Humankind's last stand.This page is for the 1983 miniseries and its sequels. For the 2009 reimagining try V-2009.A militaristic alien starfleet arrives on Earth from Sirius, and its people, human-like aliens, appeal to Earth to help produce chemicals to save their dying world. As months go by, the so-called Visitors infiltrate every level of human society. But a select few become suspicious; forming a resistance, they soon discover the truth — the Visitors are not like us, they are not our friends, and they don't want our help; they want our water. And other things.Originally aired as two miniseries and a one-season regular series, V is, in the words of creator Kenneth Johnson, a story of power — how different people react to it, and how they react to those who have it. It is an unabashed metaphor for the rise of Nazism prior to World War II; in fact, the story was originally to be a direct allegory involving a home-grown fascist regime being elected to govern the United States, based on Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, but NBC wanted a sci-fi show since Star Wars had been such a hit.The story is told in several interweaving arcs, each following a different set of characters (not unlike The Lord of the Rings or many disaster films of the 1970s) as their individual plotlines eventually merge and they unite to combat the all-powerful evil.V(1983): Fifty three-mile-wide spaceships take positions over key cities of the world. The aliens reveal themselves to be human in appearance (but with an electronic voice effect), and ask for help to save their doomed home planet. As they weave their way into society, biologists, archaeologists and scientists of similar fields begin disappearing; and a med student, Julie Parrish, organizes a small resistance.Meanwhile, news cameraman Mike Donovan also grows suspicious and sneaks aboard the Mother Ship where he discovers the aliens' secret: they're really humanoid reptiles. He also learns that they've come to steal Earth's water and to harvest humans for food. The Visitors use their contrived influence with human governments to institute martial law, effectively taking over the world. The Visitors attack Donovan's home town and kidnap his family; meanwhile, in a biological "experiment", a kidnapped girl is impregnated by a Visitor. The rest of the miniseries focuses on the fledgling Resistance's struggle to become a significant threat to the Visitors' plans.V: The Final Battle(1984): Moving forward several months, we find that the Resistance is still struggling a near-futile battle with the Visitors, and Robin Maxwell's alien pregnancy advances with no way to stop it. But the tide turns when the Resistance stages an attack on the Visitor admiral, unmasking him on live television. Unfortunately, leader Julie is captured and put through a brainwashing "conversion chamber", though she is later rescued. Robin eventually gives birth to twins, one a human-like girl and the other a reptiloid with blue eyes. The reptile dies, and a bacterium is found in its system. The girl, Elizabeth, quickly molts into the body of an eight-year-old, after which she is taken to the Visitors by a priest who believes she is a bridge of peace. He is killed for his trouble and Elizabeth stays with the Visitor leader Diana.Meanwhile, the bacteria which killed the reptile baby is developed into a biotoxic weapon that will poison the Earth to the Visitors without harm to humans or the ecology. The Resistance mounts a bold attack to spread the so-called "Red Dust" into the atmosphere, but the villainous Diana has an ace — a thermonuclear device in her spaceship that will destroy Earth. And so, as the Visitors withdraw from all over the globe, the Resistance must take over the L.A. ship and fly it into space before the Earth-Shattering Kaboom. But Elizabeth deactivates the bomb with hitherto unreferenced magical powers, saving the day.V: The Series(1984-85): A year after the events of The Final Battle, Star Child Elizabeth molts again, into a 20-year-old. Diana escapes custody on her way to stand trial and flees into space where it is revealed that the Visitor fleet has retreated only as far as the moon. It is also revealed that the Red Dust not only has had an impact on Earth's ecosphere, but that it requires a sustained cold spell to reproduce, rendering it ineffective in warm climates (like Los Angeles). The Visitors re-invade Earth, and Diana quickly strikes a truce with businessman Nathan Bates, making L.A. a "free" city.However, the core members of the original Resistance (now including Bates' son Kyle) are having none of that, and they reunite to cause mayhem and disrupt the Visitors at every turn. Eventually, after heavy casualties on both sides of the struggle, the Visitors' "Great Leader" arrives on Earth to call off the war and to take Elizabeth home with him. The cliffhanger ending reveals that Kyle, who has pursued a romance with the Star Child, has stowed away on the Leader's ship.V: The Second Generation(2008): Written by Kenneth Johnson and ignoring the events of the second miniseries and the series, this new novel picks up the progress of the Visitor occupation of Earth some twenty years later, here in the modern day. Answering a distress signal from Earth (sent at the end of the first miniseries), a new alien race has arrived to help the humans win their freedom.Not to be confused with V for Vendetta.
