Sunday, 27 November 2011


The mother(s) of all battles between Human Resistance fighter Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) and alien leader Anna (Morena Baccarin) in Season Two of the re-imagined V. All images: WARNER BROTHERS.



Reviewed by Scott Weller

WARNING: This review contains possible SPOILERS!

Red Sky at Night does not mean Shepherd’s Delight as humanity grimly discovers in the opening episode of Season Two of the highly popular re-imagined V series, now available in its season entirety on two disc Blu-ray (and DVD) box set form from WARNER BROTHERS.

The new phenomena, and its planet altering rain, would prove to be unleashed as part of the true start of the final domination of mankind by the cruel alien leader Anna, the vengeful, survival charged leader of the Visitors- or V’s for short- devastated by the loss of her alien babies/soldier broods-to-be and experiencing forbidden mood swings that would scare the hell out of any mothers possessing the highest concentration of Post Natal depression! It’s through this entire new ten episode season that lovely actress Morena Baccarin continues to be the main force and focal point for watching this sci-fi invasion of Earth show, keenly re-imagined by Scott Peters from the original and much beloved 1980’s iconic and ground-breaking series created by Kenneth Johnson. Cleary relishing every moment of her time on the show portraying Anna, Baccarin’s toned attractive figure, precisely cut clothes and hairstyle, plus her commanding posture and body language alongside the fake friendly smile- “They are of peace, always!”- mask her character’s false countenance. Behind all that “benevolence” lurks a vicious and intelligent killer whose instincts for the survival of her Bliss-controlled people knows no limits as planet Earth undergoes its raping by her words of deceit and the physically dangerous technology being subtly initiated by her race to “save us.” With the look of a homicidal Meerkat about her, Anna proves herself far more of a monster than anyone-ally or enemy- can predict or contain, performing experiments that would make Nazi Josef Mengele’s green with envy!

Tyler Evans (Logan Hoffman) and mum Erica discover Red Rain.
Basement battle! Anna clashes with her imprisoned mother, the original alien leader Diana (Jane Badler).

This incident packed first episode would get the show off on a very positive note, continuing and deepening the plot threads set up from the prior Season One finale, whilst its second tale brings us some nice referencing to the original 1980’s mini-series (and its one off season), none more so crowd pleasing to fans than with its first full on appearance of that previous series top villainess star, Jane Badler, the original evil Diana: Visitor scientist, bi-sexual killer and gerbil eater, returning in the new series in a new character interpretation-as the original and now deposed/banished Queen of her people, and mother of Anna: the daughter that removed her from office and told her people she was dead. Badler’s welcome reappearance, decked in red and oozing mature sex appeal, gives the new V a much welcome boost in publicity, too, for what was originally planned as three episode arc that ended up, much to everyone’s surprise and delight, being almost being in the entire second season, and whose on-screen chemistry with Baccarin clearly shows to the series advantage. At times there were some fun moments, small reminders, of the old Diana in Badler’s performance, markedly in her fascination with humanity in general, defying Anna with her beliefs that the V’s should ultimately co-exist in peace with humanity if they are to survive. More importantly, though, and in a brilliant homage to Diana and her earlier consumptions from 1983’s V, we got a scene where Anna pulls out a rat by it's tail and eats it to provide nourishment for Fifth Columnist hero Ryan Nichol’s captured Human /V hybrid baby! Proof if required, that gross can be fun!

So bad she's great. Morena Baccarin excels as the evil Anna.

But, beyond the original Diana, this V’s lead alien has become a far more intriguing, nightmare-ish enemy. Striking family members and seemingly more infected with human emotion than ever- and that’s a bad thing, Anna’s timetable to build on her desires for the domination of all existence are almost complete-as her Blue Energy and Concordia projects get underway in the seasons mid-point and gain ground for the series finale. Her attempts to find and destroy the human soul emerge and gain momentum, as does the launch of her new V species through her daughter, and Queen-to-be, Lisa’s (the lovely Laura Van Der Voort) bonding with the ultimately doomed, alien genetics influenced Tyler Evans (an improved and more likable performance from Logan Huffman). In this world according to Anna, its ultimately a dog eat dog world where nothing, not even your own bloodline, is sacred, of which she’s more than willing to sacrifice anyone who stops her from achieving her dreams of power and glory for both herself and her people or shows the slightest hint of weakness and human emotion/infection…

Fighting back: Elizabeth Mitchell as Erica Evans.

