For Vic: a clip from the surprisingly good post-strike premiere of Saturday Night Live. There will be milkshakes!
Almost 25 years ago, NBC premiered the miniseries V, an allegory about fascism in America with a sci-fi twist. A fleet of alien “Visitors” encircled the Earth, offering universal friendship as well as medical and scientific advances. However, their handsome, human exteriors masked a jaw-dropping secret…
In truth, the Visitors were reptilian space-Nazis out to steal our water and turn the human race into sushi-to-go. Masters of propaganda, they trumped up a phony conspiracy among our world’s scientists which served a twofold purpose: the imprisonment of those who might see through their deception and the institution of perpetual martial law.
Some humans eventually caught on and formed a resistance movement bent on driving the Visitors from Earth. The first miniseries ended with an interstellar SOS sent in hopes of contacting the aliens’ habitual enemies.
The following year brought a sequel miniseries, V: The Final Battle, which more or less wrapped up the storyline. Unfortunately, creator Kenneth Johnson left the project over creative differences, and while the new production team more or less followed his plot outline, they made some questionable decisions, not the least of which was granting a half-human, half-Visitor child the Power of the Glowing Deus Ex Machina to save the day.
The less said about the brief weekly series which followed, the better.
A few years back, Kenneth Johnson was engaged to write a new V miniseries for NBC. His script ignored the events of both The Final Battle and the series, instead picking up the story two decades later.
While that proposed production remains in limbo, Johnson has just published a novelized adaptation, V: The Second Generation. As promised, it provides an alternate account of life under the Visitors.
The “red dust” bacteriological weapon which defeated the lizards in The Final Battle has been swept under the carpet, and in this version of the story both the Resistance and the Earth itself appear to be in their final days. The rebels have suffered since the evil commandant Diana’s great purge of 1999. More and more people have disappeared, cocooned in storage aboard the hovering alien motherships. Much of the world’s oceans have been drained away, leaving behind massive deserts, and new technology from the Visitor homeworld threatens to finish the job in a matter of weeks instead of years.
Fortunately, hope arrives in the form of three mysterious infiltrators, advance scouts for the Visitors’ longtime foes, the Zedti. The good news is that they’ve got their own fleet of warships hidden behind Saturn. The bad news is that no one is sure that they themselves can be trusted.
In general, I found The Second Generation to be a solid wrap-up. The writing style is awkward at times, but the plot is riveting, especially as things ramp up in the final hundred pages. Be warned, though, that the darkness before the dawn is especially dark. Damn, some of the early chapters are depressing.
Initially, I was a little disappointed that more wasn’t made of recent real-world events; I was interested in the possibilities of Johnson’s take on the War on Terror. (Of course, in this alternate history, 9/11 never happened.) In the end, I realized that he’d already covered much of that ground the first time around. Still, I do wonder, given that both the original film and this book are dedicated to freedom fighters everywhere, what uncomfortable parallels he might have drawn between his heroic Resistance and certain real-life insurgents.
The science is as wonky as ever. Not only are there the usual improbabilities about people and reptiles breeding offspring (and there’s an awful lot of interspecies sex going on in these pages), but the book also presents in the form of the Zedti three different races of aliens which have evolved from insects yet which can pass as near-human.
I appreciated the opportunity to revisit some old friends. While many of the original miniseries’ characters are never heard from–presumably killed in the purge–half a dozen play integral roles in the storyline, including three who were killed off in the earlier sequels.
The book provides a good bit more closure than I expected. There’s a huge uprising, a countdown to destruction and a final reckoning with the Visitors and their heretofore-unseen Leader. There’s enough of an opening for another sequel which would presumably cast the entire world in the role of Bush-era Iraq, but if this is the end of the story, it’s a satisfactory final battle.
