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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Complete First Season


Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Charles Mesure, Logan Huffman, Lourdes Benedicto, Laura Vandervoort and Morena Baccarin
Warner Home Video
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 15
Available 08 November 2010

Alien creatures known only as the Visitors have appeared in every major city in the world simultaneously. Looking like everyday men and women, the Vs preach a benign code of peace and unity, promising the knowledge of sophisticated technology. But before long, the terrifying truth begins to unfold... The battle for earth begins when anti terrorist agent Erica Evans discovers what lurks beneath the alarmingly human exterior of the Visitors...

V is a 2009 reworking of the 1983 V mini series and contains the show's first season (12 episodes) spread over three discs).

I must admit I was a little apprehensive about watching this series. The main reason the original worked so well was that the viewer of the time didn't know whether the visitors were good or bad. In addition the realisation that they didn't actually look anything like us, and that they were in fact lizard-like in appearance, added to the shock value. Already knowing where the series is going takes a great deal away from the suspense and intrigue that the original created. Basically we're watching a show where we already know the main twist.

That said, the producers handle this updated version quite well. We have a new alien leader (whose portrayed as yet another sci-fi cliched alien queen) in the form of Anna; and I have to say that Morena Baccarin is perfect in the role. We also have a new team of resistance fighters. Of course, this being post 9/11, they are seen as terrorists by the rest of the V loving population.

The team is headed up by Erica Evans, (Elizabeth Mitchell) an anti terrorist agent; Father Jack, (Joel Gretsch) a priest questioning his faith; and the apparently ordinary Ryan, (Morris Chestnut) who was all set to lead a norman human existence and settle down and get married until an old friend drags him back into the resistance. He was part of the original team who have been fighting aliens for years - as they have secretly been living amongst the human race for quite some time.

Erica has to juggle being an anti terrorist agent, her freedom fighting secret life and keeping her teenage son Tyler (Logan Huffman) away from the Visitors - which is easier said than done as he's fallen in love with one.

Then there's Chad (Scott Wolf), a power-hungry newsreader, who sees the Vistors arrival as the path to a more prominent career and strikes up a business friendship with Anna.

What's interesting about this series is that firstly the two leads (Erica and Anna) are both strong female characters. Then there's the fact that the good guys have to be as ruthless as the villains in order to protect the cause they are fighting for. Although, to be fair to the Visitors, the humans don't actually know what they are fighting for - just that they have a bad feeling about the fact the Visitors aren't telling the whole truth. But then, in order to create a good first impression, wouldn't even good lizard-esque aliens want to appear like us on first contact so as not to alarm us? Even the Visitor human sympathiser whose been on earth for years doesn't really know what Anna's plan is.

An aspect I wasn't overly impressed with was the rather bad green screen effects. In the opening episode there are some incredible CGI effects (the crashing fighter plane is as impressive as you'd expect in many a big budget Hollywood movie) but the majority of the space craft interior shots are produced via green screen... and it shows... quite badly... quite a lot of the time. This detracts from the action, as I just kept thinking how badly handled the effects were.

Now, it could be argued, that this was done in order to save money and allow us to see more areas of the ship. But to be fair there are so few different areas of the ship shown that a practical set shouldn't have been a huge problem. Once you've seen one white corridor you've pretty much seen them all. In fact I only really counted a handful of lavish (CGI) sets and all but Anna's birthing pool could have been built relatively cheaply - even the main control room which has large windows looking out onto the city could have been built with green screen windows.

It could be a lack of budget, or a way to tip the viewer off as to what is really going on, but the same mangled corpse seen in the visitors ship is later used in an episode where a shuttle crashes. And this just felt a little sloppy.

Extras include deleted scenes for a few episodes; an audio commentary for one episode; Breaking Story: The World of V (16 min, 37 sec cast and crew interviews on what they think of the show); An Alien In Human Skin: The Makeup FX of V (11 min, 52 sec look at the make up effects... which is odd as we never actually see a full V out of human skin in the show. We only ever see body parts through a tear in the human skin); and VFX: The Visual FX of V (15 min, 08 sec look at the green screen aspect of the show's effects).

On balance this is an interesting first season which is well worth seeking out.


Darren Rea

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