V have ways of making you watch

Just as David Tennant became Matt Smith, the Sci-Fi Channel has caught up with its American cousin and regenerated into Syfy.

To celebrate this change of name the Channel has spoilt us with the remake of 80s classic V, you know the one where giant spaceships hanging over cities were made cool years before ID4, where Robert Englund was more friendly than Freddy, Jane Badler added inches to her thighs by devouring mice and Marc ‘Beastmaster’ Singer wore gloves a lot when getting into scraps. Essentially Dynasty meets the A-Team the mini series were a massive hit but the series sucked. It’s a new century and a different television and actual world so is this new invasion a success?

For me its a resounding V for victory on the basis of the first two episodes which now owe more to 24 and The X-Files with a sprinkle of Flash Forward for good measure, with a stellar cast of genre faves from Lost and Serenity added into the mix.

The programme gets your attention straight away, not by invading motherships, whose arrival is cleverly suggested and ominously hinted at through refracted window reflections, but with the opening captions that ask if you remember where you were when JFK was assassinated, remember where you were on 9/11 and that you’ll remember were you were today…when the Visitors arrive.

Powerful stuff and it underpins just how much US TV has been affected by the events of 9/11, its ripple still felt in drama almost a decade later – you only have to look at Lost, Flash Forward, Galactica and Fringe – to see its continuing impact in one way or another and V continues that.

Not only do we found ourselves in a world where not everyone is as they seem or who you can trust but it is also a world where  the Visitors have been here for years, infiltrating our businesses, government, religion and military, their goal to cause widespread instability through unnecessary wars (sound familiar) and economic meltdown. It’s these deft attentions to detail that make this world and possibility all the more believable and is one of the shows strongest plus points and permeates the entire programme with a sense of unease..

Now, in a world when we need them most, they have decided to reveal themselves as they quite literally circle us like vultures do their prey. Like the original we, the viewer, discover the Visitors greatest secret, that they are reptilians in disguise. This creates one of the opening episodes stand out moments and even though it is an idea replicated from the original it is still very effective in its delivery.

The programme also retains many of the Nazi Germany parallels that the original had, this time with Hitler Youth undertones,luring in the lead characters son, and the controlling of all propaganda so they can not be seen in a negative light.

Excellent additions that help add extra dimensions include a distrusting priest who now has a full church thanks to the fear the new visitors have brought and although the Vatican has explained the appearance away that we are all God’s creatures, even aliens, the priest asserts he still wouldn’t trust a rattlesnake.

My other favourite addition is one of the Visitor’s weapons, a flying ball of sorts that is part smart bullet from Tom Selleck fave, Runaway, and the flying sphere from Phantasm. It’s deadly but more importantly it’s also exciting to watch. It’s been used twice in two episodes so to remain effective they’ll hopefully use it sparingly to keep its menace.

With The X-Files, Fox Mulder’s mantra was ‘Trust No One’, now with the advent of V, FBI agent Erica Evans’ is an equally justifiably paranoid. ‘Anyone could be a visitor.’ And that is the beauty of this show, the guessing who we can and can’t trust as we join the gathering resistance on their journey. On one level it may be about an alien invasion but on another it is about who we can and can’t trust. The one thing that is certain is that as the story unfolds and we get to know the main characters, wisely concentrating on a smaller group than seen in the original, there are bound to be a few stings in these lizard’s tails.

 Two episodes in and I’m hooked and I only hope the pace of revelations continues and we don’t get bogged down in the mid-season like many shows do. As long as it keeps dishing out those twists and those surprises then I am there…watching the skies.

Hopefully we’ll get to see the visiting lizards in all green glory towards the end of the season, just a glimpse of them all worshipping or something but not too much to spoil, that would certainly bring me back for season two. Talking of which, one can’t help but wonder what David Icke makes of it all, after all he did once pronounce both the Queen Mother and Burt Bacharach as giant green lizards in disguise!

4/5

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