Tuesday, November 03, 2009

V: The Pilot

Tonight was the premiere of V, the much-anticipated new ABC show starring Elizabeth Mitchell, or, as EW refers to her, the "recently departed Juliet." (Which irks me every time... we didn't see her die, and technically, if she died when hitting the bomb, then EVERYONE is dead. But I digress...) The show was off to a bit of a slow, methodical start, but I'll take it. After all, I find most HBO pilots are show and take some getting used to, and 90% of the time, they pay off. So I'm willing to let this show take its time to get going, as long as the momentum is up by the third episode or so (though someone just posted on one of my other posts that the show is going to air 4 episodes and then take a hiatus until March... true?)

Like Flashforward, V has a stellar cast, and one that I know from other shows. Aside from Juliet on Lost, it stars Inara from Firefly, Alpha from Dollhouse (or Wash from Firefly), Owen from Taken (or Tom from The 4400, whichever other alien drama you want to refer to), Carrie from 24, Kara from Smallville, Bailey from Party of Five... another eclectic cast that represent blasts from my past.

Now, unlike many viewers, I didn't actually watch the mid-80s miniseries (I was too young at the time and my parents wouldn't let me... I remember walking into the room when they were watching it -- and I was probably supposed to be in bed -- and this baby was born with lizard eyes, and then this creepy thing crawled out of the mom right after... it sorta stayed with me and traumatized me throughout my adolescence). So I didn't know much about the premise going into it. I enjoyed the tension, the mistrust, the questioning. And because, unlike with Flashforward, they've never touted the show as "the Next Lost," I'll refrain from trying to make comparisons to the show... Though it would be kinda funny to see Hurley tagging trees with "DI." (Dammit. I just can't help it.)

• The Christ statue falling, as if to suggest that religion no longer has a place in the world.
• The ubergeeks arguing about the alien ships being like Independence Day.
• Alan Tudyk.
• The idea that people would just get on a shuttle and fly up into the spaceship without questioning it at all. I totally buy that, actually.

Other stuff:
• So we see Anna speaking in different languages in different countries, but what if you were in NY and didn't speak English? Maybe we're to take that scene as suggesting that whatever language you speak, she was speaking to you in it?
• I guess people in Moscow were probably asleep. How many of them missed the fact there was an alien ship above their city?
• I asked my husband at one point (who had seen the miniseries when he was younger), "So... is the purpose of this that they want to breed with the humans?" And then we couldn't stop quoting Kit Ramsey from Bowfinger: "Alien love? ALIEN LOVE?! Who said anything about alien love?!"

The death of Alan Tudyk's character. FRAK. The moment they suggested there was an inside source telling people what was happening, I said out loud, "Please don't let it be Dale... please don't let it be Dale." I really liked the Flirty McFlirt scenes between him and Erica, and I was SO upset when he ate it. Will he be back? Do aliens regenerate or something? Even if they do, I just kinda wanted him to be the good guy for a bit. Wah.

Verdict: I'm definitely tuning in next week. What did you think of the pilot ep?


Fred said...

Sorry, didn't like the pilot one bit. My wife thinks it was okay, and she's willing to see it next week. My problem stemmed from the mother-son relationship. I kept thinking, is this going to go like the Sara Connor Chronicles, mother and son battling against the evil terminator (this case alien lizards). I know, I know, they have to stick close to the original script/plot outline, but sheesh, couldn't they have had a little more creativity than just updating the story? I am thinking of what they did with Battlestar Galactica.

Also when the aliens said they were bringing universal healthcare, I suddenly thought,"Oh, how topical, a reference to Obama." Are we going to get any more references to topical news items. Does this mean Elizabeth Mitchell's character is the TV version of Sarah Palin (my wife laughed at that)? And yeah, it really was slow--we've been so spoiled by LOST. So I know this isn't LOST, but at least if it could pick up the pace and increase the tension in the room, then maybe I'd be happier with it.

My last point is the CGI just wasn't up to par. We should hope for so much more--so I'm turning the channel back to Camilla and Charles's visit.

Joan Crawford said...

I liked it a lot! I love aliens and the threat of apocalypse! The part where Alien Leader and Aging Scott Wolf have their little pre-interview chat - cool! She was evil and serene. The deadliest kind of evil! I like it way better than Stink Dog show - what is it called, seriously...flashforward! Flashforward is Grey's Anatomy with more headaches and worse dialog. Right, I stopped watching that one but I like this one. And I am impressed with Juliet not seeming like Juliet.

