V Stands For VERY Many Eyerolls and VERY Many Groans…

the v logo, which is more interesting than the cast shot

Awesome idea, as it was in 1984, but the execution here is seriously flawed.

Stilted writing, over-the-top hammy performances (with a few notable exceptions), incredibly out of touch and dated stereotypical characters, and effects that are completely hit and miss.

It’s easy to see where the money went on certain effects shots that look good to great by TV standards, but others look hokey and almost like they could have come from the original 1984 series.  Basic shoddy green screens with actors awkwardly in front of them; a “New York riot” that looks like an average day on any New York street, rather than the chaos that would ensue were aliens floating above us, etc.

I could forgive the effects though, I really could.  What I cannot forgive is ridiculous heavy handed plotting and completely unoriginal characters.  The single mother and rebellious teenage son?  CHECK!  Attractive blonde overly earnest priest questioning his place now that aliens have showed up?  CHECK!  Hot blonde (might as well be from Cali) alien to tempt the rebellious teen son?  CHECK!  “Perfect” guy with a mysterious past that is super in love with his “perfect girlfriend”?  CHECK!  Convenient traitorous partner/best friend?  CHECK!  “Tough as nails” newly divorced mother?  CHECK!  All the tropes are there – and there’s not a single interesting or new thing about these stereotypes that get trotted out for roll call.  These were tired character types ten years ago (at least!) and I saw nothing new to keep me tuned in now.


Scott Wolf’s tempted opportunistic reporter was vaguely interesting and well executed, though certainly not ground breaking.  Alan Tudyk’s traitor FBI agent/V terrorist cell operative was not unexpected, but at least in Tudyk’s hands it didn’t incur eye rolling.  Although proof that the writing/plotting/pacing is seriously off, is that we as an audience cannot remotely begin to care about Tudyk’s character and/or his relationship with Elizabeth Mitchell’s character before he turns on her – so the reveal is totally powerless.  We can’t feel anything about it because we don’t care about these characters yet (if ever)…it’s no real surprise he turns on her, because we don’t actually know or care for him.  Morris Chestnut’s “perfect guy with a past” in love with his “perfect girlfriend” was boring me to tears as well (despite my general like of Morris Chestnut) but the reveal of him as a V traitor aligning himself with the human resistance was a welcome surprise.  The V leader Anna, played capably by Morena Baccarin is enjoyable to watch, but that won’t take me far.  And in an interesting side note, IMDB says that Famke Janssen turned down the role of Anna…which if she read the script, I don’t have to wonder why.

There was also a kind of pitifully unhip aspect about this show, that I can’t quite put my finger on.  I suppose it was primarily noticeable in the writing…it felt like someone’s grandpa was writing it and was trying SOOOO hard to connect “with teh kids!”…which as anyone who’s still remotely young-ish will tell you is a freaking death knell.  In my experience, kids (especially badass awesome ones) can sense someone trying too hard from about a thousand miles away and will run in the exact opposite direction.

Also, if this was supposed to be geared towards the young hip sci-fi crowd then why are there no good young characters?  There’s only one young adult/teenager (that’d be the rebellious teenage son – oh, and his token friend that got about six lines) and they’re probably the most annoying characters thus far.  So if it’s not geared towards “teh kids”…who is it geared towards?  The entire cast looks to be in their mid-30’s…but I’m in my early 30’s and the cast still felt old and tragically unhip to me.

And it can’t possibly be geared towards the die hard sci-fi crowd because even my barely sci-fi credentialed ass found plot holes the size of…well…I don’t know…but they were big.  Like, why do the the V’s need to engage in any kung fu fighting with us lame humans, when their technology outstrips us by miles?  And how have the V’s actually managed to stay hidden, when all it takes is a two by four to the head (or arm, or whatever) to reveal their interior reptilian selves?  And is the entire human race really so dumb that when an alien guest storms into all of our major cities across the globe and essentially says it will be taking some of our “abundant natural resources” nobody stands up and goes – “Hey…you know what is abundant here on Earth and isn’t anywhere else in our known universe?  Human FLESH!”  Lame.

