V: The Final Battle on Blu-ray

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V: The Final Battle

In 1984, the country was fully caught up in the fever of the first trilogy of STAR WARS films, and television had stepped up to fill that void with programs like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and the simplistically titled and high-minded sci-fi thriller, V.

The "V" stood for "The Visitors," who were aliens who had come to Earth under the pretense of helping mankind. But the show was actually the long-form version of Damon Knight's short-story, "To Serve Man," because the Visitors were actually lizard people wearing human skin disguises, here to plunder our resources and process human beings as a food source.

A small band of humans know the truth about the Visitors, and work tirelessly to undermine their efforts and expose them, while the bulk of humanity welcomes them and forms alliances with them at all levels of society. Adding further complexity to the saga was that the Visitors had within their ranks Fifth Columnists, who did not think what they were doing was right and worked against their leaders from the inside. It was a morality play with many layers.

But the show shines much brighter in the recesses of memory than it does when the dust is blown off of it and it's shown once more in the light of modern day. In rewatching V: THE FINAL BATTLE -- a television event miniseries of 2-hour episodes meant to tie up all the plot threads and stave off the invaders once and for all, nostalgia must give way to budgeted special effects and ludicrous plot resoutions.

While each of the chapters was handled like a standalone episode, there were the underlying plot threads that tied them together (supposedly) into one story. There was the conflict as to whether rebel leader Julie (Faye Grant) could be trusted, after having been captured by the Visitors and put their their mental conversion techniques. And there was the conflict between Han Solo.. cough... uhm... Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) and war-profiteer Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside) as to the best way to eliminate the alien threat. Perhaps the most soap operatic element was the resolution to the pregnancy of Robin Maxwell (Blair Tefkin), who found herself with child after having an affair with one of the alien visitors. The birth of the twins at the middle episode (of three) was meant to be a dramatic, breathtaking moment. But it had my 12-year-old son howling with laughter about the slimy muppet that was used for the lizard-like baby that came out after the human-looking hybrid.

The birth of the hybrid, Elizabeth, did indeed create the deus ex machina for the rebels to fend off the Visitors once and for all. In her bloodwork they found a bacterium that was also a hybrid, one against which the Visitors had no immunity. Using hot air balloons, they seeded the bacterium all over, making the planet poison to the invaders.

But it turns out the Visitors are sore losers, and before they fled they left their final mothership behind, converting it to a thermonuclear bomb. As Visitor science officer Diana (Jane Badler) finally comes into her own, seizing the leadership of the Visitor forces, she escapes the mothership certain that the humans won't be able to stop the countdown. And she's right -- they've found no way to countermand the controls that are about to blow up the planet with an earth-shattering kaboom. Fortunately, Elizabeth (having quickly aged to seven years old from birth) is there, and at the last moment she puts her hands on the keys and glows like an angel -- something neither Visitors nor humans could do. So she's not just a hybrid of lizard and mammal, but she's also magic and speaks her only word in the series -- the alien language word for "Peace."

One of the hallmark special effects of the series was that the aliens wore human skin to make themselves more appealing to the masses they were fooling. However, in retrospect, they seemed to wear the human skin for reasons of comfort as well, there being no reasonable reason to go through the complex subterfuge when in private or out in space. Of course, the real reason was to save money on lizard makeup, but when examining the plot it's definitely something that stands out like a sore thumb.

With Diana and the other Visitors still out there (and with a vaccine having been developed for the Fifth Columnist allies so they would not be killed in the germ warfare attack), it would seem the door is open for the Visitors to return some day, presumably with better makeup and improved aim; their laser-gun target practice seems to have been conducted by retired Imperial Stormtroopers.

V: THE FINAL BATTLE also features Robert Englund, Richard Herd, Michael Durrell, Frank Ashmore and Thomas Hill.

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0