Tuesday, November 10, 2009

V, "There Is No Normal Anymore": La resistance lives on!

Quick thoughts on "V" episode two coming up just as soon as I take an iPhone self-portrait...

Not sure how much writing I'll be doing about "V" going forward. The show feels a little too '80s, and not in the fun retro style of the dramas on USA - where they take the things that worked in the '80s, give them a polish and make them feel contemporary - but like an actual '80s show with better special effects and a cast with more advanced hair and skincare technology.

"There Is No Normal" moved pretty well, and I still like Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin, but I'm not especially engaged by the characters, nor by the larger story arc. The dialogue is still cheesey, and the teenage son stuff is even more annoying than usual for this sort of show. Too many empty calories, and they don't even taste salty or sweet enough to compensate.

I'll check the next two out, and if they change my opinion, I'll write about them, but otherwise, I'm waiting for the episodes written by "Chuck"/"Shield" alum Scott Rosenbaum, who just took over as showrunner this week.

What did everybody else think?

43 comments:

Myles said...

I think that the episode suffered because its most interesting element (the hints at the V master plan) was on a macro level, but the message it basically gives us is that the heroes are incapable of interacting with the Vs on that level. That means that, since we're lacking a political component (which in this episode seemed particular silly, although I don't blame the show for avoiding the comparisons with Children of Earth), there's really no chance of the really interesting questions of the series being raised on a regular basis, left instead for cliffhangers and not much else.

I'm sticking around until we get to the new showrunner to see if things shift, but until then I can't help but be critical.

Also, one thing I raised in my own review: why were people standing so close to one another when they were talking? It's like the director saw nothing implying tension in the script, so he decided that everyone should invade personal space.

Anonymous said...

I loved it! It kinds of reminds me of Lost. I get the same kind of feeling regarding V that I do about Lost. The characters are just as interesting. V is the next Lost.

Michael said...

But that's the way it goes
In war you're shat upon
Though we die, La Resistance lives oooooonnnnn!

Paul O'Neil Bitch Fit said...

Man Alan. Why you hating on just about every show lately? Who pissed in your cereal, man?

MPH said...

Is the hope that by including as many possible BSG actors as possible that the quality will rub off?

I think they've actually taken one of the most interesting parts of early BSG in the whole idea of sleeper agents, but unlike BSG where everyone knew about them and was focused on uncovering them; here I have a hard time figuring out why it makes sense to keep quiet about it. Why not make as much noise as possible, get one of the "traitors" to go live on TV and reveal the lizard skin, and see what happens?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Man Alan. Why you hating on just about every show lately? Who pissed in your cereal, man?

Yes. I'm hating on every show lately. I hate "Mad Men," and the NBC Thursday comedies, and "Friday Night Lights," and "Sons of Anarchy," and...

I just hate. It's who I am. It's what I do.

Marty McKee said...

So V is ripping off PHANTASM now?

Boy, this show sure could use a better cast. How much could it cost to get Michael Ironside to sign up?

Diana said...

I must say I'm not so crazy about this new show. I agree that it is cheezy and the fbi agent's pretty son is very annoying. I'll watch but only after I've recorded it so I can fast forward certain parts.

fgmerchant said...

When I saw Rekha Sharma I thought, "Oh, she's definitely a V" because of her being a Cylon on BSG. Who are the other BSG actors on the show? I seem to have missed them!

Clevelle said...

Just wanted to say that Rekha Sharma makes ALOOF sexy and fun.

Anna said...

I can't believe we lost Juliet for this crap.

Christopher said...

Personally, I am curious to see if they will go the way of the resistance of New Caprica.

Brigid31 said...

My major problem is pacing. Despite being a miniseries the original actually manages to have a somewhat slow buildup to "The Vs are evil!" which this has completely lacked. Our main characters are either blindly trusting or already think the Vs are evil. There should have been a little bit more time for the characters to even get used to the idea of aliens, let alone contemplating fighting them.

I understand that the resistance element from the original is probably what more people remember (other than lizard babies) but I think it was a big mistake to have that resistance already formed. I want to see our main characters build it (which it looked like they are going to do this week) not just find it. I do think having the traitor Vs from the beginning is a good idea but it almost feels like too much. I think my main problem is just with the Vs having been here in secret for years.

Also can we get Michael Ironside to show up as the leader of the traitor Vs? Or the regular old resistance? That would sell me on the show.