All in all I’d give the first half of the episode a solid and resounding F, and the second half a wavering C- (wavering towards D that is), putting us somewhere in the D range overall.  I’ll probably tune in next week to see if they can save any of it (though if the previews are any indication – they can’t).  But if they don’t manage some better writing, better acting, less heavy handed hammy one liners, more consistent effects, and perhaps most critically – losing the dated and unhip feeling of the whole thing – I’ll be permanently pulling the plug.

Ironically, the somewhat similar Flash Forward (FBI lead characters, major global event, etc.) is already on my critical list – a mere pseudo-weak episode away from being pulled from my weekly viewing – and compared to V, Flash Forward looks like a world famous, A-list cast Shakespearean production.  And if you’ve seen Flash Forward…that’s saying a lot.


  1. kfugrip’s avatar

    Wow. I didn’t really want to watch this but I am rooting for a sci-fi show to work these days. When I was watching, partially, the original as it was being replayed this past weekend, I came to a realization. TV writing has progressed but not as much as we’d like to think. Sure there are great shows out there, but the majority are running out the same lame cliches to fill out their concept. Is it the corporate boardroom that creates the tough-as-nails-single-mom or is it the executive producers trying to recreate what they think worked in that hit show from two years ago? Both?

    What if V had been an HBO production with a big name (like Scorsese with “Boardwalk Empire”) as the executive producer and the director of the pilot? Would those cliches have been jettisoned? I’d like to think so, but we’ll never know because V was on a network.

    Also, kung-fu fighting V aliens? Sounds terrible. Maybe I’ll watch a piece of this so I can talk trash about it.

  2. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    In fairness I suppose they weren’t TECHNICALLY Kung Fu fighting – but they were engaging in basic hand to hand combat – that looked a little “kung fu-y” for choreography purposes. But in the scene, before they engage in this hand to hand combat, they sent in this completely badass droid thing that shot a ton of bullets or arrows or some such out into the room, killing tons of humans…so why don’t you just send in three of those puppies?

    I agree with you about the perceived leaps and bounds in television writing. I think it mostly can’t keep up with what is really going on in the world. Trying to make something “hip” is always a bad idea from the start. Venture Brothers isn’t popular (and awesome) because some executives set out to make something the cool kids would like…it’s the result of some super creative, super talented people getting together and doing what they love – and it shows. And people respond to it. I rarely see that in TV today. And because reality television is always going to be around (and evolving) in some form or another, it’s up to scripted television to start being REALLY GOOD…or it’s just not going to survive.

    I think with a few reference exceptions you could have plugged the new V script into the old (or vice versa) and nobody would have been able to tell. That’s not the kind of remake I’m interested in. I’m interested in one that takes the old concept and either does something new and amazing with it, or at least turns it on its ear. Short of either of those, the writing has to be brilliant…it all has to be brilliant. You can’t just rely on new effects technology and some slick production values (neither of which were that great).

  3. TK42ONE’s avatar

    Ouch ouch ouch. All this negativity is making my head hurt. I didn’t read your spoilers since I haven’t watched it yet (still waiting on Hulu to grace me with it) but now I’m hoping it’s at least better than the 80s version. Which I caught the first and I’m still making it through the second (as in V is the first and V The Final Battle is the second).

    And the comparison with FlashForward hurts too. Mostly because it’s true I think. I’m lagging behind in the book because, like the show, it needs some help. It’s the classic story of awesome concept, poor execution. Something I see a lot of at work, but don’t enjoy in the entertainment industry.

    So, I’ll give it a whirl because, well, Elizabeth Mitchell is hot and I love LOST. If it flounders too much, I’ll bail.

    And in case I haven’t said so before, Mercy and Trauma are creeping up there on my fun list. Mercy has the better acting and plotlines, while Trauma is just simple-minded action that keeps you watching and not thinking.

    Hmm, I smell dinner, must be time to go.

  4. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    TK42ONE: Yup. I freaking hated it. And I totally wanted to like it going in. I was kind of excited even…not like feverish in anticipation or anything, but y’know genuinely hopeful. Huge let down across the board.