Earlier this week, my friend Dave directed me to Peeron, a web-based accessory for Lego fanatics. Among its features is an online inventory that allows one to track their collection and even determine the exact number and nature of bricks they have lying around the house. Dave used it to tally up his own pile of plastic, and the results were stunning.
Naturally, I had to try it for myself. Fortunately, I keep my instruction books, so it was easy to enter my collection by set number. Mind you, it’s still not an exact count. It’s possible that I have a few duplicate sets unaccounted for. In addition, I’ve bought several small containers’ worth of loose bricks from the Lego store. But it’s close enough.
Here then, is the count, according to Peeron:
Totals: 271 Sets (237 unique), 35,176 Parts, $4,007.14, 552 Minifigs
Now, before you totally freak, that $4,000 figure is presumably based on original retail price. However, I buy a lot of my Lego on deep clearance (50-80% off), especially when it comes to the bigger sets. And those 271 sets include a large percentage of mini-kits and those impulse-buy baggies with one minifig and a handful of accessories.
Still, that’s a lot of fucking Lego.
Apparently, I’ve been collecting since 1990, though I only bought a couple of sets back then. I picked up a few Castle knights with the intention of using them as “Dungeons and Dragons” miniatures.
My most numerous part? I have 270 light gray 1×2 bricks, which isn’t at all a surprise to me considering how many Castle-themed sets I’ve bought…not to mention the Imperial Star Destroyer Vic gave me on my 40th birthday. That sucker alone accounted for 3,000 parts, most of them light gray.
If you want to see for yourself, here’s a complete inventory.
Hasbro is offering a limited edition, 14″ tall, roaring Cloverfield monster. It’s got interchangeable heads, 70 points of articulation and ten detachable parasites. Oh, and it comes packed with the head of the Statue of Liberty.
Thank goodness it doesn’t come out ’til September. That gives me plenty of time to eBay my stuff…
I’m blogging left, right and center these days. I was recently asked to contribute a blog about public TV programming for the WILL-TV website, and it should be going live today.
In addition, I’m contributing to an industry website called Public Media Digest. That one’s only fully accessible to registered members of the public broadcasting community, however.
Years of hopes, prayers and human sacrifices have paid off: Chick-Fil-A has finally come to town! A Chick-Fil-A Express opened this morning in the basement of the Illini Union.
Anticipation never tasted so good.
Surprisingly, I am NOT in this suit.
I’m back at work today after two days of dealing with the effects of Tropical Storm Snowzilla. Yesterday, I ripped out all of the vinyl laminate flooring in our basement, as well as the underlay padding. The latter was the most important to get up, as it was quite damp and almost certainly would’ve given us a terminal case of mold. Nearly all of it is out of the house now, though we ran out of room in the trash can and resorted to tossing a lot of padding in a messy heap on the back patio, to be Dealt With Later.
Other than the floor, the damage was relatively minimal. The laundry room doors expanded at the bottom, but I think they can be sanded down so that they can be closed normally. All of the electronics survived, though my metal TV stand retained water and started to rust from the inside out before I caught it. Some personal memorabilia was ruined, but nothing too upsetting. I did lose the VHS tapes I had from my time in California, which, ironically, had been safe in the toyroom closet until I brought them down in preparation for dubbing to DVD. Still, it’s not like I’d watched them in at least 15 years.
The main thing that pisses me off, aside from having to rip out the floor, is that the majority of my “Showcase Presents” DC comics reprint volumes were wiped out in one stroke. I had brought them downstairs a couple of months ago because I was out of shelf space. Unfortunately, they were too near the floor (because, I thought, we never have any trouble with flooding). Only six survived, and that was because they were stacked vertically, allowing the bottom two books to take the hit for the rest. In hindsight, I wish I’d done that with the others. Blurgh. At least they’re easily replaceable.
So, with the floor ripped out, I can start putting things back to some semblance of normality. I think we’ll hold off on putting in a new floor, and honestly, right now I’m strongly considering just painting the concrete and buying some throw rugs.