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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 16 July 2018 at 1:15pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

*SPOILERS ABOUT THE ENTIRE 80s V FRANCHISE*

I thought I'd rewatch some episodes of V recently (I chose three random ones via Amazon). I had watched them many years ago, both on VHS and TV.

Going back a bit further, I did enjoy V: THE MINI-SERIES. I enjoyed the allegorical nature of it, the social commentary, etc. It was one of the most thoughtful pieces of sci-fi I'd seen at that point, having been raised on a "diet" of BUCK ROGERS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, etc.

V: THE FINAL BATTLE lacked that special something that had made the mini-series so remarkable, but it concluded the story - and had some heartwarming moments in addition to the action.

And then there's V: THE SERIES...

Firstly, it's not 100% bad. It's an "A-Team style" series (I wonder if it was in any way inspired by THE A-TEAM), featuring the good guys outwitting the bad guys every week, lots of shootings, lots of chases, lots of action. If you'd never seen its predecessors, or came to it with a "switch your brain off" mindset, there may have been some enjoyment to be had.

One episode I rewatched was "The Hero" where civilians are captured and threatened with execution unless the rebels surrender. Again, on an "A-Team" level, it worked. There's a pretty good punch-up between Donovan and Charles (the Visitors' Envoy) at the end. And in an episode called "Reflections in Terror", some Visitors barge in to an eating establishment and start playing their national anthem on the piano; Julie (Faye Grant) drowns it out with the US anthem. I found some joy in that moment.

But there's so much wrong with the series. There's a lack of continuity to the original, including the fact that the Visitors don't have the distinct resonance to their voices that they had previously. It's hard to believe the series is in the same universe as its predecessors. Maybe V: THE SERIES took place on their "Earth 2".

Some of the plots could have been out of DYNASTY or DALLAS, including the rivalry between Diana and Lydia, plus Lydia's romance with Charles. I really could have lived without that, it was a major distraction. It added nothing to the mythos.

I'm also not sure why the Visitors continued to walk around with human disguises, either. Their game was up in THE FINAL BATTLE. Everyone knew what they were. Why continue the charade? Why not just walk around in their lizard forms?

At times the show was embarrassing. Charles was an envoy, part of some royal house, but he was wearing something akin to what Zod wore in SUPERMAN II. It seemed a bit silly. I think he should have worn a uniform, royal envoy or not. The actor is one I like (Duncan Regehr), but I don't think he was served well.

And apart from anything else, some of the best characters killed off in THE FINAL BATTLE (Steven, Supreme Commander John, etc) had no chance of appearing here.

Despite a minority of entertaining moments, I fail to see what V: THE SERIES added to the mythos. On this forum, we've often agreed that movies such as ROBOCOP, PLANET OF THE APES and THE TERMINATOR required no sequels - and should have been left alone on their own merits. I'll add V: THE SERIES to the list. It is what it is - and there may be some entertainment to be had - but there was no need, in my humble opinion, for it to be made. THE FINAL BATTLE should have been the final word.

All views welcomed, including any that loved the series (I'd find that disconcerting, but I'd respect your view!). ;-) 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 16 July 2018 at 4:21pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

And let's not forget that in addition to the unnecessary television series, we also had the even-more redundant comic book to contend with as well. Carmine Infantino inked by Tony DeZuniga, as I recall. That and a scene of the hero Mark and Ham Tyler being thrown into a garbage truck and Ham eating his way up from the bottom. What the hell...?

The things that stand out most in my memory from the TV series are A.) The incredibly cheap-looking production design. The computer consoles looked like cardboard boxes with stickers affixed to them. The lighting was what you'd expect in a department store. Even the costumes looked ill-fitting and puffy. B.) The soap opera plots. The show was clearly out of important things to say, and so relied on idiotic pot-boilers and catfights. Unendurably bad. And C.) The Star-Child. God save us from these fast-aging Magic Babies and their plot-reversing super powers. 

I like Duncan Regehr and Jane Badler just fine. I like Faye Grant. I can put up with Marc Singer. But I can not and will not ever revisit that series. Enough was enough.

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Mario Ribeiro
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Posted: 16 July 2018 at 4:35pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Sorry, hated it too. The star-child's love interest was also awful. Also, I know it's from another era, but the structure, in which each menace was soon forgotten, was painful. Love the first two shows, though, with all their flaws.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 16 July 2018 at 4:41pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I never read the comic, Brian. That scene you describe sounds bad.