Creating, writing and building such villainy for our regular Sirian baddies each week was probably a renaissance period for the shows behind the scenes writing team, but at what price to the characters of the Human resistance force fighting against them? All of our heroes in Season Two see in a little bit more character development and things to do, led by blonde supermom and formidable FBI agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell, looking far more relaxed in her lead series role (and nice to hear that her participation in the series, like Baccarin’s was due to her enjoyment of the original eighties series)) becoming a darker souled alien fighter, and getting a world cohesive resistance force together following the death of Eli Cohen (more on him later…), though her own small band have never been more dangerously fractured and secrets keeping within a season that also sees in some intriguing role reversals, like heroic alien hero Ryan (always well played by Morris Chestnut) now encapsulated by Anna, exiled from the V’s and his captured daughter, and having no choice but to spy on his human resistance friends- becoming an isolated and fragmentedly vulnerable hero in the process, whilst alien Fifth Columnist Joshua (Mark Hildreth), now back from death, resumes his status for real as a cruel scientist henchman for Anna for the most part of the season (though its not long before his Fifth Column heart starts beating again…), and Aussie mercenary Kyle Hobbs (Charles Mesure) now unwillingly working across both side of the coin, is forced into betraying the resistance and performing certain terrorist acts for the V’s second-in-command, Marcus (Christopher Shyer) from episode five onwards. Torn between his duties to Humanity and to God, Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch) also goes through it a bit, too, as he’s soon persecuted by the Church, via the actions of the Visitors who soon have him on the radar screens as a potential threat, and resulting in his faith in the holy words and the cloth taking a big hit when he fails to stop Erica from adopting measures of resistance fighting that he feels is akin to those of the Visitors, and ultimately loses her valuable friendship.

Erica and mercenary Kyle Hobbs (Charles Mesure) find out more about the V's presence on Earth in Red Rain.
Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch) tries to help alien Fifth Columnist Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut) show his humanity over the death of his wife.
Newsman turned hero Chad Decker is hindered by an ambitious fellow reporter, Kerry Eltoff (Ona Grauer).

Sadly, despite character plotting changes that make him more noble after having seen the result of the Visitors live-aboard programme first hand, and a situation that sees him square off against a rival newscaster to challenge his on screen “positive” views on the Visitors, the series greatest asset and ace in the hole, Scott Wolf, in his playing of newsman Chad Decker, doesn’t quite get enough to do this year, which is a real shame…

Now a shuttle pilot for the V's, Tyler, alongside alien girlfriend Lisa (Laura Vandervoort), has no idea what lies in store for him by the series finale. 

And then there’s Erica’s son Tyler, “The Phosphorous Kid”, still a plaything for the Visitor’s destiny, and still a bit of a dope, though interestingly he does becomes a little less entrenched with the V’s later in the season, and despite some notable temptation in the shapely form of Lisa and the chance to be a shuttle pilot! By his eventual death, I had started to actually like him and felt sorry for him when fake “Lisa”- Anna’s new alien Queen-to-be- tore him to shreds with sexually carnivorous rage!

Erica orders the brutal "skinning" of alien FBI infiltrator Malick (Rekha Sharma) in Laid Bare.

As all these character elements brew, and with series developer Scott Peters seemingly away from the major writing aspects of the show, Season One writer and Producer Scott Rosenbaum, most well known as one of the big creative talents of THE SHIELD and now the main anchor for the sci-fi series, had apparently been happy with the previous season and its continuing story nature and character directions, but decided that this new year needed to see the plotlines speeded up as much as possible, with the need to push the show towards a much needed sense of urgency, grittiness and danger. For most of this final season this new policy works, with the help of other producer/writers including LOST’s Gwendolyn M. Parker and ex-SEAQUEST/TWILIGHT ZONE writer/producer Rockne S. O’Bannon, but the lack of audience satisfying victories against Anna during the continuing storyline duration proves occasionally frustrating- more often than not Erika and chums simply cause a stalemate situation or discover important information against the aliens which then can’t be used without threatening all life on Earth because of the V’s immense technological firepower and abilities. Such story drawbacks may have hurt the show in the eyes of the regular audience, and perhaps ABC, who screened the series and ordered the episodes. Though a major resistance conflict of sorts had been planned if third and fourth seasons were to have happened, I personally think there should have been at least one major battle for our heroes to win this season so as to give the audience some satisfaction, as well as a mid-season confrontation of some sort between Anna and Erica, whose toughening up as a leader was certainly shown this year, and as early as episode three, when she orders of the skinning of FBI agent/V spy Sarita Malik (a memorable performance from Rekha Sharma).

A spate of human suicide bombings against the V's causes unrest in the shows early episodes.

