Sinclair Lewis, Elizabeth Mitchell - V 2009 : First Episode Exclusive Review
Abbas Ali 13/11/2009
In a UK exclusive, I've been able to see the pilot for the remake of classic 80s sci-fi/horror TV show 'V' (Diana leader of the original Visitors, is pictured, right),and shall be sharing my thoughts ***PLOT SPOILERS FOLLOW****
While the 1983 TV miniseries 'V' was a clever allegorical stab at the dangers of countries falling for the romance, manipulation and propaganda of Nazism (the scary red jumpsuits were a giveaway), incfluenced by the 1935 novel Sinclair Lewis novel It Can't Happen Here, the writers of the ABC remake have given the new show a contemporary, 21st century spin, that is very distinctively now.The basic premise is the same ; an alien race hover huge flying saucers above the major cities of the world (a bit like Independence Day), before revealing their human faces, and telling the human race they come in peace, to trade supplies of water, etc., in return for their advanced technologies, and medical knowledge. The 'Visitors' set about gaining the trust of the earth's population, curing terrible diseases like cancer, and opening their spaceships to young teenagers of earth, encouraging them to form various chapters of a visitor "peace corp" around the world to do charitable work. They are all extremely good looking to boot, and set about a closely controlled media campaign to woo the earthbound public. But behind the facade of friendship and peace, they hide a terrible secret: they are in fact green lizards underneath their skin, and want to use the earth's population as food.
There are notable differences. in the 2009 show, the story is partly seen through the eyes of FBI agent Erica Evans (Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell, pictured second left), and her teenage son (Logan Huffman, pictured far left). Since it's the paranoid post 9/11 noughties, Erica is an agent who works on uncovering terrorist cells, and it turns out that a lead on one such cell reveals that the Visitors have been among us all along, in positions of power, waging wars, and causing havoc.
The conflating of the conspiracy theory reguarding the existence of the Illuminati into the story is inventive enough, but the promise of Universal Health Care, the introduction of a peace corp, and the premiering of the show one year on from Barack Obama's electoral victory give clear indication that the show can be read as a allegory endorsing right wing paranoia and mistrust of liberal initiatives by the US President, suggesting behind these good intentions lies the creation of a New World Order. Evil Glenn Beck and Fox News must be loving it.
The appropriation of one of the greatest TV shows of the 80s by a right wing agenda somewhat spoiled my enjoyment of the show, as did it's underlying message that we should mistrust kind outsiders who are different from us as they may be hiding something- in modern day America, those strangers are most likely Muslims, and, so the Republican line goes, they're hiding bombs strapped to their chests.
In 2009 V is definitely still compelling, though, despite my reservations, and I shall certainly be tuning in to find out if the human race organises a resistance and survives the onslaught.
V will be showing in the UK on the Sci Fi Channel in 2010, and it continues on ABC in the US for 3 more shows during November and December before returning in March.