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Ouroboros
February 10th, 2006, 07:38 PM
'V' was a pretty stunning show back in the day, although I think it likely that some of our younger forumites have never had the pleasure.

My brother and I cajoled an older cousin to tape each feature-length chunk of the mini-series (they were show pretty late at night at one stage) for us to re-watch, and they taught me that TV SF could tackle real issues like genocide and totalitarianism, not just be about guys in jumpsuits kissing green aliens and spouting technobabble.

Currently the SF channel in the UK has just begun screening it again. The first two-hour installment ran tonight, and I guess the rest are either coming next friday, or will run over saturday and sunday. I'd encourage any of our UK members who have the chance to try and catch any re-screenings of it.

Mention the show to most people and they'll probably remember some of the more lurid elements: The graphic scenes of human-looking visitors being revealed as horrible lizard types, or those same visitors swallowing whole rats and a variety of other animals ...

What is also apparent is that while the show boasted tremendous production values for the times, it now looks a little dated. The space-shuttles and mother ships look painfully fake, and the opening scenes are a lesson in how 'not' to mix canned footage with your pastic motherships.

But for all that, cleverness underpins the show. Small touches: For instance, The outdoor suburban streets are overlaid by a hum in the backdrop constantly, the sound of the massive motherships hovering over all the major cities. Probably cost nothing, but establishes that this is a very different america... Likewise, the iconic red uniforms and black helmets of the visitors are a simple device, but they are as instantly unforgettable and sinister as SS uniforms.

This is, of course, not a random connection. As I said, V can be read as a determined morality play of the dangers inherent in a citizenry giving up its self-determination and democratic processes and putting their trust and well-being solely in the hands of those who promise to deliver them a better life.

The cast of the show is a tapesry of american life, and admirably the chubby scientists and their children get as much screen-time as the chisel-jawed hero types. Some of the most memorable characters are a jewish family, presided over by a pouch-eyed, withered old patriarch who survived the nazi death camps. Of all the characters, he is the one who understands best, on an emotional gut level, the precarious nature of humanity's position. At first, he is silently apprehensive. Then he is quietly determined, hiding a family marked out for 'dissapearance' by the alien authorities and their human quisling collaborators. This also means concealing them from his teenage neighbour, who has gleefulyl signed up as a quisling and collaborator. Then, finally, in the closing moments of the first episode, he solemnly spraypaints the titular 'V' onto an alien propoganda poster, explaining that it is "for victory ... tell your friends" to a group of watching youngsters.

The paralells are not always subtle, but they carry emotional weight. For all the spaceships and laser bolts, V is not a fairy-tale, but rather a cautionary tale which reminds us of the importance of remaining vigilant against the erosion of our freedoms.

Hell, aside from all that, its also just plain good fun. Resistance cells ... spaceshuttles chasing men on horseback ... ammonia-spitting lizard bad guys. Who cares if they've all got mullets and white socks?

Good TV.

It occurs that a V re-make is not necessary for another few years yet, but it will eventually come. When enough time has elapsed, a new generation of viewers will be introduced to 'John' and 'Diana', who hide rather interesting secrets under their smooth-skinned facades.

Shehzad
February 10th, 2006, 11:24 PM
... not to mention pretty girls eating rodents.

Mellie
February 10th, 2006, 11:38 PM
V! The first completely terrifying bit of sci-fi I'd ever seen. It was as fantastic in it's day. I can still remember waking up in cold sweats night after night. If only there were more tv shows/movies that could do that. I suppose the older I get the more everything seems to have been done.

I once waited on Robert Englund at a mall shop in So Cal and recognized him not for the Nightmare stuff but for V. I think he quite appreciated that. :)

Wulfa_Jones
February 11th, 2006, 08:20 AM
Yeah the mouse eating scene was one that stuck in my mind!

My Mum was a fan of the series so we had it on VHS, well still do but I don't think the tapes are in very good nick.

Ouroboros
February 11th, 2006, 10:00 AM
Those VHS tapes will be unwatchable eventually, better transfer them onto DVD while you remember to bother, Wulfa.

I came across a couple of 'V' spin-off novels in a second handbookstore a few months ago. One was the hilarious 'The Alien Sword-master'. Truly bizarre.

"Live by the sword - Die by the laser!" was the blurb on the back. The plotline involves an american 'ninjitsu expert' called Matt attempting to solve the mystery of why the aliens are kidnapping the worlds greatest martial arts experts.

Er....

Wulfa_Jones
February 13th, 2006, 11:57 AM
"Live by the sword - Die by the laser!" was the blurb on the back. The plotline involves an american 'ninjitsu expert' called Matt attempting to solve the mystery of why the aliens are kidnapping the worlds greatest martial arts experts

Now that sounds like a classy spin off!

Swift
February 20th, 2006, 07:29 AM
V was classic, used to love watching it when i was younger, so much so that i bought all thge episodes on DVD. Although, it did go a bit silly towards the end, it remains my favourite TV sci fi series to date.

Khallandra
March 11th, 2006, 08:09 PM
I grew up with classic SciFi such as V :) So many good memories - haven't seen it in a few years though - I should watch it again (yep I remember the revealing lizard heads out of the people 'suits')