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V Takes on Obamamania

A remake of the cheesy 1980's mini-series features a subtext that parallels America in the age of Obama.

by
Christian Toto

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November 8, 2009 - 12:00 am
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The first episode of the new series V demands a second viewing. Maybe even a third.

Did a major television network really greenlight a show mocking the hope ‘n’ change express via an invading alien horde?

The series, a sleek upgrade of the cheesy 1980′s model, follows a smooth-talking, hope-spreading alien race who come in peace. But their platitudes are only skin deep. Lizard skin deep, for those who recall the source material.

The show, airing on Tuesday nights on ABC, earned praise from many television critics, though the folks at the New York Times and the New Republic weren’t pleased one bit.

What a shock.

To be fair, the show’s first hour-long episode is far from perfect, rushing to tell a story better told in a two-hour format.

Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) leads the ensemble cast as an FBI agent trying to track down a sleeper cell while keeping tabs on her wayward son. Her mission gets temporarily pushed aside when 29 spaceships suddenly appear over the Earth’s biggest cities.

The ships bring a message of hope from Anna (Morena Baccarin), the leader of the race quickly dubbed the “Visitors.” Every aspect of the first episode moves at warp speed, to borrow a phrase from another science fiction franchise.

Anna says her fellow aliens need some raw material found commonly on Earth to sustain her species. In return, the Visitors will share their medical and technological advances.

A smarmy reporter named Chad (Scott Wolf), an able stand-in for today‘s docile media, asks if she means “universal health care.”

Chad feels a tingle up his leg when he gets the chance for a one-on-one with Anna. But that chat, along with other aspects of the Visitors’ playbook, isn’t quite what it seems.

“We can’t be seen in a negative light,” Anna tells Chad at one point, and it’s hard not to think of the Obama administration firing off another salvo against that rebel alliance Fox News.

Frankly, the social commentary in episode one comes on too thick at times, a result of the rushed nature of the series’ introduction. We get “I Heart Visitor” T-shirts and smitten teens tagging the nearest buildings with a big red “V.” The Visitors need these young troops to help transform the Earth for the better.

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