If you were old enough to watch television back in ’83, you probably remember the original V for the hamster-eating aliens and cheesy special effects, but the sci-fi series on alien-invading fascists was also a very clear Third Reich analogy. The new remake, just renewed for a second season, might have a 21st-century gloss, but how does it compare in the Holocaust allegory department? With this review, we rate both versions in six different categories to find out which V really puts the show in Shoah.
1. Charismatic Yet Inherently Villainous Leader
Diana simply exuded evil and sex. Jane Badler was so hot she was almost at the Kelly LeBrock level. You wanted to bang her no matter what her species. (This was, of course, before Steven Seagal got LeBrock all dirty.) Seriously, Badler even made torture and interrogation scenes kinky. Now, that’s charisma.
Anna, played by Morena Baccarin, radiates empathy. Her speeches are hopeful and comforting, which makes sense since Baccarin patterns them after a certain American president. (Hint: She promises our planet universal health care and clean energy sources.) Maybe it’s because the big reveal, being a remake, is already blown, but you can spot her evil intentions right away. Also, though beautiful, Baccarin doesn’t make interspecies love quite as alluring (though, to be fair, she is much more do-able than Hitler).
2. Sympathetic Alien/”Good Nazi”
Willy was Robert Englund’s biggest role that didn’t involve finger blades. His nebbishy manner and faulty grasp of the English language grew on audiences by the series’s tenth hour, but, just humanity’s luck, the alien on our side is the biggest wuss out of the whole race.
Morris Chestnut’s Ryan is more overly badass. As one of the leaders of the new “Fifth Column” resistance, he beats out Willy with his fighting skills and his taste for hot human chicks.
3. Use of Propaganda
The original is really working at a disadvantage here. Technology wasn’t all that impressive in the 80s. The visitors just slapped some posters up on city walls. Once the resistance got cooking, those got tagged up with red Vs anyway. And after they were revealed as flesh-eating monsters, the Visitor PR department tried to spin the whole thing on terrorists. Weak.
The Visitors’s initial visit is heralded by Anna’s face, projected to New York City on the bottom of their spaceship. That’s tough to top. They also have tracking devices in the suits they give their “peace ambassadors.” iPhone apps are sure to follow.
4. Conformity-Inducing Uniforms
Blu Blockers, mesh-backed baseball hats and red jumpsuits made out of old Le Sports Sacs — that’s hot. Plus, the Visitors had that pseudo-Addidas three stripes logo to appeal to status-obsessed 80s teens.
I know the new series is going for a more current look, but couldn’t they be a little more imaginative? They look like they’re about to have a business meeting about fourth-quarter profits.
5. Obsession With a Genetically-Induced Master Race
Curious about interplanetary hybrids, Diana ordered one her soldiers to impregnate a lowly human. The original series featured a pair of lizard/human twins. The looker pictured above died minutes after birth. The seemingly normal baby thrust her serpent-like forked tongue into the camera just as the credits rolled.
We have yet to see the half-breed of the new series, but the baby seems hugely important to the Visitors and will no doubt hold some superpower to drive them off-planet. Like her predecessor, Anna believes that its power can be harnessed, but no matter what sprang out of Lourdes Benedicto’s belly, it’ll be tough to top the original. (This score may be modified if the baby turns out really cool.)
6. Aggressively Recruited Youth Movement
The “Visitor Youth Program” was a huge part of the original V. Daniel Bernstein (David Packer), a loser with ladies, was obsessed with the aliens, even though his Holocaust-surviving grandfather suspected them from the beginning. Just as Anne Frank had her attic, Grandpa Bernstein hid hunted neighbors in the pool house. Once Daniel finds out, the punk sells out his own zaydie and his evil transformation is complete.
As weaselly as Daniel was, Tyler’s just wimpy. The son of the series main character, FBI Agent Erica Evans, he’ll no doubt become an integral pawn in Anna’s plan. But while Daniel’s betrayal was fueled by a need to belong and an inability to get laid, Tyler looks like he’s ready write in his burn book with the other Mean Girls.
And the winner for most blatant Nazi analogy is . . . the original with 16-and-a-half stars. The new version might have it all over on special effects, but you still can’t top the original for Holocaust allusions.