With all the hype surrounding the news of ABC’s 2009 series revival of the legendary science fiction classic franchise known simply as V, I decided it was time to bust out my copy of V: The Original Miniseries DVD for a play through in order to rekindle the fond old memories.
If for one reason or another you can’t recall V: The Original Miniseries, a short history lesson is in order before I proceed to with actually reviewing the DVD. V: The Original Miniseries was the epic and hugely successful Science Fiction television event! It was originally broadcast on the NBC network in two separate two hour length parts on May 1st and May 2nd of 1983. The total run time of the production minus commercial had a running time of 197 minutes. It was at the time, the largest budgeted and longest running Science Fiction miniseries production in the United States. And if you remember the marketing campaign surrounding this one like I do, you’ll certainly recall how nearly everywhere you looked, in magazines, comics, TV commercials, etc; there seemed to be the iconic image of the V graffiti insignia. And those started appearing months before the series even aired.
The plot of V: The Original Miniseries is centered upon the advent of extraterrestrials called Visitors whom suddenly reveal themselves to the people of Earth via gigantic imposing saucers which station near the major cities of the world ala Independence Day but granted this enigmatic visual was presented to audiences over a decade previously. Initially, the leaders of Visitors (John and Diana), claim to be a friendly human like race which is willing to assist mankind with their alien technology in order cure disease and other problems affecting the people of earth in exchange for simple waste energies. But soon after the Visitors manage to establish themselves well within the world governments, suspicious dictatorship type events come into play involving the Visitors including restrictions on individuals’ movement, propaganda discredit campaigns aimed at influential human sources, eventually even people go missing and others begin acting oddly.
The story is forwarded by V’s main protagonist characters, journalistic news cameraman Mark Donovan and Los Angeles rebel leader Julie Parrish played by Marc Singer and Faye Grant respectively. Donovan acting on his suspicions that something foul is aloof with the Visitors manages to sneak aboard one of the Visitor’s ships and discovers the horrible true intent and form of the alien Visitors, and captures the evidence to film. However before the footage can be shown he is branded a wanted fugitive via the Visitors media propaganda machine and he must flee. While on the lam, Donovan meets up with rebel leader Julie Parrish and he joins the ever growing resistance against the threat of the Visitors, which eventually leads to the alien invaders declaring martial law.
V: The Original Miniseries is also full of some interesting subplots as well. Often the Visitors are depicted by an elder member of Jewish family which appears occasionally in the series as being reminiscent of the Nazi’s persecution and eradication of Jews. There is also an inter-species love interest between an alien male and human female which leads to worrisome pregnancy whose storyline would evolve significantly over the entire franchise.
In order to properly finish up my V: The Original Miniseries DVD review, it’s also best to break down the production value of this DVD release. I have is the Warner Bros. edition from 2001, which at the time of this writing remains the sole official version released to DVD. There is some great commentary tracks featured as an extra. The picture is a very clean remastered wide screen presentation which looks so much better than the original airing and VHS edition. While the audio is a decent remaster in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, but given the release date of this DVD putting a little extra effort into a 5.1 mix would’ve been grand and par for the course with all of the spacecrafts whizzing around and laser battles happening throughout the miniseries. And of course it’s an absolute joy to be able to watch V: The Original Miniseries without any commercial interruptions, and believe me, back in the day with the production cost for this baby, there were quite a few of them! Best of all you can generally find a new copy of this one still for between $10-15! That’s chickenfeed for a collection like this if you’re a true classic Science Fiction buff!
And my final impressions of the V: The Original Miniseries DVD? Unlike when it first aired back in 1983, it’s not the greatest thing ever by today’s television production standards, but the epic original miniseries still holds up very well in all areas. The story-lines are engaging, the acting from the all star cast is decent, and even when it comes to the special effects and production values, many of the stages and special effects still remain visually impressive. I vividly recall how amazing it was to see something like this on TV back in the early 80’s… I was a child then, and this was a special treat, and I’m glad to say that it still remains so for me today. Although, now that I have the gift of hindsight, I’m rather relieved to know that the franchise would indeed continue onward by spawning a sequel miniseries as well as a short lived regular weekly series to tie up some loose ends left at the end of the V: The Original Miniseries. But those will have to be covered in a separate review!