Can ABC’s “V” Reinvade Network Television After A Four Month Hiatus?
ABC’s reboot of the 1980s science fiction show “V” returns to television tomorrow night after a four month hiatus. Remember way back in the day when television shows would premier in the fall and then continue running for an entire season? I won’t begin to pretend I understand what “strategy” is involved in running four episodes of a new series, making it disappear, and bringing it back (feels like I’m victim of an elaborate sociological experiment, kind of like that other ABC series), but ratings for the remaining eight episodes of the split-season should prove whether that decision will save the show or kill it.
Though V got off to strong start during its premier episode, by the end of its four-episode run it had lost a third of its audience and rumors started spreading about V being cancelled before viewers would ever get a chance to see Anna’s (Morena Baccarin) real skin. Those rumors have since proved false, but it’s a sign of the times that television shows can often barely outlive these ratings “audition” periods. Its also a sign of the times for series to shake-up their staff behind the scenes, this time with new executive producer Scott Rosenbaum (“Chuck” “The Shield”) replacing Scott Peters (“The 4400”) as showrunner in early November, before V had even aired.
With all of this drama behind the scenes, what new developments can we expect on screen? In a recent interview with the LA Times, Rosenbaum indicated which storyline he saw as most central to the show’s mythology:
I never was quite sure from the first four episodes what [the show] was really about, outside of just “Visitors have come.” What I told [the studio] about how I see it is that, at its spine, it’s really about two mothers and how far that they’re willing to go to protect their children….
In addition to this matriarchal throwdown, Rosenbaum hinted at what his version of “V” would bring to the table, including Erica’s (Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell) slip into morally ambiguous territory, more V/human trans-species pregnancies, and–in an homage to the original series’ rat-eating Vs–a nod to “rodent desire” that should please fans. Mmm..sounds delicious.
Not to be outdone by rat-eating and alien babies, Morena Baccarin (“Firefly” “Serenity” “Stargate SG1”) is talking up V, and the potential of seeing the Vs engage in typical human activities like “eating, sleeping, sex.” Baccarin, who played another genocidal omnipotent leader as Adria in Stargate SG-1 and has proved she’s a natural at making evil look good, says audiences will get a stronger sense of what motivates her character and the Vs:
…you get into a little bit more of the why and the how. You get a little bit more of just anatomically who they are, their physical being, and why they do the things that they do. There are some really fun little reveals.
The Visitors (Vs) come to Earth. The Vs promise humans access to fascinating new technologies and scientific advances, expecting nothing in return. The Vs are unbelievably attractive and extremely stylish (two words: Shoulder Pads). The Vs are too good to be true.
While V isn’t without its flaws (in particular the belabored CW-style teen romance between Laura Vandervoort and Logan Huffman), I’m hoping V can survive the remainder of this season and make good on its promises. We’ll be seeing more of the V resistance, including Michael Trucco (“Battlestar Galactica”) as Fifth Column leader John May, and Rosenbaum says “there will be three or four huge, oh-my-God, wow…I-didn’t-see-that-coming [moments]”.
Likewise, ABC is airing V after LOST on Tuesday nights, hoping perhaps to sustain the focus of LOST’s rabid audience with another serialized show featuring Juliet/Elizabeth Mitchell. Though V isn’t as high-concept as say, Caprica, it has faster pacing, kick-ass fight scenes (some with priests!), and a really slick wardrobe department. And with Caprica going on indefinite hiatus, I’m running out of science fiction shows to watch on TV.