Spirit Led Living

November 3, 2009

ABC’s sci-fi series V, which premieres tonight, tackles questions of blind faith, asking, “Would we believe them?”

Filed under: Category — brucebaker111 @ 10:07 pm

Alien Seduction

| posted 11/03/2009

In the first episode of ABC’s remake of the ’80s alien-invasion series V (Tuesdays 8/7c), a teen boy is led down the path of destruction by a powerful force: the winsome smile of a cute girl. The dark threat behind innocent flirtation illustrates not only an allegorical shift from the original V series, but also the theme of the new hour-long drama: Things are rarely as pretty as they look.

In the original V, the conquest of powerful reptilian aliens—known as the Visitors—was a metaphor for Hitler’s Germany. The Vs rose to power with Nazi-like propaganda, persecution, and overwhelming military force. But the new V isn’t about dominating with might. Led by their beautiful and diplomatic leader Anna, these Visitors attack not with guns but with hope. These aliens appear with messages of peace, love, and understanding. They arrive in sleek, elegant ships hovering over 29 major cities, and promise amazing technological advancements. They heal the sick. They raise spirits.

They come—in a desperate time of war, disease and despair—as earth’s saviors. As one skeptical character says, “The world is in bad shape; who wouldn’t welcome a savior right now?”

And the show asks: Would we believe them? “The chief allegory here is the idea of blind devotion,” said V executive producer Jeffrey Bell in an interview with Christianity Today. “If anyone is showing up and saying something too good to be true, are people thinking? Are they asking questions? Are they prepared and informed? Are you just accepting and believing what you are told?”

The show’s chief cautionary voice is Father Jack, an Anglican priest. He is skeptical of the Vs—indeed, of the existence of aliens. “I don’t see any basis for this in Scripture,” he tells his elder priest, who has quickly concluded that the aliens are part of God’s plan—not because of miracles as much as increased attendance at worship. Surely, he thinks, God is in this. Besides, the Vatican—which the show mistakenly puts at the head of the Anglican Church—has officially endorsed the Visitors as part of God’s creation. So Father Jack is initially the lone skeptic, preaching that people should fully explore anything they are tempted to believe in. They must compare claims to what they know is true: Scripture. It’s refreshing for a strong Christian character—especially one facing his own existential crisis—to speak for informed, intelligent belief.

Since the Vs masquerade as angels of light, the show feels like a sci-fi take on Christian apocalyptic fiction, especially Left Behind‘s tale of the Antichrist’s rise to power. Like that saga’s Nicolae Carpathia, Anna attains power with lies and deception—a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A desperate world is quick to embrace Anna. As one character says, “[The Visitors are] arming themselves with the most powerful weapon out there: devotion.” But Father Jack and other characters form a small band of freedom fighters who meet secretly to dissect false teachings and spread the truth.

For many readers of this magazine, the series will yield comparisons to the Christian walk, spiritual warfare, and the church. Others may see the story’s depiction of blind devotion as an indictment of the Christian faith. Others still may view the story politically—associating the aliens’ hidden agenda with recent presidential administrations.

In the end, this suspenseful alien yarn suggests a passage from 1 Thessalonians: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” Whether they look like lizard aliens or not.

Todd Hertz is a freelance writer and film/TV critic for CT.

Alien Seduction | Movies & TV | Christianity Today.


ABC’s ‘V’ is a probing look at culture and the need for discernment, says the show’s executive producer.

Filed under: Category — brucebaker111 @ 10:03 pm

Aliens Among Us

| posted 11/03/2009

You might’ve seen the commercials for ABC’s new alien-invasion series , V (our review), which premieres tonight (8/7c). It’s a reinvention of a 1980s TV series by the same name, but with quite a makeover. This time, the aliens don’t appear scary and lizard-like; they appear like beautiful humans, benign, almost divine—and bringing great promises to a frightened, confused world. Earthlings buy into it, though some remain skeptical—including a priest, one of the central characters, who remind his flock to test all things against the truth of Scripture. (Yes, a priest on mainstream TV actually says that.)

Jeffrey Bell

Jeffrey Bell

CT television critic Todd Hertz recently interviewed V executive producer Jeffrey Bell(The X-Files, Angel, Alias) about the big-idea allegory behind the show’s aliens, the priest’s role in the story, and the power of science fiction .

How does the creative team view the show’s connection with the 1983 miniseries?

When the idea first came up, the vision was to reimagine it and pay respect to it but also to update it, give it relevance. There are differences. The lead characters are different. How the Vs [aliens, or “Visitors”] present themselves is different. How we unfold the plot is different. After all, we couldn’t ignore the fact that the original show is out there. Everyone knows the Visitors have a dastardly plan. It didn’t make sense to anyone to play that card face down. Instead, we thought: Let’s just get to it in the first episode.

The biggest difference between the two franchises is that the original felt like a military show; it was war versus the Vs. But for us, this is about discovery. Our small band of characters sees through the Vs’ plan, but don’t know enough yet to wage any kind of battle. They are still living their lives as cops, priests, etc. and secretly trying to figure out what they’re up against.

The original show was an allegory for the Nazis. What’s the chief allegory here?

It’s the idea of blind devotion. If anyone is showing up and saying something that is too good to be true, are people thinking? Are they asking questions? Are they prepared and informed? How are you deciding who you can believe? In the original, it seemed pretty easy to distinguish between visitors and humans. You knew your friends from foes. That’s because in the early 80s, the idea of an enemy was a united country. A fascist German model for your enemy was a good one. Now, our enemies are not so much countries but groups and factions all over. We can’t tell who is who. They are among us.

And so, the idea of paranoia is huge. In our V, you can’t easily tell who is a V and who isn’t. Some characters don’t know their own significant others or friends are Vs. It could be anyone, anywhere. We think that captures the paranoia of the times.

Whether it is the Vs or any person offering great big promises, anyone merely accepting what is presented to them is especially at risk if the promise has a hidden agenda.It’s not literally a fascist metaphor like it was originally, but it asks the same sort of question: Are you just believing what you are told?

How do you respond to the claim of conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that the Visitors have clear parallels to the Obama administration?

Oh, she said that? Fantastic. Good for her. Here’s how we view it: This show was conceived during a Bush administration and is being executed during an Obama administration. There are people who really want to politicize this show, but that isn’t our intention. We’re just trying to tell good stories with arguments on both sides. What is interesting to us is that America—under Bush or Obama—is the giant imperialistic force imposing itself around the world for good or bad. In our story, humans are the colonials and the Vs are showing up as the imperials; we’re the locals and the giant Roman army has just shown up in motherships above us.

But here, that imposing force isn’t taking over by force. Instead, the Vs come with a hidden agenda cloaked in hope, promise and peace.


Aliens Among Us | Movies & TV | Christianity Today.

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