes. Special features include a excellent director’s commentary and a making of feature.
You can order your copy of “V” from the website of Warner Brothers Archives.
Are there any fans of “V” out there? If so,drop us a comment below and share your thoughts on this thoughtful film.