Tuesday, October 27, 2009

V-ry Interesting

The first sentence of today's offering was going to be, "New media is a wonderful thing," but then I realized that's not true. A more accurate statement is, "New media can be a wonderful thing." It's a blunt instrument that can be used for both decent and horrific purposes. A good example of this is the common practice of showing extended previews of new television shows online. When Flash Forward and Torchwood: Children of Earth did this, it worked very well because their previews were interesting, action packed and made you want to see more. More importantly, they weren't stupid.

Which brings us to Hulu's preview of V.

If you are outside the United States you probably couldn't see that so you might want to take this as a sign from God to move here now. You God fearing Americans, on the other hand, just got your first look at the new television show V, a remake of a mediocre television show of the same name that was on back in the 80s. (You can keep reading, non-Americans. I'll describe the video.)Remaking lame decades old science fiction actually has had a decent track record in recent years so there's no reason to judge it harshly for that reason. No, the reason to judge it harshly is its actual content.

The premise of the show is that technologically advanced alien visitors come to Earth and take us over not by bombing the shit out of us but rather by being our saviors. Their truly nefarious purposes will only become apparent after they have become a fixture in our lives. That's what the show's publicity says, anyway. According to the show's first nine minutes, the visitors think the best way to make a good first impression with us is to have ships the size of several city blocks show up unannounced over our major cities, an act that immediately causes world wide panic. The first indication the ships are there is the earthquake-level devastation caused by the turbulence created by their ships. This makes a large crucifix fall down and nearly kill a wheelchair-bound man before it shatters. They also cause military aircraft sent up to investigate these ships to crash in the middle of crowded urban areas. Surely all this makes the world's population say, "What shouldn't we love about these aliens?"

My favorite part of this clip, though, is the military barricade. The Army or National Guard or whatever has set up a barricade around the part of Los Angeles over which the alien spaceship is hovering. Lost actress Elizabeth Mitchell plays an FBI agent whose son is on the other side of the barricade and she's trying to get to him but the soldier manning the barricade tells her that no way, no how is she ever in a bazillion years going to be allowed into that part of the city. Luckily for her the soldier has the attention span of a fruit fly and she manages to slip past him after he is easily distracted by a nearby scuffle. Now comes the part that really gets me. It turns out there are just as many civilians wandering around on the restricted side of the barricade as there were on the other side. The barricade really served no purpose other than to briefly provide Elizabeth Mitchell's concerned FBI mom with something to do for about 90 seconds.

Anyway, FBI mom finds her son and together they witness the aliens once again trying to endear themselves to us by recreating that scene from Independence Day where hovering spaceships suddenly open up. The clip ends there but, if you've seen the ads for V, you know that, instead of burning the cities with FIRE FROM SPACE you instead see Morena Baccarin's pretty, soothing face telling everyone that everything is cool and that they've brought intergalactic chicken wings for the entire planet to munch on. It's something along those lines.

It's possible that the producers of V said to themselves, "Let's get all the stupid shit we're ever going to do out of the way in the first nine minutes of the first episode and construct a smart, exciting television show from then on." It's possible, but I doubt it. Instead, I think that the makers of V, much like the alien characters they have created, either aren't capable of making a good first impression or didn't think it was important.

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