V: Pilot


The pilot episode of V was certainly astounding, if nothing else. And by that I mean that while it definitely inspired a response, I have no idea what that response is – as in, positive or negative? Liked it or didn’t? Couldn’t say.

WHAT I DEFINITELY LIKED:

  1. The visuals. Oh my god those were amazing. The CGI of the Visitor ships: indirect and direct shots of the approach, transformation from ship to video screen, ridiculously detailed exterior, obviously green-screened but still completely gorgeous interior. Definite win for the computer effects department. And for the cinematography – those aerial shots of New York were gorgeous, and the show must have actually shot them on its own to get all the angles and scales correct. For a television show, that is damned impressive. Also wins for aesthetics, the costume department. I was pretty much drooling over the suits Chad and Ryan wore throughout the episode, and the V textiles on Anna and Marcus were brilliant.
  2. Mother-son relationship. In a world where this genre of television is dominated by complex father-daughter (and father-son) pairings, having a promising mother-son team is a joy. I found both characters kind of annoying in practice, but I definitely support them in principle.
  3. The crazy intense crowd scenes. It takes a lot of work to make a good riot. Or a good panicky crowd. Or a good awed and astounded crowd. Or a good intent church-going crowd. V delivered on all of them in the pilot, so major props for that.
  4. Morena Baccarin and Scott Wolf. Together and apart, they are both so pretty and their performances are so fun to watch.

WHAT I DEFINITELY DIDN’T LIKE

  1. The music. This is, admittedly, a fairly minor thing. But, seriously, it is SO BAD.
  2. Portrayal of the passage of time. The jumping from “Oh, it’s the beginning of the Visitor arrival!” to “Oh, I called my mommy an hour ago!” to “Oh, terrorist cell chatter has increased in the last three weeks!” was not very effective. Without the extremely forced time references written into the script, I would have had absolutely no clue. I don’t know enough about film technique to propose an alternative method of showing the passage of time. But seriously. Someone needs to work on that pacing.
  3. Elizabeth Mitchell. Least convincing FBI agent ever. Her voice is fine for the mom part of her character, but it really doesn’t work in her supposed occupation.

WHAT’S ADDLING MY BRAIN:

Mostly, I feel like the pilot was too much and not enough information all at once. The best demonstration of the “not enough” was the interview scene with Anna and Chad (Baccarin and Wolf). The full-length scene didn’t contain any more nuances or developments than the five seconds of it shown in promos, it just drew it out longer and more painfully. Similarly, the progression of Tyler Evans from rebellious teen to awe-struck (or Laura Vandervoort-cleavage-struck) V devotee seemed like it took absolutely no time at all (which ties back into the passage-of-time, pacing bit).

And the “too much?” See: jumping from Terrorist Cell Chatter to Omg Vs On Earth Already to Alan Tudyk Is A V to Morris Chestnut Is Also A V But He’s A Good V Working On The Side Of Humanity all in the course of forty-some minutes. Seriously? It felt like the show was trying to cram as much wow-story-twist factor into this episode as they possibly could in order to garner and hold attention. They don’t seem to be bothering with taking their time developing an interesting story at all. Unless this crazy pace keeps up for the entire rest of the series, I will (continue to) have serious questions about the necessity of introducing and combining all of these elements so early on. Unless the entire thing gets MUCH more complicated than it already is, I think the rushed nature of this episode will come to be seen as a definite negative point.

The other thing I’m not really getting is the character development. They were barely introduced before they were fundamentally altered – as in, Ryan is about to be happily engaged but now he’s a turncoat V, and Father Jack is all serious and religious and now he’s wearing leather and punching people. What?

I think – now that I’ve actually processed my reactions – that my main response to V and its crew is: SLOW THE HELL DOWN. I realize that broadcast television is a tough scene for sci-fi shows, and I realize you must be feeling the pressure because FlashForward has already successfully established itself as the genre and network successor to the soon-to-depart Lost. But seriously, the adage holds: quality over quantity. If it takes a few more episodes to really set up the full premise of the show, that’s fine. We understand. Just give our brains a moment to process before you go and change everything up. PLEASE.

I have some real misgivings about this show and its ability to a) succeed and b) hold my interest. But I will be watching next week, because my interest is piqued and I’m hoping that the craziness of the pilot will pass and the show will legitimately prove itself as worthy of my time.

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Comments

  • forensicfanatic  On November 4, 2009 at 9:50 PM

    I completely agree. I felt as if a three-hour premier was condensed into the one-hour. The acting was excellent and the visuals were amazing, but the pacing left me feeling breathless (and not in a good way).

    Also, I feel like we didn’t get enough information about the state of the world. From what I understand (from reading comment and other reviews on different sites), the world is much bleaker than it is today, with a near economic depression and high tension between countries. We really didn’t get a feel for that except with the couple of snippets on the news program here and there.

    However, I’m definitely sticking around to see what else V has in store.

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