Alien Love!

Robert said...

I disagree with Fred, I prefer this pilot to Flash Forward any day, and I find it to be a solid endeavor that doesn't rely on gimmicks.

It's flawed, but it has consistent quality in writing, production, acting etc. It has a better chance of gaining viewers rather than starting with a bang and slowly whimpering onward.

Yes, it's NOT Lost, but I'm not looking for a Lost copy. What I look for is a series that entertains, sustains and DOESN'T have sucky dialogue. Flash Forward has epic production (amazing CGI), but it doesn't matter if the characters sound like a bad cop show.

If you look at the debuts this year, V is definitely one of the stronger ones. Is it Lost? No, but viewers have gotten smarter and more used to the crazy twists and uber sci-fi elements. Taking the same criteria to judge future series would be folly, because no matter what, you would not feel the same way as you did in 2004 with Lost, no matter what a series does.

Fred said...

@Robert: I realize V is not LOST, and I really don't have any hope for that. But I would like a better pilot, or even introduction to the show. I am thinking of novels, like Dicken's Bleak House, or Conrad's Heart of Darkness, two amazing beginnings. Even TV shows are like that: I loved the beginning of Battlestar Galactica; also movies like Memento (begin at the end). I know TV doesn't always work this way--it's very much a domestic technology, the second fire place in the livingroom. As such, its pilots often begin by focusing on domestic activities, scenes identifiable among the majority of its audience, and in this way builds a rapport between viewer and character. This just didn't connect with me. I am going to give it a chance, and maybe I'll come to like it. Who knows, it's still worth at least a number of weeks viewing--of this year's crop of shows, I much prefer Glee, or The Middle (don't like American Family--it just isn't radical enough), and old stand-bys like House.

@Robert: I agree with you on the dialogue. It wasn't terrible, decent for the most part. And I agree with you that Flashforward at times 9actually most of the time) does sound like a bad cop show. I find myself only interested in Dimitri, but a show can't be carried on one character. And earlier on another thread, Nikki noted the lack of humour in Flashforward (it statred with humour, but it has taken itself so seriously). What Flashforward has is an intriguing premise, and if the showrunners can build on that I'm sure they'll do well.

Robert said...

Glee is wonderful, I will give you that.

Not sure about The Middle, but were you talking about Modern Family? That is also one of my favorite debuts.

I still need time, but yes, Glee is my favorite debut this season.

Paticus said...

They showed Dale in the "This season on V"(or "Next week on V"-I'm not sure which construct they used) teaser at the end of the show. So he will be back.
I liked it, didn't love it. But I'll keep watching.
I remember the alien/human twin birth from the original series, and not only did the human looking baby have reptile eyes, but it also hissed and shot out a forked tongue!

annie_a said...

I liked it. I'm not absolutely hooked on it, but I thought it was solid enough. Lots of action at the beginning, and they gave us a good portrait of all main characters. I liked that Erica's partner was outed as a V right off the gate.

LOVED Elizabeth Mitchell. I was not constantly seeing her as Juliet, so she did a good job.

I'm not a big sci-fi fan, so I cannot compare it to Battlestar galactica or other shows that you guys are talking about. (Lost being the exception)

I too was too young in the eighties to have watched the original - but my husband, who is 10 years older than me, did watch it back then and was very disappointed by last night's show.

So I guess it's a good choice for the casual sci-fi fan, with little expectations!

anyway, personally, anything is better than those stupid reality shows - enough of the singing ones, the dancing ones, the dating ones! I'll take a less-than-perfect fictional show with an actual creating process than those mindless, by-the-numbers, waste-of-airwaves reality shows.

Nikki Stafford said...

I have a few things to say. First, I often reference my husband's comments if he's sitting on the couch next to me, and I love how many of you do that in your responses, too. It's interesting to get another person's take on it, whether it's a spouse or the person who sits next to you at work or a friend or whatever.

As for the Sarah Connor Chronicles, I think what sets this apart is that the Connors were fighting on the same side against the baddies; in this case, Erica is against them, and Tyler is completely for them. That is a completely different dynamic -- how do you go after an entity when your own child could be within range of being hurt?