The Amazon episodes were £1.89 each so for three it cost me under six quid. I wanted to revisit to see if I was fair about the series. It never hurts to revisit something. But my view is akin to yours.

The soap opera plots were bad. I like Duncan Regehr, particularly his role as Dracula in THE MONSTER SQUAD - and a role as a police chief in a TV movie. But here he was wasted. That attire was distracting. And wasn't there an entire episode about his wedding to Lydia? Did he get married? I can't recall. It was just a mess.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 1:14am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I remember watching the original mini-series during the
Olympics!Jane Badler, mmmmm! The tv series was cheap
pap, as for Robbie`s question as to why the visitors
didn`t walk around in their true for after the game was
up...budget! Same as why The Martian Manhunter maintains
his human for for 99% of the time in Supergirl!
Irritating but true!
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 3:08am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I tried watching this again a few years back, but had to call it quits after just an episode. 

I love V: the original mini-series, but I think everything they did after that is basically... well, rubbish. 
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 7:23am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

V: The series cast a long shadow on me. 

So much so that when Babylon 5 season one ended with Delenn in a cocoon I was seriously worried that 'Here we go again, Star Child part two'. Was so pleased when it was something far better thought out.
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 9:24am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

V: The Series was just awful.

Shame as it had good actors in Jane Badler, Faye Grant, Marc Singer, Michael Ironside and Michael Wright in it.

After Kenneth Johnson took a back seat (apart from story outline duties on The Final Battle) it should have been left alone as it lost everything that made it unique and special.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 10:05am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Indeed, Greg.

If you swap the red outfits/reptilian backgrounds, the bad guys in V: THE SERIES could just have been generic bad guys found in the likes of KNIGHT RIDER.

The episode "The Hero", where the Visitors capture people and plan to execute them unless the rebellion surrenders, needn't have been a V plot. At least the mini-series and FINAL BATTLE had storylines unique to the premise.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 11:13am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Also, I don't know if this solely happened in the TV series, but I never understood some Visitors being intimate with each other - whilst wearing their human disguises.

I would hardly have sex with someone whilst wearing my cosplay outfit, would I?
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 11:42am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Depends on the outfit i guess, Robbie! ;-)
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Bill Guerra
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 1:09pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Around 5 years ago (wow, time flies!), I bought the "V" and "V: The Final Battle" digitally on Amazon for something like $10. After watching it, I saw that Kenneth Johnson had written a novelization to the two movies, with an alternate ending of "The Final Battle", along with a follow-up novel about that alien race that a call for help was sent out to and forgotten about. So I bought those digitally too! The novel was FAR better than the "V: The Series"!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 1:24pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Ah, yes, the call for help that was put out. I'd forgotten about that.

V: THE SERIES wasn't big on continuity, but then again, the same accusation can be made towards THE FINAL BATTLE.
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 3:16pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

V: The Second Generation by Kenneth Johnson may not to be everyone's tastes, but you at least get Johnson's original ideas and themes and what he had planned.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 7:02pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Robbie Parry wrote: "The soap opera plots were bad. I like Duncan Regehr, particularly his role as Dracula in THE MONSTER SQUAD - and a role as a police chief in a TV movie. But here he was wasted. That attire was distracting. And wasn't there an entire episode about his wedding to Lydia? Did he get married? I can't recall. It was just a mess."

SPOILERS:

 INVISO TEXT (Click or highlight to reveal):
As I recall, the idea behind the wedding was to have Duncan Regehr's character marry Jane Badler's, making it a marriage between "Charles" and "Diana," and hopefully a ratings blockbuster. Under the Visitors' laws, apparently, a wife's titles and achievements become the property of her husband upon marriage (because "V" also stands for "Victorian"), so the wedding was a power play by Charles and their superiors back on the alien home world who wished to punish Diana for her many failures to date. Lydia saw an opportunity and made a play for Charles, and for a few episodes there, it looked as if she and Charles really had Diana over a barrel since Diana was being ordered by the powers that be to follow through on the wedding. Diana, in true J.R. Ewing fashion, outplayed them all however and poisoned Charles before the ceremony. She then made a recording telling Lydia she was sympathetic to her romance with Charles and would see to it she could spend the rest of her life with him... Charles was placed inside a spaceworthy coffin and shot out among the stars... With Lydia locked in alongside the body, listening to Diana's recording play as she screamed... and screamed... and screamed... It was the one plotline I remember approving of in the whole mess.