Not shy of giving viewers further links/nods to themes from the original eighties series, the new series writers also develop further the alien interest in Earth religion. The first incarnation of Diana, in particular, had been fascinated and scared of the concept: her fear ultimately showing as she rejects and destroys the Bible and cuts down the Irish priest stereotype that tries to seek a peaceful co-existence for the two warring species. This time around, Anna realizes the power and danger of religion as a rallying cry for freedom and Human expression ever more so, and is determined to control it, silencing Resistance fighter Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch) and vandalizing his local church with the help of her human controlled V youth, led by a hateful, misled Tyler and his goon/loon fiends.

On the other side of the coin, there are also attempts to introduce more sexual elements to the series, with only a modicum of success, and presumably in order to gain more male teenage audience titillation. Lisa gets between the sheets with Tyler, whilst Erica gets into an unlikely moment of lust with Kyle Hobbs, whose sexual tension had been building slowly towards the end of the series, in one of the few storylines for the show that fails to spark, and now remains seemingly unresolved.

New Resistance scientist Sid (Bret Harrison) develops a new virus against the aliens.

To help bring in fresh audiences and publicity, new characters along for the ride in helping and hindering our heroes include a talented young scientist with past knowledge of the aliens and their early visitations to Earth, Sid Miller, played by Bret Harrison, whilst THE SHIELD’s Jay Karns also makes a welcome appearance for several episodes as an ex-FBI partner to Erica, now back on the scene to assist and ultimately ending up being of major importance by the series finale…

In Bangkok, Erica and Hobbs liaise with the World Resistance forces.

Another plus for the new season, unlike the original V weekly series and under request from ABC, is that our heroes and villains get to do a bit more globetrotting in the stories, going to places like Bangkok, Hong Kong and Italy in several episodes, thanks to clever photography and CGI matte paintings.

Anna doesn't take too kindly to disobedience and disloyalty from her alien commanders!

Alongside Anna’s heightened aggression and evil, and her tug of war for control of young Tyler away from Erica, the series also gets even more gruesome as the Human experimentation by the V’s continue-it seems that not even children are immune from their cruel testing, of which writers, as well as piling on the gore, also make it a point this season to develop the alien race further, providing us with intriguing looks at their history and physiognomy, alongside a deadly new alien queen, in addition to last seasons introduction of the aforementioned human/alien hybrid. The episode with the brief launching of the Visitor disease created by the Human Resistance also has some memorable moments, as V’s across the world collapse and die- their eyes literally bleeding out in some gruesome Yuk! moments. Great work by the series make-up and effects teams.

World Resistance leader Eli Cohen (Oded Fehr) captures Ryan Nichols in The Siege.

As for the rest of the episodes, overall there are some smashing moments that make it worthy television, and KOOL TV. From Episode Three, there’s the fight between Erica and Malik, splaying her claws and alien teeth now that her identity as a sleeper V was revealed, and later leading to the aforementioned captured aliens deserved skinning in a hard edged scene showing our imperfect heroes acting almost as badly and desperately as the enemy they’re fighting. Then comes the interesting episode arc involving the albeit too brief introduction of ex-MUMMY star Oded Fehr as battle hardened Israeli V fighter Eli Cohen, and a game changing bloody siege by episode six that sees the obvious-to-be death of Erica’s ex-husband, Joe (Nicholas Lea), whilst caught in the machine gun bullet crossfire between the Earth resistance and the FBI machine guns. As all this is happening, Anna is sitting back in her mothership and enjoying the carnage she has initiated (with the help of Kyle Hobbs) on the viewing screen. If she’d had a cup of coffee and some additional chocolate Hob-Nobs, the day would no doubt been complete for her!
Ultimately, THE SIEGE succeeds in giving the series a notable boost in critical popularity, whilst also seeing in the start of the mid-season onwards slaughter.

Erica cradles her dead husband, Joe (Nicholas Lea), in The Siege.

Anna’s cruel plans for humanity continue with the worldwide Concordia project (thanks to the help of a new Visitor engineer/lackey, Thomas (played by Martin Cummins), who then fills in for the almost slain second-in-command, Marcus), of which our heroes launch an assassination plot that would have worked had Ryan not been forced into becoming an enemy spy so as to get nearer to his Mothership held daughter, whose abilities and presence soon fascinate Anna –again another intriguing link/remembrance to the original V, in the way that Diana was so fascinated with the powers of the Starchild Elizabeth Maxwell. Alien destinies intensify further in episode seven and eight, as Tyler becomes an unaware pawn alongside a helpless Lisa (soon to find out she has a grandmother after all) for the continuation of the V species, amidst the arrival of Anna’s back-up mating rival, Rafael. Plus we also get to find out more about Erica’s mysterious birth of Tyler, and why he’s so special to Anna and the V’s.

