Greetings from the Odinson,
V: A Retrospective
What is V? In 1983, NBC launched V: The Original Series, a nearly 4-hour epic science fiction mini-series. This was followed up one year later by V: The Final Battle, a nearly 5-hour mini-series that brought resolution to the story. This was then followed by V: The Series, a TV series consisting of a 19-episode coda that dealt with the aftermath of the original 2 mini-series.
So, what does V stand for? Well, V has a few meanings, even within its own mythology. But, before we can explore just what V is, let’s take a look at what led up to it in the first place.
In 1983, we were living in a Post-Star Wars world. George Lucas’ morality tale about black knights, princesses, pirates, and wizards in space sparked the imagination of movie goers and movie makers. The influence of Star Wars could be felt at the movies (The Black Hole, Battle Beyond the Stars) and on television (Battlestar Galactica, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe). Also, the 1980s was the decade when the Baby Boomers came of age. This is significant because it was the parents of the Boomer generation that fought in World War II against the Nazis, so they grew up hearing the harrowing stories and terrible tales that led up to and happened during that war. Finally, around the mid-1980s the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union was at an All-Time high. All of these influences can be seen and felt in the story that V tells.
V: The Original Series – In the beginning, this story’s Earth is just like the real world. There is war and political unrest across the globe, and tensions divide society along racial and financial lines. Then, THEY arrive. In a scene director Roland Emmerich snaked years later for his film Independence Day, suddenly, all across the world, enormous leviathan class flying saucers appear in the skies over every single major city in the world and begin to countdown. For a brief moment in time, all fighting and turmoil ceases as the world collectively holds its breath. Is this an attack from beyond the stars, or is it something else. Finally, the massive ships begin to communicate with the entire planet at once, speaking the native language of each country on Earth.
V is for Visitors. These Visitors come in peace. They wish to share their knowledge of the cosmos with Earth. As mankind meets these Visitors, they see that they, look human. Other than the fact that they wear dark sunglasses to protect their light-sensitive eyes, the Visitors look just like the men and women of Earth. They are very charismatic and it isn’t long at all before they have influence throughout society from law enforcement all the way up to the government. It quickly becomes apparent that the alien military is enforcing its will upon the citizens of Earth. All across the world, disappearances are occurring and some government officials are beginning to act very strange.
This is when investigative reporter Mike Donovan makes a startling discovery. These so called Visitors are not here to play nice at all but are here to steal Earth’s water and enslave mankind to be used as cannon fodder and food. They are brainwashing government officials around the globe so their edicts run smoothly. And, he learns that they are not human at all, but bipedal reptiles in human skin suits.
By the end of the first mini-series, a small human resistance begins to rise up against the aliens. However, the majority of the populace is not ready to or unwilling to believe that the aliens are evil. The symbol of the resistance becomes the letter V. V for Victory.
V: The Final Battle – With the first mini-series dealing with set-up, origins, and motifs involving Nazi crimes against the Jewish and modern Cold War paranoia, this much more action packed chapter tells the tale of how mankind survives annihilation. The resistance has grown all over the world, but even with new ways to kill the Visitors and the support of a very small portion of the Visitors own people who do not support the alien cause, the resistance is quickly finding itself outgunned and overmatched.
The ultimate victory comes when the resistance develops the Red Dust, a chemical agent that proves quite deadly to the Visitors. After making sure their Visitor allies are immune, the resistance launches an all-out desperate final attack on their alien overlords. Despite overwhelming odds, the people of Earth and their small cadre of Visitor allies, prove victorious, but Diana, the back-stabbing ranking officer for the Visitors left alive, activates a Doomsday weapon that will destroy the planet. The day is saved by Elizabeth, a human/Visitor hybrid, using her innate super human powers to stop the Doomsday device.
V: The Series – Diana, who escaped at the end of Final Battle, refuses to go quietly into the night. She now leads the remaining Visitors in a more aggressive bid to take over the planet. Subterfuge is out the window and the Visitors now use their superior military weapons and science to try and take the planet by force. As the war rages, many heroes from both sides begin to fall, but in the end, mankind ultimately prevails. Elizabeth, a celestial power that represents both Visitors and mankind, ultimately decides the fate of both races.
Trust me, folks, my CliffNotes explanation of this epic story does not do it justice. V was created by writer/director Kenneth Johnston, who also created the Bionic Woman. For a thirty-plus year old TV mini-series, the special FX hold up, the characters are still memorable, and the story is a timeless instant sci-fi classic. Its Hall of Fame pop culture cast includes Marc Singer (Beastmaster), Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Starship Troopers), and Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), just to name a few.
I’m obviously not the only fan because in 2009, ABC rebooted V for a whole new generation. Though the effort was solid, the new generation V just didn’t have the punch or heart the original one did. If you love science fiction done well, do yourself a favor and track down this gem from the 1980s. V inspired comic books, books, and even other franchises. V’s influence can be felt to this day.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell