Tuesday, November 24, 2009

V, "It's Only the Beginning": In treatment

Spoilers for the fall finale of "V" coming up just as soon as I show you my turbine room...
"The more predictable we are, the more vulnerable we are." -Erica
Well, if you're gonna make it that easy, "V"... As many of you know, Scott Peters was replaced as "V" showrunner shortly before the show premiered, but after the first batch of episodes was produced. His replacement is "The Shield" and "Chuck" alum Scott Rosenbaum, who had some encouraging things to say in this interview, specifically these two portions:
I’m going to probably do the show a little more visceral, it will be a little more fast-paced, it will be learning more of the mythology and the history of the Vs. In my mind, viewers are very advanced at this point, and I want them to come to “V” and see, A, stuff they can’t see anywhere else, and, B, also feel like they’re getting storytelling that doesn’t feel retread or old, that’s, frankly, exciting.
And
my goal is that in every single episode there will be an “Oh my God, I can’t believe that happened” moment, or a “Wow” moment – at least one – in every single episode. And I think that would not only be a mythology plot reveal, but also a character reveal.
Those two passages underline so much of what's been dull about these first four episodes. "V" thus far has been the exact show - no more, no less - you would have expected it to be as soon as you heard ABC was doing a remake.

Peters was obviously wrestling with how to deal with viewer expectations, leading to some unfortunate pacing issues. Too often, it feels like the show has raced past important plot points, like the off-hand reveal of what the Vs really look like, because Peters and company felt the audience knew they would be coming, and/or that it was something they had to do, rather than a part of the story they were really excited to tell.

And yet on the flip side, sometimes the show tends to drag its feet in a futile attempt to create suspense. I rolled my eyes at the start of this episode as soon as we got the in media res teaser, both because the device is so overdone and because any viewer with half a brain would know that Ryan was shooting past Erica, and not at her. So all the time spent later in the episode suggesting Ryan and Erica didn't trust each other seemed wasted.

So we have plotting that feels rushed and/or obligatory, characterizations that can be charitably referred to as thin, and fairly lame post-pilot production values. Why exactly am I supposed to care? Other than the fact that Morena Baccarin is rocking the pixie cut and occasionally looks like The Joker when she grins?

I'll check back in at some point during the spring run after we're into Rosenbaum-produced episodes, but nothing in "It's Only the Beginning" had me feeling particularly sad that I'd need to wait months to see the next episode.

What did everybody else think?

25 comments:

HarrySTruman2 said...

They Need some of them cool laser guns like on the old NBC series!

Anonymous said...

I watch this show and get a bad taste in my mouth. End up shaking my head and leaving. Poor writing - plot, dialogue, and characters. Poor direction. Over hyped cinematography. Not sure about the acting because Blonde seems good on Lost but seems bad on here (so I attribute it to directing and cinematography rather than the acting.)

The entire idea of not developing a story about the V's is not necessarily a bad idea but just poorly executed. This isn't like the hulk films where the majority of the audience could remember the first one.

Marc said...

i respect your opinion Alanm but I guess I dont understand it here. I thought tonight was amazing. even your fellow crtics Mo Ryan, Matt Roush, Jace Lacob loved
it. I thought it was action packed with lots of revelations

David said...

I thought it was awful -- and not in an entertaining way like the original. I rolled my eyes several times. Maybe my expectation were too high, since most remakes are a disappointment, but after Battlestar Galactica, I thought there could have been more suspense and gravitas brought to a retelling of this story.

DonBoy said...

Did anyone watching not guess instantly that Lourdes Benedict was pregnant?

DonBoy said...

Following myself up...if that tech is so good, they should know she's pregnant by a V, too. And maybe they do.

amysa said...

I liked it, but it was very predictable. I've been cutting it a lot of slack, though, because I figured through the first few weeks it would have no choice but to be predictable and would, hopefully, venture out on its own after all the basics had been covered. We've got our players. We've got our good guys and bad guys and questionable guys. We've got our resistance trying to come together. We've got a V baby on the way. I'm still waiting for Ana to eat a small pet, but beyond that we're covered. So, now it's time to get to the goods stuff. And maybe kill Erica's kid because he's sucking the joy that Erica and Father Jack bring me right out of the show.

