Revamped 'V' still lacks juice

TV Review

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When ABC's "V" premiered in fall 2009, it had the potential to be a fun remake of a childhood favorite: An alien invasion melodrama with clearly defined heroes and villains. But as the series went on, it was obvious behind-the-scenes producer turnover took its toll.

The result? Veritable plot inertia as nothing happened to advance the story. Kenneth Johnson's 1980s-era "V" explained the real intention of the Visitors' arrival on Earth in its first four-hour miniseries. The new "V" failed to explain why these lizard-like aliens dressed up in human disguises in its first 12 episodes.

In its second season, the new "V" (9 p.m. Tuesday, WTAE) offers up some answers (finally!), but they fail to make much impact. In the original series, the Visitors planned to use humanity for food. In the new show, the Vs, as they are now called, intend to use humanity as some sort of breeding ground to extend their race. (What role human males would play in this is not addressed in the first three episodes of the new season.)

It's not a pleasant thought, especially now that "V" is revealing more of the alien beneath the human skin (they have tails capable of inflicting death!), but it's also less ghastly than the notion that they're here to serve man (on a platter with a garnish on the side).

As resistance fighter Hobbs (Charles Mesure) succinctly puts it, "So first they want to invade us, then they want to shag us?"

Worse is evil lizard leader Anna (Morena Baccarin) and her war on emotion that turns into a literal soul-sucking crusade that rivals the plot of "Star Trek V" (AKA "The Search for God") as one of the silliest sci-fi plots of all time.

Producers got the message to bring back more of the cheesy fun of the original series and they give Anna a scene where she gets to unhinge her jaw, swallow a rat and then play mama bird in a scene that's shot in an overly cautious way that doesn't do the warped concept justice.

Fans of the '80s "V" may be tempted to give this re-imagining another shot knowing that actress Jane Badler, who played evil Visitor leader Diana in the original, turns up in the new show as Anna's accented mother. Turns out Anna told everyone her mom died 15 years ago but Anna has really been holding her hostage in her spaceship's grungy, dungeon-like basement where mama spends her days, dressed in red -- a nod to the costumes in the old "V" -- lounging in what appears to be an alien cocoon.

Great as it is to see Ms. Badler again, her appearance can't save a show that's so poorly acted and written that the characters spout exposition but rarely say anything that sounds like something a real person would say. "V" looks and sounds like a cheap cable series rather than the big-budget network show it should be.



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