That's gotta hurt! Diana is finally impaled by her daughter in "Mother's Day".

Not used as centrally to the early plots as I'd hoped and thought she’d be, and now discovered by a more defiant Lisa, Diana finally comes out of the basement, away from her sparring with Anna (and the previous bitch slap she received from her beloved daughter in episode two), to get stuck in with some meaty revolution drama as she tries to win her Bliss-controlled people back and turn the tide. Lisa, afraid of her mother but realizing how dangerous she has become, finally chooses a side this season and tries to aid Grandmammy and the Human Resistance as best she can. But, in the end, the love and hope she still has for her mother proves to be not only her undoing but the eventual savage death knell for Diana, too, who goes on to receive a quite gruesome tail penetration and a white gown that will never be rid of its blood stains!

Original V series veteran Marc Singer returns in the season finale.

Overall, some episodes of year two were ultimately better structured than others, but I still think that more characterization and plotting could have been stronger. However, there’s no denying that any shortcoming the series had were soon redeemed with a knockout finale episode of power play, surprise, dramatic incident and murderous gore that deserved to give the show a third season renewal and a stronger episode commitment to iron out future niggles. Certainly, the closing scenes of the finale, including the return of original V series star Marc Singer as one of the important members of the Earth’s military-linked Aries Project, are very memorable.

Bloodbath! The evil "Lisa" kills Tyler after a heady bedroom session!

By those fast and furious events of the bloody season, and series, finale- we should have guessed things were up when ABC’s series order, originally for 12 episodes, ended up being the shorter run of ten instead- the deaths of certain characters were both vicious and quick: love finally meant death for Tyler Evans- the two important ingredients never more closely linked, whilst puppy-eyed Lisa’s reluctant attempt to kill her mother failed so spectacularly that it sent Anna on an even worse path of determination to enslave the humans as the true Bliss powers of Ryan Nichol’s daughter, Amy, finally emerged, and his dedicated love for his daughter ultimately blinding him to his gruesome fate: quickly slain-throat ripped out- by his own brood. And then, as if things couldn’t possibly get any worse, Hobbs does a bunk and deserts Erica, whilst Father Jack sees the light and may never recover from it! Finally, spare a thought for brave Chad Decker, as he soon finds himself, his voice having been identified amongst the Resistance, now on the way to Anna and, most likely, the execution chambers. It seemed as though our world had been finally conquered once and for all, alongside the stillness of a Bliss-trapped humanity in the tales closing scenes!

A captured Erica discovers new allies in the final episodes closing scenes...

Despite some critics belief that the show was now on overkill to attract viewers, here was a downbeat but interesting finale, creating an intriguing and memorable situation that could have been resolved for a third year with some inspired writing imagination. Regardless of how it al turned out for fans and viewers, the finale ends the series on a frightening and memorable note, and with such quality story-telling now evident it’s a real shame that, just as V was starting to have some emotional and story pay-off, and create its own identity from the original eighties series, its conclusion wasn’t given a deserved TV movie wrap-up…

The show may now be over, but these ten episode can at least be savoured by fans in the stunning picture quality of the Blu-ray disc set, and looking far superior to many of the HD showings of the series I’ve seen so far on UK cable television (I’d say that the Blu-rays are about twenty per cent sharper than the screenings on the SYFY HD channel from 2010). The set also comes with a solid bunch of special features, including deleted scenes from all the episodes that helps fill in some of the questions unresolved (of which the series finale has some terrific sequences cut due to time), as well as some good, albeit too brief, looks at the ambitious work behind the scenes with the series writers and actors, and how their words and actions are heightened and expanded on by the shows dedicated effects team. Sadly, the producers fail to capitalize on the opportunity of having any proper behind the scenes features on the return of Jane Badler or Marc Singer-a move which older V fans would have appreciated!, though there’s some amusing bloopers that show Morena Baccarin at her funniest…

Despite the current limbo, it’s best to remember that V has now been cancelled as a series twice, but, with such a good format and characters that have made their indelible mark in television viewing history, I have no doubt that the series format will eventually return in one re-imagined shape or another in the not too distant future, so as to further enthuse and entertain audiences who love the limitless potential of science fiction fused with exciting and memorable action/ adventure.

John May still lives!

Cover art for the Blu-ray box set.

Both Seasons of the new V are available separate or together on WARNER BROTHERS Blu-ray and DVD box sets.

An attempt by fans worldwide is underway to get the new V a third season. Add your voice to the cause here: (3) Project Alice

The classic V series from the eighties, and its one-off season, are also available on DVD.

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