Episode Review: V – Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)

Republibot 1.0
Republibot 1.0's picture

Hi and welcome to the first regular V recap/review thingy for Republibot. I am Republibot 1.0 and I will be your host and guide through the next several weeks until the show goes on indefinite hiatus based on how well the ratings hold up. I will try my best to be fair and balanced as I share my thoughts on this show with you over its short run, but I feel it important and in the interest of full disclosure to let you all know that I have a very soft spot in my heart for the original, regardless of how hokey it is in retrospect. I am even more fond of it than I am of Man From Atlantis.

The basic premise has been maintained from the original mini-series to this new iteration. Large ships appear in the skies above major metropolitan cities all over the world and introduce themselves as the Visitors and make their case for a peaceful exchange of earth resources for V technology and help. Of course it wouldn’t be a very interesting show if that was all it was really about.

The V are really lizardoid creatures that have come to destroy all humans. And take over the world, or something. Not sure if this episode ever got really specific on the V’s long term strategic goals with earth – but that could be because they are looking to eat us all and want it to be a big surprise just like our beloved original.

Before I get to the rough play by play, I have to say I really don't know what I think of this show yet. I was hoping to be more blown away by it than I was. Remember the first episode of Heroes? I was hooked after episode one – even the lackluster installments worked hard the entire time at hooking you so you had to turn in the next week to see what happened.

I found this episode overall, just really slow and incredibly bland. How do you end up being this bland when a bunch of big interstellar ships are parked all over the world and crewed by supermodels that are really lizards and could possibly be looking to eat everyone? I don’t know if this is a question that I can easily answer, other than to say they accomplished massive blandness with ease.

Having said that, everything seemed to come alive in the last 10 minutes and started to catch my interest with the possible promise that things might pick up in future episodes.

Quick Play-by-Play

The start is all about introductions – we meet our main characters as they go about their lives – there is Ryan (Morris Chestnut) who is buying an engagement ring from a jewelry store. Chad (Scott Wolf who I shall refer to as Party of Five from here on out), a big time reporter for an Entertainment Tonight type of show, who is demonstrating that he is smart and decisive and not just a pretty face by giving instructions to people as he walks busily from one place to another. Erica (a very quirky sexy Elizabeth Mitchell) and Dale (Wooohoooo, Alan Tudyk from Firefly still sporting an American accent) are FBI agents exchanging the type of banter only long time partners can exchange. Tyler (Logan Huffman, a generic good looking teen type) who is the son of Erica, and his overweight best friend (who isn’t listed clearly enough on IMDb for me to figure out who he is real life) who will probably be killed off in shortly, are in an emergency room exchanging the kind of dialogue that only Hollywood thinks teenage best friends actually exchange.

Suddenly everything starts to shake and everyone becomes alarmed. We cut to a church where a large plaster Christ statue falls from the balcony and almost hits a poor crippled man in a wheelchair who is just hanging around the church. People are panicking all over the city in a most orderly fashion. A fighter jet loses control and crashes into the middle of the city, while the pilot drifts safely to the ground unconscious.

We can see the giant ship slowly move across reflective glass of the skyscrapers. I guess this is the first anyone has seen of the ships, they just suddenly appeared floating over the city. It seems kinda strange – we don't hear any sirens, or see any military response other than an arbitrarily set-up military check-point in the middle of the city.

Quirky sexy Erica walks through a low key milling crowd of people staring up at the sky trying to get a better look of the approaching ship and tries to go through the check point to find her son, but the soldier on guard adamantly refuses to let her by. He then gets distracted and she sneaks by and immediately runs into her son standing listlessly in the middle of a low key milling crowd of people staring up at the sky trying to get a better look of the approaching ship.

Suddenly something starts happening with the bottom of the ship, it starts moving until it is all reflected and then… Morena Baccarin appears in close-up HD across the entire bottom of the ship. You know, I don’t get it about her. I mean, yeah, I guess she is kinda attractive, but not super hot right – sure she has a sexy overbite, but overall I have always found her as relatively bland (there is that word again, is this becoming a recurring theme?). I always thought she was the weakest link on Firefly, but to be honest, that was one of the best cast TV series in a long time, she was just way, way out of her league.

