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Posts Tagged ‘V’

Weekend Update

May 15th, 2011 No comments

I’ve got a big week coming up. Tonight I’m doing the on-stage introduction for The Red Green Wit & Wisdom Tour, actor Steve Smith’s live stage show. It’s no big deal–just a few words and a couple of jokes–but it’s my first time before an audience in quite a while.

Tomorrow I’m off to Orlando for the PBS Annual Meeting, which means three days of meetings and networking. It also means I’ll be taking a few extra days to hit the parks. This’ll be my first time at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And the new Star Wars ride opens at Disney Hollywood this Friday! I was at Disneyland in Anaheim for the opening weekend of the original Star Tours back in ’87, so it’ll be great to maintain the tradition!

But first a little sci-fi TV wrap-up. Last week the broadcast networks announced their series pickups for the fall, and V unsurprisingly received the axe. It’s hard to feel very badly about that; it was a show that squandered every opportunity to become compelling TV. They brought back Jane Badler as lizard baddy Diana but kept her in a cell for nine episodes and killed her minutes after her escape. The final installment reintroduced original series star Mark Singer as the leader of a human military alliance, but it was too little and far too late. (Note to TV producers: maybe you don’t want to wait two entire seasons to add some combat action to your alien invasion series.)

Smallville concluded Friday, and it was every bit as frustrating at the end as it had been these past ten years. The evil god Darkseid brought his warworld Apokolips on a collision course with the Earth, and if you think that sounds like an opportunity for some exciting Super-action, well then you haven’t been producing Smallville. Look, I know that the series was more soap than superhero, but really, when there’s a giant flaming planet looming in the sky, it might be time to stop yapping about your personal issues and put on the Superman suit. I swear that about every ten minutes I shouted at the TV, “Put on the fucking suit!” And would it have killed the showrunners to give us one decent shot of Tom Welling wearing the costume? Ten years, folks. Ten years.

Last night’s Doctor Who was a big step up from the previous week’s lightweight pirate episode, “The Curse of the Black Spot.” The latter seemed content to repeat the basic premise of Steven Moffat’s first script for modern Who, “The Empty Child.” An automated alien medical device that tries to repair humans but doesn’t have the instruction manual? Been there, inhaled the nanoprobes.

The new installment, “The Doctor’s Wife,” was written by famous fantasist Neil Gaiman. I’d been both anticipating and dreading this one. I’ve generally enjoyed what I’ve read of Gaiman’s novels, but the setting–a living junkyard planet named House inhabited by people named Auntie and Uncle–sounded rather twee. However, I think it all turned out rather well. It was a bit fan-fictiony, what with the Doctor meeting a human incarnation of his beloved TARDIS, but at least it was good fan-fiction.

That’s all for now. Gotta put on my Possum Lodge costume and get ready for the show. Don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging this next week, and it’s hard to do on the iPad in any case. Back next week!

Categories: TV Tags: , , ,

State Of The Art

January 20th, 2011 No comments

Let’s poke a dipstick into the crankcase of sci-fi pop culture! Is it time to add another quart?

Not-so-superheroes: I recently dropped ABC’s No Ordinary Family from my DVR schedule. I’d initially had misgivings about what appeared to be Heroes-light, but I enjoyed the pilot; there was fun to be had in watching Michael Chiklis stop bullets and leap buildings Hulk-style. I gave the series half a season to find its way, but to my disappointment it appears to have doubled-down on the “Heaven forbid we should use our powers” trope. Look, there are a lot of shows I can watch in which people don’t use superpowers to fight crime. Embrace the genre, or get out of the Batcave.

And then there’s NBC’s The Cape, which has not only embraced the genre, but is currently making out with it underneath the bleachers. I love that it’s not at all ashamed about putting its hero in a costume or having actual supervillains with names like Chess and Scales. There’s even a “Carnival of Crime” with stilt-walkers, a pint-sized strongman and a thieving raccoon. That’s all great; it makes me want to overlook that most of it is stolen goods. The writing is fairly dire, though, and the ratings are such that I don’t think there’s any point in getting hooked.

I do like street-level, pulp superheroes, so I should be all over the new Green Hornet film. I don’t have any great affection for the character, so I’m not particularly bothered that he’s been given a comedy spin. The real crime here seems to be the transubstantiation of humor into a humor-like substance.

