Is there a more disappointing sci-fi show on TV than "V"?
After a lackluster first season, the producers of the revived "V" series essentially told the fans that they had learned from their mistakes and that the second season would blow us away. Towards that end, Crave Online offered "5 Ways To Improve V."
From that list, only one suggestion was followed: the casting of Jane Badler as Diana and Marc Singer's return to the franchise in the second season finale. Before we begin this year's list, I want to point out that the remaining four suggestions from last year — take inspiration from history, portray a more balanced media, increase the scale and introduce strong male characters — still apply for the series.
However, "V" has since developed brand new problems which need to be addressed if the show is going to go forward into a third season.
5: Unleash The Hounds!
As I've pointed out in my reviews for the series, there are some really talented writers on "V," including Rockne S. O'Bannon, Gregg Hurwitz and Cathryn Humphris. O'Bannon in particular was the creator and driving force behind "Farscape," one of the best sci-fi series of all time.
So then, why does this show suck so badly?
Is it network interference? Or do the executive producers really have no idea where they're going with the story?
The easiest way to kickstart "V' is to let the writers go wild and truly explore what should be a rich landscape of ideas. Why aren't there more organizations openly opposed to the Visitors? Shouldn't different countries be having diverse reactions to the slow invasion? How is our culture adapting to their presence? And what would happen if someone finally skinned a Visitor on live television and exposed them for what they really are?
For that matter, it's long past time that we learned more about the Visitors themselves. Ever since Erica and her crew got most of their alien Fifth Column colleagues slaughtered in the first season finale, we haven't seen much internal strife among the intergalactic lizard men. The Visitors were a lot more interesting when it was clear that not all of them were in favor of Anna's agenda. And even one of the more intriguing ideas this season — that the Visitors use the DNA of other races to accelerate their evolution — suggests that there are races yet to be discovered who may also oppose the Visitors.
Could we perhaps... see one?
4: Bring In New Blood
Even before the multiple deaths in the second season finale, "V" demonstrated its inability to bring in interesting new characters. Take Bret Harrison's Dr. Sidney Miller, a scientist so young that he must have graduated from college while he was still sperm. And the show never let us forget how cool he was by his constant use of "awesome" and his remarks about how "hot" Anna was.
Oded Fehr's Eli Cohn was far more compelling as the militant head of a worldwide Fifth Column network. Of course, rather than develop Eli, the show promptly killed him off so that Erica could take over his organization and then squander his resources. If I was Marc Singer's Lars Tremont, I'd be sleeping with one eye open...
I'll give the producers credit for eliminating at least 2/3 of the dead weight, but "V" badly needs some additional characters that the audience can really get behind. People with stories so compelling that we have to watch them unite and take down this horrible menace to our existence.
In short, it needs stars. Erica and Formerly Father Jack just aren't cutting it.
3: Reinvent Erica
Speaking of Erica, in last year's list I defended Elizabeth Mitchell's performance and her character.
I was wrong... So wrong.
In concept, Erica should have been a dynamic heroine. She had a personal stake in the conflict with the Visitors' interest in her son, Tyler and she had a real desire to save humanity.
What we got instead was a wishy washy leader who only decided it was time to get tough on the Visitors when it looked like Tyler was further in their grasp. And rather than simply taking Tyler aside and telling him the truth about the Visitors while his girlfriend, Lisa (a Visitor herself) was on her side, Erica decided the best thing to do would be to manipulate Tyler by bringing in her ex-husband and pretending to reunite their family!
Ladies and gentlemen, modern parenting. Why tell the truth when you can have a complicated lie?
And then there's Erica's leadership... or lack thereof. In the length of this series, I can only think of one Fifth Column operation run by Erica that actually succeeded — when she blew up Anna's soldier eggs — but even that mission ended with almost all of her Visitor allies killed!
Now, I don't expect Elizabeth Mitchell to be leaving this series if it continues. But going forward, Erica needs some drastic changes. First and foremost, she needs a redefined purpose now that her son is gone. Vengeance can be fine as long as it isn't her sole motivation. Also, if she's going to remain in a leadership position, then she needs plans that work and a real sense that she knows what she's doing.
And for God's sake don't hook her up with Jack.
2: Target Chad Decker!
One of the more hilarious moments in the season finale came when Anna sent her Visitor troops to bring Chad Decker to her after learning that he lent his voice to the Fifth Column ransom video. As the troops get ready to drag Chad away, he nervously straightens his tie and goes with them.
If there's any justice in the world of "V," we'll never see the little weasel again!
More than anyone else on the series, Chad has overstayed his welcome. It's amazing that the show's producers still present him as he's the sole representative of Earth's media! What's next? Are they going to tell us that he's the weather girl too?
There's something that the producers and writers of "V" need to understand. They don't have five or seven seasons to tell this story. Hell, they may not even have three seasons.
But if by some miracle "V" does come back then it's time to pull out all of the stops. Which means that if there's going to be a real war between humanity and the Visitors, then let's see the war. Openly and on a global scale.
"V" has an exciting premise that it has never really delivered on. And if the creative forces behind this show have something amazing to share with us then it needs to happen immediately. For all of its faults, "Lost" still pulled the trigger on several changes throughout its run and pushed the storyline forward.
We're through two full seasons of "V" and it still feels like we've barely gotten started. And several of the dramatic choices have felt weak and uninspired. Even the deaths in the season finale were mostly safe bets to kill off. More than anything else, "V" needs to be bold and to take creative risks.
Otherwise, what's the point of watching it?