V has been the one show I was hoping would redeem this lackluster fall television season. It is, afterall, based on a popular (cultish?) NBC science fiction show from the early 80s about lizard creations pretending to be humans with nefarious plans for our planet and population.
It seems like an excellent premise to be reimagined with better effects and acting and more weighty themes to explore. Why then, did I feel ho-hum about the show after last night’s premiere?
You can read plenty of recaps elsewhere, but suffice it to say there’s a lot going on. The FX look up to snuff, the acting is all pretty darn good (how could it not be with Elizabeth Mitchell, Alan Tudyk, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Scott Wolff, and Monica Baccarin) for a network television show and the themes are not disimilar from the recent Battlestar Galactica remake (religion, terrorism, identity, etc.).
There were huge problems with the pilot episodes’s story arc: 1) the humans just accept the aliens with open arms, 2) the exposition/backstory is clumsily handled, 3) two of the main characters easily figure out that the lizard aliens are up to no good, 4) it’s too clean and polished.
Still, none of those complaints are what I’m having difficulty wrapping my brain around this morning. I’ve never watched a show so anti-progressive as I did the one last night.
And I’m not alone. Both Time’s excellent James Poniewozik and Chicago Tribune reviewer Glenn Garvin made note of this: a telegenic messiah from a foreign and alien place comes to the United States with the promise of hope and change offers our citizens science, technology and — gasp! — universal health care.
Make no mistake, the Obama parallel/allegory here is downright unnerving. It’s so blatent I really thought some combination of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh were show runners.
Chew on this basic plot: charismatic, attractive newcomers win the adulation of America’s youth with the promise of hope & change; they manipulate the braindead media and promise universal healthcare, but a group of real Americans are saavy to their evil (fascist?) hidden identity/agenda and will work to prevent the destruction of humanity.
It would have been refreshing, or still can be, if the lizard aliens turn out to be the saviors of the human race. But alas, I don’t think that will be the case. And yet, and yet, I’m still going to tune in because there’s enough decent story threads that the show has my interest.