V: The Original Miniseries (DVD)
In its day, V
was a monumental event that for one generation remains a pop-culture touchstone. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
may have reassured us that perhaps we have nothing to fear from alien visitors and E.T.
introduced us to a benign extraterrestrial who only wanted to go home, but Kenneth Johnson's 1983 television miniseries knew better. Visitors who claim to come in peace are revealed to be nothing but human-looking reptilians on human conversion and conquest. As in the dark days of fascism, some collaborate with the enemy; others form the resistance.
At the time, the epic scale of this production was unprecedented. Those 50 motherships that hover over Earth's major cities anticipate Independence Day by more than a decade. The special effects and makeup are still awesome. Less so is the often-hackneyed dialogue. But thanks to their signature roles, the mostly no-star cast, most of whom would be reunited for a sequel and subsequent television series, have ensured themselves standing invitations to sci-fi conventions. Marc Singer is cameraman-turned-freedom-fighter Mike Donovan. Julie Parrish is a medical student-turned-rebel. Richard Herd is the aliens' supreme commander. Jane Bradler is Diana, the ravishing but ruthlessly ambitious alien science officer. Leonardo Cimino lends dignity to his heavy-handed allegorical role as a Holocaust survivor. Look for a pre-Freddy Krueger Robert Englund as one of the aliens.
The DVD is presented for the first time in widescreen format. Supplemental features include an amiable and enlightening director's commentary and a brief "making of" segment. --Donald Liebenson