Idol Chatter

At first, the pilot of the relaunched ‘V,’ the reimagining of the 80s sci-fi classic about alien visitors endearing themselves to humanity only to further their nefarious plan, wasn’t catching my attention. Sure, the effects were out-of-this-world, but I was beginning to worry that this reimagining was going to be a “Stargate: Universe:” a refurbishment of a franchise trying to cash in on the gravitas of the award-winning “BattleStar Galactica,” but losing the cheesetastic melodrama that made it so watchable.
The original “V” miniseries and subsequent series, which aired on NBC, was an allegory about the dangers of fascism (hello Niazi-esque red and black uniforms, swastika-like emblem, and a youth auxiliary movement!)–and some would say a critique of the Reagan Era, The redux rests comfortably and firmly in its post-9/11 reality. And while at least one writer suspects that the new show is a condemnation of the Obama Administration (kudos to the writers for the ominous “universal healthcare” shout out from the Visitor’s leader), it seems more likely than not that the genre’s liberal bent will out and the resistance will be hope we can believe in, so to speak.
But I just wasn’t taking to the characters that we have seen so often on other shows: the suspicious FBI agent tracking terrorist cells, the man with a secret past, the doubting priest. In fact, it made me long for the network’s canceled-too-soon “Invasion.”
How long, I wondered, would it take for these story threads to be woven together and when, when would the Visitors be revealed to be evil space lizards? Because for all of the sci-fi genre’s portents as thinly veiled socio-political allegory, ‘V’ is really about rodent-eating reptiles bent on destroying humanity–that’s what those of us who fondly hold the original series close wanted to see. And that’s what, ultimately, was delivered.

Yes, I miss the camp of Jane Badler’s “Diana” and the too-tight-to-breath jeans of Marc Singer, but one shot of a scalpel slicing into a human scalp to confirm earthly DNA, was all it took to get me hooked. Plus a great guest turn from Alan Tudyk (“Firefly,” “Dodgeball”) and his lizardy dermis.
Yes, there’s great socio-religio-political commentary (which is to be expected in a post-Galactica landscape):
The Visitors present themselves as a mix of Deepak Chopra and “Star Trek’s” Spock: super serene, highly logical creatures. Or as Anna (Morena Baccarin of “Firefly” fame), the ethereally beautiful, hypnotically voiced Visitor leader puts it, “We’ve evolved to quickly process and expel all negative feelings.” Perfect for the post-Prozac generation!
Meanwhile, Father Jack Landry (The “4400’s” Joel Gretsch), a man who should live by faith, isn’t able to summon up any faith in the Vatican’s declaration that the Visitors are all part of God’s plan like his fellow priest. “We’re all so quick to jump on the bandwagon, ” he tells a newly robust congregation, “but let’s make sure it is sturdy and that we really want to get on board.” You just know he’s ready for the resistance.
But what makes the show so much fun for those of us around the first time is the re-acquainting process: we’ve already met a member of the Fifth Column in the first hour! Now, I’m just waiting for the alien-human hybrid.
So whether or not you long for Michael Ironside to make a guest appearance, or this is your first entrée into “V” territory, this action-, alien-, allegory-packed hour will go down as easy as a small rodent.
“V” airs Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

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