V episode 7 review

V takes a few steps backwards with its latest episode, as its problems come to the fore...

7. John May

It’s the Dueling Subplots edition of V, or Everybody Loves Daddy Issues! Remember how last week I said the show was starting to show some signs of life by, you know, moving plots forward and having less of the characters standing around talking? Well, yeah, I take it all back.

It’s time to stand around and look emotional, because this week’s episode was all about parents. Tyler’s strained relationship with his father, John May’s relationship with his stepson, Valerie discovering the truth about her boyfriend Ryan, and Georgie and his dead family together again.

The only one of the family subplots that worked was, of course, Anna’s delivery of a bunch of V caviar into an Olympic-sized birthing pool.

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If this was pay TV, then it’d have been great if only for the naked Morena Baccarin, but it’s network TV, so we get digital shadows in just the right places, overhead shots of the top of Anna’s skull, and nothing fun.

There are still too many characters in the show that I don’t care about. Georgie, who has been around since the beginning, finally bought his noble end at the hands of the Fifth Column Dr. Joshua, and now the Fab Four on Earth has a rallying cry to go alongside John May lives.

John May (BSG‘s Michael Trucco, one of the better performances in the show thus far) was the first V to turn against Anna, because he’d spent too much time wearing his human skin. Apparently, extended exposure to human skin leads to human emotions, like love and empathy. All of those things that are actually dragging the show down.

All the stuff involving Tyler, Krychek, and Lisa? It just didn’t work, and again, it ate up way too much of the episode. Lisa just happens to be outside the door to overhear the news that Tyler’s parentage is in question? That’s just… it’s so sitcom! And how she drops the note to Tyler, who then springs it on his dad while Lisa stands impassively in the background? Thanks for trying, but I absolutely do not care about Tyler or Valerie.

Valerie, possibly the dumbest girlfriend in the history of TV, finally got a little smart when she realized that, “Hey, I’m like a month pregnant. I shouldn’t be feeling a baby playing the bongos on my kidneys.” A snoop in the closet to look for Dr. Pearlman’s card and what do we have here? A secret safe! No doubt full of incriminating alien-type evidence and dangerous sonograms like the one Valerie got last episode. She’ll be gone at the end of the episode, but like Tyler, I really doubt she’ll stay gone.

That’s been V‘s biggest problem. Well, aside from the dialog. I just don’t care about any of them. There are too many characters eating too much screen time up for me to really care about any of them. It seems that the characters that get the least screen time (Anna, Joshua, Suit V, even Chad Decker) seem to be the ones that are the most interesting, probably because they’re not standing around constantly while Erica has an emotional breakdown over her stupid teenage kid or Hobbes has to show some sort of expression when someone he doesn’t know as anything other than a random nutter dies.

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It’s overexposure for the main characters, too much exposure for characters who aren’t working.

While there was more stuff going on this week action-wise, still way too much talking and not enough flying Phantasm balls of death, random V attacks, or gun fights. I know that stuff should be meaningful and used sparingly, but you’re a TV show, not a radio drama. You can show us Ryan delivering John May to Anna, or John May’s death (assuming he’s dead), or more of anything!

For example, while Anna and Chad Decker had very little screen time together, what they had together worked great, because they had something to do. Chad was able to poke through the files on the people the Vs have chosen for the Live Aboard program and figure out something of what Anna might have been up to. This allowed him and Anna to have a very intense conversation about:  A) Anna’s purposes with the Live Aboard program, B) how much damage a decent journalist could do investigating it, and C) what Anna is going to do for Chad to keep him from digging up any dirt.

It wasn’t much screen time, but what was there was smartly written. Anna showed some weakness, and a human character showed some strength. There was a conflict, there was a question of motivation, and the whole confrontation took less than a few minutes.

The part of Georgie’s story that worked, his torture by the Visitors, was another few minutes. I know the reason for having a main character, or a group of main characters, but they don’t need to run around together like the freaking Scooby Doo gang taking the Mystery Machine to John May’s upstate family pad!

If you’re going to have multiple things going on at once, try to come up with some way to split up the main characters. No decent resistance group would all hang out together all the time.

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You can cover more storyline ground, and give us more reason to care about tertiary characters, if you give them time to develop. Seven episodes in, we’re just now seeing Georgie’s family and yet, we’re supposed to care that Visitors killed them? In seven episodes, there was plenty of time for flashbacks, Georgie looking at a wallet picture of happier times… you know, anything.

This show is spending a lot of time unwisely. For every 10 minutes that works, there’s 40 minutes that doesn’t. I’m trying to stay positive about the new staff and new direction, but they’re not leaving me with much hope that the program can be salvaged.

US correspondent Ron Hogan wants sci-fi on television to succeed, but this is not giving him much hope. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.