Vergeltungswaffen

Since we're doomed anyway, let's do to our viewers what Germany did to England
Since we're doomed anyway, let's do to our viewers what Germany did to England. (Image from Wikipedia.) No, I'm not accusing ABC of being Nazis!

The first long range missiles used in warfare were generally known as the V-1 (“buzz bomb”) and V-2. The V stood for Vergeltungswaffen (usually translated as “vengeance weapon”). When I was in college, a TV show came out named “V” and my friends and I — who were wargamers — took to referring to it as “Vengeance Weapon Against Television Viewers 1” and “Vengeance Weapon Against Television Viewers 2”. The annoyingly renamed SyFy channel here in the US has been showing episodes of the original series — to remind us all just how bad it was — in the leadup to the remake, whose pilot just aired on ABC.

The new series has the almost obligatory Firefly alumni Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk, but the rest of the cast look (and act) like soap opera characters, and the writing is pedestrian. (OK, there’s a rationale for why the aliens all look like models, but still.) Now, if Battlestar Galactica could be remade as a good series, surely V — whose premise is only slightly stupider than BSG’s — has a shot, but after one episode, I’m pretty much ready to give up on it.

I’m a bit hazy on the details of the original series — I stopped watching it quite soon after it started, and the things I remember best were the howlers — the Vietnam Vet / Reporter / Hero of the Resistance who could — within seconds of climbing behind the controls — outfly the aliens in one of their own spacecraft. The aliens’ need for sunglasses because — coming from Sirius (an obscenely bright, hot star) they couldn’t deal with our sun’s light (assuming the alien home world was so far from Sirius that it was dimmer than our Sun, they would not find Earth at all pleasant, or be familiar with liquid water). The fact that the aliens were willing to engage in a long, costly war for water when they could get all the water they could possibly need without a fight in any number of places in the Solar system (even back in 1980 Europa was known to basically made of water). Or, perhaps funniest of all, the aliens having sex — and even getting married — while in disguise as humans. I didn’t remember just how terrible the production design and SFX were, but SyFy reminded me.

The basic problem with V is that it assumes the “visitors” are both incredibly powerful and willing to engage in all kinds of subterfuge and advanced planning to achieve their ends. Why bother? And, indeed, why bother remaking such a terrible TV show? Just how bad does a TV show have to be to not get remade? I’ll watch almost anything with Morena Baccarin in it, but remember that even her undoubted charms couldn’t keep Firefly on the air, and that was perhaps the best space opera ever to make it to network TV.

If the Firefly cast are such a huge draw for new series, let’s make a new series of Firefly.

  • Firefly continues to be one of my favorite SF television series of all time. I say bring it back!

  • I watched the pilot. Not planning on watching any more of it.
    Why didn’t they at least fix the basic plot holes. They need water? There’s a heap of it floating around out there, no need to bother the occupants of any planets in the area. Even given that it was a subterfuge, why the hell not have a plausible story?

  • It’s a lot like the Star Wars prequels. The chief bad guy controls BOTH sides in the war he’s fomenting… Um, why bother? Here, the aliens are ridiculously powerful AND they’ve subverted all the organizations that would have any plausible hope of stopping them.

    It was hilarious, in episode 2, to discover that the female FBI agent was able to defeat the Visitors’ equivalent of a predator drone by whacking it with a board (it apparently is designed to melee people to death but isn’t especially robust for reasons only a mentally overtaxed script writer could fathom).

  • “Our superior intellect is no match for your puny weaponry.”

    The only thing that’s going to get me to watch another episode, is Morena Baccarin eating a hamster. And even then, I’ll wait until I hear that it’s happened. And probably just watch the clip on YouTube.