Artistic License - Astronomy: Water is a very common element in space - even in the 1980's it was pretty well known that comets are almost entirely ice water. The idea of needing to suck it up from a planet and ship it interstellar distances is silly in real life, but works in fiction.
Badass Grandpa: Abraham, an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor who provides his home as a safehouse for refugees fleeing from the Visitors, and when he's discovered remains behind to buy them time to escape. He also teaches children how to 'properly' deface Visitor propaganda posters and comes up with the iconic 'V' symbol of the resistance. His wife is no slouch either, concealing a stockpile of Molotov cocktails in her cart which she is perfectly happy to use when Visitor targets of opportunity present themselves.
Bizarre Alien Reproduction — Visitor females develop a ring of discoloration around their necks when pregnant, which is how Willie recognizes that Robin is expecting.
Bottomless Magazines — The captured Visitor laser pistols seemingly never need to be reloaded or recharged.
The Novelization is basically an attempt to fill every Plot Hole in the series; the lasers, like all their technology, are powered by cold-fusion, and run on deuterium (heavy water). Still doesn't explain why they need water from planets, though. It's actually far more common in space.
Brainwash Residue — Diana has attempted to brainwash Julie Parish into being her slave. She fights off the brainwashing, mostly successfully, but occasionally catches herself using the wrong hand. In V: The Final Battle, Diana telepathically commands Julie and she has flashbacks to the brainwashing. Julie doesn't quite give in, but the internal struggle gives Diana a chance to escape.
Cool Guns — Ham Tyler's Ingram MAC-10. In the TV series, everyone seemed to have one.
Creator Provincialism — Although the story is said to have a global scale, most of the pivotal events occur in Los Angeles.
Danger Takes a Backseat — Early in the first miniseries, a scientist who becomes suspicious of the Visitors is kidnapped from his car and never seen again.
The Red Dust, which initially does exactly what the plot needs it to do to ensure a happy ending.
Elizabeth saving the day through never-before-hinted-at magic powers.
Does This Remind You of Anything? — especially egregious during the original mini-series. Try playing a drinking game which requires imbibing upon the appearance of Nazi, Holocaust, or Hitler Youth references. It is unlikely you will see the end of the series due to intoxication.
Enemy Mine — Ham Tyler and Mike Donovan go way back, and they hate each other's guts. Nonetheless they have each other's back as part of the resistance.
Even Evil Has Standards: Eleanor Dupres catches Donovan breaking into her house and threatens to shoot him as he's escaping out the window. Donovan just laughs. "You'd shoot your own son? Not even you're that cold, mother." He's right; as he runs off Eleanor fires the gun in the air and rips her dress to make it appear she'd been overpowered.
Evil-Detecting Dog — actually, birds and rodents. Justified, given the reptilian nature of the aliens.
Executive Meddling — The original miniseries was, as stated above, to be a story about a fictional American-fascist regime before it was Re Tooled to science fiction. Later, during production of the second miniseries, writer/producer/director Kenneth Johnson left the project when the focus was shifted from character development and symbolism to straight-up action.
Expanded Universe — A number of novels explored the adventures of Resistance fighters from other key locations around the globe. Probably the best of these was East Coast Crisis, set in New York City and concurrent with the original miniseries.
Faked Rip Van Winkle — The Visitors try this on Donovan in one episode of the original series, trying to locate Elizabeth so they can kidnap her.
False Flag Operation — The Visitors blame scientists for terrorist activities, using this excuse to enact martial law, as well as turning public opinion against the people most likely to discover the Visitors' true nature.
Fantastic Slur: The resistance occasionally refers to the Visitors as 'snakes'.
Fanservice: When the female visitor gives Mike Donovan her uniform so she can escape the camera certainly lingers on her underwear-clad body as she takes the pants off.
Flash Back — Original Miniseries: Josh catches us up on how he ended up alone in the street at the beginning of part 2.
Functional Magic — Elizabeth's powers were never explained or examined in any detail— and we can't help thinking that's probably for the best, as any Hand Wave the writers came up with would probably have been even more teeth-grinding than the powers themselves.
Humans Are Special — Diana told her Supreme Leader that Humans are unusually resistant to her conversion process. Thus, while it's useful for putting a few important individuals under their control, mass conversion of the entire population is completely impractical for now.
