They came in 1983: fifty motherships, each five miles across, hovering over fifteen major cities in the world.
They came in peace, so they claimed, refugees of a planet in the Sirius star system, in dire environmental need. We could help them by letting them produce certain organic compounds to re-terraform their world, and in return they would share all the fruits of their knowledge with us.
Only they lied.
They weren't here for compounds. They were here for the water--all of the water. And for us. It seems that they were involved in a war of their own, against an enemy who had the capacity to defeat them, and they needed troops and cannon fodder. And they needed something else...
They looked human but weren't. They were reptilian, descended in a pattern similar to what could've happened on Earth had the dinosaurs not been wiped out. And we were a free buffet.
A small band of resistance fighters gathered together, and eventually defeated the Visitors, driving them away from the planet. There was some nightmare I seem to have had around 1984 of an abortion of a weekly series, but I'm sure I just imagined that, despite the DVD set on my shelf.
26 years have passed since then, and the Visitors have returned. This time they're led by the inimitable and painfully gorgeous Morena Baccarin, of Firefly fame. Her "Anna" is much more charming and, yes, serpentine than was Jane Badler's Diana from the original. She is manipulative in a very direct way--she lets you know she's manipulating you but illustrates how you'd be best to go along with it. It's an interesting take.
They have 29 motherships, now, not 50. And the motherships look more Battlestar Galactica and less "flying saucer." Inside they look organic and alien. I'm not sold on that; I always dug how they looked "much like the hangar deck of one of our big aircraft carriers."
Most of the character archetypes--if none of the actual characters--from the original are there. Erika is clearly a mashup of Mike Donovan and Juliet Parrish, while her son Tyler is a combination of Robin Maxwell, Sean Donovan, and Daniel. The priest is younger but just as driven, and the Martin character appears African-American and has a love life on Earth.
This new take has the Visitors having infiltrated Earth years ago; they've set us up for this invasion. Why they want to do things they way they are, and exactly what they're after hasn't yet been revealed but I understand it's not water this time around. The old show played on the idea of a fascist takeover of society similar to the Nazis in WWII--this was a perfect scenario for the Cold War 80's, where it was feared an inevitable war with the USSR would happen. For the 2000's, the fear is terrorism, paranoia, and global instability. The show plays on that very well. It's good to see they kept the major aspects of the show intact--the reptilian visitors masquerading as humans, the character archetypes, the lie of peace--while still managing to be culturally relevant.
Does it have wrinkles that need to be ironed out? Yes, absolutely. But it's a pilot; they all have those. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how they handle the series, and was very gratified to see they gave Kenneth Johnson a creator and story credit. He didn't have anything to do directly with this incarnation but it was nice to see the producers give him due credit and respect. I also understand Jane Badler is in talks to appear in some capacity, similar to the way Richard Hatch did in Battlestar Galactica. That would kick ass.
Kudos for the remark that Independence Day was a ripoff of any number of previous sci-fi alien invasion stories. And kudos for the "are there any ugly Visitors?" comment by the media.
Anyway, so far I really dig the setup and am looking forward to more. They are winning over this particular old V fan. So far so good.