Aliens: As with The Cape, I really want to love the remake of V. I have a lot of affection for the original and still-lingering frustration over its later mishandling and lack of closure. I’d love to see it done over and done right. The new V is a worthy try, but it’s missing a few things. The Nazi/Holocaust allegory of the original was heavy-handed, but at least it gave the story resonance. The War on Terror should provide plenty of symbolic fodder, but it’s largely been ignored. This week our heroes tortured, dismembered, skinned and ultimately killed one of the Visitors, and no one (even the priest) seemed to have any serious qualms about it.

Another problem is the lack of substantive action on the part of the main characters. As I previously mentioned, I presume that some of this is for budgetary reasons, and some because it’s an ongoing show rather than a mini-series event. In the original, our heroes rapidly gained a host of followers and “red shirts.” And while they may not have been the entirety of the human Resistance, there was no question that they were its most important cell. That’s not the case now, and it’s only been made worse by the introduction of a larger Fifth Column faction that, among other things, orchestrated simultaneous, worldwide bombings of Visitor installations. Don’t make me wish I was watching the show about those guys.

It’s not all bad. We’ve seen a lot more of the Visitors’ true reptilian nature–the skeletal reptile/insect to the right is apparently what they look like under the human disguises–and we finally got a rat-eating scene. Their agenda has finally been revealed, and while it’s a silly, ’50s sci-fi notion–they want to breed with us!–it’s not any goofier than using us for food or stealing our water. I could do without Anna the Visitor Queen railing on about how she’s going to locate the human soul and suffocate it in its sleep, but even that would be forgivable if the show acknowledged its foolishness.

I’m a little disappointed in the reintroduction of original V actress Jane Badler as Diana, former Visitor leader and mother of Anna. The catfight potential has been wasted; so far Badler has done nothing more than to stew in her Macramé Chair of Evil. Dear V producers: no one is going to look down on you if you have your characters actually do something.

Dinosaurs: The previously-cancelled Primeval has re-emerged from prehistory with a fourth series of dinosaur-fighting ridiculousness. It’s still stupid as a box of stone axes, but eminently watchable. The creature effects–such as that Spinosaurus to the left–continue to be astonishing. All that said, if you’d told me back when the series began that the two* surviving members of the original cast would be the dork with the pork-pie hat and the girl with no pants, I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with it.

Alexander Siddig, aka Siddig el Fadil, aka Deep Space Nine‘s Dr. Julian Bashir, has joined up as a corporate funder with what I assume will prove to be a shady side.

Vampire Slayers: Buffy “Season 8″ dragged its way across the finish line this week. When I’d heard that Buffy creator Joss Whedon would be shepherding an official continuation of the TV series in comic book form, I had mixed feelings. I was a huge fan of the show to the end, and welcomed more stories of the Scooby Gang by the original writers. Yet it was an obvious acknowledgement that there would never be a “real” reunion of the cast, most of whom (sorry, Xander!) have gone on to mainstream success.

Turns out that I should’ve been even more skeptical. After getting to the end of 40 issues–a single season spread over nearly four full years–I find myself grateful that the TV show ceased when it did. And I’m starting to speculate whether Joss Whedon–like George Lucas before him–has become a hack and a ne’er-do-well. His recent, tone-deaf choices (and I include Dollhouse here) have me second-guessing whether he was ever really all that.

As with George Lucas and his gargantuan digital toybox, Whedon’s move into the comic book realm offered him unlimited scope. He could depict things unimaginable on a TV budget. But, like Lucas, it seems that limitations suit him. Just because you can give your heroes their own army, turn Dawn into a giant (and a centaur, and a doll) or send Buffy into a dystopian future of unintelligible teen slang doesn’t mean that you should do any of these things.

And that brings us to the time Buffy and Angel had sex in outer space. That’s right, after the two of them spontaneously developed Superman-level powers (because the Universe “wanted” it), but before their mystical fucking created a paradisaical pocket dimension. Yes, these are things that happened.

Meanwhile, major developments were unexplained or ignored, presumably to be picked up in “Season 9.” That might wash on a weekly TV series set to return after a summer hiatus.** But when it takes four frickin’ years to complete a “season,” I don’t think it’s asking too much that some things are followed up. If, after 35 issues, you have Spike the vampire unexpectedly show up as the captain of a spaceship crewed by giant bugs, I think you owe the reader a panel or two to explain how in the hell that came about.

The arc concluded with the death of a beloved character the identity of whom I will not disclose.*** That’s a familiar Whedon trick: littering his stories with the corpses of loved ones, the better to make the danger “real” and/or to motivate his characters into taking action. Sure, that can work, but when you do it over and over: Jenny, Joyce, Tara, Anya, Fred, Wesley, Wash, Penny, Topher, Ballard…

This is rapidly becoming a marathon post, so I’m going to end it here. If Joss Whedon doesn’t somehow kill me, I’ll be back with more rantings in the near future.