Craig Ranapia said...

I'll go with the minority opinion here and say this:

1) Compared to the original -- who lumbered between pretentiously obvious Nazi allegory and screaming camp -- this reboot is The Wire reborn.

2) Anyone who says Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin can't act... well, we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

3) Alan is bored by this show, and I look at United States of Tara and hope it will lead to Toni Collette getting a show worthy of her stellar talent and Diablo Cody being kept away from writing instruments. We will both live.

4) And as a SF fan, V is far from flawless, but compared to utter crap like FlashForward and Stargate: Universe? It's earned a little more patience to see whether a four month hiatus and new showrunner is going to kick it up from 'watchable' to appointment viewing.

J said...

WAIT. Rosenbaum wants me to come to V and see A and B? When I watch V I want to see V and more V, not none of your fancy Hollywood algebra.

I sort of stopped watching this show after its first episode. If Darin Morgan ever writes an episode, please let me know. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I still can't get past that they skipped over the introduction of pretty much everything (the original resistance who knew aliens are among us, the history between Erica and Tyler, etc. etc.).

It's like they decided character development isn't necessary. I mean, with a mom who apparently cares and loves her son so much, why is Tyler so rebellious and yet so outwardly wanting to please Erica?

Tonight, the interaction between Erica and Tyler was VERY odd and the tension seemed so ridiculously forced. I actually feel bad for Logan Huffman because the writing is so bad and the Tyler character is not very good. I also met him a few months ago as he was here shooting. This is his first real gig and he's just an excited kid and it seems most people hate his character.

I have to laugh because during a commercial break, there was this "V" announcement of the new season of Scrubs. They showed the scene where the crowd stood there, dumb looks and all, applauding after Anna's speech. It reminded me of how so absolutely ridiculously cringe-worthy this scene was.

Ingrid said...

I think the show is going to suffer as a result of the hiatus. It is wrong to cut now for so long. The show is not strong enough or compelling enough to keep us engaged, and will likely lose a huge chunk of its audience when it comes back.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I apologize in advance, but am I the only one left wondering how Ryan got his girlfriend pregnant? Are we supposed to believe that the lizard-like V's reproductive organs are exactly the same as ours? And, I would imagine the fake skin goes all the way down, right? I don't want to get vulgar, but think about that. Doesn't seem all that plausible.

Alan Sepinwall said...

One of the big plot points of the original series was the birth of a human/V hybrid baby. I don't remember them explaining it in too much detail at the time. I think, like Superman having sex with Lois Lane, it's one of those things the creators would rather you not spend a lot of time thinking about.

Karen said...

We gave up after 2 episodes. We were just way too bored. On to the next...

NinjaEditor said...

I liked the episode to some degree—mostly I liked the parts focusing on the Vs. Morena Baccarin continues to impress me.

However, I found most of the "twists" predictable. Of course Ryan's wife was pregnant—never mind the fact that such a hybrid should be impossible (I'm looking at you, Star Trek...). And of course that long pull-back through space (reminiscent of BSG) would end the way it ended. I said to my roommate about halfway through the shot, "And cue massive fleet of enemy ships." Lo and behold: a massive fleet of enemy ships. Which looked cool, but still.

The only things I can't figure out are (1) what is up with Erica and Tyler's relationship, (2) why Ryan didn't pin that guy's hands when he knew a suicide capsule was a possibility, and (3) why the Vs don't just bring in their massive fleet and take whatever they want from humanity. They clearly have numbers and technology to do just that. Can anyone think of a reason for the Vs to conquer humanity through their current "gentle" means rather than by force?

I'll probably watch when the show comes back in the spring, but I'm really hoping for less predictability and more character development. Plus there's the fact that I'll watch pretty much anything with spaceships.

TV Obsessed said...

