V

V

We’ve all had an encounter with an obnoxious neighbor. Things start out fine – you extend a friendly handshake, they bring over a couple of plates of food, you lend them the lawnmower – and before you know it, they have made it their sole purpose to take over your life. Imagine this on a more intergalactic level, and you have the premise of V, a science fiction saga that aired as a miniseries on NBC in 1983.

When squadrons of seemingly friendly extraterrestrials, the Visitors, extend a hand of friendship to the people of Earth, the majority from our planet welcomes them with open arms. They need some of our planetary supplies and offer some spiffy advanced technology in return. It seems a fair arrangement, although perhaps it would have been prudent to wonder why so many of them were needed on our planet’s surface for such a simple mission.

Still, they are an ingratiating bunch, especially their affable official representatives, John and Diana – identical in appearance to earthlings and fluent in our language. They do need to wear protective visors, however, to protect their eyes from dangerous rays (visors that look suspiciously like 70s sunglasses) making them pretty easy to spot in a crowd.

But, as any fan of science fiction might surmise, things are not quite as friendly as they seem. The Visitors are actually working swiftly to take over our planet – infiltrating law enforcement agencies and the media, stealing the planet’s supply of water, and breeding public animosity towards the scientific community (who just might be smart enough to stumble upon their diabolical plans).

When an investigative journalist named Michael Donovan is able to sneak aboard one of their vessels, he makes some startling discoveries. Our new friends have been cleverly hiding their sinister reptilian features. Unfortunately, before he can alert the world, the media is completely consumed by The Visitors and Michael becomes a fugitive. If that weren’t enough, one of the aliens has managed to impregnate a young girl named Robin.

While the aliens continue to convert the minds of their hosts, Donovan meets up with an underground resistance movement, doing all they can to slow and disrupt the aliens progress. Donovan makes his way aboard a spaceship again, this time meeting a disgruntled alien named Martin (a common name among aliens, assuming you remember My Favorite Martian).

Martin exposes the true intentions of his people – to take over our planet and turn us in to slaves, or worse (ala The Twilight Zone), into … dinner! It turns out that Martin isn’t the only alien uncomfortable with their leader’s plans, and agrees to help balance the scales by giving Donovan access to a fighter craft. The war has commenced.

Kenneth Johnson conceived, wrote and directed V. No stranger to sci-fi, his previous works included such notable 70s shows as The Incredible Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man. He has hinted that underneath the space reptiles is an allegory to Nazi Germany, right down to the similar youth movements and utilization of propaganda. In fact, the marketing for the series shows a propaganda poster with a large letter “V” scrawled over the top, the mark of the resistance movement and standing for “Victory.”

Based on the success of the original mini-series, a sequel was ordered and the following year, V: The Final Battle aired. Kenneth Johnson would only be briefly involved in this production, however, the victim of budget squabbling. Still, it was a well-received and highly anticipated sequel that kept sci-fi fans glued to their television seats.

Returning to earth, we find things pretty much as we left them. The Resistance is doing their best to save mankind from being served upon the invaders dinner tables, Robin is still pregnant with an alien baby, and the Visitors continue to control much of society, although their grip is beginning to loosen, thanks to a Resistance raid which results in some damning evidence getting out over the public airwaves.

Both sides increase their attacks and thanks to increased public suspicions, the Resistance starts to grow more fierce. Meanwhile, Robin finally gives birth – to a set of twins, a reptilian looking boy (who dies shortly after birth) and a human girl…with a forked tongue, bless her heart.

While trying to figure out how the boy died, the Resistance discovers he was killed by a certain bacteria, which they nickname “Red Dust.” After many lost battles, they now have a lethal counter-weapon and proceed to stockpile mountains of the stuff as they prepare to spread the love to the Visitors. But will they be able to kill enough of them before the Visitors are able to set their ships to self-destruct and kill mankind?

Without giving away the details, let’s just say that there were enough survivors to continue on with a television series, which aired in 1984. All the favorite characters returned, including Donovan and the lizardly Diana.

The fight between the Resistance and the now-less-invincible alien infiltrators continued from week to week – nineteen of them to be exact. The battle finally ended – not by the hands of the aliens or Resistance fighters, but by network programming executives – who poured salt on the wounds of loyal fans by ending the series on a cliffhanger, one that would never resolve.

Fans got a chance to walk down memory lane in 2009, when the entire series was re-imagined in 2009. The response to the reboot was mostly positive, but that didn’t stop ABC from pulling the plug after two seasons, raising the ire of loyal viewers yet again.

So far, letter writing campaigns and attempts to get other networks interested in continuing the V series have yet to succeed, but we still aren’t ready to discount another possible visit from sunglass-toting reptillians. Neighbors have a pesky way of showing up when we least expect them.

If you were a fan of this popular 80s miniseries, or its many incarnations thereafter, we would love to hear your memories and thoughts about V in our comments section below.

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