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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

V S2E1: Red Rain

"Anna's a lizard? That sucks, she's so hot."

We have good news and bad news. The good news is V is back, with more energy than it ever displayed last season. The bad news is most of the cast returned.

We had a nagging feeling all last season that the show would be improved with a mass killing-off of almost all the peripheral characters and after last night's episode, that feeling blossomed into a full-blown desire to see at least half of the cast trimmed off. But let's put aside our negativity for just a second. The really good news is that Anna's back and she's both pissed off and in possession of a weapon of ass destruction (sorry), a razor sharp prehensile tail.

Anna ended last season shrieking to the heavens over the murder of her children, her newfound emotions completely out of control. Still, even with that setup, it was a little jarring seeing her turn to full-on scenery-chewing villainy. We tend to like the creepy, calm Anna, but we can understand why they need to go in this more obvious direction. Our hope is that she'll calm down slightly as the season goes on and she won't be quite so overtly Eeeeevil with a capital E. Not that there was ever any question that she's a bad girl, but we don't need to see blood splattering on her face every week to sell the point.

Of course, the really big news is the addition of Jane Badler to the cast as Anna's mother, Diana. She didn't get any lines, but when you can give bitchface as good as she can, you don't need dialogue to make an impression.

However, the rather campy introduction of Diana (sitting in a dungeon, in 4-inch heels and perfect hair and makeup) brings up something that could be a problem for the show going forward. T Lo galpal Mo Ryan has a great review of the first episode here and she said some things we agree with and some things we don't. Agree: the show still doesn't know what it wants to be, veering from high camp, to 24-style intensity, to Battlestar Galactica-style pseudo-mysticism. Disagree: that the addition of Diana was probably a mistake.

Yes, the camp factor revved up the second her red heels hit the floor, but V, as a concept, is tailor-made for camp. The original V was LOADED with camp. And part of the reason the original mini-series are so fondly remembered is that they managed to juggle camp, action sequences, and even get in a little commentary on the nature of fascism and the dangers of propaganda. So we think the show can handle her addition and it could just give it the shot in the arm it needs. Besides, with the addition of Diana, the show has settled on its major theme: motherhood. It's a theme that has resonated through some of the greatest science-fiction stories of all time and with Erica and Tyler, Anna and Lisa, and Diana and Anna, it allows the writers a whole host of conflicts and setups for plotlines.

So while we agree with Mo that the show needs to streamline itself, Diana's not what needs to go. What really needs to happen is a jettisoning of the supporting cast. Morena Baccarin and Elizabeth Mitchell are doing yeoman's work, as is Laura Vandervoort, who plays Lisa. To be perfectly blunt, we just don't give a rat's ass about Ryan, Fr. Jack or Chad. The show needs to up the body count and a little weeding out of extraneous cast members with dull plotlines is just the way to go.

We like the addition of the cute scientist guy to the resistance. We're hoping to see more interesting characters added. One of the great things about the original V was that the resistance, as depicted onscreen, was a sizable group of people living underground and acting as terrorists freedom fighters. We want to see these people give up their jobs and their apartments and go underground. We realize there's story potential having an active FBI agent in the cast, but we think there's even more potential having a former FBI agent resorting to terrorist acts in order to save her son and her planet.

And who knows? Maybe that's where they're going with this. To switch back to positivity for a second, we're really digging the renewed energy in the show and the feeling (slight, to be sure) that anything can happen now.

On the other hand, the cheese factor is alarming. Hearing how noble humans fight on because of love and that's something Anna could never understand? Gag. Come on, people. This isn't hard. Aliens in skinsuits invade earth. Bang bang shoot shoot pew pew. Explosions. Tight dresses and hot guys. Leave the philosophizing to the freshmen dorm. Also, while the argument can be made that the majority of the populace likes to be told what to think and do, we're finding the collective stupidity in the face of an alien invasion to be pretty hard to take. The whole red skies thing, which was rightfully depicted as terrifying, got swept aside awfully quickly just because Anna told everyone not to worry.

At least they've finally settled on an answer to the "why are they here" question: breeding. Fine. Not the most original idea (although eating us would be even less original) but it plays nicely with the themes of the show and we have no real issue with it. So does this mean Tyler's another hybrid, like Ryan's daughter? It doesn't seem likely, since he'd have to be wearing a skinsuit, right?

Anyway, we have some reservations but we're still onboard the mother ship. We could watch Morena Baccarin and her stabby tail all day.

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