ABC’s new Science Fiction series, V, is a re-imagining of the 1983 mini-series about the world first encounter with an alien race.
Simultaneously appearing over every major city in the world, the Visitors (or Vs), lead by Anna (Morena Baccarin), promote a message of peace, though their offer to share advance technology may actually hide a more malevolent agenda.
Executive Producers Scott Peters and Jeffrey Bell faced the TV Critics at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena last August to talk about their new vision for an old franchise.
All the remakes of Science Fiction shows tend to try to re-imagine them completely, and although this is considerably slicker-looking than the ‘80s original, it seem to stick very close to the original story.
Scott Peters: There were a couple of things we tried to do. One is, none of us would be here without Ken Johnson, who did the original V mini-series, which was obviously a phenomenal success.
So we owe a lot to him. In that vein, we wanted to make sure as we moved forward honoring and respecting the characters and the themes that that show envisioned and we tried not to step on those. We introduce brand new characters and brand new themes that would make sense in a post-9/11 word. So it’s really an honor to be able to take the story forward. We’re hoping to bring a whole new set of fans as well as the folks who watched it originally.
Could you talk about how this show is different because it comes after 9/11?
Jeffrey Bell: I think it’s quite a bit different, and in terms of re-imagining from the original series, the original series to me felt very much like a military show. It was a resistance and gun fights, and there was a very clear and present enemy, they wore uniforms, it was the Cold War. It was the Nazis, whoever it was. And post 9/11, that’s not who our enemy is anymore.
There is no other single threat. It’s terrorists, and it’s the guy across the street or the woman next door, who do you trust? What we’re trying to do is we have humans who are traitors, and we have visitors who have a nefarious agenda, and we have visitors who are heroes. We’re living in a world where we wake up every day and everything is at an orange alert.
I think the way we’re trying to do the series is, first off, not be a military show in terms of we’re not a country at war the way we have in the past, but we are a country very much fractured and struggling with all these issues. We’ve tried to tell stories about regular people – moms, FBI agents, teenagers – having them figure out what they’re supposed to do.
In the original the [aliens’] lizard skin was kept a secret for a little while, you have a character explain it offhand without even seeing it in the pilot. Was that just the assumption that enough people are going to go into this knowing that’s the deal [with the aliens] and we may as well just say it?
Scott Peters: Yeah. I think there was a huge awareness of the original. There are a lot of people who haven’t see it, but by the time we get to air, we feel like this is not the big surprise that everyone is going to gasp over.
We really want to tell the story that is already known out there so that we can leap forward in a very quick manner so that we don’t build and build to something that people already know. Hopefully, we do it in an artful way and in a twist-filled way that will make folks who haven’t seen the show before jump a little big. Our cast jumped, which was awesome.
Will Morena Baccarin be eating a rat?
Jeffrey Bell: Whenever we talk to people who saw the original, they go, ‘Oh, my God, I loved the rat.’ So we’ll have to find a way in the series to pay homage to that. We want to find a way to do it, but if we just had her do exactly what happened in the original … been there, done that.
Scott Peters: There are other iconic moments certainly within the original that we’ll find our way of paying homage to.
You’ve got an actor from Lost (Elizabeth Mitchell), two from Firefly (Morena Baccarin, Alan Tudyk), and one from Smallville (Laura Vandervoort), is this like The Loveboat of science fiction fantasy?
Scott Peters: We’re trying to get ever single science fiction fan who’s ever lived to come and watch our show!
No, we obviously went for the best actors we could possible find, and as we went through this we’re like, ‘Oh, hey, somebody from Serenity and Lost’ – we love our cast.
They’re wonderful. It’s a nice bonus that a lot of folks have appeared in genre shows in the past, but it was not designed that way.