TV To See: “V” at forty

Anyone over age 45 will likely remember the miniseries “V”, first broadcast on May 1-2, 1983, forty years ago.

It was a landmark show for multiple reasons, least important of which was the US$13 million budget for a miniseries.  But the quality of the story and special effects paid off in TV audience and ratings, and its social impact.  It was written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, who had several TV scifi credits to his name: “The Bionic Woman”, “The Increddible Hulk”, “Alien Nation”.

The allusions to Nazi Germany were a little heavy handed, and some (then) didn’t buy into the idea of scientists as allegory for jews, but in retrospect, it fit.  The anti-authoritarian message of the show still rings true.

From SciFi Pulse, 2016:

Retro Review: V The Mini Series (1983)

Synopsis: When an alien fleet comes to Earth to ask for our help, a few suspicious humans discover their horrific true intentions and prepare to resist.

Review: Back in 1983 we lived in a different world where pretty much everyone lived in fear of nuclear war or the warring superpowers hitting the big red button. We didn’t have cable or Sky TV in the UK at this time. In fact at that point in the UK we only had four TV channels. One of which Channel 4 only launched in 1982.

With all that in mind. A mini series was a pretty big deal when it hit. And the 70’s and 80’s was a time when they were pretty much all sure fire hits because of their rarity in the schedules. But to have a mini series about an alien invasion back then was rarer still because science fiction on television was considered a big risk.

In ‘V The Mini Series’ you get a science fiction allegory, which tells a story of human resistance to an alien force, which starts off as friendly, but soon is revealed to have a cruel and fiendish agenda.

Calling themselves The Visitors the alien’s ingratiate themselves on the public offering cures for cancer and cultural exchange and educational programs for the youth.

But as we all know. When something is to good to be true. It usually is.

About halfway through the first episode Nobel Prize winning scientists start to go missing and some scientists begin to suspect that the Alien Visitor’s are not as humanoid as they appear to be, but actually reptilian.

It makes you wonder how much this show played into rightwing conspiracy theories about “lizard people”, or if this is where it started.


  1. says

    i imagine some jewish folks find this too alarming to handle, on account of the david icke antisemitic conspiracy biz. i remember some remake of it a few years back gave me some pause – like, bad timing guys. i do like some 70s-80s TV foolery tho. i liked buck rogers a lot when i was in single digits.

  2. andrewnotwerdna says

    I remember V, but it was a while before I learned that it was originally intended to be a non-SF adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here” – but it didn’t sell to the network until the lizards were added.

    I assume the other two significant TV events you’re thinking of are “The Third Wave” and “The Day After”