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V - Review of the Pilot

ABC’s reboot of V; you know, the alien invasion miniseries on NBC from the 80’s. Well, I haven’t seen that series, so I went into it completely cold. I’ll give my verdict first: a very intriguing, well constructed, and intelligent pilot that has me very interested to see where this series plans to go. Possible spoilers.

Firstly, just to clarify for anybody wondering, no, I did not find a pirated copy of the pilot online. I take surveys and occasionally watch TV pilots on a site called UTalkBack.com. On that site, I’ve seen two other shows: a very shitty Amy Smart dramady about an aspiring Congresswoman called See Kate Run and the reality show Shark Tank, which is intriguing at first, but will quickly get old and tiring. This is where I saw the pilot for V in its entirety.

The plot for anybody interested: over a dozen UFOs appear hovering on top of major cities across the world, but these visitors aren’t there to attack like in Independence Day, but h elp the human race with their vastly superior intelligence and technology in exchange for water and minerals common on Earth. From there, the visitors (V’s, for those who haven’t picked up on it yet) set up healing stations all over the world and people, for the most part, accept them with open arms.

The leader of the V’s, Anna (played by Morena Baccarin from Firefly), is a beautiful woman and acts as the peacemaker between the two societies. She uses the services of popular TV anchor Chad Decker (played by Scott Wolf) to get her messages out to the humans, who reluctantly agrees since while his career would skyrocket, he’s torn by the fact that he has to ask her questions aimed to provide a positive impression instead of the hard-hitting questions that need to be asked.

The other characters of focus include Erica (the great Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost), an FBI investigator who is skeptical of the entire situation, Father Jack, who is conflicted by his faith and what is happening around him, Tyler, who is Erica’s son and wants to sign up as a junior ambassador between the V’s and the New York district, and Ryan, a V who does not agree with the actual intentions of the V’s and wants to help a team of rogue humans to stop them. In the pilot, Erica was the onl y one well developed since she was given the most screen time. Mitchell plays the role in a similar fashion as she does Juliet in Lost, yet this character is a little more proactive and confident than Juliet (who is/was one of the best characters on Lost). Tyler is, from nearly the first ten minutes on, a complete supporter of the V’s, almost to a point of annoyance since when he writes a graphite V on a trash bin (one of the writer’s has apparently seen V for Vendetta). Still, his storyline in something I’m interested in following as he devotes his time and services to the V’s and a junior ambassador on Earth. Wolf, and Chad Decker, does a good job in his role, effectively showing his skepticism while embracing his blossoming career. It’s too early to get a verdict on many of the other supporting characters (this is an ensemble production), but hopefully they’ll get their time to shine as each new episode is aired.

It doesn’t come close to rivaling Lost in terms of creating a team of memorable characters, but nonetheless, they aren’t bad characters in the slightest, and many of them I can see becoming some of the stronger characters on TV will some development, especially Erica the FBI investigator, Ryan the betraying V, and Chad Decker, the news anchor. The writers created a strong foundation for these characters and who they are; all that is needed is for them to develop them further and make them individuals the audience can root for throughout the entire series.

The writing by Scott Peters, as mentioned before, is strong. He wrote a script that is very heavy on the suspense and awe of the situations while showing the varying emotions of the characters from the V’s arrivals. On top of that, there are some nice bits of humor that really add to the overall tone of the pilot ("Dude, this is Independence Day!"…"Independence Day was just a rip-off of any number of alien invasion predecessors...”). It isn’t perfect, since I believe the first 5 minutes of the show are a pure cheese-fest that don’t really create a sense of tension when the V’s first arrive, but once Anna’s face appears on the ships for the humans to see, the episode is intriguing and involving enough to keep me entertained and interested.

Finally, the CGI, at times, looks cheesy (some of the spaceship shots are meh), but for the most part, this is a very expensive looking pilot with some beautiful shots of the interior of the motherships. It looks like a cross between a big budget Hollywood blockbuster and a high-concept TV show; the limited budget is obvious, but far better than anything else on TV.
So, in conclusion, V works. It does what pilots are supposed to do: provide a good core of lead characters, establish the storyline, and leave the viewer wanting more. This pilot did all three of those things, and I will definitely be tuning into ABC when the series gets up and running.

Source: AICN

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