Edited by Brian Hague on 17 July 2018 at 7:04pm
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Matt Reed
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Posted: 17 July 2018 at 11:32pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

God love ya, Robbie.  I'm as big a fan of V as you'll ever find.  I've owned the two miniseries in one form or another ever since they first aired.  I have laminated "Wanted" posters from the series. I own all the novels from the short lived "expanded universe" that were published by Tor among others. I bought the Kenneth Johnson novel that revisited the series published in 2008; V: THE SECOND GENERATION (actually really good. Link) I never owned the action figures, but I did buy the first and only season when it came out.  As much as I'm a fan, as much as I enjoyed it for what it was 30 odd years ago, I can't revisit the series proper in any real way.   It's a tough watch.  The two miniseries are a different story, especially the original.  They're great early 80s fun. 
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 18 July 2018 at 1:53am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Here is an excerpt from an interview Kenneth Johnson regarding the genesis of V:

"Back in the early 1980s I read a book called It Can't Happen Here, written by Sinclair Lewis. It was written in the '30s, about the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany and how it could happen here, and how it did happen here in the course of his story. Suddenly America was a fascist regime. I was very intrigued by the notion because I felt that there was a great complacency among the American people that no real sea-change would ever take place in their life. They'd have their small personal triumphs and tragedies, but no great societal shift in their daily life. I thought: 'Gee, suppose there were a right-wing shift in the United States, and suddenly we found ourselves living under a police state.'

I wrote what I considered was a very powerful script called Storm Warnings about just that occurrence taking place. My friend Brandon Tartikoff at NBC read it, and was very intrigued by the notion of America living under a totalitarian regime, and a resistance force growing to fight against it. But he was concerned about the notion of fascism and suggested to me that perhaps it was a Soviet or Chinese invasion which prompted the situation. I told him I didn't believe that the Soviets or the Chinese could sustain a protracted occupation of the United States, and somehow the idea came up - it may have been from Jeff Sagansky, who was Brandon's assistant at the time and now is the head of Sony pictures.

Anyway, the suggestion came up that perhaps it was an alien force that caused the change-over in our lives. I was at first very against it, because I was tired of doing that kind of thing, having done The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk. I wanted to stay a little closer to reality. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt I could do a really interesting, stirring allegory about the rise of the Third Reich and about how ultimate power can either corrupt someone or turn them into a hero.

That's what V is certainly about, is power. The power of the alien force; the power that certain humans got by allying themselves with the alien force, much like the Vichy French with the Germans in World War II; the unexpected power that one finds in oneself when one is pushed to exploits of heroism, which is what happens to the character of Fay Grant, playing Julie.

So this is a long-winded way, I suppose, of saying that indeed V was particularly intended as a socio-political allegory, right from the very beginning. And it also commented on the people like the George Morfogen character, who wanted to just keep his hands over his eyes and pretend nothing was going on, even while his son was becoming part of the Hitler Youth. And the corruption of youth, played by David Packer in V as Morfogen's son, who was seduced by 'the power of the dark side', shall we say?

The whole sci-fi aspect of it was sort of by happenstance. And all of the spacecraft and weaponry and such, which you will notice was designed after the World War II Germanic fashion: our guns look a lot like the German Lugers, the symbol of the alien force, the visitors, has a resonance of the swastika. You're probably saying, 'Well, duh?' at this point. What we were trying to do was keep those resonances going, and fortunately the American public, as well as the worldwide public, seemed to understand it."

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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 18 July 2018 at 1:56am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

A further excerpt on his view of "The Final Battle":

“I only ever saw one small piece of the completed work of The Final Battle, because I heard that the script was pretty well decimated and screwed over by Blatt and Singer and Brian Taggert, and that it was only a pale reflection of what we started out with. I heard from people who did see it that they just made all of the wrong choices, wherever there was a choice to be made: in the writing and the casting and the directing and the execution."
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 18 July 2018 at 7:37am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Thanks for the links and quotes, guys. Much appreciated!

