REVIEW: V the Final Battle
Once upon a time, when there were just three major networks, the schedules would be filled with glossy, interesting, high-concept miniseries, usually aired during the vital November, February, and May sweeps periods when the ratings were used to set advertising rates. This is what gave us great concepts like ABC’s Roots or, in 1983, V.
Metro subways and bus stations were plastered that spring with red-suited people, wearing sunglasses and big smiles, wrapping their arms around ordinary folk and we were assured: “The Visitors are our Friends”. A few weeks later, they were replaced with replicas but now a spray-painted V covered them and we got a hint of the Visitors’ true, reptilian nature.
The V miniseries, wonderfully written and directed by Ken Johnson (he of Incredible Hulk fame) was a taut two-night affair that presented the aliens coming to Earth and befriending us before their true intentions were revealed and a resistance movement began. Johnson carefully varied both the humans and aliens so there were differing perspectives and allegiances. The show turned Marc Singer into a star and introduced the world to Robert Englund.
The May ratings were a smash, so NBC ordered a sequel entitled V: The Final Battle, a three-part epic for May 1983 that is now available on Blu-ray for the first time from Warner Archive.
Johnson was once more the mastermind although he and the network began to clash over the creative direction and he left the production.
The overall plan is that the aliens need the world’s water and are befriending humanity in an attempt to gain converts to their cause or a cowed populace who will not stand in their way. In their human disguises, they beguile, bribe, and seduce many to their cause, manipulating the media, and steadily taking control city by city.
The action in both miniseries is limited to Los Angeles, letting the novels and DC Comics adaptation (which I edited for a stretch), see what was happening elsewhere. The rebellion is led by TV reporter Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) and Juliet Parrish (Faye Grant), more or less opposed by Diana (Jane Badler) and John (Richard Herd). The sequel continues where we left off but there are new complications. First, Diana’s failure to secure the planet according to schedule means her superior, Pamela (Sarah Douglas), arrives to take charge. Joining the rebels are CIA operatives Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside) and his burly sidekick Chris Farber (Mickey Jones).
Teen Robin Maxwell (Blair Tefkin) was impregnated by the Visitor Brian (Peter Nelson) during the first miniseries so of course, she will be giving birth here. The crossbreeding, ordered by Diana, resulted in hybrid fraternal twins, a reptilian boy with blue eyes, and a human girl with a forked tongue. When Parrish, a doctor, conducts an autopsy, she discovers a strain of bacteria that killed the boy and could be turned into a weapon, dubbed Red Dust, to repel the invaders.
It’s all very good for its day, with some strong acting, good makeup, and a fast-paced story. The V phenomenon was nicely continued here.
Sadly, NBC decided to follow it with a disastrous weekly series the following season. In the hands of Dan Blatt and Robert Singer, they were making it up as they went along, ignoring internal logic or, you know, science.
Anyway, the two-disc Blu-ray looks good with a fine, If not perfect, transfer, retaining its broadcast 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The 2.0 DTS-HD MA mix is perfectly adequate. There are no special features included beyond network teasers.