*There’s actually a third cast member who has been around since the beginning, the suit who ostensibly runs the secret government organization charged with investigating time anomalies. Since he’s never been much of a character, I don’t count him.

**Though it’s telling that the season-long story arcs of the Buffy TV show were more or less self-contained.

***No, fuck it, it was Giles.

Maybe Next Year Someone Will Finally Eat A Damned Mouse

May 14th, 2010 No comments

The word came down this morning that ABC will likely pick up a second season of its V remake. I’m pleased to hear it; while I think the show is still only half-formed, I’m a fan of the concept and would like to see it have a chance to play out.

A side benefit of the renewal is that Anna’s pixie haircut will continue to annoy my wife for another year. I once confessed that it worked for me; at least, it works for Morena Baccarin. Vicky’s since become obsessed with it; every week she says to me, “Really? You think that looks good?!?” So, that’s fun.

Haircuts aside, I think that V‘s chief problem is that is that it’s trying too hard to be Lost. It wants to be another series about endlessly drawn-out secrets and mysteries. We’re eleven episodes in and still don’t have a solid grasp of the Visitors’ agenda on Earth. It’s not enough to know that Anna is bad news; we need to know the stakes for humanity should the Resistance fail.

The show also needs a bigger scope. I realize that it may be a budgetary issue, but four good guys do not make a rebellion. If we’re to believe that our heroes have even a remote chance of winning, they need to fill out their ranks.

I feel that the new V hasn’t played enough with the idea that–in the era of Homeland Security–here we are rooting for domestic terrorists. It’s also failed, so far, to come up with its own analogue of the Holocaust; the original miniseries had the Visitors scapegoating human scientists and their families.

Oh, yes, one more thing. It’s a war. Let’s have some fightin’.

That said, the show has been picking up steam in the last couple of weeks. Anna’s treatment of her wayward daughter (“Break her legs”) was chilling. The introduction of a viral weapon against the Visitors evokes the Red Dust that saved the day in the original V: The Final Battle miniseries. Scott Wolf’s conflicted reporter character is finally interacting with the rest of the cast. And, if the preview for next Tuesday’s finale is any indication, “V” will stop standing for “Visitors” and once again stand for “Victory.”

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Welcome To The “Lost” Island National Preserve

March 31st, 2010 No comments

The hounds of hell have been loosed this morning: Lost fans are furious that last night’s episode was sullied when ABC  superimposed a graphic counting down to the return of the alien invasion series V .

My favorite so far is this excerpt of a piece by the TV writer for the Boston Globe:

How wrong is that? Very wrong. For one thing, Lost fans are Lost fans — that is, we are focused intensely on our complicated show, which we’ve been waiting a week to see, and which is in its final stretch, and we don’t tend to want interruption or distraction. If I had been watching, say, CSI, I might have been annoyed, but not quite offended. But don’t mess with the Lost.

Now there’s some fan entitlement for you. Lost and its followers are so special that the realities of the 21st century television industry shouldn’t apply to them. Not like the hoi polloi that watch CSI.

To be clear, I love Lost, and I dislike the proliferation of promotional graphics cluttering up the screen. However…

TV viewers lost the war against promotional bugs years ago. In the age of DVRs and functionally infinite entertainment choices, the best time to catch your attention isn’t during the commercial breaks that you skip over, it’s during the show that you’re watching. You’re never again going to have the unspoiled viewing experience of olden days, certainly not from free, over-the-air TV.

The implication that Lost is a rare and beautiful flower deserving of special care is absurd. It’s a TV show from a network that not only wants you to watch this show, but the next show as well. (And, as Lost will be off the air forever in a little more than two months’ time, it’s more important than ever for ABC to get you on the hook for the next serialized sci-fi drama.)

As bugs go, it was relatively small. With the exception of the countdown itself, it wasn’t moving. That’s a vast improvement over the ones that take up a quarter of the screen, pinwheeling and whizbanging like the Fourth of July. Or my own personal pet peeve: the ones in which characters walk into the picture and stare at you. If only they were all as easy to ignore as was that simple letter “V.”

That said, there was one scene during which the V bug briefly became a legitimate issue. Sun–a Korean-born character who last night temporarily lost the ability to speak English due to a severe bout of plotcontrivitis–was forced to communicate with Jack through handwritten notes. Her “dialogue” was briefly obscured by the logo. That’s unfortunate. But even then, it was entirely possible to infer what she’d written through Jack’s spoken reply. That’s what I had to do, as I was watching Lost on Dish Network, which “center cuts” all 16:9 programming to fit a 4:3 screen.

