Well, this is where the fun begins. I must admit my memories of watching V is a little vague, and learning that V TV Mini Series and V: The Final Battle was broadcast over five nights in the summer of 1984 on ITV in the UK is a revelation. I must admit it’s hard to comprehend that we got so much quality entertainment in so little time, and maybe now, I can understand why it became as popular as it did. I remember that the mini-series had a break for the News at Ten, and it felt like an eternity for that program to finish, and I can still feel the excitement and anticipation that V gave to me at that moment in time.
V: The Original Miniseries was a science-fiction two-part miniseries, written and directed by Kenneth Johnson. Episode one begins with fifty saucer-shaped motherships arriving on Earth. The visitors declare that they “come in peace” and will share their advanced technology in exchange for vital minerals to help their ailing planet. It ends with Martial law enforced on the streets and the formation of a small group of people, who are slowly becoming aware of the visitor’s true intentions.
I had to think about how I was going to present this project, and especially this episode. After all, this is the first serving, and it has all the vital ingredients that help make the show what it is. The truth is, I’m just trying to celebrate V and talk about what it means to me. My knowledge of the V fanbase is pretty limited as well, so I hope to extend that reach and meet some other fans of the show and share your stories. I have already received a terrific email from Joe Dionisio about his first introduction to V in 1984 and can’t wait to share some of his thoughts with you. I have never really taken a deep dive into the world of V, and I can’t wait to see where it leads me.
I think it is only fair in starting this episode I pay homage to the main man himself, Kenneth Johnson. I never realised it was Johnson who created Alien Nation, and I loved that first film, and last but not least, The Incredible Hulk TV show. However, I do believe V is his finest work, at least for me personally. Johnson found inspiration for a script in an antifascist novel by Sinclair Lewis “It Can’t Happen Here” 1935. That script was called Storm Warnings, 1982, and was rejected by NBC and subsequently changed to a science-fiction themed story to capitalise on franchises such as Star Wars.
Joe Dionisio. “Aside from the wonderful sci-fi accoutrements, even at a young age I could appreciate that the first two miniseries were beyond just telling the story about an alien invasion of Earth. Particularly in the first miniseries, there was a voice whispering in my head saying that underneath the plot was a message worth paying attention to. At that point in my life I was already getting interested in reading about history, and I’d already started learning about the first two World Wars. Though I didn’t fully understand it at the time, I was instinctively drawn to the warnings about fascism and how it could subvert and corrupt society and serve as a mechanism to curtail individual liberties.”
It would pretty easy for me to talk about everything I like about this episode, but to feel inspired about continuing this journey, this will simply be about the storytelling. After starting this miniseries again, the first thing that stands out to me is that the script is solid. I guess you could say the story is pretty simple in some ways, as we watch the visitors arrive on Earth. The enormity of the situation was and still is breath-taking. It still amazes me that watching the news broadcasts spread across the world still fills me with a sense of optimism and curiosity, even after all these years! As leader John Richard Herd reveals himself on top of the United Nations building, I still yearn for some hope in the situation.
Luke Skywalker looks like a hero, so does Indiana Jones and Mike Donovan Marc Singer sits with those names pretty well. However, my doctor is the last person I would seek out during an alien invasion. I appreciate how scientists and others working in the medical world suddenly become the heroes we need in this unprecedented scenario. I never really thought about a true resistance fighter until I watched this show. Johnson makes you realise that it’s your family, neighbours and friends that will become the force we would need to fight back against this persecution. The scientific community are the first to suffer, and the media and public turn their backs on these people so quickly that you question your faith in humanity.
Joe Dionisio. “But the character that I loved the most was (and still is) Julie Parrish. It helped immensely that she came to life thanks to such a talented actress as Faye Grant, who endowed the character with a ton of nuance and subtlety that few other actors in the show did with theirs. Courageous but vulnerable, intelligent yet inexperienced (in terms of being a leader of a guerrilla fighting force, or even as a medical professional), gentle yet capable of making the hardest decisions, she seemed, to me, to be a version of the best of what being human could be.”
Television journalist and cameraman Mike Donovan is the character that brings it all together in this episode, as he is already aware of the brutality of life and already understands people who will always fight for their freedom. He is first introduced to the mothership as he films footage while on duty in El Salvador, and this shows his commitment to searching for what is right in the World. If only the visitors knew about this before inviting him on to ship. Eventually, Donovan manages to gain access to the mothership again and learns the true identity of the visitors. Back on Earth, Donovan goes to the news channel, but as the news station go live, the broadcast is interrupted, and just like the scientific community, he becomes an enemy of the state.
The most powerful moment in this episode starts with Julie Parrish Faye Grant and Benjamin Taylor Richard Lawson as they raid a Pharmaceutical Company for lab equipment. During the raid, Benjamin is shot by the visitors before Julie, injured herself from weapon fire, manages to rescue her friend and flee the scene. Julie cant call for an ambulance for her friend without alerting the police, so she takes him to Benjamin’s brother Elias.
Benjamin had already asked his brother for help, but Elias feels like he has always lived in his brother’s shadow. Unable to let these feelings go, he turns him away. Elias quickly learns that regardless of your place in society, this will affect you, and this realisation for Elias comes with the death of his brother. The resistance is born, and the battle begins. The message is becoming clear for the visitors; an uprising is coming.
Thank you for visiting today. I hope you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed discussing it. I am not a professional writer or an expert on the world of V. I’m simply a fan of an 80’s TV show who is trying to understand why it has had such a lasting effect on me. Every scene in this episode is a vital piece of information in carrying the plot. The pacing of the episode is relentless, and the editing team did a fantastic job of bringing it all together. There are so many moments that I had to leave out because this would go on forever. However, I hope that I have managed to capture the spirit of the show. Forget the special effects and the nostalgia, I think this episode was, and still is successful, because of the spectacular writing.
However, the nostalgia and special effects will come! The best way to do this miniseries justice is to discuss the visitors more in episode two and the main points from the episode. And finally, write a conclusion that will give me the chance to talk about some of the moments I have missed, discuss the design and production of the show, and look at some of the behind-the-scenes stories.
When was your first introduced to the miniseries, and would you class yourself as a fan of the show? If you would like to share your memories, I would love to hear them. If your fandom is a creative one, I would love to hear from you and share some of your work. Just send me an email, and we can go from there. I want to thank Joe Dionisio for his contribution, and you will hear more thoughts from him in the future. As I said, this is like a celebration of this TV show for me, just like it should be.
Please email me at TalesFromTheNeonBeach@protonmail.com and I hope to hear from you soon.