V Premieres Tonight

V, 2009 Edition

I missed the miniseries V in 1983, and its sequel in 1984, and the series in 1984-85. As I recall, I was between marriages #1 and #2 and couldn’t afford a TV, much less cable. Too bad, as I would have really gotten into it at the time. In fact, I enjoyed watching the marathon reruns on cable (SyFy to be exact, but I hate the new name) over the past few days. To be honest, I enjoyed giggling over the big hair and the tight uniforms as much as the dramatic turns. Oh yeah, I made a passing remark about the impossibility of humans sexually reproducing with reptiles (much less alien reptiles), but I then said to myself, “It’s just a TV show.” Suspension of disbelief is necessary to enjoy most pop sci dramas. If you’re not going to have fun watching a show, why bother to watch it?

Tonight, the new V series begins on ABC. There’s a review of the first episode at The New York Times. The reviewer, Mike Hale, doesn’t like it because (get this) it’s not believable! Mike Hale thinks the exposition comes too fast and the people greet the aliens too warmly. With applause, even.

Applause makes sense on Planet Television, where the producers of “V” — working with the premise that only an underground network of rebel humans suspects the visitors’ true intentions — need the aliens to win over the rest of humanity before the third commercial break.

Um, where else are we but Planet Television when we watch TV? The audience knows that exposition has to be fast, and a big chunk of the audience knows that this new series is based on an old series. If the Earthlings didn’t greet the visitors, it wouldn’t be the same story at all. Hale also calls the series “slapdash and formulaic in its storytelling.” If you’ve seen the original, you know this story really couldn’t be told any other way and still be the same series.

To sum up what I think of TV reviews in general, I will watch V tonight and make up my own mind. You can be pedantic and criticize each and every deviation from real life science, or you can be pedantic and criticize each and every variation from the original series. Or you can pop some popcorn and watch it expecting to enjoy the story, or the silliness as it may be. If you don’t like it, turn it off and don’t watch next week’s episode. Then again, if you really enjoy being pedantic, by all means go ahead and have a great time with V tonight.