03.10.2008

“V – The Second Generation”: Shag’s Review

Originally posted to The Unique Geek listserv.

Visitor

So I bought and read “V – The Second Generation”. This novel is by Kenneth Johnson, the writer and director of the original “V” mini-series.

On the whole, I enjoyed the book. I think it’s fair to say the story had some interesting ideas and was therefore enjoyable, but the novel itself wasn’t necessarily written well. This is Kenneth Johnson’s second book and you can tell his past experience doesn’t lie in prose. It’s not horrible, but it’s obvious enough that you realize just how much polish goes into most other writer’s novels.

The most surprising thing about this book is that it’s a sequel to the original “V” mini-series, and therefore completely disregards what happened in “V – The Final Battle”, “V – The TV Series”, and most importantly “V – The Comic Book”. Apparently Kenneth Johnson wasn’t associated with “The Final Battle” and had other ideas on how the story should progress.

Interestingly enough, there are certain plot elements from “The Final Battle” the new book seems to go out of its way NOT to contradict. For example, there is no mention of whatever happened with Robin’s pregnancy (resulting in the Starchild in “The Final Battle”). Here is a link to an interview with Kenneth Johnson about the new book. He also outlines his hopes of doing a “V – The Second Generation” mini-series or motion picture.

Without really spoiling anything, the book takes place twenty years following the events of the original mini-series. Earth is still under Visitor domination, and the Resistance is fighting a losing battle. The usuals are there, Mike Donovan, Juliet Parrish, Robert Maxwell, Willy & Harmony, and Diana. There are also lots of new characters, but some of them just come off as younger analogs to the original characters. There is a new young rebellious guy who you can’t help but be reminded of Mike; an idealistic young female leader with shades of Juliet; and the street-talking tough kid who reminds you of Elias, and so on. Interestingly enough, there are also lots of half-breeds; children of a human and a visitor. No special mystical powers here, just half-human half-visitor children. And lastly, remember that message that Julie sent into space at the end of the original miniseries … we finally see who answers the call.

Again, overall I enjoyed some of the ideas, but the writing itself was weak. Would I recommend it? I guess to a fan of the original “V” series I would. The cover reads, “The highly anticipated sequel to the thrilling miniseries V”. I think I would re-write that, “The somewhat anticipated sequel to the thrilling miniseries V… no, not the one with the Red Dust… the other one.”

Interestingly enough, apparently back in 1989 Warner Brothers commissioned J. Michael Straczynski (who would later go on to create Babylon 5, and write a particularly long run of the Amazing Spider-Man comic) to write a pilot screenplay for a proposed new series, tentatively titled “V: The Next Chapter”, that would have continued the V storyline. Picking up five years after the end of the NBC series, it would have followed the efforts of a new Resistance movement on a conquered Earth to make contact with the “Outsiders”, the faction of the Visitors’ own people who oppose their Leader, who had finally responded to a summons put out at the end of the original miniseries. The only character from the older V to appear in this script was Ham Tyler. After numerous drafts, the script, entitled “The Rebirth”, was finally abandoned when the studio decided it would be too cost-prohibitive to produce. You can find the first three acts of that script here.

Anyone else read the book? Anyone else have fond memories of V? I’m currently re-watching the mini-series right now. I’m hoping to make it all the way through the TV series. After reading this book, some sick twisted part of me wants to go back and re-purchase all the old V tie-in novels and read them again (Ravenface and I used to devour these back in mid-80s).

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6 Responses to ““V – The Second Generation”: Shag’s Review”

  1. Michael Bailey Says:

    I enjoyed the original mini-series and despite it being well over ten years since I saw “Final Battle” I still dig on V. Interesting concept. Good way to talk about the Nazis without calling them Nazis. Great mini-series.

    The ongoing television series was God awful and should be taken out back and shot.

  2. Shag Says:

    Thanks for stopping by! After reading the “V: The Second Generation” book, I decided to re-watch “V”. I gotta agree that the original mini-series was really good. It was social commentary disguised as sci-fi. However, once you get to “V: The Final Battle”, the sci-fi wins out over the social commentary. I didn’t realize years ago just how bad certain parts of The Final Battle are. The whole Starchild thing is just ridiculous.