I know it may seem like "open season" towards V continuity from me, but here's another thing: in the original mini-series, one of the Visitors spits out some venom at Tony (Evan Kim). In the TV series episode "The Hero", Charles spits out venom at Donovan.

I can't recall that happening at any other time. So was the venom-spitting ability only held by a Visitor soldier and Charles? Seems unlikely. I'm surprised other Visitors didn't use it as a defensive or offensive tactic against the rebels.

Oh, and Brian, interesting stuff, but it seems a little "tail wagging the dog" for a plotline to be dictated to because of a real-life Charles and Diana. Gosh, the show got so much wrong.

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Ed Aycock
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Posted: 18 July 2018 at 12:35pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

The original miniseries was such a well-constructed piece of insidiousness.  I loved how it took such ordinary people and made them face such extraordinary events and stressed that they  had no idea what they were doing.  The scene at the dry cleaners where the first resistance meetings are taking place, the people turning against the scientists, Julie breaking down because everybody is looking to her for the answers and she has no idea what a leader does... IT is beautifully done.  The second miniseries eschews a lot of that development for 80s action and closure.  But the regular TV series?  Just recycled footage (Hey look, Donovan's on a horse again!) and campier plotlines.  (Not coincidentally, this was the TV season when "Dynasty" tied for first place and its season finale was a wedding crashed by machine-gun wielding terrorists.  Plus, the creepiness of the original miniseries was how little we knew of the Visitors and only saw everything open up slowly.  The regular series had life on the ships as open as life in the Ewing mansion. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 18 July 2018 at 1:09pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

 Ed Aycock wrote:
The regular series had life on the ships as open as life in the Ewing mansion.

Good point, Ed. 

It was all a little Dynasty-like on the ship. That's why I prefer to think of V: THE SERIES as their "Earth-2" version. The series does not feel like the same V that featured the gravitas of someone like Supreme Leader John.
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 18 July 2018 at 3:18pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

There is a You Tube interview with Kenneth Johnson regarding V, and he discusses that in his initial pitch / meeting with Brandon Tartikoff, that even before the mini series, Tartikoff saw V as an ongoing weekly series.

Johnson felt a series would lose momentum, and was best served as a mini series to tell the story.
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 18 July 2018 at 3:30pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Robbie here's a bit more detail about Kenneth Johnson leaving V from an interview:

How did ‘V’ get out of your control after the first mini-series?

Warners was anxious to move on and do a television series, because that’s where you really make your bucks as a studio. Although they can be prestigious, mini-series are often pricey and don’t make a lot of money for the studio. They were eager to do the sequel as quickly and cheaply…and dirt as it possibly could be done and get it out of the way.

I had real concerns about the erosion of quality and ultimately decided that I couldn’t do it in the kind of manner that they were talking about; the classic illustration of ‘creative differences’. It was a bit like having a baby and giving it over to foster-parents that you didn’t trust to raise. And I was right, unfortunately. It was too bad what they did with it.
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Sergio Saavedra
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Posted: 22 July 2018 at 1:18pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I wonder if the original mini-series was conceived as a finished thing, or if Kenneth Johnson intended to film a continuation all along.
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 23 July 2018 at 3:20pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Bit more from Kenneth Johnson on V. Looks like he had it worked out as 3 mini series event, and left plot threads that could have been used, i.e. the distress call which formed the basis of "Second Generation".

SciFi Pulse: I read somewhere that you and someone else actually wrote a script for ‘V The Final Battle’ but for internal studio political reasons your version of the script and much of your story was messed with beyond recognition. One of the major things that bothered me about the televised version of Final Battle was the ending. It totally lacked any sense of suspense. The Star Child saving them all in the last 30 seconds just sucked could you tell us how your version ended.

“I haven’t looked at the script for 25 years so I don’t remember the details. Though I supervised the writing of the 6-hour sequel, I left Warners over creative differences before it was produced. To this day I have never seen it, except for one minute by accident – in which I saw them make every wrong choice possible, so I knew I’d never survive watching the entire thing. I never saw any of the series at all, but my friends who were in it said it was pretty awful and certainly missed the essence of what I had been attempting to create. There was no bullshit “Star Child” and many of the Visitors’ motherships got away – but Mike and Julie secretly flew aboard.”
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