By Glenn Garvin – McClatchy/Tribune News
November 3, 2009
Imagine this. At a time of political turmoil, a charismatic, telegenic new leader arrives virtually out of nowhere. He offers a message of hope and reconciliation based on compromise and promises to marshal technology for a better future that will include universal health care.
The news media swoons in admiration — one simpering anchorman even shouts at a reporter who asks a tough question: “Why don’t you show some respect?!” The public is likewise smitten, except for a few nut cases who circulate batty rumors on the Internet about the leader’s origins and intentions. The leader, undismayed, offers assurances that are soothing, if also just a tiny bit condescending: “Embracing change is never easy.”
So, does that sound like anyone you know? Oh, wait — did I mention the leader is secretly a totalitarian space lizard who’s come here to eat us?
Welcome to ABC’s “V,” the most fascinating and bound to be the most controversial new show of the fall television season. Nominally a rousing sci-fi space opera about alien invaders bent on the conquest (and digestion) of all humanity, it’s also a barbed commentary on Obamamania that will infuriate the president’s supporters and delight his detractors.
“We’re all so quick to jump on the bandwagon,” observes one character. “A ride on the bandwagon, it sounds like fun. But before we get on, let us at least make sure it is sturdy.”
The bandwagon in this case is conspicuously saucer-shaped. “V” starts with the arrival of a couple of dozen ships from outer space, piloted by creatures who look like humans except a lot prettier. “Don’t be frightened,” says their luminously beautiful leader Anna (Morena Baccarin, “Serenity”). “We mean no harm.”
The aliens — who become known as V’s, for visitors — quickly enthrall their wide-eyed human hosts.
A handful of dissidents hold out against the rapturous reception given the V’s. Some are simply uneasy, such as the youthful priest Father Jack (Joel Gretsch, “The 4400”), who sharply criticizes the Vatican’s embrace of the V’s as divine creations: “Rattlesnakes are God’s creatures too.”
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