I recently re-watched the TV miniseries V. Over the years (due to a subsequent sequel and television show) this has become knows as V: The Original Miniseries. I remember watching this when it originally aired over a couple of nights in 1983. I was absolutely enthralled so when it came out on DVD a few years ago I just had to pick it up.
Written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, V tells the story of visitors from outer space that arrive on Earth under the guise of peace. They look human and they say that the reason for their arrival is that they need chemicals and minerals to continue their existence. In reality they are lizard like aliens who intend on stealing every ounce of water on planet Earth as well as us… for food.
Of course during all of this there are two types of humans. Those that believe the Visitor’s propaganda and those that are resistant to them. There are two humans in particular that are Visitor sympathizers that the plot spends quite a bit of time on. Donovan’s mother Eleanor Dupres (played by Neva Patterson) is a prim and proper opportunist that sees the Visitor’s occupation as a means to an end. The other is Daniel Bernstein (played by David Packer) who is a human traitor who takes up with the Visitors. Like most of the rest the cast, their stories are not completed until V: The Final Battle.
Mike Donovan (played by Marc Singer of Beastmaster fame) is a television reporter who during the course of doing his job finds out the truth about the alien visitors. They are here to pump every drop of water from the planet, take the people for food and take control of the planet. One of the towns that is raided includes Donovan’s son and it becomes his mission to get his son back.
Donovan hooks up with others in the resistance who are being led by a young med student named Juliet Parish (played by Faye Grant). The rest of the miniseries tells how the resistance is formed and how they begin to develop their plans to fight back. By the time the series is over nothing is really resolved though and the Visitors have taken over the planet. The resistance has not scored any significant victory and are shown at the end to be fortifying their position for a long war. Their big plan is to attempt to contact other aliens who would potentially help them in their fight against the Visitors.
This film drips with social commentary. To ignore the references to the Nazis and the Holocaust is to ignore the entire plot of the movie. The references include the Swastika looking Visitor symbol, their garb and a “Visitor Youth Program” which is an obvious reference to Hitler’s “Youth”. The fascist takeover of Earth is complete when the Visitors declare martial law “for our own good”.
The cast is well put together and gives some great performances. Jane Badler plays the ruthless “Diana” in a way that makes you want to hate her. Richard Herd plays supreme commander “John” and we even get a non-Freddy Krueger performance out of Robert Englund as the lovable “Willie”.
The special effects are pretty decent for a flick that was made in the early 80’s. The stuff with the Visitors taking off their skin holds up pretty well. The lasers are pretty weak even by 80’s standards (Star Wars in the 70’s was MUCH better) but this was made for TV rather than for the big screen.
Of special note here is Donovan. Marc Singer is very well known for the over the top portrayals that he gives. Donovan here is no exception. Between the shirts that are unbuttoned to the naval and the standard crouching-arm-across-your-body shooting stance you just KNOW you’re watching 80’s action greatness.
I had a great time re-watching this one. It brought back all kinds of good memories from when the show originally aired. If I were watching it today for the first time I’m not sure that I’d enjoy it nearly as much but it’s still a compelling story. I would say that if you don’t plan on watching the follow up V: The Final Battle you’re going to be a tad bit let down with the story here cause after 200 minutes absolutely nothing is resolved.