Immune to Bullets: The Visitor soldiers wear body armor and helmets which resist small-caliber weapons fire. Only Donovan's stolen energy pistol is effective, but the Fifth Columnists can't supply any more considering the weapons are too closely guarded. Fortunately Ham Tyler, mercenary extraordinaire, later comes to help with armor piercing ammo that can take the Visitors out.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy — but only when it was situationally appropriate. They randomly blew a lot of things and people up too. It became comical as the series went on; the Visitors, supposedly an alien invasion army that makes worlds tremble, can never shoot straight if a named character is onscreen.
In the original miniseries, the protagonists and their fellow resistance fighters are not particularly skilled marksmen, especially with the awkward-to-use alien weapons, which some of them don't even know how to hold correctly. They win most of their firefights through sheer volume of fire. Note that the Visitors are often equally bad, so many of the battle scenes boil down to two groups of combatants spraying ineffective suppression fire at each other from behind cover.
Infraction Distraction: Donovan's mother catches him breaking into her house to steal a security pass. He pretends he was there to steal a photo of his son.
It Only Works Once — the Red Dust stops working in warm environments. Further deployment of the Dust is ruled out because it affects terrestrial reptiles as well.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Danny goes from merely being a self-serving, amoral, vaguely sociopathic Jerkass to unquestionably evil when he executes his own grandmother after learning she's a resistance fighter.
Karmic Death — Danny and Eleanor both get served different versions of this. The latter's doubles as a crowning moment of awesome for Stephen when he twigs what she's about to do and shoots her in the back as she tries to switch sides.
Novelization — A. C. Crispin wrote an unusually good one covering both miniseries. She also co-wrote the previously mentioned East Coast Crisis.
Non-Malicious Monster: Robin's lizard-baby. Poor thing looks scary, but literally is just... an ill baby visitor.
OOC Is Serious Business: Walsh is visibly shaken when a former mentor accuses her of being the minister of propaganda for a fascist state. She's even more shocked when the Visitors introduce them again...and he burbles enthusiastically about how great it is to see her again, having been conditioned by the Visitors.
Outside Context Villain: Donovan is filming communist guerrillas fighting helicopter gunships in El Salvador, when suddenly the gunships fly off. Donovan turns round and finds himself facing a huge frickin' UFO.
The Quisling: Kristine Walsh, Eleanor Dupres, and Daniel Bernstein are the most prominent examples. Kristine pulls a Heel Face Turn and gets shot by Diana, Eleanor tries to save herself and gets shot by Stephen, and Daniel is framed by the Resistance as a spy and it's implied he gets eaten by Stephen.
Redemption Equals Death — Kristine Walsh, who's essentially become the Visitors' PR agent, breaks and announces their true nature on air. Diana promptly shoots her.
Subverted by Mike Donovan's mother, who only switches sides (and merely gets her comeuppance) when it's obvious the resistance is winning.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent — The Visitors in their real form eat cuddly, fuzzy little hamsters and guinea pigs. They eat pretty little parakeets. And they have creepy red-and-yellow eyes. They spit acidic venom.
Reverse Mole — actually, a whole slew of them, in the Fifth Column.
Stock Footage — Little alien ship flies into big alien saucer vessel. Little alien ship flies out of little alien saucer vessel. One little alien ship shoots death rays at another little alien ship, pew pew pew! Apparently the first one or two episodes used up the entire special effects budget, and these three sequences are reused over and over and over and OVER and over and over and over and over, to the point of being really, really noticeable.
Plenty of stock footage celebrations when the resistance wins.
Stylistic Suck: The high school band that greets the Visitors arriving in Los Angeles is really bad.
Technically, Elizabeth's short-lived, scaly brother qualifies too, as no one but Willie was willing to show him any affection and he was never given a name. More than one preson has been hit by Fridge Horror when they realize the lizard baby not only was misunderstood, but the poor thing was born with fatal disease.
Whole Plot Reference: The series is basically a World War 2 historical drama with a thin veneer of sci-fi layered on top. The entire thing could have been set in 1940s France with Nazis instead of aliens and you'd have to change very little of the overall plot.
Artistic License - Biology - Is the Red Dust a bacteria or a toxin? The two things are very different, but the dust is referred to as both, seems to have the properties of both, and doesn't make sense as either.