After all the ballyhoo about the upcoming remake of V, I thought I'd take a gander at the first episode. Most media criticism has focused on the parallels between V and the fervor surrounding the Obama campaign, so I won't repeat all that here. Is V just an extended mockery of the Obama administration? Hard to tell what the rest of the series will show, but so far, yeah, pretty much.
The show starts with a black screen and white writing. "Where were you when JFK was assassinated?" it first asks. Then, a more modern question: "Where were you on 9/11?" Okay, I see where you're going with this, V. The final question is: "Where were you this morning?" By juxtaposing two terrible events in American history with this new phenomenon clearly shows that the alien visitation will not be a happy, fun event to be cherished by the generations, but rather, on par with the JFK assassination and 9/11. Not an auspicious beginning.
We follow three sets of New Yorkers on the morning of the invasion: a FBI agent and her son, a well-to-do couple on the cusp of engagement, and two Catholic priests. They're all going about their normal business, when suddenly a huge alien spaceship comes barreling over the skyscrapers of New York. We learn through live newscasts that mothershipes have parked over 28 other major world cities. In the midst of widespread hysteria, the mothership morphs into a giant TV screen, and the face of a smoking hot lady appears. She calls herself Anna and she's the leader of her people. They've traveled the cosmos and are overjoyed to find another intelligent life in the universe. They need water and another mineral of which Earth has an abundant supply. In exchange, they're happy to give some sweet technology to Earthlings, and be on their way. At the end of the message, people from all corners of the earth start clapping.
Now, if you've been living under a rock without an internet connection, stop reading here - I'm about to make a big reveal. The mineral that the Visitors want (get it - Visitors - V) is PEOPLE. They're really terrible lizard creatures that have come to Earth to eat humans.
Anyway, we don't know this yet, and a media frenzy erupts over the V's, as the cool kids call them. They promise cures to diseases, anti-gravity technology, the spreading of hope, and above all, peace. Everyone gets into it, especially the teens, who become cultural ambassadors to the V culture, spending time on motherships with the intent that they will spread the message of hope to their friends (I'm not kidding). The media gets involved as well, and Anna gives an interview to a still surprisingly young looking Scott Wolf, on the condition that he ask her no questions that will paint the V's in a negative light.
So, yeah, not exactly subtle. You got young people all in a tizzy and the media drooling all over themselves. The only skeptics so far are the FBI Mom and a young Catholic priest, who worries that admiration of the V's might turn into worship, or even worse, devotion! Personally, I always thought false worship was worse than devotion, but whatever. His older mentor tells him not worry, since the pews have been filled to capacity ever since the V's arrival, but then an old man appears in the church, with a fatal wound and an envelope filled with "proof" that the aliens are here to destroy us.
Meanwhile, the male half of the well-to-do couples starts getting calls from a mysterious man from his past who wants to involve him in some sort of special club devoted to getting rid of the V's because they know they're out to destroy the world. The young man says that he's moved past that, and he's not into that conspiracy stuff anymore. Birthers, anyone?
Throughout this business, the FBI mom has been investigating a strange spike in terrorist cell chatter that began right when the V's landed. Her theory is that terrorists are plotting an attack on New York while everyone is distracted by the V's. This is an interesting take on what would happen if aliens invaded, as the reigning theory (as promoted by none other than the conservative hero Ronald Reagan) goes, that if aliens did invade, all the world's cultures would unite against them. I suppose this doesn't exactly fit that scenario, since everyone still thinks the aliens are here to help society and cure diseases. But why would the terrorists have a problem with that? The V's are all over the world, helping out, not just in America. Oh well, who knows. My personal theory is that the terrorist cell is actually made up of V's who were an advance deployment, getting ready to bring the smack down on humans. I suppose we'll see.
FBI mom, young Catholic priest, and the well-t0-do guy's friend are end up at the same meeting, where everyone has to have a small piece of their scalp ripped open to prove that there's skull underneath. After everyone passes the test, the well-to-do friend brings the breakdown: turns out that V's have walked among us for years, all in an elaborate plot to bring down humanity. They've cloned human flesh to graft over their reptilian skin and ingratiated themselves in all facets of life - business, military, religion, you get the picture. Then, they've started the mechanisms to bring humans down, causing unnecessary wars, economic breakdown, and religious extremism. If there was any doubt that these guys represent the anti-Semitic/birther/Neo Nazi fringe groups, it's gone. These guys are the crazy ones, but they're going to turn out to be right, which really doesn't send a great message to all the weirdos out there who actually believe this crap about African Americans, Jews, whoever, take your pick of outsiders.
Then, we find out that the person FBI mom has been tracking is actually a V, a part of a terrorist sleeper cell. "A terrorist sleeper cell of V's?" she asks. "A terrorist sleeper cell of V's," the main dude answers. I was right! Huzzah!
Suddenly, a group of people crash into the meeting, wielding terrible scythe things and ripping everyone to shreds. The worst part is that one of them is FBI mom's own partner, and after throwing him off of her, she cuts his skin, revealing lizard flesh!
Well-to-do guy, who's named Ryan, it turns out, comes to the rescue of his friend, showing that he believes in the cause. They run away from the fracas, and Ryan reveals that he's a lizard person, too!! But, guys, it's okay, he's a good lizard person, one who doesn't want to kill humans, a defector from his own people. He promises there are others out there like him, others that will join the human resistance.
At the end, we see FBI mom's son, Tyler, joining the peace ambassadors and becoming embroiled in the culture of the V's, setting the stage for an inter-generational civil war.
Yowza. Well, the critics were right, in my opinion, this really does make a point of slamming the Obama candidacy. Of course, the chance that Obama and his minions are actually lizard people intent on destroying the planet are fairly minimal, in my view. Let's hope so anyway. I think I'll continue to watch, if only to see what other absurd parallels they employ. It's equally likely that they spread it on really thick in the pilot just to draw interest, and it'll be more original in the following episodes. Regardless, the production values are out of this world (get it?) and everything is sleek and beautiful. The scenes on the mothership are painstakingly detailed, and not too computer-y. There was one scene of a small transport vehicle dropping down onto a harbor that was clearly green screened, but other than that, you can tell some serious cash went into the special effects department. And good for ABC, putting some serious value into a big TV event. I just wish it were a bit subtler.