I may not like promotional bugs, but they’re far less disruptive than losing 25% of the picture.

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Viva V

November 17th, 2009 No comments

The third episode of V continued a solid streak so far. It’s not as gripping as the original ’80s miniseries, but that had the advantage of being constructed as a one-time “event,” not the first four episodes of an ongoing weekly show. It could afford to tip its hand early. V Mark II has been slower to build, but I do have the sense that it’s going somewhere.

One aspect of the show that I’ve enjoyed more than I expected was the addition of the infiltration angle. Sure, the “aliens secretly among us” bit has been done many times before, but here it ratchets up the danger of starting a human resistance against the Visitors. The sense of paranoia in episode two was palpable.

Tonight’s installment managed to surprise me three times. Two instances involved twists that–while they weren’t “lizard baby” awesome–I certainly did not see coming. Bye bye, Wash!

The third surprise was the unexpected adoption of the original show’s Visitor alphabet. It’s a nice callback for old school V fans. I wonder if they consulted my website?

Only one more episode ’til the show vanishes for a few months. Hopefully the word of retooling isn’t an evil portent. Apparently, filming doesn’t resume ’til January, so they’ve got plenty of time to work out the kinks.

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We Are Of Peace

November 4th, 2009 No comments

Last night, after finally winning the three-day Battle of the Kitchen Faucet (see previous post about my new love of the hacksaw in solving stubborn plumbing issues), I settled in with my daughter “Liz” to watch the first episode of the V remake.

All in all, I was very pleased with it. It was respectful of the source material while offering some intriguing new twists.

The main characters weren’t direct copies of the originals, but several seemed to be analogues of the old cast. There was the slinky alien commander, the news reporter given the chance to become the Visitors’ chief propagandist, the kid who fell under the spell of the Visitor youth corps, and the alien sympathizer in love with a human. And my memory may be a bit fuzzy, but I recall that the Catholic priest in the old V: The Final Battle miniseries was originally written as a younger character similar to the one featured in last night’s pilot.

There was a sly joke about the familiarity of the “aliens parking their motherships over Earth’s cities” trope. A news report presenting “man on the street” reactions featured a pair of sci-fi geeks. Excited Geek: “Dude, this is Independence Day!” Surly Geek: “Which was a rip-off of any number of alien invasion predecessors.” (One of these predecessors was, of course, the original V.)

The first big difference between the old and new series is the addition of covert cells of Visitors that spent several years undermining Earth society prior to the arrival of the motherships. The original Visitors would’ve been unable to pull this off despite their human appearance; they had weirdly modulated voices and an aversion to bright light. I think that the change works, as it gives the series another faction to play with. There’s even a faction within that faction: Visitor infiltrators who have gone native.

Much has been written about the supposed anti-Obama coding of the new series, with its references to “hope,” “change” and “universal health care.” I didn’t find this to be pervasive. Science-fiction stories, especially contemporary tales which are intended to be social commentaries, inevitably draw from current culture. While you can find evidence to suggest the new V is a right-wing paranoid fantasy, it’s also stated up front that the reason that the world is in such a mess is that the Visitors have been ginning up “unnecessary wars.” Sound like anyone we know?

And at the end of the day, V is a show in which the good guys are terrorists. There’s no getting around that. The original series was literally “dedicated to freedom fighters.”

My only complaint is that it felt as if the producers were trying to fit too much into an hour. The ’80s miniseries took two hours to reach more or less the same point in the narrative. While I didn’t mind the accelerated pacing–we have, after all, seen all this before–it did bother me the main characters weren’t given the chance to uncover the secrets of the Visitors on their own.

Three-quarters of the way into the episode, an Exposition Guy showed up and told them that about the aliens’ covert activities and their true reptilian nature. I know that it would have been impossible to surprise the audience in the manner of the original miniseries. Most articles about the new series gave away the “space lizards” thing. However, I think it undercut the moment in which the characters got their first glimpse of Visitor scales by giving them fair warning in advance.

V is off to a good start, but it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up. Production of the series was shut down for several weeks for retooling, and while that’s not all that unusual, it’s a bit worrisome. And then there’s the weird way that ABC is rolling it out, with the first four episodes in November sweeps and the remainder coming after the Winter Olympics in March.