Christopher said...

Speaking of BSG, I will somewhat disappointed if Tory doesn't turn out to be a V. Also, in reference to the cast, I think that is by far the strongest part of the show. I wish the writing were a bit better.

Whiskey said...

I agree with you and am also willing to give it a few more eps to see if it's a keeper. Even tho Elizabeth Mitchell bugs me. I see much more potential in this one than I do in Flash Forward, which I've already dropped even tho many of my friends totally love it.

Tyroc said...

Alan, don't forget you also hate "How I Met Your Mother." And sports teams from the tri-state area.

vicmackey187 said...

fgmerchant, the actor who played Erica's boss (Roark Chitlow), had a very significant guest role in Season Four's "Someone To Watch Over Me."

Daniel Thorpe said...

I'm with Alan on this one. This episode did move much better than the pilot - which was incredibly clunky about introducing the characters and handling the opening exposition. And Elizabeth Mitchell had more to do here than nag her son; cobbling together her cover story about the blown resistance meeting was - I thought - some pretty suspenseful TV. So, I enjoyed this a lot more than the pilot.

However, as much as Mitchell and Baccarin elevate the material and make their own scenes worth watching, they are surrounded by too many dull, generic characters and dull, generic dialogue. And the annoying teenage son may just be the deal-breaker for me. Him and his hormonal crush on the cute alien girl are already reaching for Weasly Crusher levels of awfulness.

dez said...

So V is ripping off PHANTASM now?

Heh, I had the same thought. The Tall Man is a V!

Jeff C. said...

I'll watch the rest of the four-episode run, and I *may* return in the spring to see if a new showrunner makes a difference, but at the moment I'm enormously disappointed with V: the pacing is poor, the dialog is clunky, and the characters are flat. I thought Elizabeth Mitchell was masterful as Juliet last year, so it almost physically hurts to watch her try to make something of the poor material she's given here. The show should be able to make something of the conflict between old and new faiths, yet I find Father Jack utterly uninteresting (and if Father Travis isn't a V, he's a total sap). Scott Wolf's Chad is gratingly egotistical--and not in a compelling way. Really, the only character I feel at all invested in is Ryan--and he's a V. Shouldn't there be at least one decent human character?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I can't believe we lost Juliet for this crap.

People keep saying this, and I don't think it's true. Whatever's happening to Juliet on Lost, she Mitchell was available to do V because the Lost producers were writing her out. They didn't write her out so she could do V. That's not how this usually works.

Abby G said...

I'm just psyched that Alan Tudyk isn't gone for good. I was so pissed last week when he was killed. He rocks my socks off.

Also, hello, Tory? Nice of you to join the human race again. Glad cylons can be reborn. When I saw her on screen I almost started throwing things at her.

Overall, I'm hoping this series improves but I really can't see it going well. Unless it gets too stupid though, I'll stick around.

Yes, Alan, you're a total hater. Don't forget the recent season of Lost.

Stealth said...

This show certainly has the opportunity to be a great examination of insurgency v. counterinsurgency. That could not be more relevant right now.

People mention the New Caprica arc. That arc was too short to deal with it, but the most interesting aspect of that to me was when Cavil said, basically, that if the humans become too much trouble that the Cylons would just nuke the planet and move on. One of Greg Weisman's proposed spinoffs of Gargoyles had a similar premise. How do you defeat an invading force that is that much more powerful than you?

V hasn't made that threat explicit yet, but it should. And the writers should be talking to every COIN wonk in the country.

Karen said...

I can't remember - did we see Alan Tudyk's eyes pop open in the teaser for "There is No Normal Anymore," or was the fact that I knew perfectly well that was going to happen just because it was so frakking obvious? (I suppose if not for Alpha, I might not have completely expected him to switch from good guy to bad guy.) And yeah, is there any chance Rekha Sharma's character isn't a Cylon, uh, I mean a V?

It all seems just way too obvious (and I've never seen the original). We'll probably watch these first episodes, to give it a chance (which we couldn't get ourselves to do with Flash Forward), but if it went away for good, I wouldn't find myself caring.

Zodin2008 said...

Completely, completely agree with the comments about pacing of the show. And the series in general for that matter.

The show is just off because the pilot episode last week should have been 2 hours to allow the arrival of the V's to be flushed out better and not suddenly having humans split into two camps in a matter of seconds. Yes, the entire pacing of this show just feels off.

