Saturday 11 January 2014

TV – V (2009-11)

What is it about female law enforcement officers, or is it just me? The SF series which I've enjoyed the most over the past year have all featured these as their lead characters: Fringe (with the excellent Anna Torv as FBI/Fringe Agent Olivia Dunham); Continuum (with Rachel Nichols as Protector Kiera Cameron) and now V, with FBI Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell). At a stretch, even the quirky Orphan Black could be included, since Tatiana Maslany plays multiple characters including a police officer. And in a different genre, there's the return of the terrific Danish/Swedish serial The Bridge, featuring Sofia Helin as the strangest detective you're ever likely to meet. However, enough of my predilections and on to the review.

The plot of V is an SF classic: vast alien spaceships arrive over the world's major cities, with a message of peace, love and all that. The aliens, who are called Visitors (or V for short) seem indistinguishable from humans, are physically very attractive and want only to help, as they demonstrate by setting up healing centres where their superior technology can cure many previously untreatable ailments. Anyone might think that all this sounds too good to be true, and of course it is – otherwise there wouldn't be much of a story!

Agent Evans has her suspicions confirmed when she discovers that the Visitors have had sleeper cells operating on Earth for many years, with one being very close to home. Not knowing whom to trust, she soon becomes involved in a secret campaign against the aliens, aided by a few friends and renegade Vs. As well as these concerns, she worries about her teenage son, who is literally being seduced by the Vs. Normally I dislike family dramas being added to SF stories, but this one is integral to the intriguing plot and adds to the tension.

I've so far seen the first six episodes of Season 1, and have been gripped by the story. Mitchell is no Torv, but she makes a decent fist of the role. Much more compelling is Morena Baccarin as the creepily flawless leader of the Vs. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the series, although I understand it was cancelled before reaching a satisfactory conclusion. There's apparently a campaign going on to get it reinstated, so all may not be lost.

I also saw the pilot episode of another US TV serial, The Tomorrow People. Yet another familiar plot, this time of adolescents acquiring super-powers and being hunted by a shadowy organisation; shades of Jumper (the film, not the vastly superior book), and the X-Men films. This is actually quite watchable but is clearly aimed at the teen market so I'm not sure how long I'll persevere with it.


 Ashley said...

I watched the new V back in November and commented on it en passant on my blog

The American reviewers tended to see the story as an anti Obamacare, which being British I totally didn't get. Really want to see this concept done better, perhaps referring back to Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Wouldn't that be something?

Anthony G Williams said...

Yes, I was surprised to read about the anti-Obamacare interpretation. Perhaps some fear that US medical facilities will be staffed by reptilian aliens itching for the chance to inject them with something nasty? :-)

Childhood's End would of course be a very different kind of story. That would probably be interpreted as support for The Rapture!