Tuesday, March 30, 2010

V, "Welcome to the War": Pick up the pieces

Because every episode of "V" is so heavy on special effects, ABC couldn't make a completed version of tonight's return episode - the first in months, and the first under new showrunner Scott Rosenbaum - available for review until late last night. So I couldn't write about it for today's column (that, instead, became a collection of "American Idol" gripes), but I'll have a few non-spoiler-y thoughts on it after the jump, and feel free to use this post to discuss "Welcome to the War" after it airs tonight...

Rosenbaum has worked on two of my favorite shows ever in "The Shield" and "Chuck" (where he most recently wrote "Chuck vs. the Beard"), and so I was hopeful he'd be able to turn around the drab, pointless remake that "V" was during its brief fall run. And there are definite improvements in tonight's episode: more of a sense of forward momentum from the human resistance (and a more plausible sense that they actually have a chance against the Visitors), some more emotional resonance for several characters who had previously been paper-thin, and a few very creepy reminders of how un-human the V's are.

The problem, though, is that Rosenbaum has to mostly play the hand he was dealt by the previous creative team, and there's only so much he can fix at once, especially since "Welcome to the War" also has to serve as a kind of refresher course for the series after the long time away. So we're still stuck with Elizabeth Mitchell's annoying teenage son getting played by the V's, still stuck with a cast that isn't terribly charismatic outside of Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin, still going through the motions we expect from this story, whether we saw the '80s show or not.

I'm going to give Rosenbaum time, since you can't turn a freighter around on a dime, and it would be hard for him to come in and immediately ditch all the elements that weren't working. But you may want to manage your expectations for tonight's show.

26 comments:

dez said...

So, in essence, it's worth watching for a while longer, at least? I'm still watching "24," so you know what kind of tolerance I have for shenanigans :-)

mizenkay said...

I'm watching tonight. These long breaks for shows really do kill the momentum - with the exception of "Fringe" which I love no matter what or when.

Once "Flash Forward" came back I found myself not caring anymore, but with "V" I will give it more time than just one new ep. Cause who doesn't like creepy lizardy aliens disguised as Morena Baccarin?

Byron Hauck said...

I'd much rather take my breaks in the middle of the season so that I can have new tv 9 months a year. Especially now that we have the internet, unlike when I was a kid and I'd have to tune in to find out if a show was "new tonight." Bugs me when people act like shows used to run straight through.

Anonymous said...

Like a lot of people I'm watching largely due to Elizabeth Mitchell's involvement, but we'll see how far that goes. At some point the show has to start being worth it and I have my doubts it can be saved.

She has a great sense of humor and would probably be better on a show that had more comedy in it, like a Castle type show.

BF said...

This is the first episode of V i've seen, so I don't know if it's a gaffe or a stylistic choice
...
but
...
Why does every single line sound like it was ADR'd?

Otto Man said...

You know, I had no interest in watching "V" this season until ABC put up that countdown graphic during tonight's "Lost."

Well, ABC, I'm now interested in "V," in that I'm actively rooting for the show to fail and everyone involved in its promotion to be fired.

Mission accomplished.

AlienVisitor said...

Otto Man, what if the show ends up being good though.

Valerie said...

I'll keep watching but I really really hope things pick up soon. I wish they'd get rid of the teenager, or at least give him less screen time. And most of all, I hope they tone down the makeup on Elizabeth Mitchell. She's a gorgeous woman, but she looks like she's been hit by Homer's makeup gun.

Jape77 said...

Leaping lizards, they took a half-decent show -- and made it worse.

Chrissy said...

@BF:
"Why does every single line sound like it was ADR'd?"

I had the exact same thought, particularly early on when Elizabeth Mitchell and Morris Chestnut were talking (is it a bad sign that I haven't learned a single character's name other than Anna and Georgie?)

I don't normally notice bad effects, but the sound seemed really odd, and the Vs on the ship looked like poorly animated video game characters (perhaps that was intentional, to give them an otherworldly appearance? They certainly didn't feel human, so, mission accomplished).

Entertaining enough, but, yes, a show that needs to kick it up about 7 notches to be worth the time. (and that's leaving aside residual anger about the stupid clock promo).

jenmoon said...

Anyone else yelling "PREYING MANTIS!" right before the end?

Having not seen the infamous rat-eating scene, I suspect that's a comedown from it.

Jason said...

Nice special effects.

Shame the new showrunner couldn't wrap a coherent story around them.

Henry said...