And for every good actor this show has (Elizabeth Mitchell, Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk), they also have Scott Wolf as the cheesiest reporter ever. No way last night did I BUY that Scott Wolf could ever, even for a second outsmart Baccarin - not remotely believable. He's just too cheesy.

And I normally like Joel Gretsch, good on "The 4400", but a little cheesy here too. The worst is her kid. In a million years I can't buy Supergirl from "Smallville" being remotely attracted to a cheesy dork like that kid. I get that she's an alien, but still way out of his league.

I will definitely watch the other 2 episodes of the "pod", but man, watching "V" the same night I later watched "Sons of Anarchy", arguably the best show on Television, is NOT helping V's case in the slightest.

Robin said...

I'm enjoying it. I love the cast (except Scott Wolf who I'm "meh" about, and the kid), and I find it just fun. Maybe I'm simply starved for sci-fi right now, as I don't have cable, I've finished BSG, and Lost isn't back yet. But I'm definitely along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

Why the hell wouldn't Agent Juliet just tell her son the truth about the Vs?

Yeah, yeah, no conflict if he knows, and I suppose you could make the arguement that she is trying to keep him safe, but it felt like characters withholding important information just for the sake of withholding important information (which I can't stand).

Alan Sepinwall said...

Her son is also so stupid that he would refuse to believe her, and then go running to his V crush to tell her everything.

Anonymous said...

V is just... uninteresting.

Last year we had Life, Life On Mars (which was fun until the last episode's suicide lozenge), Southland, and the wonderful Sarah Connor Chronicles.

This year, thankfully, some good new comedies. But in terms of drama and particularly SF drama...

Let's just say that Lost can't return soon enough.

Bryan Murray said...

Were V and Flash Forward written during the writers' strike? Cool premises, decent casts, and writing that makes me actually want to turn off the tv and read a book. I guess there is a reason both shows are changing show runners - whatever that actually means. I need to go watch the new Sons of Anarchy that I somehow didn't stay up to watch last night.

Julie said...

In terms of BSG actors, I believe Roark Critchlow played the hallucination of Starbuck's father -- or at least we were supposed to believe he was her father -- in the episode with the piano player (he was the piano player) in the final season. I'll always remember him as one of the many Mike Hortons on Days of Our Lives. My comments on V: http://bit.ly/1OQosD

Craig Ranapia said...

I can't believe we lost Juliet for this crap.

Anna: What are you talking about? I thought Elizabeth and the "Lost" PTB have confirmed that she'll be spending part of the V hiatus in Hawaii shooting her appearance in at least the first two episodes of next season? Or was I having a psychotic episode when I read that?

Karen said...

What's always struck ME is how much Alan hates "Chuck," and refuses to support it.

Geez.

As for "V"--I watched the pilot. It was fun. It didn't grab me, though. So I bailed last night and it doesn't sound like I'll be heading back anytime soon. I mean, if I were a professional reviewer and HAD to watch it I certainly wouldn't be in agony, but since I have TV Free Will and never enough time to begin with, it just didn't have enough oomph to make the cut.

Anonymous said...

Beyond the fact that the dialogue in this show is utter trash, they seriously shot thier wad on the whole visitor conspiracy in the pilot.

Why not let it play out over the first season and draw in viewers by unveiling the big alien conspiracy bit by bit.

I think the only thing that could save this show would be a resistance cell headed by Ben from lost .... Ben realizes the true threat to the island isn't Widmore, it's the lizard aliens!

Josh M. said...

Ok, so it just dawned on me - Elizabeth Mitchell is now appearing on "V" with Scott Wolf, from "Party of Five." After working on "Lost" with Matthew Fox, from "Party of Five." And AFTER co-starring on the short-lived "Party of Five" spinoff "Time of Your Life," with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

WHY IS THIS WOMAN STALKING THE CAST OF "PARTY OF FIVE?" Lacey Chabert should watch her back.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"Is the hope that by including as many possible BSG actors as possible that the quality will rub off?"

In addition to Tory and Slick from BSG, we also have two Firefly actors, one from Lost, one from the 4400, and one from Smallville. Is this geek pandering or a fact of life in a world with as many SF-ish series as there are these days?

Craig Ranapia said...

Her son is also so stupid that he would refuse to believe her, and then go running to his V crush to tell her everything.

