If I were a betting man, and I haven't been since the freaking Pirates beat out the Mets in 1990, I would stay far, far away from putting any money on whether V will be back in the spring. Last night's episode, "It's Only the Beginning," did nothing to make a prediction any clearer. Like the four episodes in this introductory "pod," last night's episode was up and down, and seemed to lack direction. Here's why:
*On the positive side, I pretty much love everything involving the V's themselves. The idea that the V injection actually will help humanity, but that they are secretly poisoning the flu vaccine? Awesome. That Anna referred to Lisa as her "young," instead of "child" or "daughter?" Creepy cool. Joshua's assistant sacrificing himself for Joshua (a leader of The Fifth Column), knowing that his sentence would be, as Anna decreed with relish, "Skin him!"? Intriguing. The V suicide pill turning them into ash? Weird. Anna nakedly doling out The Bliss? Trippy. The phalanx of V ships awaiting a war with Earth? Fantastic. All of this really brings life to the V's as characters and mystery to the story.
*On the negative side, I pretty much hate everything about the humans. That's not to say the performances are bad, because, save one, they're not (I'm looking at you Mr. Huffman). Rather, as I complained about last week, the writing for the humans is just dreadful. I mean that whole conversation about how human predictability will be exploited by the V's was awful. The idea was actually a great insight (I'd venture to say all beings perceive those of lower intelligence to be predictable), but the dialogue expressing the idea made me cringe. It was on par with an afterschool special. And speaking of predictability, of course Jack was in the Army. Of course Valerie was pregnant (I knew that as soon as she mentioned she was tired in the first scene). Of course Chad had a medical problem only the V's could detect. I state this last one becuase besides some Acting 101 looks that say "I just don't like what's going on here," Chad has never been given anything to say that would have us believe he minds being exploited by the V's. Since he hasn't put up a fight against being the V's media stooge (and, no, saying he'd like to see more of the medical bay doesn't count), we have no reason to suspect he'll think twice about the V doctor's diagnosis. I don't know; they really need to make some leaps and bounds when it comes to their Earth-bound characters.
*I do have to give the designers kudos for their work on the show. The costumes, lighting, scenery, effects, music, everything is top notch. I especially love the cinematography: they find such great angles for shooting Morena Baccarin to make her look lacertine. When she told Lisa that she wanted to meet Tyler, Baccarin looked like she would sawallow him whole.
*Really? Valerie is Tyler's shrink? It wasn't enough that Ryan and Erica are now working together? There needed to be another link? Really?!?
*Jack is the first character I've ever seen to actually wait in the car when told. Just ask Chuck!
*Doc Jensen brings up a great idea in his recap today: what if Anna is actually benevolent and working against the soon-to-arrive armada to save humanity? I don't think we're going there, just yet. However, this would completely upend the show (which may be a good thing), and would be least plausible in the character of Ryan. Wouldn't that mean Ryan is actually working against Erica, Jack and the safety of Valerie? I guess the explanation would be that Ryan thinks he's helping humanity, but really isn't, and will come to understand Anna's true intentions. Mehtnks such a story will get very complicated, and as we have seen, I doubt the writers have the stuff to handle it.
OK, that's all for 2009. Whether ABC will pick up an additional nine episodes for the spring is beyond my guess. If they do, I think they will have to receive major assurances that the quality of the writing will improve dramatically. I hope they do, because I generally enjoy shows like V, and there are some great actors on the show. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if any of ABC's mid-season replacements are hits. Make sure you check out Jay and Jack's VCast and Doc Jensen's recaps at EW.com. Please leave your thoughts below in the Comments section. I'll post any news on the status of V as it is released. Until then...