Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Though it's the sort of thing you'll find tucked away on the Sci-Fi Channel late at night, V: The Original Mini Series is an early Eighties cult classic that stands the test of time. Remember it? Sure you do, its the one with the alien invasion led by Jane Badler's memorably-hot Diana.

She's one of those aboard massive spaceships that suddenly appear worldwide, hovering over all the major cities. Making contact, the human-looking visitors explain they’re here in peace to trade their advanced scientific knowledge for some of Earth's natural resources. However, after stowing aboard their mothership, TV cameraman Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) finds out their intentions are much more ominous...

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While this is a 'TV event' from 1983 that’ll possibly be dismissed as another one of Kenneth Johnson's retro genre hits (his dossier includes The Incredible Hulk, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman), it's still chilling in a way that today's contenders can't get close to.

Okay, so modern audiences will laugh at some of the glaringly-dated effects (see Diana wolfing down a rodent), but the majority of them remain passable if not impressive in a 'that still looks cool' kind of way. While a major source of inspiration for Independence Day, Johnson's two-part blast-from-the-past crucially has much more substance than Roland Emmerich's dumb, blow-up-the-White-House blockbuster.

As such, things are more grounded in reality and - by extension - scarier. The visitors' persecution of scientists to avoid discovery, the quick shift from mutual co-operation to martial law, the growing paranoia among an underground resistance...it's all a thinly-veiled take on facism and dictatorship. Indeed, with their shiny uniforms and Swastika-ish emblem (not to mention that the titular V is Churchill's V For Victory), the aliens are, essentially, Nazis.

Still, they're not all bad, as collaborative Martin (a playing-it-straight Frank Ashmore) and friendly Willie (a pre-Freddy Kreuger Robert Englund) help in the fight. As for the humans, the Kevin Bacon-esque Marc Singer makes for a fine - if occasionally cheesy-line spouting - anchor as the de facto hero Donovan. The rest of the cast is an assortment of recognisable faces and dubious eighties hair-dos.

A few dated effects aside, V: The Original Mini Series is a must see or re-visit for any sci-fi fans that holds up very well.

Reviewed on: 13 Dec 2009
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Aliens come to ask Earth for help... but their intentions may not be altogether altruistic.
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Director: Kenneth Johnson

Writer: Kenneth Johnson

Starring: Jane Badler, Marc Singer, Robert Englund, Frank Ashmore

Year: 1983

Runtime: 197 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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