I need to confess something. I haven’t seen episode one of ABC’s rehash of V. I don’t mean I haven’t seen the pilot, I haven’t bothered to watch the series. I am happy it’s on, don’t get me wrong, but I fear that I am one of the masses of people that are so devoted to not watching commercials or waiting through a season’s broken chronological geography of two week gaps and sporting event preemptions that I am going to netflix the series sometime after it gets cancelled in 2012 (or gets permanently preempted for wall to wall coverage of returned Mayan gods playing basketball with the decapitated heads of world leaders, whatever). So to all of you advertising gurus out there that sat down one day in 1988 with a focus group and discovered that viewers could be told that an “hour” actually consisted of 41 minutes so long as you said it with a straight face I would like to welcome you to the future where I will pay to not have you in my life. That would have felt a lot better if my wife wasn’t in advertising.. at ABC. Mister Baker if you’re reading this, that thing I said about electricity being a luxury this year, I wasn’t kidding.
Another reason that I haven’t watched V stems from a lie I told back in the eighties. Actually I told many lies in eighties, but one in particular has relevance. When the original “V” series came on I was about eight years old and it came on past my inordinately early bedtime. I would go to my second grade class the day after an episode aired and all the little dudes would be talking about it. I was the ONLY little dude that didn’t get to see it, so I lied and said I did. I slowly pieced together enough about the plot to have something of a working conversational grasp of the show, but I always felt like an outsider. I wasn’t in the “V” club. To this day I kind of resent Jonathan G, a kid who had the same birthday as me but apparently did not have a bedtime, having instead something called a “curfew” which at the time I thought was something that was worn around the neck. Jonathan G. was the president of the “V was awesome last night” club. Later he became the president of the “My dad’s copy of Caligula is awesome” club, and later still the “Crystal Meth is awesome” club. In the end I like to think that the curfew he wore around his neck sort of hung him. Yeah it’s textbook Schadenfreude, but Johny, if you’re out there, bet you wish you had some parental boundaries now don’t ya! And so that was why I didn’t watch V.
Now that we’ve established I am not only not an expert on V, I don’t even have grounds to discuss it, I would like to discuss it. Specifically I want to ask this question: Is my demographic generation so dependent on nostalgia that the only imagining we are willing to do is “re-imagining?” I like the redoing of old sci-fi (especially the redoing it right, thanks R. Moore!). But there is nothing really new. A few things drift over from the BBC, but isn’t the biggest series there yet another Dr. Who? We need a new epoch making sci fi series, and Lost wasn’t sci fi so shut up. I was thinking a new Star Trek- Star Trek: Old Irony Side. Well to quote the last incarnation of Battlestar, “All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.” In that spirit I will ask the real question that is on everyone’s mind who is watching “V.” It’s not about whether the new “V” is allegory for the Obama administration or whether the old “V” was allegory for the rise of the Japanese economic sphere. No, the most important question is:
Who kicks more ass, Morena Baccarin or Jane Badler?
You know me well enough (I hope) to know that I won’t get into a “who is hotter” discussion (see post, “most actualized women of sci-fi).
Having no grounds on which to stand in this from a substantive point of view I will just comment on the two visions of the enemy- for that is certainly what Anna and Diana are. Diana, as played by Jane Badler is pulling down some serious evil. She is cold and calculating but from the snipits I was able to pull off of Hulu, she is also a ruthless asshole of cartoonish bent. She represents the the sort of Tony Montana “wild about evil” that sci-fi supplied so much of in the decades of the cold war. I can forgive it, she wasn’t supposed to be human and when you are facing a nuclear annihilation as part of your daily routine you tend to want your badlers to be from the Punch and Judy mode. Anna is a not Diana. Our new evil is the evil we are all really afraid might be real. This is antichrist stuff. This is the evil that comes off as having your best interest in mind while they fire up the killbot. Somehow Morena Baccarin, with her efficient hair and smart suits, seems less likely to have a raygun and more likely to have a Harvard degree in genocide. We think we know this person. They are the one telling us everything is getting better while flames burn higher. Hmmm, now I get why everyone is saying it’s an Obama Administration analogy. Just goes to show you that a close reading of anything can hit paydirt. Thanks Robert Penn Warren!!
That’s the science of fiction! I want to make one apology- to Harvard University. I think everyone is aware that only Princeton offers degrees in Genocide.
Next up- Why I’m failing, not just as a writer, but as a human being!!! Fun stuff.
Andrew C. Porter