The show's return made me realize (or at least remember) that I REAAAAAALLY hate Morena Baccarin's haircut. And the show still seems completely lifeless to me. The mercenary could be an interesting element, but he seems very thinly developed (Can't they find some other motivation besides money? The cool weapons or something?) and by the time Anna starts breeding with the V supersoldier at the end (at least, I think that was procreation V-style), I was actually more confused than I was coming into the episode.

Damien said...

Well, that was pretty lame. Not quite as bad as FlashForward, but close. Elizabeth Mitchell simply doesn't wash as an FBI agent and frankly, she's not that good an actress. She seemed to have garnered quite a few fans on Lost, but she's just a one trick pony - she does good moody, pouty stares into the middle distance, but that's about it.

This series simply doesn't have a sense of reality to it (yes, I know it's scifi). It all seems superficial and soapy and while I'll keep watching for now, I think it will go the same way as FlashForward before too long.

Anonymous said...

I actually thought tonight's episode was better than it had been. To me, it also felt like it was moving forward and it seemed to be darker.

I agree about the character choices... not a lot to work with here. As much as I'm upset that this show has been a completely missed opportunity, I do like the new and improved feel to the show. I felt absolutely zero, ziltch, nada suspense in the show up until tonight and now, the actors seem to be showing a lot more emotion and tension.

Although the mating scene at the end was interesting, it was also absolutely predictable and I wish they didn't have Anna recite what she was about to do. Duh, we already knew. I was actually hoping to hear the screaming during "the act".

I plan to stick around a bit longer to see if it gets better. I'm hopeful for the new direction but I suspect, it may be to late for anyone to really care.

Anonymous said...

The show has great atmosphere.

The show has a good cast (though Elizabth Mitchell's son is borderline insufferable.

What they don't have is any sense of pacing or momentum. They cram 30 minutes of plot into 42 minutes, and as a result, We can generally see everything coming a mile away.

Seriously, as soon as Anna starting looking up and down the manhunk line, who didn't know *exactly* how that was going to play out?

Paul said...

Alan and all,

Wasn't it SO convenient that American Idiot Karaoke just HAPPENED to run overtime by nearly 5 minutes on the same night V returned? I'm not implying anything here, I'm coming right out with it; SLEAZY tactics, Fox, pure and simple). It's not the first time Fox has pulled this stunt, and it won't be the last.

Scott said...

Paul - you can't blame just FOX on this one. All the networks have been doing it. Lost has had plenty of 1 hour 2 minute recordings over the last few seasons.

Stellar Drift said...

Haven't seen the return yet, but

"Elizabeth Mitchell's annoying teenage son"

Oh you are so right - I'm hoping a saucer lands on him really soon!!

And give us some more spaceships.

Let them have built a secret base on the dark side or the moon or something unexpected.

In short let it be science fiction not just a bunch of beverly hills rejects and a matte painting in the sky.

phreddd said...

If they play up the impending "Who's the baddest b*tch!" clash between Erica and Anna even a small bit (Overkill WILL kill!), this show now has a chance. I dig the fun ways they threw those of us who remember the 80s series off-track re: the "fine dining" scenes.

Jennifer said...

I will be fair: they minimized Tyler's screen time in this episode so that he spent 80% of his scenes lying still. Fine by me!

Sam Garret said...

The thing that got me was when they decided to 'lose' an actual dead alien body, instead of using it to expose or blackmail the Vs, whose lizardness is still not widely known. Way to give away a bargaining chip.

The rest of it was slightly dull, but it did pick up a bit at the end, predictable or not. Shiny effects, for the most part, but that's not really enough.

abbey normal said...

NOT going to watch this cheap remake anymore! It's so bad, I turned it off half-way through.

Mark said...

Trying very hard to enjoy this show, but it borders on the pathetic. Maybe I will give it one more week.

Geoff said...

It was a bit slow, but based on the first four episodes and the initial premise, I can give it about two more episodes or so to get better. I have more invested in it than I do in FlashFoward, I'll say that much.

The dialogue is pretty stiff though...needs to be more natural.

Hannah Lee said...

I don't know about this show. I wanted to like it, but I really don't. It's got an interesting premise, some actors I like (Mitchell, Baccarin) that are doing good work, interesting visuals.

For me, I think the combination of the focus on Mitchell's son's plot, and some casting issues keeps the show from keeping my interest. I find Mitchell's son and the pretty V he's paired with incredibly dull (did they raid FF's casting picks for these two?)..they needed actors with more charisma to make me care about that plot.

And Scott Wolf seems miscast...it didn't hit me until the scene of him dining with Anna - something about his persona is too light for this show.