Many will recognize Mitchell as Juliet from “Lost.” Mitchell is visibly the most talented performer on the show, and acts Gretsch under the table in their scenes together.
‘V’ invades with promising debut – Remake of cult classic sci-fi show features solid acting, intriguing plot
The aliens are here. They are sneaky and they come bringing social commentary. Such was the case with the original series in the early ’80s, and little has changed in ABC’s remake of the cult classic “V.”
Unlike ABC’s other science-fiction heavy-hitters (“Lost” and “Flashforward”), this show is attempting to rejuvenate an already existing television property.
“V” is two episodes in, and the series has the type of mixed results traditionally seen in a very ambitious project. Anyone with an eye for sci-fi or sweeping drama ought to get on the ride, though, because the potential for the show to become huge is very high.
“V” tells its story through the narrative of multiple characters whose lives interweave, which means that strong acting is pretty integral to the overall effort. It is a mixed bag, combining some experienced and talented performers with a host of blank faces.
The principal characters thus far appear to be FBI agent Erica Evans and Father Jack Landry, portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell and Joel Gretsch, respectively
Many will recognize Mitchell as Juliet from “Lost.” Mitchell is visibly the most talented performer on the show, and acts Gretsch under the table in their scenes together. Gretsch, up to this point, has been quite bland, and would be tough to watch if he did not have one of the more interesting story arcs.
The other existing arcs cover Erica’s son, Tyler, who somehow manages to ride a motorcycle at 17 and still fails at being cool. Logan Huffman’s performance is grating, making it tough to care about his adventures and misadventures. Still, he manages to play na’ve well, which hints at some underlying talent.
Morris Chestnut plays Ryan Nichols, a sleeper agent of a different sort, and flashes only a bit more character than Gretsch. In the future, his ability to portray conflicting emotion will determine whether or not he will be able to succeed in his role.
Scott Wolf is a real wild card in his portrayal of a major television news host. His smarm is solid so far, but two episodes of the stuff is far from proof of sustainable villainy.
“V” also hints at holding some other talented actors in reserve for use later on, particularly Alan Tudyk of “Firefly” and Rekha Sharma of “Battlestar Galactica.”
As far as production values go, they are quite high. “V” boasts some impressive special effects for a television show, which bodes well for the future. The alien technology is integrated well, and the CGI is used only when necessary so far. This is a byproduct of generally good writing.
The first episode is fast-paced and frantic, managing to inform the viewer without going into too much expository background information. The second episode only drags occasionally. The writers appear to know how long to focus on individual character arcs without getting too far from the overall story. Hopefully this skilled handling carries over. They also keep enough information in reserve to be tantalizing.
It is difficult to know through two episodes just how good a show will be, but one can gauge if the potential to be good is there. “V” has enough investment on the technical end and a skilled enough writing team to offer the chance of a sweeping science-fiction adventure. The talent of the cast is up in the air at this point, but in spite of these question marks the show is worth a look.
“V’s” huge ratings are founded: this alien intrigue has the potential to get interesting.
Source: The Villanovan
On the heels of the cancellation of “Eastwick,” ABC’s hour long drama based on the John Updike’s 1984 novel “The Witches of Eastwick” and the subsequent 1987 film of the same name, the network is taking another page from the 1980s playbook and taking a chance on “V.” A reboot of Kenneth Johnson’s iconic 1983 miniseries, “V” depicts a group of aliens called “The Visitors” who come to Earth and appear benign but have more sinister intentions towards the human race.
Having never seen the original miniseries, save for some of the more enduring clips, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The remake, set in New York, follows Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell, “Lost”), a FBI counterterrorism agent and single mother with a teenage son, Tyler (Logan Huffman); Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch), a priest at a struggling parish; Chad Decker (Scott Wolf, “Everwood”), a news anchor looking to be taken more seriously; and Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut), a man who seems to have it all: a great job and a girlfriend to whom he’s about to propose.
When alien motherships touch down over the major cities of the world, their lives are thrown into chaos. The Visitors’ leader, Anna (Morena Baccarin, “Firefly”), tells the humans that the aliens are peaceful and wish to share their technology and medical advances in exchange for humans’ friendship.
Throughout the pilot everyone tries to adjust to the new world order. Erica and her partner, Dale (Alan Tudyk, also of “Firefly” and more recently “Dollhouse”), return to work tracking a terrorist cell, and Father Jack tries to reconcile the existence of aliens to his belief in God, while trying to preach caution to his congregation. At the same time Ryan keeps receiving phone calls from a person from his past, and Chad finds himself as the first reporter to interview the enigmatic Anna one on one.
All the drama comes to a head as Father Jack follows the directions of a dying man to a secret meeting at warehouse by a pier, and, thinking she will get a lead on her case, Erica also gains access to the meeting. Meanwhile, Chad is set to make his career when Anna says that the interview must be conducted on her terms; none of the questions can paint the Visitors in a negative light. Despite hating himself for this breach of journalistic ethics, Chad continues with the interview.
At the meeting Father Jack and Erica learn that the Visitors have been to earth before and that they have infiltrated all aspects of human life—business, government, religion, you name it. Long story short, they walk among us, and no one is safe. However, before the meeting can go any further, they are attacked by some of the Visitors, including Dale, who turns out to be a cold-blooded killer, literally. (When Erica fights and kills him, she exposes him as the big, mean lizard he truly is). The biggest surprise of the pilot comes at the end when Ryan, coming to the aid of the humans, reveals himself as a rebel Visitor, dedicated to the first resistance.
In episode two the Visitors are waiting for United States to extend diplomatic relations to them, and Chad tries to regain the upper hand–and some of his self-respect–by providing a point/counterpoint to the debate on his show. Erica deals with the fallout and investigation of Dale’s “disappearance,” as she and Jack reel from the revelation that the only people they can trust are each other and that they need to recruit members for a resistance. Ryan reaches out to another rogue Visitor, but instead of the help for which he hopes, he gets only suspicion and doubt. The Visitors end up receiving support from the United States but continue to try to stamp out any resistance. At the end of the episode, we also discover they have revived Dale.
The show has many great aspects but also some things that could use work. The acting across the board is solid, and the show certainly receives good will from me by including “Everwood” and Joss Whedon alumni in the cast. Gretsch is a bit of a blank slate, and while Mitchell has very good line delivery, I wish there were more urgency in their scenes together. Chestnut has the most interesting character and back story so far, and I hope that they spend more time on him in the upcoming episodes and less on Erica’s Visitor-fascinated son, whose sub-plot (becoming involved in the Visitor’s human ambassador program) has left me a little cold. I would also enjoy seeing more of Wolf’s Chad as he realizes that, although he has an agenda, he’s still a cog in the Visitor publicity wheel.
The special effects are decent, although more toned down from the pilot to the second episode, which focused more on the happenings on the ground. Going forward the show would benefit from having more action and less of the characters equivocating about what to do next. I think showing Father Jack and Erica recruiting and finally crossing paths with Ryan could amp up the drama considerably; it doesn’t quite feel like a cohesive unit yet. The writing isn’t particularly memorable or sharp, but the atmosphere of the show is ominous and intriguing enough that I do want to continue watching.
The only problem on that front is ABC’s plans for airing it. The network will air two more episodes this year before the show goes on an extended hiatus until after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics in March. If the show manages to pull together its creative aspects by the fourth episode, my guess is that “V” will have an audience in the spring. However, ABC runs the risk of losing the show’s audience if they don’t promote its return well. Ultimately, there are two parties–”V” itself and the network that airs it– responsible for the show’s success.
“V” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.