    Now I’m continuing to punish myself by watching the TV series. I’m on episode four and I can feel my mind atrophying.

    I think I’m also going to try and re-read “V: The East Coast Crisis” tie-in novel by AC Crispin. I remember it being good, we’ll see just how deluded I was as a child.

    Shag

  3. Stephen Cholera Says:

    Funny. Straczynski also did some preliminary work on a Star Trek revival that got abandoned. Thank the Leader he didn’t waste his time on these projects and did B5 instead (though maybe the Trek thing was after B5?).

    I was watching the Buck Rogers series, and unlike the original Galactica (like gold, my man), it stinks like Space: 1999. I can’t tell which is worse. Buck Rogers makes me laugh, and Space: 1999 looks good, but both require a labotomy for continued watching. The original Tomorrow People looks fantastic by comparison! (Or not! Depends on the person)

    And V: The Series?? Gee, I’d say it’s better than Knight Rider, but at least now I can laugh at how cheesy Knight Rider was. The original V mini-series was Right-On-Time, though.

    So many of these 80’s prime-time shows were just rehashes of the mainstream with gadgets. I.E., Hunter with a talking car (possibly… I didn’t watch Hunter). I.E., The A-Team with aliens who pretend to be humans.

    The same thing seems to be happening now. Check out the new Galactica and Journeyman. These are just character development-driven dramas like all the other current semi-serious dramas with some sci-fi tweak to fool geeks into watching. They are both ‘good enough’ to get me to watch, but they aren’t that exciting. Who knew Cylons could be boring (perhaps watchers of the original series knew, due to seeing the same space sequences used from episode to episode). Journeyman particularly seems like it would get old fast (like after the first 15 minutes!), but they keep on writing plot twists that provoke my head.

    Now take Heroes… not that Heroes doesn’t have well-defined characters, but Heroes delivers something else that has been missing from other shows as of late: FUN.

    Man, I had those V comics and the art was bad… possibly because they didn’t have the rights to use the real actor’s likenesses? I understand that’s why comics versions of TV and film usually suck.

    I had the books and I sold the books. The fact is, they couldn’t compare with science-fiction that wasn’t tied to the V storyline.

    Read Christopher Tolkien’s ‘Children of Hurin’ (and not Brian Herbert’s ‘Sandworms of Dune’). You’ll be rewarded.

  4. Shag Says:

    Thanks for the comment!

    Man the ongoing series “V” TV series continues to be REALLY bad. I’m pushing my way through, but it’s getting harder and harder to work up the gumption to watch.

    Shame that Journeyman got cancelled. It’s certainly a re-tread concept, but they did a nice job with it.

    I actually almost the whole last season of Galactica. I know that’s a capital offense in geekdom, but I just got bored.

    Watch “Chuck”. Now that is a FUN geek show!

    Shag

  5. Tennya Says:

    I stumbled across this looking for new “V” pictures I could use as a desktop. Is that your own costume in the picture? If so that is truly amazing!

    After reading the second generation I was left feeling empty and badly disappointed that it did not include what happened in the second half of the mini series or of the TV show. Even though I wasn’t born until two years after V first aired I got into it at the age of three because my older sister would let me stay up late and watch it with her. I’ve recently rewatched the TV show and even though it isn’t perfect and the use of the same stock footage is frustrated I found myself sitting on the edge of the couch as I watched even though I already knew what would happen.

    Great blog entry!

  6. Shag Says:

    Tennya – Thanks for stopping by. The person in the photo is actually a convention goer. I don’t know her name, but she’s been spotted at multiple sci-fi conventions in the South East. It really is a great costume and make-up, isn’t it.

    I agree with your assessment of the “Second Generation” novel. Empty and badly disappointed is a good description. While I personally didn’t care for the TV series much when I rewatched it last year, I do still like “The Final Battle”.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

    Shag

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