Thursday, April 08, 2010

CULT TV BLOGGING: V: "Pound of Flesh"

Well, I suspect this is going to be my final episode review of the new V series, unless it unexpectedly takes a dramatic upswing in quality.

I'll keep watching for a while longer, but I just don't know that I need to devote space on the blog here to a TV series that is pitched so bloody low. And, I don't see any point in slamming someone else's hard work every single week and wallowing in negativity. I'd rather write about TV shows and movies I actually do like.

But okay, for the record, "Pound of Flesh" involves, primarily, the development of the Fifth Column. Turns out that these renegade Visitors are mysteriously developing human emotions and more than that, learning to reject Anna's narcotic "bliss." Upset, Anna devises a test (using herself as a baseline) in which she can test the Vs for human emotions. Those that fail the test get skinned.

Meanwhile, Ryan needs phosphorous for his pregnant human girlfriend, and dovetails that personal necessity with a mission to embed a message of resistance ("John May Lives!") in Anna's live, global announcement of the new "Live Aboard" program. In an another subplot. Erica takes her son, Tyler, to go live with his father...Krycek! Actually, it's Nicholas Lea, looking like he hasn't aged a day since The X-Files last aired.

I tried hard to pay attention to all the narrative details of "Pound of Flesh" but I was constantly distracted and rendered aghast by the terrible green-screening and digital sets of the mother ship corridors and chambers. I mean, judging by this episode, V doesn't actually feature any standing sets for the Visitors' headquarters. I was mesmerized as Ryan boarded the Mother ship and obvious matte-lines surrounded him for minute after minute. At the very least, I suppose this approach saves money, but visually it's dreadful.

Last week I noted that Erica was beginning to annoy me, and this week I have to say the same for Ryan. Ryan (Morris Chestnut) is supposed to be one tough reptile. I mean, he's been living among the human race in secret for years, even developing a steady relationship with a human female. He must be one hell of an infiltrator, right? Well, not according to "Pound of Flesh," during which -- both times at the Visitor checkpoint; boarding and leaving the Mother ship -- he is recognized by Vs as appearing out-of-place. Go back and watch those scenes: for some reason Chestnut plays it like he's on the verge of chewing his fingernails off. He looks totally suspicious and out-of-place, when, as a long-standing undercover agent, he should be cool as a cucumber. It's an odd acting choice, and makes no sense given the character's history under "deep cover."

Then there's Georgie, who impulsively decides, because Ryan has been on the mother ship for a few hours, to mount a bloody rescue. So he boards the ship, stabs a Visitor in the back, and promptly gets apprehended by the Vs. Now, this opens up whole worlds of problems. First, and again, V plays the Resistance fighters as impulsive nutcases who threaten the very movement by their irrationality and quick-action. Does Georgie think, for a minute, that the Visitors won't be able to probe his mind, or torture him for information about his fellow rebels?

I shouldn't be too hard on Georgie. Given Ryan's inexplicably twitchy behavior on the Mother ship -- in what should have been an easy mission for a deep-cover agent -- I guess Georgie really did need to do some rescuing. But now, everyone needs to go back aboard the Mother ship to rescue him. D'oh!

I also have some difficulty with the utter lameness of the embedded message that sabotages Anna. "John May lives?" To the human masses, that mean absolutely nada. Other embedded messages that would have been more effective: "The Vs are lying." "The Vs are Reptiles." "Don't Trust Them!" or even "Anna is a Socialist." The Resistance members said it themselves: they had this one opportunity to surprise Anna and send a message to the people of the world. They chose to direct their message only at The Fifth Column Members (the only people who know who the heck John May is). But, it seems to me, if they had sent a message like one of the ones I suggested above, the Fifth Column would still know something was up, and the sound-byte would have had the added benefit of also arousing human suspicions.

But again, I have found that I can't watch V with an engaged mind, because nothing about the series stands up to even the slightest bit of scrutiny. Last week, in the comments section here, we all noted the show seemed geared toward ten year-olds. But I think that assessment is too generous by four or five years.

Sayonara, Anna...enjoy your invasion.

5 comments:

  1. Your comments hold a good deal of weight.

    It's ashame writers for the show won't take heed.

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  2. I agree John, in particular with the visuals, they were atrocious! I actually remember thinking that it couldn't possibly be that bad and that it must be time for me to glasses or maybe my tv was on the fritz. Alas, it was not only me. Shame.

    I absolutely hate the interior of the mothership. And the exterior just seems too small. In the original the mothership was always a constant presence overhead.

    The general presence of the V's is also lacking. In the original you got a sense of an army and soldiers so you sensed the V's being in large numbers. In this series...not so much. Why does Anna have to "create" soldiers? Who goes to an invasion without soldiers?

    Anyway, too much negativity is not necessary, as you say. I think this series is poorly executed all round, from the writing to the design and visuals. Such a shame...

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  3. Peter said:

    Agreed, it's time to move on from reviewing this drivel.

    May I suggest reviews of the following: FlashForward (excellent reboot), SGU (truly outstanding, though you may not like it as much as I do given your reviews of the new BSG), Fringe (solid second season), Caprica (wake me when it's over), and the new Doctor Who (very poor pilot).

    pete

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  4. Henry: I totally agree with everything you wrote. It doesn't make any sense that there are so few V around. In the original series, the soldiers -- not exactly offering the proverbial hand of friendship promised -- were ubiquitous. I can only hope the new series is building up to that. The new show consists mainly of Anna scheming, but we see almost no boots on the ground.

    Peter: SGU is now in my queue (although I'm still working through some movies on an impending book deadline...), so I will be reviewing it here eventually. Also, as soon as Caprica is available on Netflix (beyond the pilot), I'll be reviewing it here.

    I don't know that I have the intestinal fortitude, however, to go back to Flash Forward and Fringe...I watched a lot of early episodes of both and wasn't impressed.

    best,
    JKM

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  5. I know you said you wouldn't be discussing V on here anymore, but I just had to mention the Starman reference this week ala the glowing blue ball. I'm referring more to the TV series starring Robert Hayes more than film.

    Now there's an idea for a TV flashback?... I loved that show growing up. Not sure how it would hold up today.

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