Sunday, October 12, 2008


When I was a kid, one of my favorite sci-fi franchises was the fascism parable V. Created by Kenneth Johnson, he of the Incredible Hulk TV series, the concept began its life as a four-hour miniseries which tracked the aftermath of Earth's first alien arrival. While the red-clad Visitors at first seem benign, their true reptilian nature is soon revealed, as is their plan to siphon Earth's water and turn humankind into their food supply. Basically, take Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, toss in some of the "To Serve Man" episode of The Twilight Zone, and you end up with something like this.

That first mini racked up huge numbers -- like, Roots-huge -- which in turn led to an inevitable sequel, V - The Final Battle. Of course, by then, those famous Hollywood "creative differences" led Ken Johnson to depart the project, and he took most of the social commentary and hard edge with him. The Johnson-free Final Battle was still a huge success though, which led NBC to greenlight a still-Johnson-free weekly that came and went inside of one season, and sadly V has been mostly forgotten since its mid '80s heyday. Except by, y'know, people like me, who still have the V comic books from DC. And the various V tie-in novels. And bought the DVDs the day they came out.

Though there'd been occasional rumblings of a V reboot in the intervening two decades, including an early '90s take by J. Michael Straczynski (who hadn't yet brought Babylon 5 to the world), the only movement on the V front for the past several years had been a proposed sequel by Johnson himself, that would ignore the second mini and TV series, and pick up twenty years after the first miniseries. Nothing came of this attempt, but he did turn his sequel script into a novel that came out last year. I haven't read it yet, but it's sitting on my nightstand for a while now, and I'm sure I'll get to it one of these days.

Anyway, there's new word that the Visitors may be invading the Earth all over again with a report from Variety that ABC has greenlit a V "reboot," still Johnson-free, which will attempt to do with the concept what Sci-Fi Channel did with Battlestar Galactica. Of course, NBC tried something similar with The Bionic Woman last year and...well, yeah.

Right now I'm of two minds on the subject of a V redux. Certainly, the original concept of encroaching fascism remains as relevant as ever (maybe moreso, based on the video clip in the post below this one), but on the other hand, whenever a big studio meets a high concept, biting social commentary is usually the first thing that hits the bricks. Plus, the fact that they've (again) kicked Ken Johnson to the curb is also not cause for celebration. I mean, he only created the thing, after all.

As always with these things, we'll just have to wait and see.


Amina said...

If they do a remake I really hope it's like the new Battlestar Galactica series - then it could actually be good.

Ian Sokoliwski said...

This is so odd - I only just picked up the original mini-series last week sometime. I'm really looking forward to watching it, as I haven't seen it in over ten years.

Fawaz said...

I'm glad they are doing a remake. I'm sure it'll have none of the cultural impact the original mini-series did. I remember the commercials counting down the days until the Vistors get here and I remember the shock of finally seeing the reptilian skin of the aliens. It was a huge deal for me and I am sort of surprised how people younger then me have never heard of the show. Looking forward to it, but will I be disappointed, probably.