Man, I kinda knew that ABC’s updating of V — a dubious idea if ever there was one, except that anyone who scoffs at anyone who wants to update old sci-fi right now will get the glory that is Battlestar Galactica thrown in their face — was gonna suck. But I never imagined it would suck this bad.
It’s sort of stunning, actually, even grading on the network-TV scale, how much of a misfire this new V is. There are no characters to care about — no matter how hard the mostly talented cast tries — because the first episode was crammed full of enough plot for an entire first season. Really, how do you skip from the most momentous, most paradigm-busting event in the history of humanity — the arrival of aliens — to “three weeks later”? How do you pass over all the many, many cultural earthquakes that would be happening in that time?
I was especially bugged by the character played by Morris Chestnut. Not by Chestnut himself — he’s fine — but by how poorly the script uses him. We know absolutely nothing about him except that he’s about to propose marriage to his girlfriend. He’s just Generic Nice Guy Who Works In Some Sort of Office, and then all of a sudden he’s one of these secret lizard people? C’mon! This is the kind of thing that should have been revealed after we’d gotten to know him over the course of at least a handful of episodes, so then we might at least know how to react to it. Are we shocked that he’s an alien lizard? Do we like him anyway, even though he’s an alien lizard? But like this? It smacks of dramatic desperation.
The situation was basically the same across the board, for every character. Elizabeth Mitchell’s FBI agent… she’s tough and complicated, but just take their word for it. Her son (Logan Huffman) is ignored and hurting… but just take their word for it. Joel Gretsch’s priest doesn’t trust the aliens… you don’t need to know why, you don’t need to see anything they’ve done that’s suspicious, you just need to deal with it, okay? Scott Wolf’s fame whore of a news anchor… he’s just a fame whore of a news anchor, and if he hesitates to indulge his whore-iness, well, you don’t need to know why — he just does, okay?
Morena Baccarin’s alien leader? Do you really need to know anything other than that she’s hot and flirtatious? Of course not.
It’s like the outline for an entire first season of a series got crammed into the first episode. This wasn’t a pilot for a series: it was a sketch of a series.
Oh, and, seriously: the show is gonna plug into the old nutso conspiracy theory that lizard aliens are already among us and controlling, you know, everything from who wins the Super Bowl to what color car you’ll be able to buy next year? And they’ve been among us for years? Okay, fine. I’m not buying it. I could have bought it, if it had been presented in a way that made me care. Like this, it just makes me laugh. And not in a good way.