I think I set my expectations for the episode too high for episode 4, and I was never super impressed last night. Overall, the series has been better than FlashForward which really isn't saying much. For me, V is adequate to watch every week.

Anonymous said...

Big Break til Spring. Gotta have time for that fleet to show up....

Henry said...

The whole "let's jump back in time after a suspenseful teaser" plot device has been done to death and I wasn't invested in either Erica or Ryan's characters to care what happened in the aftermath. Once the primary narrative caught up to the moment, I immediately said, "Well, that flashback structure was completely unnecessary" because nothing had happened to that point to buy the suspense.

I dunno. The show ended its fall "season" on a strange note. It didn't involve any sort of "Okay, I MUST Watch This Show When It Comes Back" moment. It just seemed to stand there, content with staying pat. I think it would be nice if the show developed some kind of personality for each of the characters, to the point where we care what happens to them. At this point, if they killed Chad or Tyler or even Erica, would we care? And they seemed to haphazardly avoid telling us why Tyler is "the One," which is odd considering how much they've wanted to reveal over the past four episodes. Again, do we really care why Tyler is "the One"? Is it because I don't find him even remotely interesting or why Lisa "loves" him so much?

That said, I do find the special effects shots in the show rather impressive, even if I know that most of the show's budget was spent only on those shots.

Anonymous said...

United States of Tara has lots of heart and is engaging where as V is predictable, forced, and boring. There's nothing compelling about the show. BSG is an example of remaking tv in a positive fashion. V is an example of remaking a show in a negative fashion. Never mind it being a remake, it's not good television. I agree that flashforward is a bore and SG-U is horrible (it steals every promising elements of successful shows and tries to adapt it for itself. It's ridiculously bad. The writers seem to have forgotten why people enjoyed the campy SG-1.) V needs to drastically change for me to watch it again.

Geoff said...

"V" has somewhat caught my interest, though I think last week's episode was more interesting than this one. It isn't "GOOD" Tv, but it doesn't yet suck...there is still enough potential for me to check in when it comes back (especially if they make it more character based and less predictable).

Part of the original V's appeal WAS its camp and blunt allegory, but that won't fly in this day and age. Here's hoping that the new show-runner can add some Shield-Chuck greatness to V, this show has got potential.

Craig Ranapia said...

United States of Tara has lots of heart and is engaging where as V is predictable, forced, and boring.

We're just going to have to agree to disagree there. As someone with a mental illness who comes from a small town, I found USoT smug, condescending, tending to deal in lazy stereotyping and not half as clever as it thinks it is. Toni Colette is a wonderful actress, but this wouldn't be the first time she's brought all the class to a mediocre project. As I said, I hope Tara is going to lead to another show worthy of her.

As for V, as I also said it's not flawless. But compared to the major SF disappointments of FlashForward and Stargate: Universe, I'm going to be checking in to see whether Scott Rosenbaum kicks it up from watchable but flawed to essential viewing. If it's not your cup of tea, fair enough. The world would be a bloody boring place if we all had the same tastes.

But I honestly think the potential is there. It sure isn't as DOA bad as the first season of Parks and Recreation, and the improvement there can only be measured on a near vertical line. :)

Anonymous said...

I hope it gets better like I hope all shows get better so I can have more to enjoy.

Sean said...

Well, after watching these first four episodes, and particularly this last one, I have the following assumptions to make about how the rest of the season plays out:

- Liz Mitchell and the priest get together.

- There will be 2 half-breed babies but one will be "the One" in the grand scheme of things.

- Scott Wolf's gonna become a resistance spy at some point.

- Blondie's father, Anna's ex-lover, is probably the founder of the 5th Column.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the episodes tonight. It's still finding its legs but I'm in. As far as predictability...? The only real interesting character is Georgie. Not to mention I just buy everything that actor says. He's the new Jack from Lost. Intense with heart and a great performer. Can you tell me why he's not on the ABC site?

ripvanruben said...

V is one of those shows that i could only watch in the DVR era. While I do enjoy it enough when i watch it, i would never make the effort to watch it live and if it ceased to exist i doubt i would ever think about it again.