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November 4, 2009

Yessss we can

Daniel Radosh

Laura Vandervoort as Lisa in ABC's V.jpg The first episode of the reimagined V was neither as bad nor as good as it could have been. I'm willing to give it a chance, though I'll keep my expectations low.

Sadly, perhaps the least compelling thing about it was the thinly veiled anti-Obamaism. I despise the birther-teabag nexis as much as anyone, but in the right hands their paranoid delusions could have made for very compelling science fiction.

Battlestar Galactica had a decided neocon bent for the first two seasons (before shifting organically along with the national mood) and that philosophical underpinning, which I obviously never shared, made it a much more interesting show. It spun political debate into human drama with deftness and honesty -- giving serious thought to the positions of all sides regardless of where it was going to end up and never hiding the flaws in its own leanings.

The difference between BSG and V, however, is that V's gloss on Obama isn't a philosophical underpinning at all. It's entirely superficial, with no detectable interest in exploring the ideas at stake. Universal healthcare is bad because.... well, because the aliens are offering it. Young people are driven to join the Obama Youth cult because... the lizard chicks are hot. The one possible exception is the show's exploration of media complicity in perpetuating the cult of personality, which is handled astutely if way too bluntly.

Between that unfulfilled promise and some truly awful dialogue, V eliminates itself from must-geek TV. Any chance we can expect more from The Prisoner?


The "Birthers" are into teabagging? With adults? Dang.

So far, I'd call V a near miss. But I loved the original as a kid, and still think the premise is strong.

The bad dialogue, poor pacing, and Michael Ironside deficiency might be what really hurts this show. "Universal Health Care" may or may not be a swipe at Obama (I think that curing the sick makes sense as an offer in service of the story in the "we can cure you where your human leaders squabble over politics" sense. If only there was more story to serve), but it's unwise to follow the Republican tendency of all treating pop culture crap as attacks on Bush.

What I found so off-putting about the politics in V was not that they were conservative or liberal, but that they were so dumb as to be completely divorced from reality. It seemed like the writers saw some phrases in the news like "universal health care" or "hope" and tried to awkwardly shove them into the dialogue without using the script to engage those issues. It's like they want to be edgy and political but either lack the ability to write allegory or are afraid to force their viewers to think.

@Andrew. Yeah, that's a much more concise version of what I was trying to say.

I remain cautiously optimistic on the "Prisoner" redo. I saw an interview with the producers and they seemed pretty thoughtful. Plus, McKellen will make a pretty nifty No. 2.

Too bad Caviezel is such a stiff. That could be a real problem.

Have no hope for the new V. Comes from the same group as The 4400, one of the most-promising, worst-written recent sci-fi shows. (Did it just have no show bible? Did they just bring in a completely new team to write it every season? Don't get me started.) The original V was awesome b/c it had no pretensions and, after its Nazi-referencing premiere, virtually no subtext. Also, it had frickin' lasers! Where are the frickin' lasers now? And the model of a worldwide event that can only be thwarted by 3 or 4 random Americans was played out in the 50s.

The original V was great partly because in the 80's, we were shocked by watching a woman eating a mouse on network TV. Nowadays, network TV doesn't have the power it once did in the psyche of the populace. When was the last time you remember "everyone" was talking about a non-reality network show? The first season of Lost, maybe.

Also, have you watched the original V recently? It has not aged well, IMO.

Cynical remake of thinly imagined original mediocrity does not fascinate.

Any Radosh 2.0 bloggers having trouble logging in? I attempted a post today, and, following Daniel's instructions, got an "invalid login" message.

Or, maybe we should just enjoy hot aliens seducing horny guys and turning the earth into a buffet.

I think we are all too sensitive to apparent attacks on our political beliefs in television shows and movies. Why give Hollywood so much power?

Of course, I know the answer to that: We're afraid that the uninformed masses glued to the television will accept it as truth, or in less obvious moments, glean the underlying subtext.

After all, Fox News opinion shows and The Daily Show probably account for where 90% of the public get their information.

I don't know about all the political allegories, I just like the way they worked the logo into her cleaVage

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