If you're anywhere near adult age, you remember Kenneth Johnson's 1983 sci-fi miniseries V, and it's likely the things you remember most about it are: The aliens were lizards, they ate guinea pigs, and someone had a half-alien baby.
You may also recall the arrival of giant spaceships over the major cities of the world, a suspenseful scene that was subsequently ripped off wholesale by Independence Day.
Well, if you loved that stuff, the cast of ABC's newly rebooted V say you won't be disappointed by the new version, which debuts tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET/PT. (In fact, one character sarcastically refers to the ID4 theft in an aside.)
No one's saying at this point whether we will see lizard faces, guinea-pig snacks or alien newborns. But the cast members—Elizabeth Mitchell, Joel Gretsch, Morena Baccarin and Scott Wolf—offered up reasons that fans of the original will love the new version.
"Well, nobody's given birth to alien babies," Baccarin, who plays Anna, said in an exclusive interview on V's set in Vancouver, Canada, last week. "You know, let's hope we run for four seasons, and we can do all of those things. I think that, again, they don't want to ignore all those things, because those are special and interesting things that you can play with given this premise, but I don't really know what the plans are for those things yet."
Mitchell plays FBI counterterrorist agent Erica Evans, who discovers a secret hidden beneath the skin of every alien "Visitor," or "V." Gretsch is Father Jack, a priest questioning his faith in the wake of the Visitors' arrival. Wolf is Chad Decker, a career-hungry news anchor, who pursues an exclusive interview with Anna (Baccarin), the leader of the Vs. V will premiere Tuesday and air four episodes before taking a hiatus; it returns in March 2010.
Reasons fans of the original should watch the new version (click on the images for larger versions):
Giant freaking spaceships
"We watched it, and I actually had a room full of people cheering at how cool the effects were," Mitchell said. "The effects were great. And as a science fiction reader, as a fan, as someone who loves that stuff, to have it be better than my imagination was fantastic."
State-of-the-art visual effects
ZOIC Studios (Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) is doing the VFX.
"It is V 2.0," Wolf said. "It is V 2.9. ... Their ability to execute this story because of what they're capable of in terms of visual effects is just light-years from what it was at that time."
Smokin' hot evil lizard queen
"You said the L-word," Baccarin teased us while dressed in her form-fitting gray Anna suit. See, she's not bad; she's just drawn that way.
"Her face makes me happy," Mitchell says. "It looks like something out of a cartoon. You can't believe how architecturally perfect it is. So, I mean, you know, you have to have a babe, right? And you have to have a babe who could be one way or the other, and it seems to me that that's her."
Or as much of it as you can have in a show about giant freaking spaceships and evil alien lizard queens.
The original series was in part a thinly veiled allegory of the rise of Nazism in pre-World War II Germany. This one deals with societal paranoia in a post-9/11 era of terrorism. Whom do you trust? What is the cost of blind faith?
"I think it kind of goes into the rudimentary [elements] of us as people," Gretsch (The 4400) says. "Like, there's essential things you need in your life, and trust is one of them. And fear and danger, and what are other people's motives? Terror is in the world, and what are people trying to do for their own personal gain? To hurt you? And I think that is kind of very prevalent in the world, and I think that's great about storytelling is you can actually mirror what's occurring. I think that's what we're doing."
A similar story
The old V dealt with an underground resistance of ordinary people against what appeared to be an invincible, technologically advanced superpower. This one, same thing.
"The bones of it are the same," Wolf said. "You know, the intrigue of it, the questions it's asking, the exhilaration of the mystery and the possibility of the whole thing are exactly the same. "
Smokin' hot ass-kicking female protagonist
Mitchell's FBI agent Erica Evans is the principal good-guy ass-kicker in this incarnation of the show, a la Faye Grant's Juliet Parish in the original. (Interesting coincidence: Mitchell plays a character named Juliet on ABC's sister series Lost.)
"Elizabeth's in it," Gretsch says. "I mean, come on, she's pretty fantastic."