Let's be fair, Alan. At least he hasn't joined the Hitler Youth analogue, and handed a whole family over to be lizard chow because their daughter wouldn't make out with him. Yet. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone who questions the pace. The writers obviously slept through the class during which "how to build suspense" was taught. The show is as if Steven Spielberg showed the great white shark chow down on some unsuspecting surfer at the beginning of his movie.

I think Alan hit it on the nose in his pilot review when he said the writers are writing with the assumption that we already know what's going to happen (because of the original V) and are thus skipping through the formalities of character development. The problem with this approach is we are all left wondering what's the point in us watching if we already know what's gonna happen? The pilot felt rushed, like some impatient child fast forwarding a movie he's watched before so he can get to the "good stuff".

BSG was incredibly successful because it reinvented the story as we were always left wondering how it would all play out. V 2009 feels like a lost opportunity to do something great with a familiar story.

As for the familiar actors showing up on V, it is filmed here in Vancouver (as was BSG) and with BSG now concluded, many of the local Canadian actors became available for the new series.

Anonymous said...

How I would have done it:

Opening scene:

Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell), Dale Maddox (Alan Tudyk) and a crew of FBI agents have descended on an abandoned mine, the site of what they believed was a terrorist cell's hiding place. It appears they were a bit late as the suspects appear to have recently vacated the premises. While searching for evidence in the dark, underground tunnels, the team is hit with an unpleasant odour coming from one of the tunnels. As they investigate, some moisture on the walls is revealed as blood and the tunnel leads them into a cavern lined with dead, mutilated bodies of suspected terrorists. As they move about attempting to identify the bodies, they notice that the bodies were not just mutilated. They've been skinned with muscles and internal organs carved out. A noise in the back of the cavern startles Erica and they discover one of the terrorists partially carved up but struggling to stay alive. As detective Maddox approaches, there's fear in the dying man's eyes and he starts to convulse before passing away. Erica looks at Dale with a terrified and concerned look and asks, "What happened here?"

Across town, we are introduced to Father Landry. He is in confession with an anonymous drop-in, Ryan Nichols, who appears to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Ryan expresses his torment regarding certain secrets he's been keeping from his girlfriend, his love for her and his fear that she would never forgive him. Father Landry shows sincere concern for the tortured soul and advises that secrets may feel necessary but are ultimately dangerous and that if Ryan sees a future with his girlfriend, he needs to make a difficult decision to either be honest or to let her go. Ryan thanks the priest and upon leaving the church, pulls out an engagement ring from his pocket, wondering what his next move should be.

That evening, Erica arrives home to her son Tyler, who is clearly distant and annoyed. Erica asks him about his day but only gets short responses. She's obviously concerned but more than that, she's bothered by the fact that she again hasn't been there for her son and sees him slipping away. Erica approaches Tyler to show him she's there for him but her coming home late has happened too many times and he isn't receptive. As Erica leaves the room, Tyler pulls out some application forms... for the US Army. In a few short months, he will qualify. We next see a sad Erica in the living room. She turns on the TV where we see news reporter Chad Decker reporting on the grizzly crime scene discovered by the FBI earlier in the day.

========

What do you think? I would then use the second hour for the arrival of the visitors and to show how each of our main characters react to it.

Imma said...

In my opinion the V as well as the resistance are acting incredible stupid. There whole technology against the resistance consists of a flying ball, neither masked in any way nor capable of flying in other heights then the ones beeing clearly visible to humans? They can't get their hands on cell phone data in the area. And so on.

Anonymous said...

Man Alan. Why you hating on just about every show lately? Who pissed in your cereal, man?

Yes. I'm hating on every show lately. I hate "Mad Men," and the NBC Thursday comedies, and "Friday Night Lights," and "Sons of Anarchy," and...

I just hate. It's who I am. It's what I do.

10:52 PM, November 10, 2009


Alan's just bitter because he got kicked off his Dullhouse high horse when that crap-fest was cancelled.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yes. Exactly. I loved "Dollhouse" and thought it was the greatest show of all time and am outraged that Fox didn't give it a fair chance.

You've nailed me 100%. Bravo.

bgt said...

And that's several nails in the coffin for banning anonymous comments. Alan has never been on a Dollhouse "high horse"...he's been just as critical of the show as anyone else out there. (well, except for that Washington Post writer)