August 21, 2019

The Unfortunate Timeliness of V
Starring Jane Badler (mee-ow!), Michael Durrell, Faye Grant, Peter Nelson, David Packer, Neva Patterson, Tommy Peterson, Marc Singer, Blair Tefkin, Michael Wright, Andrew Prine, Robert Englund. Directed by Kenneth Johnson. (197 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😸

I remember when the original V was first broadcast in 1983. This alien invasion epic was one of those “event” miniseries everybody felt compelled to watch or risk being excluded from water cooler conversations the next day. Compared to such weighty fare as Roots or Holocaust, this was superficial sci-fi fluff and I enjoyed it as such, though my main takeaway was that Jane Badler was the sexiest rodent-munchin' alien babe in the galaxy.

I also remember thinking the open-ended resolution was a big letdown. At the time, it was likely that no one outside of savvy execs at NBC knew V was being primed as a TV franchise. Sure enough, a second miniseries aired the next year. While bigger and sillier, at-least it brought the saga to a satisfying conclusion. A weekly series briefly followed before V was unceremoniously shelved, destined to be cheekily regarded as pop product of its time. At least that’s how I remembered it, and if nothing else, revisiting the miniseries on Blu-ray would be an entertaining bit of ‘80s nostalgia.

The memory is a funny thing, though. Watching the original for the first time in three decades, I realized my recollection of the sillier aspects of V stemmed from the subsequent series, where the hair was bigger, the special effects cheaper and the characters more cartoony. The original two-parter is a dark, thinly-disguised parable of allied resistance to Nazi fascism, which was apparently obvious even in 1983. But hey, I was 19 back then and never paid attention in History class, so all that shit flew right over my head.

Alien lobster tank.

And alas, the lovely Diana (Badler) is not quite the sultry space vixen she’d later blossom into (though she still looks mighty fine). Here, she’s a female Josef Mengele who not-only experiments on humans, she enjoys it. More ominous is how the Visitors use our own media to spread fear-mongering propaganda, vilifying scientists as a threat and encouraging citizens to turn them in. Hence, anyone with a scientific background – those who can expose the Visitors for what they really are – are either rounded up, go into hiding or join the growing resistance.

Demonizing scientists? Gee, don’t we know somebody who’s publicly doing that very thing...right now? Perhaps lizard skin lurks beneath a certain rotund Republican's orange exterior (not that his mouth-breathing minions would notice...or care).

So much for nostalgia. In fact, the only antiquated aspects of V are purely aesthetic. The special effects are crude and its TV origins are obvious, but the original miniseries remains chillingly relevant as a cautionary tale, since the current state of the world suggests some of us might be doomed to repeat history.

Damn, all I wanted to do was revisit an old flame.

AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Producer/Writer/Director Kenneth Johnson


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