Fri 16 Oct 2009
Thu 13 Aug 2009
While in my local video store a few days back, in a rare moment of consumer weakness [tippy title="*"]I’m not much of a ‘bargain’ shopper – I figure that bargain is just retail code for “We’ve got too many of these bloody things Hank – see what you can do to free up some shelf space…”[/tippy] I succumbed to a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ offer and picked up a DVD compilation of all the episodes and the ‘movie’ of the 80s science fiction tele-epic V.
It didn’t seem like such a bad deal really – Violet Towne and I both had fond memories of V. You remember the schtick I’m sure: huge alien space ships the size of Donald Trump’s ego appear rather abruptly over a good number of the world’s major cities and hover there j-u-u-u-s-t long enough to give everybody the heebie jeebies. It turns out that the wait is merely due to the alien leader putting on her face. The doomsaying of a few negative Earthling Cassandras is, it appears, just overactive xenophobia. Shucks – the alien ‘Visitors’ are a jolly happy lot who want nothing more than to lend a helping hand to the struggling new kids on the intergalactic block. And to eat all our hamsters, steal our water and suck out our brains – but it’s not like anyone could have seen something like that coming, right?
Sure, there were a few troubling indicators, if you knew where to look: the aliens’ appalling dress sense (well, it was the 80s, so it’s not like they stood out that much), their insistence on wearing sunglasses indoors (that didn’t start happening for Earthlings until the 90s, so I guess that was a demonstration of the visitors’ advanced culture) and their habit of snacking on mice out of dumpsters (but hey – if you’re discreet…). Oh, and if you happened to tear their skin off, there was a surprise lizard underneath.[tippy title="†"]In what must be one of the cheapest budget decisions made for a science fiction movie EVER, the Visitors never appeared as their lizard selves. Never. Not once. They goose-stepped around earth in their orange-uniformed monkey-suits, procreated with Earth women without giving anything away (now that must have been interesting) and relaxed in the privacy of their own off-Earth ships in their stretchy homo-prostheses. No alien in the history of science fiction has shown such dedication to keeping incognito![/tippy]
In any event, it didn’t take VT and I long to realise that our fond memories of V had taken on the rosy glow that only nostalgia can lend. The series (which David Icke probably thought was a documentary), was, in fact, pretty damn awful. The general structure of the thing certainly did have potential (ham-fisted Third Reich analogs notwithstanding) and the feeling of distrust and helplessness in the face of an implacable adversary is an idea that has a lot going for it. Our twenty-something selves evidently saw past the frightful soap-quality acting and into something of the concept’s promise – over the years our memories have thankfully expunged much of the dreadful dialogue and appalling plot contrivances.
Last night we got to the end of Series 2, in which, overcoming the sobering improbabilities of mammalian and reptilian genetic structures being anywhere near compatible, one of the cast gives birth to alien twins, the arrival of the second of which was undoubtedly supposed to instill terror in the viewing audience. But when the little toothy green reptile muppet ‘baby’ lunged ‘menacingly’ toward the camera (several times for good measure) Violet Towne and I simultaneously shrieked in unison, snorted our pinot through our noses and fell on the floor laughing. How did we ever accept such abominable bathos? I mean it’s not as if there wasn’t any better precedent – V post-dates Ridley Scott’s impeccable (and still mightily effective) Alien by a full 5 years! I guess we were just a lot better at the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ in those halcyon days (and it was television – which in those times was in most cases notably inferior to anything you could see on the big screen).
At several times during our V marathon, VT and I remarked that it was surprising that no-one had attempted a remake of the concept, and, of course, teh internets piped up to let us know that someone is doing just that. It will no doubt thrill all you V aficionados down to your little webbed toes (and have David Icke struggling even harder in his straight jacket) to know that ABC is airing a new series of V this November. And the subset of those devotees who are also fans of Joss Wheedon’s lamentably short-lived Firefly will be doubly chuffed to learn that the Visitor leader is being played by Morena Baccarin – a woman so impossibly beautiful that apparently she can only get roles that require an impossibly beautiful woman who is really a lizard (well, seriously – after a smashing debut in Firefly, she fairly disappeared without a trace. WTF?) Alan Tudyk (Firefly‘s ‘Wash’) also has a major role in the new V[tippy title="‡"]One is inclined to speculate that people at ABC actually watched Firefly (unlike anyone at Fox, evidently) and knew a good thing when they saw it…[/tippy]
I think we can assume that ABC is attempting a Battlestar Galactic-style remake of V, which, all things considered, could be kinda fun. At least we can expect the acting to be better, and hopefully something a little less lumpen in the way of allegory and story.
I have to confess, though, Faithful Acowlytes, that these musings have become something of a digression from my original purpose for this post – I meant to use my examination of the colourful antics of V to illuminate an entirely different matter involving aliens and earthlings. As this post has already become rather lengthy, I’ll forbear for now. But stay tuned for Part 2, in which we’ll ask some serious questions about alien/human interaction. And no, it doesn’t involve kinky lizard porn.
*I’m not much of a ‘bargain’ shopper – I figure that bargain is just retail code for “We’ve got too many of these bloody things Hank – see what you can do to free up some shelf space…”
†In what must be one of the cheapest budget decisions made for a science fiction movie EVER, the Visitors never appeared as their lizard selves. Never. Not once. They goose-stepped around earth in their orange-uniformed monkey-suits, procreated with Earth women without giving anything away (now that must have been interesting) and relaxed in the privacy of their own off-Earth ships in their stretchy homo-prostheses. No alien in the history of science fiction has shown such dedication to keeping incognito!
‡One is inclined to speculate that people at ABC actually watched Firefly (unlike anyone at Fox, evidently) and knew a good thing when they saw it…