Why the New "V" Isn't "Battlestar"

This started as an email to Casey's question of what I thought of the new V last night. He remarked that the show had clear conservative overtones. My response:

I agree on the conservative overtones- but art is meant to probe and question reality, and our current reality seems fairly liberal, so that's not too surprising? Eh, that's bullshit. I was surprised to see a show so overtly critique Obama's political agenda. Especially since, while I don't have demographics, most sci-fi fans are likely liberal. Although there's always Ayn Rand--maybe they are playing to that audience?

Overall, I didn't think it was a great first episode in the way that Battlestar grabbed me immediately. I think the show is trying very hard to bridge Battlestar and Lost, to produce the kind of tension and mystery that marks those shows.

Ultimately, it will likely fail on those fronts--here's why: Battlestar and Lost work extremely well in that they, like any great piece of art (but especially the pomo stuff), problematize clear notions of good and evil, us and them. V doesn't have that option. They are evil (most of them), we are good, let the struggle resume. This, of course, is also the foundation of conservative politics. But in the long run, this kind of clear opposition doesn't speak to our contemporary milieu. Perhaps, as I intimated above, there are a group of conservatives today who fear that Obama brings an evil covered in smiles, and that we need to unmask the "Red-Lizard" threat. But I don't really think so.

We'll see.


Wishydig said...

"...like any great piece of art…, problematize clear notions of good and evil, us and them."

yeah. that's why handel's messiah is such a piece of shit.

Mark said...

Not only is there no nuance, there's no mystery. I had a hard time figuring out what I was supposed to be watching the next episode for. FlashForward at the very least has an overarching mystery to solve, even if the individual character arcs are a little dull.

Also, BSG introduced major plot points and mysteries that were not present in the original series, but it seems like V had one big reveal, carried over from the original, and it came in the first episode. Besides figuring out the exact details of the Visitor's plan, why do I care?

I liked this show better when it was called an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

@Wishydig: I would expand the notion of "us and them" to include "expectation"--such that any piece of good art, including Handel's Messiah transcends the expected to deliver us something novel, something that incorporates the expected in unexpected ways. Sure, a stretch, but I'm taking it.

@Mark: this is exactly what Meg and I were saying during the second episode of V--why am I supposed to watch this? NO SUSPENSE. Representative anecdote: the moment in the second episode when she asks "Is this all the surveillance screens you have" and the V responds "yes," as she and we see a room full of super screens in the background. NOT SUBTLE. Lost would have panned to the door and made us wonder what was behind it. V immediately shows us its a bunch of screens. BOO.