The Visitors are among us. In a single shared moment, they appear in every major city in the world, promoting a message of peace. They want to share their knowledge of technology; they want us to unite. And they are counting on a very important component of human nature: devotion. At first considered a threat, the Visitors — or V’s — quickly become a fascination. But when FBI Counter Terrorist Agent Erica Evans discovers what lurks beneath the alarmingly human exterior of the V’s, resisting this new world has never been more important — and never has there been more at stake. It truly is the dawning of a new day.
There’s a lot to like about V, an exceptionally well-made series combining science fiction, action-adventure, and personal drama (and debuting here on DVD with all 12 first-season episodes on three discs). From the moment 29 enormous spaceships appear over an equal number of major cities (the principal action takes place in New York and aboard the mother ship that hovers over it), nothing will ever be the same. But the Visitors, commonly known as Vs, “are of peace”–or so says Anna (Morena Baccarin), their young, beautiful, preternaturally serene leader (the Vs look human, but as we soon discover, their appearance is only one part of them that isn’t what it seems). Folks around the globe are smitten as the Vs perform Christ-like medical miracles and use their awesome technology and messianic powers of persuasion to wow the Earthlings–especially a smarmy, headline-hugging TV “journalist” (Scott Wolf) who becomes their willing mouthpiece, helping the Vs seduce the entire global population… almost. Of course, there are some who know better, specifically the “Fifth Column,” a resistance group comprised of humans (with Elizabeth Mitchell as an FBI agent whose son is in thrall to the aliens) and a few “traitor” Vs who’ve lived on Earth for years (including Morris Chestnut as a V whose human girlfriend is pregnant). They know what the Visitors’ real agenda is–and that dirty deeds like establishing terror cells and surreptitiously injecting drugs into humans are only the beginning.
All of this is offered in a very slick, entertaining package; the plotting is clever and just unpredictable enough, the effects work is outstanding (especially good is a technique whereby Vs on their mother ship are rendered like video game characters), and while V is hardly what you’d call profound, it does touch on some interesting ideas (such as the role of emotions, of which the Vs have none, or the danger of putting one’s faith in false gods). That will help viewers overlook some of the show’s more dubious elements. For instance, the utter gullibility of the vast majority of humans in the face of the aliens’ transparent duplicity is preposterous, even by sci-fi standards; by the same token, it’s hard to swallow that the Fifth Column, which seems to consist of about four people, could possibly pose a threat to the omnipotent Visitors. Still, by the time it reaches its season-ending cliffhanger, V has given us more than enough reasons to tune in again next year. –Sam Graham