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Sunday, November 01, 2009

"V" Review: An Idea Whose Time Has Come Again?

Kids always play pretend on the playground at recess. But instead of princesses or something like that, me and my friends played “V.”

I was always one of the visitors and I would bring gummy worms for us to eat so we could be just like them (We weren’t dedicated enough to our roles to eat the real thing.).

When the series was on I gave up most of a season of “Dallas” to watch (This was before the VCR.). Plus I had the “V” trading cards.

So as a clearly hardcore fan I was a little nervous about ABC reimagining “V” as a new series. But based on the pilot it looks like I didn’t have anything to worry about…

When the pilot begins, everyone is living their normal lives. FBI agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) is looking for her rebellious teenage son Tyler (Logan Huffman). Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut) is picking out a ring for his fiancé Valerie (Lourdes Benedicto). Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch) is ministering to his very small flock. And news anchor Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) is watching another of his story ideas get handed to another reporter.

But the normal day quickly changes as spaceships suddenly arrive all over the planet. As one of the characters says, “It’s ‘Independence Day.’” And the pilot’s special effects and suspenseful direction certainly give “Independence” a run for its money.

But unlike “Independence” when these aliens reveal themselves it is not as destroyers but as a peace-loving people that only want some of the Earth’s water and promise to share medical and technological breakthroughs in exchange.

However if you’re familiar with the original you know that the aliens have a hidden agenda. And although that agenda is not revealed in the pilot we still know there is one as the visitor leader Anna (Morena Baccarin) uses Chad to paint her people in the best light.

And by the end of the hour a resistance movement emerges as secrets are revealed and battle lines are drawn. Also two major twists are revealed. You’ll see at least one of them coming although I was surprised by which one I actually predicted because it was the least obvious. But I was able to predict it because of my familiarity with the original story.

Which leads me to the biggest problem with this new version. Most of the surprises are gone so some of the things that should be cool to see have no impact because we’ve already seen them. I remember the first time the visitors revealed their true selves as being a major moment in the original mini-series. In this, it’s not so much (although I still jumped).

The best reason to watch is Elizabeth Mitchell who is just as solid as you’d expect her to be. She was totally meant to be the lead of a show, but you can’t help but shed a tear over her departure from “Lost.”

Although I’m not a fan of reusing old ideas I can’t help but think that maybe “V” is an idea whose time has come again. By updating the story with shades of terrorism and new advances like the Internet, the idea does seem new again. And the opening hour is a solid introduction to what lies ahead.

I guess I just can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for those old red and black uniforms and cheesy special effects.

Somebody pass me the gummy worms…

“V” premieres Tuesday, November 3rd at 8 p.m. on ABC…

Photo Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC