Film, TV, and Popular Culture

V – V is for Victory

V: the Original Miniseries (1983)

In brief

Fifty alien ships show up in the skies above major cities across the World and their occupants appear to be human and on a mission of friendship. It would be a very short-lived, and frankly, quite boring show if the latter was true which of course it isn’t. It falls to a group of resistance fighters to discover their true intentions and to find a way to stop them.

In full

Warning: will contain plot details and spoilers.

I have rather fond memories of watching V when it first aired and I was, cough cough, 8 years old. From what I remember, it an episode was on every night from Monday to Friday which meant that my brother and I were allowed to stay up to watch it with my mum. Okay, so it was a bit tiring I admit but it was worth the watch. I have since rewatched it a few times as an adult and while it may have dated special effects, it still stands the test of time even if just for nostalgia value.

V builds up the story slowly, introducing us to the aliens, or visitors as they like to be referred to, who look and talk like humans, and the reactions and affects this has on a variety of people. For some, they are totally taken in by the visitors while others are a lot more cautious, and some to the point that they start being murdered by the visitors. What are they hiding?

We soon learn that the visitors’ physiology is definitely not human after Willy (Robert Englund), a visitor, rescues a human in -300f liquid nitrogen explosion. Willy makes friends with Harmony, another worker at the plant where Willy works in what becomes a very sweet pairing. Robyn, a naive teenager, doesn’t get quite so lucky when a visitor, Brian, takes an interest in her. In what turns out to be a scientific experiment by Diana, the leader of the visitors, Robyn is seduced by Brian and, of course, a baby is the result. More on that later.

Meanwhile, Mike Donovan, a reporter who has the privilege of filming the first contact, and his colleague, Tony, start to suspect things are amiss when eminent scientists suddenly become left-handed when they were previously right-handed, and they start speaking in support of the visitors in an apparent attitude change. Like any good reporter, Mike takes it upon himself to investigate further and sneaks aboard a mothership. This is where we are treated to the sight of Diana swallowing a guinea pig whole in a rather memorable scene. Okay, so the special effects on this one are laughable now but it’s a scene you probably won’t forget, I know I didn’t. We soon find out that the visitors are in fact some kind of reptilian creature wearing human skin to make them look like us.

Things start to escalate quickly with the visitors pushing their human friendship agenda and adding their weight to keeping peace on the streets with their version of martial law when humans start rioting. More and more humans are getting suscpious as rumours grow, including Julie, a biologist, who starts to worry when scientists she knows disappear. Julie is integral to forming the resistance group and becomes their reluctant leader.

The resistance group soon manages to sweep up a lot of the characters that we’ve met along the way, and as they dig deeper, we find out that guinea pigs are just an entre and humans are the main course. Luckily for the humans, a number of visitors also don’t agree with what their kind is doing and they have formed their own resistance group – the fifth column who agree to work with the human resistance group.

What is slightly confusing about this miniseries is that it is just the two episodes. So we are left knowing that the Visitors are pretty much in control of the Earth and there are resistance groups fighting to bring them down. We know that the Visitors have other enemies and Julie has sent a message into space asking for help. We also know that Robyn is showing signs of pregnancy. The conclusion to the miniseries comes in the form of three further episodes, V: the Final Battle. Or rather, it was meant to be the conclusion but there also followed V: the Series which never really got concluded after it got cancelled and also wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first five episodes.

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