Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TV REVIEW: ABC's "V" (Season 1, Episode 1)

I wasn't expecting to like this series. I pretty much have my fill with "Lost" and "FlashForward" when it comes to world-saving missions in dystopias. But after watching the pilot, I realized that while both of those shows are a question of faith and a test of humanity, "V" is a series of poignant political statements.

The running conspiracy theory by the sect of people who question the Visitors' arrival is that they've been here for a while, weakening our community's infrastructure. They're the ones who turned us against our government. They're the ones who plunged us into a recession. They're the ones who polluted our Earth.

Let's put aside how convenient it is to blame aliens for our irresponsibility, and focus on why they did it.  Supposedly, it was to put us in a state of dire desperation. When a nation is in turmoil, the people unite against a common enemy or problem. When they start to question their faith, they turn to an appeasing God. And when they seek change or improvement, they elect a hopeful hero. The Visitors preyed on our patterns and positioned themselves to meet every need. In return for resources, they offered to share alien technology, to provide jobs, and to administer free health care worldwide. They are the answer to all of our recession problems. After hearing their promises, one can even imagine them accusing Obama of being a Visitor, as he toted "change" and "peace" throughout his campaign.

It's that intriguing concept that has me, and I'm sure many other viewers, hooked. The only characters I'm actually interested in are Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell from "Lost") and Father Jack (Joel Gretsch from "4400"), and while I'm impressed by how non-cheesy the lizard skin looked and the twist where Ryan (Morris Chestnut) was revealed to be a traitorous Visitor, I'm even more interested in the manipulations the visitors have in store for us, what they think we need, and what they think we'll fall for. Erica was right. The most dangerous weapon on Earth isn't a warhead, or a plane, or a biohazard, it's devotion. With hope, you can do anything, including destroy the world.

The ratings were epic, 14.3 million viewers, but we'll see if the nation feels the same way after the second episode airs at 8pm tonight. I also worry about ABC's plan to only air four episodes this year and have it return in March. They'll have to fill up these next three episodes with enough plot development and end it with a  major cliffhanger for anyone to greatly anticipate its return. They'll have to make us remember it even after "Lost" returns.

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