I will admit the "universal health care" thing had a ring of the Obama administration... and there was a moment where the guy in the secret meeting was saying the V's have lived among us for a long time and they're responsible for so much hatred in the world, at which point I said to my husband, "Wow, George W. Bush is a V??" I didn't put that in my post because too many people would have focused on that (anonymously, of course) and ignored absolutely everything else I said.

I actually thought the CGI was really good, especially compared with most of the bad CGI on Lost (see: polar bears, subs going under the water...)

Nikki Stafford said...

What this pilot made me question was, what makes a good pilot? Probably the best pilot episode I've ever seen was for Lost, and that's why whenever we try to compare another pilot to it, it's bound to come up short. So that's unfair. Buffy's pilot was OK but not mind-blowing, and it turned into an incredible series. Angel's pilot was rather boring. The pilot for Six Feet Under was so dull I didn't watch the second episode for another 4 months. I thought the pilot for The Sopranos was meh. Both of those are two of my all-time favourite shows.

The pilot episode of Heroes was AWESOME. It then gave me an equally awesome season before fizzling into nothinghood.

The pilot episode of Flashforward was pretty awesome, too. And then, by episode three... cue the Debbie Downer trombone. Blech.

So for me, watching a pilot episode is not an indicator of what's to come. I've seen awesome turn into stinky, I've seen stinky turn into awesome. I've seen meh become splendid, I've seen splendid become meh.

What I look for is indicators that it could be better. The acting is good, Elizabeth Mitchell has enough of our sympathy that we want to follow her, and the minister intrigued me a lot. The premise is foreboding, the tensions are already clear, and it has a lot of promise. However, it's missing humour at this point, and I worry that outing Dale as an alien so soon sort of reduces the tension that could have been caused if not only Erica but we, the viewers, trusted him 100% and THEN found out he was a V. But that's a minor nitpick and could turn out to be nothing.

In the end, there was enough there to bring me back. Was it stunning? No. Was it bad? No. It was good, it was fun, and I loved the look of the spaceships. And I was engaged enough with the characters that Dale's reveal upset me. That's saying a lot for a first ep.

asiancolossus said...

Hi Nikki I thought it was mindless fun. I still see Juliet in Erica, can't help it!

Things I liked:
- Special effects were actually pretty good, although obviously CGI'd to death!
- Opening scene with Juliet, um Erica, focusing on her opening eye, nice homage to Lost
- I think I saw the number 4400 on the building where the resistance meeting was taking place
- Anna, boy she is freaky looking, yes attractive but in a "I'm going to eat you up" sort of way

Things I didn't quite like:
- A few minutes after the ships docked in the sky, probably killing all planes and flying objects, Anna's face shows up, she gives a little pep talk and then the humans applaud??? Are we THAT gullible? LOL
- I wish they didn't reveal the alien skin so soon in the show, it did feel a bit rushed with so many storylines going on
- I think Scott Wolf is a bit miscast in the journalist role, he still looks a little bit too boyish and not "sleazy" enough to be an ambitious SOB

Conclusions: I liked but did not love the show. I actually liked the pilot of Flashforward more, but I'll definitely give it a shot.

humanebean said...

This show had me at "hello, I'm an alien - er, I mean 'visitor'". LOVED Elizabeth Mitchell, although this was to be expected. [what light through yonder window breaks? It is the East and Juliet has a new show.] I've been a cheeseball sci-fi fan all my life and while I am uber-impressed when a groundbreaking new offering comes along (uber-rarely) I generally am pleased when a movie or show nicely balances the cheese factor with genuinely good performances/visuals/writing/direction.

I thought that the CGI, while selectively impressive (as on the Visitor's ship), was generally above average and occasionally below. The standard is set SO high here that we expect to much, I fear. I mean, we obviously adore LOST but easily overlook the sporadic laugh-out-loud bad CGI moment. The Rewatch confirms this, especially in blu-ray. High-def cheese, anyone?

Inara -er, Morena Baccarin is letter-perfect in her role as the Visitor Leader, Anna! I thought Scott Wolf, as Chad Decker [great anchor name] gave a nicely nuanced performance when put on the spot by Anna and her creepy underling. The Ryan/Valerie scenes were more awkward than cheesy. The only really flat performance was from Erica's son, Tyler. I think Logan Huffman needs a few weeks at Actors' Facial Expressions Camp.

