Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TV Episode Review: V "Laid Bare"

Let’s start this week by examining the inaccurate title of this episode in which no one, including Malick who is scheduled to be skinned alive, is laid bare in any way, shape, or form.  Nor are any plans laid bare in any particularly interesting way.  This week’s title represents a puzzler at both the plot and thematic levels, so there’s that.  I’d say that the shortcomings of this show as a sci-fi genre actioner were laid bare, but that really happened a long time ago, did it not?  So tonight we’re left with a lot of silliness and more disappointing failure to cash in on potential.

First, the potential:  Last week’s teaser promised something you’d be a fool to believe the show would follow through on satisfyingly when Erica announced that Malick was to be skinned as a form of torture to get answers from her.  Since the show clearly has no aspirations to be a political commentary, I guess we should just take it at face value that unusual and vicious torture methods are acceptable when the detainee is not human (still sounds icky to write it, though).  I was also prepared to forgive the scene based on the premise that even if the network shied away from a visual feast of flesh being ripped from lizard sub-dermis it would still provide us with our first full view of a V in its bare form (hence the title, I thought in my bottomless ignorance).  But alas, all it takes to get Malick to spill the top secret beans is peeling back a bit of her back and slicing off her tail.  Some operatives the Vs are putting into the field. 

Even more disappointing (just kidding, I have no emotional investment anymore) is that all she provides the Fifth Column with is the location of the next kidnapping victim of the Vs, which makes no sense given that, according to their own research, all of the kidnappings happened a long time ago, but given the back of the kidnapper’s van, he’s been rounding up human guinea pigs (and maybe some regular guinea pigs for lunch—am I right?) all day.  But for some reason one girl’s name pops up and the team tracks her down and rescues her, but the truth is they just save one body while countless others lift off in a V shuttle to become test subjects in the Everything-but-the-Soul Sucker (patent pending).

Back aboard Anna’s ship, poor Lisa is starting to get all green and shimmery, which Anna explains is the first step of becoming a V mommy and a great and powerful leader, just like her.  Later we learn, to no one’s surprise, Anna imprisoned her mother in a twig hut on Dagobah when she began this transformation process, so just in case you missed the parallel structure, her mother warns Anna that Lisa will probably attempt to do the same thing.  Lisa has to be cheered on if you care about this show at all, but it’s hard to have faith in a woman or lizard who falls head over tail for an idiot like Tyler, who happily films a video framing Father Jack as a violent vigilante and then smiles like a trained monkey while Anna tells him she thinks of him as her own child.  Little does Anna know that her real, flesh-and-blerg daughter is in the arms of (irony!) Tyler’s mom who’s saying pretty much the same thing to her.  If this show had to wrap things up tomorrow, it would be phenomenal if Anna called a retreat but kept her beloved Tyler aboard ship and rocketed off into space while Lisa stayed home with Erica and everyone else could just shrug it off as a wash. 

At least someone besides the viewer is tortured with this episode.

Instead, Anna is pushing forward with her soul-reaping plans of, well, soul-reaping.  The contraption is complete which will isolate the human soul, and it’s a doozie.  It looks like every other V piece of medical equipment—horribly metallic and pointy, sterile and dysfunctional.  But then, who am I to attempt to understand a machine that will extract “water, muscle, bone and tissue—taking the subject to the brink of death” leaving only the soul when everything else has been slurped up through metal talons (which bulge like cartoon straws as they slurp out person goo).  I’m not sure how a person continues to live after having all of their moisture and muscles and bones removed, but I’m curious to see whatever floating orb is left at the end of it all.  I’ve never seen a soul before.  Obviously we’re more likely to witness the machine’s failure and Anna’s corresponding murderous rage, but po-tay-to po-tah-to, I guess.  The machine in action is more laughable than terrifying; my wife’s reaction when it was explained what it would do was to remark “rubbing his nipples does all that?”  I talked in week one’s review about the fact that this show might benefit mightily from recognizing its throbbing B-movie heart and embracing it, but every time it attempts to do so it just falls flat.  Is anyone really enjoying the benign and unimaginative alien technology on this show which makes no sense AND offers nothing in the way of gross-out effects? 

I think I’ve reached a tipping point with this show, at least in terms of the blog.  Does anyone really care if I continue reviewing this show or not?  Right now it comes as part of a front loaded week of television and it means that Southland doesn’t get reviewed in a timely manner and I’ve given up on reviewing The Cape.  However, one or both of those shows could take the place of this one; I just can’t keep up on all three in any timely way.  So, comment below if you’d prefer I review this over those.  If not, I may be changing horses in mid-stream in the next week or so.  I’ve kept reviewing V mainly because it seems to have a lot of readers (thanks blogger stat tracker!) and I don’t want to discontinue something that’s popular—having people read and share their thoughts is obviously the point of a blog in the first place.  But if my time is better spent reviewing better shows, I’d rather do that.  If you prefer the snark and anger of V reviews, I’m certainly overflowing with enough of it to coast through the rest of this season. 

Overall Score:  4.5/10

Great Quotes, Interesting Moments, What Not and Occasionally What-have-you:

Nothing stuck out to me this week…

1 comment:

  1. While you have paid more attention to this show than I have (at least enough to write a review at all), I have sat back and questioned just about everything V has tried to do or put forward. When the writers decided that the soul was without a doubt not only a real thing, but a tangible thing, I facepalmed so long that I'm afraid this red mark will never go away.

    It's unfortunate that an actress like Liz Mitchell is even in this. I'll admit, it looked promising when they were advertising the show's premiere last year, but each step forward isn't made without spinning in circles 10 times first.

    As for The Cape, it may end up being the new V, being corny and "just OK." I just hope the characters in The Cape start to be unique and have actual depth. For example, Chess/Peter could be an incredibly interesting bad guy (don't kill me for going here) like Ben Linus from LOST if they just took the time to dig deeper into the things that make Peter Peter. As of right now, he's a power-hungry cynic. Things like making the connection between Peter and his long-lost daughter are what I'd like to see more of from a lot more characters in The Cape.