Few occasions in pop culture or more specifically in genre TV have had as big a repercussion as the premiere of V: the miniseries. The science fiction series that grabbed the 80’s by its layered hair, and never let go.
V (or V: The Original Miniseries) is a two-part science fiction television miniseries, written and directed by Kenneth Johnson. First shown in 1983, it initiated the science fiction franchise concerning aliens known as “The Visitors” trying to gain control of Earth, and of the ways, the populace reacts to this. The show was truly a phenomenon and made a big impression on genre television more lasting than the hairstyles it depicted at the time.
Few fans need an introduction to the series that begins with the arrival of a race of aliens on Earth in a fleet of 50 huge, saucer-shaped motherships, which hover over major cities across the world. They reveal themselves on the roof of the United Nations building in New York City, appearing human but requiring special glasses to protect their eyes and having a distinctive resonance to their voices. Referred to as the Visitors, they reach out in friendship, ostensibly seeking the help of humans to obtain chemicals and minerals needed to aid their ailing world, which is revealed to be a planet orbiting the star Sirius. In return, the Visitors promise to share their advanced technology with humanity. The governments of Earth accept the arrangement, and the Visitors, commanded by their leader John and his deputy Diana, begin to gain considerable influence with human authorities.
The thinly disguised metaphor for the takeover of a totalitarian government with a secret agenda and its effects on the general population was a wildly popular event that sparked the imagination of the decade it took place in, made its cast into pop culture icons, quickly established itself as something special, and still holds a strong cult following today. In November 2005, Entertainment Weekly named V one of the ten best miniseries on DVD. The article noted, “As a parable about it-can-happen-here fascism, V was far from subtle, but it carved a place for lavish and intelligent sci-fi on TV”. The show had influence outside of television as well in other areas of pop culture.
Featuring Faye Grant and Marc Singer as the well-coiffed faces of the human resistance, and Jane Badler, Richard Herd, and Robert Englund as their counterparts, the faces of the reptilian alien visitors with an appetite for living earth creatures, and human flesh. The show gave birth to a franchise that just refused to die.
The two-part miniseries ran for 200 minutes; to a wildly popular reception. Its success spawned a sequel, V: The Final Battle, which was meant to conclude the story. In spite of the apparent conclusion, this was then followed by a weekly television series, V: The Series, from 1984 to 1985 that continued the story a year after The Final Battle. Johnson left V during the production of The Final Battle due to disagreements with NBC over how the story should progress.
The series returned as a remake in 2009 that featured Morena Baccarin, Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Laura Vandervoort, Logan Huffman, and others in a less successful, less popular attempt to revive the series., even though it featured far more sophisticated special and visual effects. As we all know it takes more than slick visuals to make a series a success these days
Once in a while, a series comes along that just clicks with viewers in a special way, and this series was one of them. I would not be surprised to see this series or some sort of spinoff arrive in the not-too-distant future of genre tv.