Those of us old enough to remember the almost unbearably cheesy (in EVERY way) original should find this a major step up. Obviously, I liked it quite a bit and hope it continues to build. The hiatus, as I understand it, actually shut down production until the network sees the ratings from the first 4 episodes, with plans to return in March IF all goes well. UGH! Way to shoot yourself in the foot at the start of the race, ABC. May Monty Python show up at your offices to do the fish-slapping dance in your faces.

humanebean said...

@asian colossus: "Are we THAT gullible?" Are you KIDDING me?? A casual glance at the headlines of the day will confirm this. Here in America, we expect more authenticity and validation from our entertainment than we do from our media or government. Not to get all socio-political [whoops - too late] but we swallow whole whatever pronouncements are made in the news, from the pulpit or at the lectern while we debate the believability of our TV shows/movies.

Sorry, got to run, the soapbox is due back at City Hall. Later!

Nikki Stafford said...

asiancolossus: Are we THAT gullible?

I'm afraid I totally believe we are. As soon as they started applauding I began laughing out loud and said to my husband, "I actually truly believe that would happen!!"

I mean, this is the same population (me included) that was glued to a TV set a few weeks ago watching with bated breath as a silver balloon shot through the air, possibly with a child inside. Yep. We're that gullible.

asiancolossus said...

@humanebean and Nikki: Oops looks like I struck a nerve LOL. It is indeed sad what we as a society will believe and how easily we will believe it, that is for sure. However, I hope that we wouldn't be applauding aliens from outerspace who look good after just killing a bunch of people and after a few words of fluff! I guess I'm a cynic...

Nikki Stafford said...

Actually, I think that makes you the optimist! You believe the public is smarter than that. Humanebean and I, on the other hand, have completely given up hope. ;) LOL!

humanebean said...

Oh, don't mind me, asiancolossus! The credulity of the masses is one of my favorite rants. I'm a cynical optimist - I hope for the best but expect the worst! I do believe that the best is inside us and occasionally sees the light of day ... it's just that, well, "the best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity". Yeats said it far better than I ever could!

Robert said...

The pilot to Fringe was excellent in my opinion. One of the best second only to Lost (in the sci-fi world, that is).

Anonymous said...

I was sucked in immediately, though, like you, devastated at the quick squashing of Tudyk. He would have been so grand!!!!
I hope you have time to pop by my blog and read my other thoughts. :)

lvgirl said...

I have the miniseries and the television show episodes from the original V. I saw them on the Scifi channel and even though I was old enough to watch the original air dates of the program I didn't. The whole premise of the first V was Nazism. It was how something so innocent could turn into an atrocity.

In the original V, the aliens are harvesting humans for food and taking resources. They gave technology and medical advances. This remake, is very very similar. I thought they moved way too rapidly to getting to a resistance...trying to cram way too much into an hour.

In the original there are two main character kids that are taken in by the aliens and one gets his just reward for going against humans and the other becomes pregnant. There were two babies born- the alien looking one dies and that helps the resistance to find a formula to kill the aliens. (Biological Warfare)The other baby lives to become the Star child.

I'm disappointed a bit because if they are making the series they are hurrying too fast to the resistance before we really see what is going on.

I like the infiltration for years of the aliens, that works nicely and fits with bad events that have happened world wide. I like not knowing who is an alien and who is not.

Steve the pirate was who I knew Erica's partner as. (Dodge Ball) I kept expect him to say arrrr. I will give it a few weeks. I still like flashforward and I try not to base my like of a show by what advertisers try to make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

Bear in mind, people know we have lizard aliens, so the creators were in the bind of drawing it out for the few who might not know or revealing it quickly. I think they sold the advanced nature of the V's was sold by the ship. Also note that not everyone was happy, there was unrest happening across the world.

Scott Wolf was surprisingly good.

Anonymous said...

BTW, yes, in the original, they were collecting water and people (for food). There were some romantic entanglements between V's and humans(really, seeing Robert Englund as meek alien Willy is a treat in the original mini series). And yeah, Alan ain't dead. I loved that twist...I thought of it earlier-when they revealed that the V's were among us, but then I figured they wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

BTW, the V Hiatus?

Yeah...this sucks.


obscure said...

Alan Tudyk seems to have been typecast as a guy who gets impaled by metal objects.

mgkoeln said...

I thought the pilot was quite okay, but there's definitely room to grow.

The most funny thing, though, happened to me afterwards. Immediately after watching "V" I caught up on an older episode of "Medium" (last season's "All in the Family") which - by total coincidence - not only guest starred Morena Baccarin ("Anna"). She even had a red "V"-badge on her chest in several scenes (as a visitor at the state attorney's office). Maybe that's how she got the part...

