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Slow-moving “V”Confuses Rather than Intrigues

November 4, 2009

Published by Ozarks Unbound. 

By Bethany Larson
Ozarks Unbound
“Where were you when JFK was assassinated?”
“Where were you on 9/11?”
“Where were you this morning?”
These are the questions ABC’s heavily marketed “V,” a remake of the 1980s miniseries, asks the audience at the beginning of its pilot episode.
The first two questions evoke a sense of community — these historical, change-inducing occasions are ones that all Americans have a connection to because of their impact on, well, everything. By simply posing the third question, the powers behind the show are equating that whatever happened “this morning” is a scenario as monumental as the other two.
In the slow-moving pilot, we learn that what happened “this morning” is that The Visitors, or V’s, arrived. Their looming space crafts hover above 29 of the world’s major cities, and Anna (Morena Baccarin), the attractive spokeswoman for the V’s, politely informs the world in her calm, velvety voice, that her people only need help and are not dangerous.
“We are of peace. Always.”
Within this episode, there are three major story arcs: a televised interview between Anna and journalist Chad Decker (Scott Wolf), the recruitment of human teenagers to become Peace Ambassadors for the physically attractive V’s , and a clandestine meeting of various characters that presents a different view of the V’s and their goals.
As simple as that sounds, this episode is confusing. Characters are rarely introduced by name and the audience has to rely on the characters’ relationships with other nameless characters to figure out what role they play.
Then, we are exposed to a jump-cut-driven narrative taking us in and out of different scenes that are never fully explained. Although this provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of the characters whose names we don’t know, it proves to be more annoying than intriguing.
In the most interesting sequence of the episode, we see three characters, Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell), Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch), and Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut) gather at a top secret meeting because they have been nominated — for what, we’re not sure. They’re then instructed on how to determine the difference between a human and a V — the V’s have no skull.
After this, a man, Georgie (David Richmond-Peck) begins telling the people assembled that the V’s have been on Earth for years, that they clone human flesh, have set up a sleeper cell terrorist group, and plan to exterminate the human race by winning its devotion and positioning themselves as the saviors of mankind.
All of this is juxtaposed with the Decker and Anna interview, where Anna tells the world that the V’s hope to open Healing Centers that provide universal health care in every major city in the world.
Then, 51-minutes into the episode, we finally get some action.
As Erica and Father Jack meet, this blue floating orb comes into the room and throws darts at people. After this, a group of supposed humans runs in and begins attacking those gathered. As Erica is attacked by her co-worker Dale Maddox (Alan Tudyk), he gets a cut on his head, and she sees that he has no skull–instead, there is green reptilian skin.
In another plot nuance at the end of the episode, we learn that Ryan is actually a V that has deserted his people to live peacefully among the humans, begging the question, who else isn’t human?
Although the show does raise interesting questions about stereotypes, trust, and ethics, the pilot drags by and confuses, rather than intrigues, the audience.
Judging from the opening tone of the episode, this invasion of green lizards with cloning abilities is supposed to be a generation defining event that will impact history.
We’ll see about that.
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