She proceeds to give a PSA type of pitch about how peaceful they are and all they want to do is help the Earth. And then people start applauding. Seriously. They applaud the huge space ship floating over their city.

Morena, the Firefly prostitute girl who is called Anna here, and Party of Five guy meet cute – he asks her if there are any ugly V, and then she quips back that he ain’t so bad himself.

I am gonna speed it up here, sorry – this is killing me, I need to find a different way to give you what you all want but still not struggle over explaining every little thing that happened.

There seems to be a marked lack of interest by the world governments about these bland aliens from giant space ships hovering over major cities worldwide.

We get to sit in on a clichéd philosophical discussion between priests about what is more important, to blindly believe just to have hope in something better or let the V earn respect. The crippled guy rides his wheelchair in and then stands up to show how he has been healed (because if you introduce a crippled guy in the first act you have to use him before the end).

There is some bland Mother/son angst between Erica and her generic son. Honestly, she is really quirky and hot, she deserves much better as far as a kid goes.

Interestingly enough, we learn that Anna wants Party of Five to interview her. Apparently the interview is to help ease the protests which we have not seen in any shape whatsoever but are so bad that the V feel it necessary to do a fluff piece of ET?

I find it interesting that the government and military representation in all that is happening is next to nil. Seriously, wouldn’t it be helpful to understand the real dynamics of this visitation by including at least at a basic level how the parties that would actually have to deal with this would deal with it?

During the secret underground meeting that Erica attends of a fledgling resistance movement we finally start to learn that the V have been among us for a while and are responsible for sewing the international discord so that the world will jump at the opportunity for peace. Basically, the V are the illuminati. And then the show gets interesting finally and quickly when the meeting is raided and gunfire is exchanged.

If they can maintain that tension of the last 10 minutes, this might be an ok show. I think the climb to be a great show is way too steep from where they are starting, so please don't get your hopes up that way. I just don't think they can overcome the established blandness of the pacing and the casting. I really don't know how they can suck all of the life out of something as sure fire as this premise, but it looks like they did. I guess it comes from trying to over think it and making it topical. I don’t know.

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Did you take more from it than I did. Is there something that I missed that could help me get excited about this again? Or am I just stuck?

See you next week, same V time and same V channel… er, website.



The Third V Reich

neorandomizer's picture

I can see why the suits at ABC are having a cow about this show in the first episode they show that everything the Visitors and the Democratic Party are promising people is a lie and a trick to take over. Didn’t anyone at the network OK the script before they started shooting? It’s too funny they have spent so much money on this show and now they are stuck with a story line that people will not help but see as anti Obama. The reporter pointing out that the Visitors plan for health care for all is called universal health care was to rich. And the Visitors recruiting young people to be ambassadors oh man did the RNC write this thing.

The special effects are first rate and the production values are high. The story is a little simple like alien invasion for dummy’s but not too unwatchable. They crammed a lot of story into one hour but were able to miss the accidental camp of the 80’s original.

We will have to see how the show develops and if ABC is going to try to tone down the political stuff. I am sure it was not on purpose they are just airing the show when the health care debate is entering the end game.

I am glad to see the show has kept the veiled fascist tones of the Visitors right down to the uniforms they were giving the recruits all it need was a little German and to be in grainy black and white and it would have been perfect.

Alan Tudyk from Firefly still sporting an American accent

Republibot 3.0's picture

What accent should he be sporting? Texan? 'Cuz that's where he's from...

I think the appeal to Morena Baccarin is (A) She was on Firefly, so they're stunt-casting her, just like they did Wash and Juliet (From Lost) in this episode, but also (B) She's got an icy, imperious quality to her. She exudes "Out of your League" signals on all frequencies, which is interpreted in our classless society as being "High Class."

What about the loud, red uniforms? What about the V logo? Did any of those survive?