Nurse Brian said...

@obscure: LOL, I didn't think of that! He totally got owned by a spear in Serenity!

I'm hoping that this show will improve with time. There's gotta be something to fill the void after LOST wraps up this spring!

Anonymous said...

I find it amusing about your folks not letting you watch, because I was never interested, but my mom used to watch with my son when he was little. She liked Robert Eglund (I'm sure she's never seen him as Freddy.)

I was just as uninterested last night as I was in the eighties, so I didn't watch it.

Anonymous said...

I am planning to blog the original series, starting with the minis and then episode by episode, to compare how the first four episodes of the new series hold up. I got the entire series for ten bucks tonight. :)

Benny said...

I loved this Pilot. I agree it went fast and there was a trade off between chemistry and plot content (i.e. the resistance).

But I think this stems from wanting to establish a frame of reference. The pilot spans a few weeks and it tells us this is what is happening... now the action begins. There's not going to be a lag in understanding the resistance forming, the traitors and the ambassador program.

This may not be the best or more desired delivery, but I think it will make the next episodes exciting and with only 4 eps before the hiatus, they know they need to build that excitement, they'll have room in the next three weeks to include chemistry and a little backstory to some characters.

There are certainly different ways to deliver a pilot, and they can make or break a show. I think this one is making it.

crazyinlost said...

@Humanebean-fish slapping dance! I love Monty Python too!

@Nikki/Fred-I agree. No matter how dark/intense a show is, you gotta have some humor. I think of X-Files and how dark that was, but the humor is what hooked me. That for me is gonna make or break this show (and FlashForward).

@Humanebean/Nikki/asiancolossus-the last line of the pilot said they would be fighting agains "devotion". I believe it is in our nature to believe in something higher and greater than ourselves...you see it throughout history.

Ivgirl-Nazis 1st-Socialists now?

Universal Healthcare-Obamacare! Gee, all he needs to do now is show his "savior of the world"-ness and make lame men walk, and his health bill will pass just like that!

I finally figure out where I've seen Morena Baccarin-she was the Ori savior-child from SG1! She does creepy leader really well!

JennM said...

I liked this pilot. I will tune in next week, and see where the show goes. My only nit-pick is that I felt like they really showed all of their cards, so I wonder where the story will go from here. There will be no tension-building of "Are the Vs good or bad?" or "Have the Vs been living among us?" which is too bad, because it would have made for an intense intro to the show. But I did like it, and I will keep watching for now.
I loved seeing Laura Vandervoort on TV again. I loved her—as an actress—on Smallville, but I hated the entire Kara Kent story-line, so I wasn't sad to see her go. But I am glad to see her on V—even if she is playing another alien! :)

Anonymous said...

BTW, the original Miniseries did reveal the dark intentions and that they were lizards in the first hour. That's the first thing that I noticed when I sat down to watch the original series the other day. Actually, the thing that startled me is the original mini series (and the second one) was filmed 16x9.

The Question Mark said...

@ Jenn: I agree. I liked the episode and I'm interested to see more, but it would've been nice to spend a season debating whether or not the Vs really are evil. We sympathize with the human characters, but if we would've seen Erica spend a bunch of episodes trying to eliminate a group of peaceful-seeming aliens, it would've created a cool dynamic, because we would've thought, "Hmmm, is Erica doing the right thing? Maybe Anna really just wants to be friends..."

Speaking of Anna, Morena Baccarin's gorgeous, but she suits the long, curly hair she was sporting back in the good old "Firefly" days. And Laura Vandevoort is so cute it's almost unbearable.

I only had 2 pet peeves about the show: the teeange son, and his friend. They were just annoying to the extreme. If I have to sit through a whole season of, "Dude! Aliens! Awesome!" "Dude! Totally!"
then I think I'm gonna chuck my TV out the window.

Anonymous said...

thought it was pretty d**n good. e. mitchell did alright. different from juliet, but still likable and interesting. and morena baccarin rode the line of warmly beautiful and creepily enigmatic really well.

my only real problem, which just about everyone on the internet shares, is that it felt very rushed. there was zero suspense as to the nature of the visitors. it's like they crammed two and a half hours into 45 minutes (which they kind of did-- the original took over twice as long to reveal the aliens for what they are).

oh, and those two kids, the son and his friend, very, very annoying.