    As for Flash Forward, it still has some good things going for it – a still solid hook (though they’re dolling it out WAY too slowly I think) some solid performances and writing that is hit and miss. The overly earnest acting/dialogue, the sticky sweet saccharine, and painfully slow reveals have almost sent me running a few times though – it’s on a VERY short leash with me right now. As in every week I think it will be my last.

    Elizabeth Mitchell is very badly used here in V. I think she’s a talented actress and I really liked her on Lost – but she’s not good here. I don’t think it’s her fault, but I hope it doesn’t kill your like of her. She doesn’t have much to work with – a stereotypical barely sketched character and stilted dialogue and eye rolling scenes with a rebellious teenage son – you can almost hear the future conversations between “single mother and son”. Ick.

    I’m glad Mercy and Trauma are good. I know some people that work on Mercy, so I’m pulling for it. But I’m pretty burned out I think on Doctor/Hospital shows. Then again, I thought I was pretty burned out on procedurals, cop, and lawyer shows, but done well it turns out I’m not (see: The Good Wife).

  5. ross’s avatar


    my mom taped V so i’m going to give it a watch this weekend (i don’t have a TV that gets channels so anything i want to watch my mom has to tape for me, heh). no real expectations but i’m kind of more excited now by how bad you make it sound, haha.

  6. Morning Toast’s avatar

    Fry said it best…

    “But that’s not why people watch TV. Clever things make people feel stupid, and unexpected things make them feel scared.”

    “…TV audiences don’t want anything original. They wanna see the same thing they’ve seen a thousand times before.”

    “Trust me on this. While other people were out living their lives, I wasted mine watching TV, because deep down I knew it might one day help me save the world. Plus, I would have lost my Workman’s Comp if I had gone outside.”

    Episode transcript: http://is.gd/4P4NW

  7. e-rock’s avatar

    I completely agree that this show just overly ‘tried too hard’ at everything. It smacked us in the face with as many set ups as a show can within the first 20 mins. Will sexy alien chick hook up with angsty teen? Will ego-maniacal tv anchor hook up with sexy alien commander? Will single-mom ever find love when every man she meets either leaves her or turns out to be a lizard in foam rubber flesh? Will single-mom ever get back the relationship she once had with her angsty son? C’mon ABC. Let’s not forget that this show is about ALIENS. That should be an easy enough hook, but they already messed that one up.

    I can say one thing, it’s going to be an equally packed final episode if this show gets cancelled and they have to wrap up all the loose ends.

  8. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    ross: I did get your email – I’m sorry I haven’t responded – I wanted to finish SE first (almost done!)

    Come back here after you watch V and let me know your thoughts. I’ve probably made it sound way more fun/bad than it is. It’s just bad. Not even fun campy cheesy as the old one seems now (in retrospect).

    Morning Toast: Hey – thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Fry always says it best.

    e-rock: Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Yeah, of all things I hated about it, the “trying to hard” vibe was the worst. You can’t TRY to be cool…when you do…you’ve already failed 😉

  9. ross’s avatar

    okay, whew, just checking, seriously no rush on replying!! Outlook is being weird on my laptop so i just wanted to make sure no emails were lost between us. take your time. :)

    i’ll definitely come back and voice my thoughts on V, even though i think i’d feel bad totally writing off the show after just the first episode.. i guess unless it’s REALLY bad… then if it ever gets good i’m sure we’ll hear about it and can (wait for it) reVISIT it! bwahahahahahaha 😉

  10. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    ross: you should be getting an email tomorrow…if you don’t…check your spam…or wherever it is my emails have been going to die :)

    I sense you are calling me out for judging a show based on a first episode…fair enough. I did say I would tune in next week to see if they can turn it around, but as it’s one of the worst television shows I’ve ever subjected myself to in years…and I did it for a full hour…I suspect I’ve nailed my judgment. Time will tell I suppose.

    It’s also come to my attention (ahem, has for a while now) that most of the world does not agree with me. Otherwise why would shows like Two And A Half Men be on the air and wildly popular? Hence, V will probably be wildly popular and it’ll just be me all “alone in my principles”* Hopefully the fact that the rest of the universe never agrees with me won’t stop me from having an amazing writing career…I’m sure that won’t hurt it…right? right?! hello…?

