V draws parallels with ‘post-9/11 paranoia’
With V’s motherships now set to hover over New York, Metro asks the team how their sci-fi remake reflects our paranoid age.
Scott Wolf, forever known to most thirtysomethings as Bailey from US teen hit Party Of Five, is sitting in a Vancouver backlot in front of an enormous green screen.
‘I wouldn’t spend too much time staring at it as it can make you go all wonky,’ warns the ever youthful actor with a beaming smile.
‘Most of what I’ve been doing in front of green screen, I haven’t had to really react to anything – there’s nothing flying at my head. If eventually I’m having to duck things that aren’t really there, it might get trickier…’
The objects he’ll be ducking will be the CGI spaceships that make up cable channel Syfy’s new remake of V, the 1983 series in which the Earth is visited by human-looking aliens (or ‘Visitors’) whose air of sweetness and light masks the fact they’re subtly trying to take over the world.
Wolf plays Chad Decker, a morally dubious news anchor who’ll ally himself any which way to get a scoop. He is one of the zillions who fondly remembers the original show.
‘I was at the age when I wasn’t really allowed to watch it, so I was shooed out of the room a lot,’ he says. ‘But I do remember it being epic – there was something supremely creepy about it.’
Not all fans of the original were as excited about a second coming, however, and many swamped internet bulletin boards with their objections.
But none of that has fazed V executive producer Steve Pearlman: he’s clearly itching to make a loved commodity dazzle more brightly with 21st-century technology.
‘There’s a trend towards remakes in the US at the moment,’ he says, citing Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider and, outside the sci-fi realm, 90210 and Melrose Place.
‘But now we can offer these shows much better production values – the world of sci-fi has moved on so much in terms of visual effects. Anyway, this V isn’t just a science fiction show, it has soap opera, family drama and police procedural. If it had been just sci-fi, I’m not sure our US broadcaster ABC would have wanted it.’
The original V was very specifically an allegory of Nazi Germany. This time, with its New York setting, suspicion around every corner and the fear that anyone could be a V (it turns out the Visitors have been secretly on Earth for some time), it’s easy to draw parallels with post-9/11 paranoia.
‘We are absolutely paranoid,’ agrees sparky, leather-jacketed Elizabeth Mitchell, who landed the role of FBI counterterrorist agent and V resistance leader Erica Evans five days after her character died in Lost. ‘But I don’t think people necessarily want to be, so having an outlet and a concrete target is good.’
‘It’s about the idea of there being no normal,’ says Pearlman, ‘and you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. I think that’s what people felt after 9/11.’
A V that reflects our times is all well and good, then, but will the team pay homage to those old, iconic V trademarks, such as the ‘reveal’ of alien lizard skin and the infamous rodent-eating scene?
‘I think there are rodents in there somewhere – I can’t say,’ says Mitchell, letting out a mischievous chuckle. ‘You definitely see glimpses of lizard skin,’ promises Pearlman. ‘We haven’t eaten rodents yet but we play with the notion…’
Wolf, Mitchell and Pearlman are united in their belief that the concept of alien life is a timeless and fascinating one, and that it must surely exist in a galaxy far, far away in some form or another.
Should it bother to invade Earth, though, it would be action woman Mitchell, who in V gets to stab people plus smack them in the head with sticks and kitchen equipment, who we’d flee town with.
‘I probably would be chilled out if faced with an alien invasion. I am fairly low-key,’ she says with a breathy sigh. ‘And I don’t even smoke pot. I’m a good person to have in a crisis.’
V begins tonight on Syfy at 10pm.