V
V

Posted by Maggot Man
2/1/2007
Released on: 1983
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0085106

The Doctor said something about the "V" mini-series being a seminal event of the '80s, citing as proof the fact that the it spun off a season or 2 of TV episodes. Seminal geek event is more like it. I don't remember hearing of the "V" equivalent of "Who shot JR" parties like Dallas spawned or reading about chic-chic oh-so-hip rodent-eating gatherings breaking out as precursors to the cherry pie and coffee parties Twin Peaks inspired. Tawny Kitaen, Miami Vice, and the mid-decade disappointments Halley's Comet and the entire year of 1984 turned out to be, now those are seminal events to anyone with grasp of '80s zeitgeist. But The Doctor owns the screening room and YAZS said the local video stores didn't have Teenage Cannibal Ax Vixens in stock, so "V" it was.

For those of you who think "V" is a Muppet video from the same people who brought you the number 7 and the letters C and D, the plot runs something like this: ostensibly benign space aliens arrive promising to help earth, slowly begin to reveal their true evil agenda and trigger push back at the hands of a motley cross-section of Americans. Think the old "To Serve Man" episode from The Twilight Zone or Bush and his fin de siècle neocons and you get the picture. We've only seen the first 2 or so episodes so far, meaning we've only been subjected to the Jewish family back story, the journalist-who-has-stumbled-upon-the-Big-Secret back story, the jive black guy back story, the plucky heroine back story and other such drek. This being TV (translation: there isn't much money for the show and the audience's attention span rivals the lifecycle of a mole shrew for brevity), the producers cram a couple stereotypes into one character, so the plucky heroine also has to be the token disabled person and the Jewish family doubles up as the suburban WASP family. This being the 80s (translation: the network was attempting to appease fewer demographics back then) we are mercifully deprived of the token Muslin and token gay, and the token Hispanic is relegated to gardening and smuggling out the Jewish WASP family while sporting a straw hat, bandana, and Mexican accent reminiscent of the one sported by Eli Wallach in The Magnificent Seven.

The series is shot through with curiosities if one is of a certain mindset. The aliens, though human in aspect, obligingly dress in a version of those curious jumpsuits that seem to end up in Star Trek episodes and old 50s sci fi movies so you can tell the good guys from the bad. Their leader looks like the love child of Newt Gingritch and the guy who played the mayor on Carter Country. Anxious lest the audience prove incapable of drawing its own parallels as humans begin to disappear from the streets, the Jewish patriarch is a death camp survivor (80s America being quite incapable of accepting reservation Indians and German-American and Nisi WWII internees as anything more than people who Had It Coming). Making you wonder at the real originality of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, alien saucers show up floating over major cities and the aliens intone a world-wide audio count down to a Dramatic Event just like Independence Day. The humans musta sent shivers through any '80s fashionistas unlucky enough to stumble upon the series while channel surfing, garbed and coifed in a retro-70s look that I would even have the good taste to steer clear of.

I positively recognize only two of the actors. Robert Englund shows up as a second-tier alien, a goofball with a heart of gold who strikes up a relationship with a female human (my guess-it's the tongue). A pre-Beast Master Marc Sanger is the budding freedom fighter nee intrepid journalist. The Jewish family patriarch looks vaguely familiar. Newt's kid looks kinda familiar, but it may have something to do with a bit of memory from the 80s, like I may have seen snatches of V despite having a life during much of that decade. The rest of the actors and actresses are never-weres, with the faces, the names, stirring not an iota of recognition.

Observations at large. is it just me or do Emmerich/Devlin seem to cut an increasingly bold plagiaristic path? Stargate owes a nod to "Chariot of the Gods", it seems to me, ID4 a dual tip of the hat to Star Wars and V, and Godzilla to, uh, Godzilla. If you're Marc Sanger fan, fervently hoping to find him in other than forgettable movies, track down "Go Tell The Spartans". Prepare to not have to dummy down your mind.

And while you're doing that, I'm getting set to go into full nerd mode in time for the next V episodes.

Rating: There's several more episodes to watch, so my rating on the pre-1980s Saturday Morning Cartoon Male Role Model to Aspire To scale (Best equals Race Bannon, worst equals Shaggy), the series is hanging in there at about a Barney Rubble. I expect the rating to climb as we start blowing things up

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