    *super secret bonus points for anyone who can name the movie i stole that quote from.

  11. ross’s avatar

    d’oh! my mom taped the wrong hour, haha. didn’t get to watch V. my dad found it on the ABC website but i’m so lazy i don’t know when i’ll get around to watching it, so i might just jump on episode #2 if my mom successfully tapes that and i’ll go from there.

    i’m not calling you out for judging a show on its first episode, since obviously a first episode can be terrible all by itself and if it’s terrible, why bother with the next one? but, yeah, you could also see where it goes, there are so many shows that blow at first until they really get going and hit that stride. just like comics, i guess, but i’ve definitely ditched series after the first couple issues, so maybe i’m a hypocrite. 😉

    plus, if V ends up hitting a stride later on (“season 2 is the BEST!” and so forth), it’s easy to wait until people are talking and rent the thing and go back to it.

  12. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    ross – I sent you an email Saturday night/sunday morning. Let me know if you don’t get it!

  13. Greg Burgas’s avatar

    Kelly: Hi there. I was sent here by the announcement that you’re going to be writing for Comics Should Be Good (welcome, by the way), and I thought I’d point out that there’s another huge plot hole: Water is fairly abundant in deep space (comets, for instance, are pretty much all water), so the aliens’ reason for being here wouldn’t fool a good portion of the population. Why wouldn’t anyone question why they need to come to our planet when they could just zip around space collecting water?

    I look forward to you writing for the blog!

  14. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    Greg: Thanks so much for the warm welcome. I’m so exited to get started over there – I hope I can live up to the standards you guys have set!

    You are totally right about the water issue on V. Yet another in the giant plot holes. That said I saw a little bit of tonight’s episode and it seemed like less of a train wreck than the first episode..

  15. TK42ONE’s avatar

    So I watched V and, well, I’m on the fence already. Yes, like Flashforward there are some serious parts that are not discussed. Like the mass mayhem that would ensue when aliens (or a flash) would occur. Yes, I know they moved the story along in both cases, but a little more detail would be good (think Jericho).

    With V my biggest complaint was the reveal of the need for water and the reveal of their “true” nature. I mean, seriously. We already know they’re evil? The one redeeming quality was the big shock of them having infiltrated the world already (like the FBI). Had me on the edge of my seat.

  16. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    TK42ONE: I have to say that I thought the second episode was FAR superior to the first – but still rife with problems – stilted bad dialogue, uneven special effects, cliche characters (the biggest issue for me this time was the requirement of certain characters to be stupid in order for the plot to advance – the priest’s behavior was absurd), and the teenager remains a hilarious attempt to be down with ‘teh kids’ while proving how out of touch the show really is.

    Anna remains interesting to watch. I think Scott Wolf did fairly interesting things with his character (he’s one of the few that is not totally obvious in his motivations). And overall the show moved at a decent clip. I doubt I’ll keep watching though.

    The thing about water – you said it and Greg said it above – and I must have missed it in the first episode (likely because my brain was too busy going “this is sooooo dumb!”) but anyway, the water thing is ridiculous and far fetched both because of what Greg said AND because why would we be willing to “give up our water”? Experts are always quick to say that in the future it won’t be oil that is in demand but water. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’m not ready to give it away to the first person that comes in and asks/demands it. Would anyone? Anyway, lots of problems.

  17. TK42ONE’s avatar

    I think the water issue was brought up in the initial broadcast of the ships as they arrived. Something along the lines of “we need some water and a special chemical blah blah blah.”

    So like 10 minutes into the show we know they want water. Which sucks when you compare it to the original mini-series when they made the water reveal much later.

    As to giving up water, well, how much water would you give to cure cancer? or the common cold? Or to move our medical knowledge forward 50 years? Hard to say. But yes, water is a very valuable resource and taking too much of it away would be a very bad idea. One would think that if these space-traveling aliens have enough technology to fly to another galaxy, they’d have enough technology to mine water from another planet.

    And I can’t watch the damn show until it’s on Hulu (Saturdays) since NCIS and NCIS LA take priority.

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