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My Favorite Martians: The Visitors

September 1st, 2009 No comments

I’ve already written enough about the Visitors (here and here, not to mention an entire frickin’ website), so I’m not going to launch into an extensive recap of the original V miniseries or its followups. I’d rather discuss a rare commodity in the era of instant gratification: the power of surprise.

I hope that you’ll forgive me for the “you young whippersnappers” attitude in the following. Look, I’m 45, and that feeling grows stronger with each passing sunset. You kids really don’t know how good you’ve got it. Why, in my day, all we had to eat were astronaut food sticks and Sweet’N Low…

Where was I? Oh yes, lizard space Nazis.

So, in the nearly-forgotten era before Google and spoiler sites, if you wanted to know about an upcoming sci-fi show, you most likely read about it in Starlog magazine. As I recall, Starlog‘s only mention of V prior to its premiere was a brief article short on details. And so it was that I came to assume that “V” probably stood for “Virus,” as a spaceborne pandemic storyline seemed like just the sort of lame-ass shit NBC might foist on us in a sweeps period.

Then I saw the teaser promo. And the spaceships.

When the fleet of fifty motherships came to rest above Earth’s largest cities, I was astonished.

When squad after squad of jumpsuited aliens marched out (to the tune of a high school marching band rendition of  the Star Wars theme, no less), I was captivated.

When that woman’s jaw distended and she gulped down that guinea pig, my own jaw hit the floor.


Wait, they’re really reptiles wearing human skins? They want to steal our water? And have us for dinner? By the end of the four-hour miniseries, I could. not. wait. for the next installment.

It didn’t come until next May. And I didn’t know what would happen that time either.

When that lizard baby crawled out of that teenager’s stomach, the girls in the dorm screamed and screamed.

Those were the days, you young whippersnappers.

C’mon, Give Me A Token Guinea Pig

May 21st, 2009 No comments

Here’s a full-length trailer for the V remake. It hits all the right notes. Still lacking the rodent-eating, but I imagine that they’re saving that for the actual show.

And here’s another preview which, while shorter, features a bit more action:

My personal expectation level has been upgraded from “guardedly optimistic” to “when’s this thing gonna premiere, already?”

You Might Think I’d Be Upset About This, But I’m Not

May 19th, 2009 No comments

This morning, ABC announced its 2009 – 2010 schedule, and one of its midseason shows is a new adaptation of the ’80s series V: the one about the alien lizards who come here to steal our water and to put us on their menu. Among the geek-friendly cast is Elizabeth Mitchell (who just got killed off on Lost), Laura Vandervoort (Smallville‘s Supergirl) and–playing the leader of the Visitors–Morena Baccarin (who played a space hooker on Firefly).

Now, I’m something of a V fan, in that I had one of the first websites devoted to the series back in the Wild West phase of the Internet. Truth to tell, it was really because I was itching to do a website about something, and I figured that since I had access to a bunch of V ephemera, I might as well make it about that. 

V captured my imagination during my college days, coming at a time when, quite frankly, there was little sci-fi on the tube and virtually nothing of quality. Back then, you took what you got. Still, the original miniseries came out of nowhere, delivering good shocks, a decent allegory about the possibilities of fascism in America, and a whole lot of soap opera shenanigans. (The latter wasn’t all that unwelcome; I can appreciate a bit of soap in my drama.)

While the follow-up miniseries (V: The Final Battle) lacked the show’s creator Kenneth Johnson, it contained enough of his original concepts to be watchable fun. The ensuing weekly series was pretty damned stupid, but again, it was 1985 and you took what you got.

Johnson has tried (and so far failed) to launch his own sequel/remake. The closest he’s come so far was a novelization of his script for V: The Second Generation

Instead, the new V has been handed over to an entirely different production staff. Predictably, the old-school fans have already decried it as a mockery, with the inevitable nickname VINO (“V In Name Only”).

As for me, I say “Bring it on.” Sure, it’s entirely possible that it will hew more closely to the terrible weekly series that ended the franchise back in the ’80s than to the original miniseries. But I think there’s ample evidence to suggest that it’s not the worst thing in the world for someone to take a fresh look at an old, somewhat cheesy sci-fi show (see Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who). Hell, would even the most ardent Star Trek fan suggest that particular franchise’s best days were the ones in which Gene Roddenberry had the most influence? (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, plus the first two seasons of The Next Generation.)

I’m looking forward to V, if only because it’s entirely likely I’ll get to see Morena Baccarin eat a guinea pig. That’s just how I roll.

Updated: A couple of clips from the pilot have been posted online. No guinea pigs (yet), but looks promising.

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Viva La Resistance

February 25th, 2008 No comments

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.

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