We've got 6 secrets from the set of V for you

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

We spent the day on the set of ABC's upcoming alien-invasion series V and learned a few spoilers for the show's debut next week. We also spoke with the show's stars and will be posting what they had to say later this week, but first a few surprises.

♦Alan Tudyk (Firefly's Wash and Dollhouse's Alpha) guest-stars in the pilot as the partner of FBI counter-terrorist agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell); we were told he will now be a recurring character.

♦ The final fight scene in the pilot was reshot and re-edited and now features a sci-fi element: A floating alien device called a "seeker." There is also a machine gun wielded by a major character.

♦ Anyone who has seen the original miniseries on which the new show is based knows that the "Visitors" are actually reptilian creatures disguised as humans. Will we see a full reveal of the aliens in the first four episodes? Producers won't say, but they told us that there will be an off-screen "skinning" of an alien at some point in the initial episodes.

♦ The mothership over New York will feature a mysterious room called a "bliss chamber" designed for the alien Visitors. Its function is unclear.

♦ The Visitors in the new show makes use of an alien alphabet that is identical to the one used in Kenneth Johnson's original miniseries as an homage to that show.

♦ The first four episodes of the show, which will air in November and December before the show takes a hiatus until spring, will end with a series of cliffhangers.

Executive producer Steve Pearlman, meanwhile, explained why ABC will air only four episodes before taking a long break and return to air the balance of the first season's 13 episodes in March.

"From the very beginning, there was going to be a break," Pearlman said on the show's set in Vancouver, Canada. "We were planned originally to be on starting in November, and then we were going to be off the air for about six or seven weeks and then come back on the air in January. And I think ... everybody kind of realized that that would put us up against American Idol ... plus the Olympics."

To avoid competition from those two shows, ABC opted instead to keep the show off the air until March. The show will play out in four-episode chapters, Pearlman added. "These [first] four episodes now have been designed very carefully [that this is] basically the first three weeks of the Visitors being here. ... Episodes one, two and three following the pilot, the story ... becomes much more about: There is no normal anymore, which is the title of the [second] episode."

The fourth episode is slated to air on Nov. 24, Pearlman said. "There are quite a few cliffhanger moments for many of our characters in that episode, and things that hopefully will be big enough events and the viewers will be hooked into these characters enough that the viewers will want to come back and see what happens to them in March." V kicks off on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.