The Artist Formerly Known As Republibot 3.0

Alan Tudyk American - dang

Republibot 1.0's picture

For some reason I thought he was british, maybe because I see so many Brits portraying Americans and so few Americans going the other way I just assumed that must mean he was a Brit first. Oh well

Red uniforms dont stand out to me, so I may be wrong in saying they didnt have any, I think they had some similar dark gray ones. The V logo was saved but only as graffiti by the erapurted kiddies.

An Oratorio to NCIS?

Republibot 1.0's picture

Yeah, though, again the last 10 minutes started to pick up, I just never got the feeling that they really thought through the implications of GIANT SPACESHIPS COMING TO EARTH AND HOVERING INDEFINITELY OVER ITS MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS.

Now whether that is from budget considerations or lack of forethought or purposeful because they have some grand plan to show eventually how the V have studied us closely and infiltrated the highest levels of multiple governments and are using our own shoddy Entertainment Tonight culture to lull us into an unsuspecting trap I can't say.

And don't get your hopes up on the show agreeing with you politically too much, I think the producers were attempting, again in an aggressively bland manner, to be topical and to try to show depth of thought. I doubt it will be an ongoing point in the show (maybe that is why they shut down production to retool the writing... hmmmm, do you think Rahm Emmanuel got wind of the pilot and demanded script approval going forward?)

the timing could not be better

neorandomizer's picture

R1 I would not expect the show to get better the network is in full interfere mode on this. On not showing what the government is doing I think since they showed that the FBI is penetrated with V’s that they assume that people will understand that the government is in the bag. Another political shot that I am sure the suits at the network don’t like.

Like I said in by first post this episode seemed to be a dumb downed version of the alien invasion concept. I really do not think this show has a long life no amount of rewriting will get it away from being seen as a political statement. I’m sure that if the network did not have to answer to stock holders that this show would have been killed outright but they spent to much time bragging that they were doing it from before the show was even cast so they are stuck. I would bet they are praying that the over nights suck so they can kill this thing quick.

With the dems losing NJ and VA last night seeing this show did not help their mood any and I sure the network is getting so calls today.

Not American, Texan.

Republibot 3.0's picture

Well, you're not entirely wrong: He's Texan. They occasionally get upity about the (mostly notional) distinction.

In any event - dammit - it didn't tape for whatever reason, so I won't get to see this unitl it goes online on Saturday. Sheesh. Why the long wait, do you think? I mean, "Cougartown" is online at the stroke of midnight, just three hours after it airs...

The Artist Formerly Known As Republibot 3.0

What he means by "full

What he means by "full interfere mode" is that they've already replaced the executive producer. Not a good sign.


Republibot 3.0's picture

Yeah, well, true. It did get boffo ratings last night, though - nearly 14 million viewers - so they're probably gonna' get at least the rest of the first 13 episode order.

The Artist Formerly Known As Republibot 3.0

Full Interfere Mode

Republibot 1.0's picture

I think they have replaced the show runner twice now, not just the once.

I actually liked it.

Yeah, I agree with what y'all are saying. It was a little bland for a series premiere and some of the plot points were predictable and it'll probably be canceled, but I still enjoyed it. I thought it was fun. I probably had more fun watching this one episode than I did sitting through all those Stargate Universe episodes. It had some action, and some plot twists. But It'll be interesting to see how the brain-trust responds to some of the criticism out there that the show is anti-Obama. I bet they make some hurried changes in the future.


I watched and thought the show felt like a luekwarm TV dinner -- not fully cooked, but I'm not sure I'd have thought it was all that great if it had been.

With you on the weirdness of the applause and such -- but strongly disagree on Baccarin's work on "Firefly." She matched up well with the rest of a strong cast.

Pilots are hard

Republibot 3.0's picture

Well, give it another few episodes. Pilots are hard, and frequently not indicative of the series as a whole (For instance, the Star Trek: Voyager pilot was *Good*!) and generally done with a wonky budget. If they haven't found their feet by the end of this sweeps period, then it'll be fair to start making judgements.

It'll be interesting to see how much of their massive debut audience they hold on to.

The Artist Formerly Known As Republibot 3.0