Wednesday, November 11, 2009

V - "There is No Normal Anymore"

Last night was the second of four episodes of V that will air this fall before ABC decides whether to bring the show back for at least nine more episodes after the Olympics air in February.  Essentially, ABC is gambling that the four November episodes will hook enough people that they will wait more than three months for the series to continue.  If the next two episodes are like last night's, I'm not sure 2010 looks promising for the show.  Because the series may disappear after two more weeks, I don't want to get into an in-depth review of each episode...yet.  So, I will offer some brief thoughts on the next couple episodes, and reassess next year. 

*For all the wonderful, sweepng bombast from the Pilot, the show really slowed down last night.  I am not opposed to a more contemplative pace; I mean, no show can move at 1000 mph the whole series.  However, to throttle back so quickly, and, more importantly, not placing proper emphasis in the slowdown, is troubling.  To me, the most intriguing things about the world of V are: 1) the renegade Visitors, like Ryan, that may work against Anna's V's; 2) the human resistance; and 3) any possible split between Anna, Marcus and the just-arrived Visitors.  All of these, seemed to be merely touched upon, instead of a deeper treatment.  Instead, we got a lot of Tyler making Lisa mad because he punched a guy, Fr. Jack moving a bunch of boxes and dithering over whether or not to go to the authorities, and waaaaay too many camera lingerings on "lizard-looking" people that may or may not be hidden V's.  Now, I like the tension of wondering who is and who isn't a sleeper V.  It's actually a great dramatic device.  However, sloppy directing can make this ridiculously melodramatic, and that's what happened last night.  We get it, Erica and Jack don't know who is a V, and we don't either; there is no need to make the mystery so obvious.

*The fault I describe above has nothing to do with the actors.  They are all top-notch, and doing some great work making what could be a hokey concept work for the most part.  Even the guy who plays Tyler, Logan Huffman, is doing a good job; he just has had some bad material to work with so far.  On the other hand, as I mentioned in my thoughts on the Pilot, Scott Wolf seems to be the weak link here.  He had a major storyline in last night's episode (feeling guilty about not being harder on Anna in their interview), but it just felt flat.  His smugness is not smug enough.  His deceit is not deceitful enough.  His sincerity is not sincere enough.  It appears he will be a major player in the series, so, two more episodes to bring your game up to the rest of the cast, Scott.

*There were some great moments though.  As Doc Jensen (he of the great Lost recaps) noticed in his recap of "There is No Normal Anymore," it appears that the arrival of the Visitors is early.  As Doc asks, why are they early?  What forced their hand?  I find this, combined with the counterinsurgent V's, very intriguing, and something to be watched.  Also, the return of Dale (Alan Tudyk), Erica's bad-V partner was completely unexpected and could be very cool.  Will he immediately go after Erica?  Does he have to lay low to further the V's agenda?  Does he have a new agenda altogether?  This may end up being the best part of the series' immediate future.

All in all, I was disappointed by "There is No Normal Anymore."  The too-quick slowing of the story was a bit jarring, and the general a-directional feel of the episode left me disheartened.  Now, production on the show had been suspended for five weeks, ostensibly to allow for major revisions to the pace and feel of the show.  So, if ABC does follow through with airing the show next spring, we will hopefully see the fruit of the hiatus.  I think V can be a really great show as it has an intriguing concept, a plethora of talented actors and some fantastic effects.  I just hope that last night was the nadir for the series.  If not, at least we might get Juliet back!  For a full recap, check out Doc Jensen's recap at Entertainment Weekly, and Jay and Jack have a new V podcast to add to your library.  Again, I'll offer some thoughts on next week's episode after it airs.  Until then...


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