Saturday, May 22, 2010

V - Season 1

So ABC tried two new shows this season to fill the sci-fi drama gap in the schedule that Lost is going to leave tomorrow (holy shit), and unfortunately, they were both pretty bad. FlashForward stank itself into an early grave, but V managed to survive for another year despite actually being worse, in my opinion. I have a lot to say about why it's bad, so let's get the good stuff out of the way. Um... I think it's cool that there's a show about aliens on network television. And Elizabeth Mitchell as Erica is likable when she isn't making that smug smile of hers. That's about it.

So yeah, this show sucks. There's lots of things wrong with it, but it starts at the very top with the basic premise. In the first episode, a bunch of space ships settle over major human cities and Vs come out; human-looking, friendly aliens who only want to exchange their services for a few supplies. But it's not long before our heroes learn the truth - they've actually been infiltrating the planet for years, they're actually lizards under their human skin, and they want to take over the planet. Scary, right? Except... the show doesn't bother to justify any of its characters motivations. What do the Vs really want with Earth? You can make guesses based on the old standbys, but it's a question that's never actually answered. Neither is why they feel the need to play nice at first, when they clearly have the technological prowess to do whatever they want.

Neither does it make a lot of sense for the good guys to be trying to put out a fire with a hammer. That being, they're only concerned with fighting the Vs' war capability and not with the fact that they're winning the hearts and minds of many of Earth's people. All season long they make a single attempt to get a word out, and it's a word that only turncoat Vs that are already on their side would understand. When asked why they're fighting against the Vs, they don't even bother to come up with an answer. The rest of the time it's clumsy guerrilla tactics and a lot of getting labeled as terrorists. The show tries to do this whole morally-gray thing by having the heroes do things like torture a guy for information, but it's hard to be too concerned about it when they're fighting against alien invaders.

The show's plotting and characters are just inept, as things rarely seem to actually happen. People are easily fooled and ignore things right in their face. Something will occur that could easily lead to an interesting if unoriginal sidebar, but then just gets completely forgotten. It's honestly hard to like any of the characters. They're all idiots and hardly developed beyond generic archetypes. Erica's son is possibly the most annoying person I've ever seen on film. Both Erica and Ryan feel that the best way to protect their loved ones from the Vs is to just constantly hide them from the truth. Ryan is a V who got a human pregnant (preposterous), and he still doesn't tell her about him until she already knows something's up. Even the human media and governments can't avoid the stupidity. They take everything the Vs say at face value, this being the same Earth where we don't trust some of the other countries for anything. But the aliens seem so nice!

In one particularly insane example, the Vs go the the FBI after a warehouse bombing and tell them that their technology can recreate the explosive, right down to a fingerprint left on the bomb by an unwitting terrorist. And they just believe them like it's nothing! The writing is just constantly plagued by people doing things that make no sense and only continue the plot because they can't think of a way to actually justify it. And I haven't even gotten into the fact that the computer effects are completely awful. When a good third or so of your show takes place on board an alien ship, it would help if the green screen compositing wasn't blatantly obvious in every single scene. And when an alien chances to show off it's true screaming, toothy mouth, it's hilarious rather than scary. And with all of this, the worst part of the show might be that they managed to make Firefly's Morena Baccarin look ugly. How do you even do that? The season finale ends with what could be a shift in the show's focus, one that could potentially turn out to be fairly interesting. But honestly? With this writing team and cast, I highly fucking doubt it.

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