V Review: Out Of This World

April 13, 2010 by  
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V: Tuesday 13th April, Sci Fi UK, 10pm ALERT ME

Remaking a beloved series is never easy. The risk of comparison to the old is inevitable and doing something new with established characters isn’t going to make everyone happy. Thankfully, the pilot episode of V, a reboot of the classic 80s series brings with it promises of character-driven stories full of conspiracy theories and underground sleeper cells.

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that V is just another story of aliens invading earth. But on closer inspection it’s a little more than that – it explores themes of religious devotion, terrorism and the cult of personality – themes which are probably more relevant today than they’ve ever been. And it does so while being entertaining and exciting at the same time.

All over the world, tremors are felt as massive mother ships hover over the world’s biggest cities. Simultaneously broadcasting in all languages, the aliens speak their mantra “We are of peace. Always?. The Visitors bring with them advanced technology and medical cures. All they ask in return is water and our cooperation. Yeah, right, we’ve heard that one before.

We’re introduced to FBI anti-terrorist leader Erica and her teenage son Tyler. She’s initially sceptical of the Vs and instead decides to look into a terrorist cell which appears to have become more active with the aliens’ arrival. Meanwhile Tyler is becoming increasingly obsessed with the aliens and is thinking about joining the Peace Ambassador Programme – a cult in the making if ever there was one.

Also caught up in the proceedings is a Father Jack (no, not that one), a priest who suddenly find his congregation swelling with the arrival of The Visitors and who receives cryptic evidence which suggests the Vs aren’t quite what they seem. Further complicating matters is Ryan, who keeps receiving mysterious phone calls that he’s unwilling to answer.

The Visitors’ leader, Anna is a master of public relations. She recruits struggling News Anchor Chad to be her mouthpiece, instructing him that he’s to pose no tricky questions, assuaging his guilt at not being a good journalist with the promise of career advancement.

Anna’s played wonderfully by Monica Baccarin, who combines beauty and poise for the perfect blend of statesmanlike authority and innocence with a just a hint of malevolence. She’s creepy but oddly magnetic and all too aware of the role that image has in changing people’ opinions – a politician through and through.

As it’s the pilot episode, the characters aren’t fully formed but there’s enough weird goings on and unanswered questions to make you want to see the next episode. Tune in next time to find out if the Vs all have sunshine and rainbows at the heart of their master plan… Bet you a tenner they don’t.