V 2009 — Through Four Episodes

As I have mentioned before, I never saw the original V mini-series or TV series beyond a few episodes. As such, I have no ties to the original series and am approaching these first four episodes basically as a newbie to the franchise.

While V is clearly a science fiction series, the sci-fi elements aren’t as prominent as a series like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, or even the recent reimaged classic Battlestar Galactica. Obviously, this is partially due to the fact that the series is based on modern day Earth, but the production team has made it so that even when we are shown the Visitor’s ships from the inside, they don’t feel ultra sci-fi. There’s enough of an advanced technology aspect with the holographic displays to remind the audience of the sci-fi element, but it isn’t so in the face of the audience as to put off those who might not really be into science fiction.

Well, I say that but what explains the massive drop in ratings for the series? That’s something I can’t explain. I can only say what I like.

I’ve heard some complaints about the series being too dull. I haven’t experienced that. I have not found the series to be boring either as the hour seems to just fly by despite the commercial breaks.

For me, I like the idea of how the Visitors are keen on invading Earth through non-military means. Part of that is by using the press to their advantage. This is something we’ve seen for years when it comes to our own governments in the U.S. For example, President Bush and his policies were not liked much by the press nor Big Entertainment. As such, any good news is played down and anything to suggest something negative or a scandal is played up. Comedians and political pundits often spoke of how dumb President Bush was, even though his grades at Harvard were higher than Senator Kerry’s, the latter who is seen as an intellectual giant.

Transversely, President Obama and his policies are liked by the main stream press, the comedians, Big Entertainment, and many of the political pundits. As such, despite the fact that President Obama has great difficulty speaking without a teleprompter and that he has said things that would have had President Bush ridiculed to scorn, President Obama is given a pass. Anyone raising questions about his policies are discredited. After all, when comparing the two presidents, the template for President Bush was that he’s an evil neo-con who hates poor people and wants to rob from them to give to the rich. The template for President Obama is that he cares for the downtrodden and wants to set to atone for the sins of the past by taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots (and ignoring that the disadvantaged only get pennies on every dollar taken from those who have).

Thus we have the Visitor strategy. After infiltrating the planet years ago to help pave the way for the first Visitor ships to arrive (the Visitors are a very patient race and apparently use incrementalism to slowly pave the way for their ultimate goal so that by the time that goal is revealed, it is too late to do anything about it), the Visitors now get the media on their side. Now, the Visitor message can get out without being questioned. After all, the public message is that the Visitors only want the best for humans. However, we the audience know that in reality, the Visitors have much more sinister goals.

With only four episodes, what those goals are remains a mystery to me. Clearly, the Visitors are invading Earth and attempting to do so without open warfare (which will cost them lots of lives and may damage whatever it is about Earth that they are keen to obtain). The best way to take over is to do so through political means under the guise of wanting to help the people. As I said, this method keeps the people’s eyes closed until it is too late. Considering the huge armada waiting to come to Earth, the Visitors will need the keep the people passive until the very end.

As to characters, I like the cast pretty much. I do find the single mom (Erica Evans) raising a rebellious son to be “meh.” When I think about it, I suppose this may be what folks are keying in on as being formulaic because I think this type of character is cliched a bit. Erica is a tough FBI babe but she can’t get her own son to obey and she’s too keen on being his friend rather than his mother (as I see it at least). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the Erica character but as I think of it, the character is not really anything special.

The Catholic priest Father Jack Landry is a character I don’t dislike either, but he too is a bit “meh.” I say this because he doesn’t seem like a man nor a leader of a congregation. Instead, he seems like a metrosexual type character who happens to be a priest and can’t do anything. It makes the idea that he was in the army seem weak and his clocking a Visitor in episode four really hasn’t changed my opinion of the character being wishy-washy. I do hope that in future episodes, the religious aspects of aliens on Earth can be further explored, though considering how that element has already been dropped, I’m not hopeful.

On the other hand, the Visitor rebel Ryan Nichols is probably my favorite character of the heroes. He’s tough but kind, smart but willing to take the risks, and I hope we learn more about him and why he rebelled in the first place. Strangely though, I can’t find much to say about him though I do wonder how he impregnated a human. Also, since the Visitors were the ones to reveal to his girlfriend that she is pregnant, it seems to me that they have to know she is carrying a hybrid child.

Chad Decker as the ambitious journalist doesn’t do much for me. The writers have attempted to show him as someone who might sell his soul for a scoop and big ratings, but also have tried to show him as having a conscience. To me, the two don’t mix much. I believe most journalist have their core beliefs and that while they may claim to be objective, the fact that they won’t challenge a public figure they agree with but will dog one they disagree with shows their bias. Chad Decker doesn’t come off like a main stream journalist and I think he should. He could have a change of mind over time or despite being shown more and more of the Visitor agenda, decides that “this is fine with me as long as I continue to get what I want.”

The supporting character Georgie is another character the writers haven’t done justice too. In the fourth episode, Georgie basically decides that he needs to skin a Visitor to reveal them to the public. Considering how Georgie had lost his entire family to the Visitors and had seen his efforts at rebellion crushed before, why hadn’t he attempted to skin a Visitor before? That’s what I kept thinking when Georgie made it clear what he wanted to do and it came again to my mind when Georgie shot the Visitor professor that they wanted to interrogate. I guess it seemed to me that if Georgie was going to in essence lose it, he would have done so earlier.

Still, I’d like to learn more about this character.

I do like the character of Anna. The face of evil wearing a pleasing appearance as an angel of light works perfectly for me.

Despite some issues with some of the characters, I really have enjoyed the first four episodes of V. I’m not sure why the ratings have dropped so sharply (I’m curious to see the ratings for the fourth episode) and I’d love to hear some analysis on the subject.

I’m also wondering about ABC’s strategy regarding the series. To only play four episodes followed by a lengthy hiatus where the series won’t air again until March (assuming ABC doesn’t cancel it) makes no real sense to me. I suppose ABC decided to hedge their bets and see how the ratings were for four episodes before deciding to commit to more to be played next spring. However, having that much time off from a series leads to one thing — out of sight, out of mind. Thus, you have a major cooling off and as people move on to other things, there’s a very good chance that many people won’t bother to return as they don’t have that much invested in the series.

Here’s hoping that ABC picks up the series.

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