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V: The Series Season 2
1080P VC-1 CODEC
Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 @ 640Kbps
2 Disc Set
The Story: 1 / 5
Hollywood seems to love reboots. Sometimes it works - BattleStar Galactica is a good example. And sometimes, it just well, fails. When ABC announced that a new version of "V" was in the works, many fans of the original series were worried that the fun series of the 80s would not work out.
The updated V would have special effects! A budget! It wouldn't be campy and goofy like the original series, the producers told us. It would be a great way to look back at an 80s treasure and think about it in a different way.
Boy, were they wrong. While BattleStar Galactica and even farther back fresh retakes (like Star Trek TNG) managed to take an original concept and rework it or expand on it, V never really fulfilled any story telling goal. It moved from episode to episode seemingly throwing things against the wall to see what would stick, hoping to manufacture some sort of interest out of random happenings.
It's what made V, Season 2, all the more tone deaf. While the biggest complaint against Season 1 was that there was far too much brooding, far too little real action, season 2 offered us plenty more.. brooding. Lots of hanging out in basements, hand ringing, a weird biological threat storyline that never made much sense, and now will never be explained and cameo appearances that were far too late to rescue the show.
The "Special Effects" also had the problem of not looking so special. Shows on a far lesser budget going back years managed to use special effects to a far better outcome then on V, where the special effects often looked like something generated out of a kid's playstation3.
That isn't to say that there is nothing likeable about V, but now having watched through all of Season 2, I'm struggling to think of things that are likable enough that I would justify spending money to revisit.
For completists, this is a way to hold on to an ABC series that was short lived that will leave you plenty of cliffhangers - and for most shows, that's a disappointing trainwreck. But for V, maybe the fact they never resolved any of the issues is better. Because I'm convinced the audience can shape better conclusions to all of these storylines in their head then anything the writers were leading up to.
Video Quality 4 / 5
Warner presents V in VC-1 CODEC, which seems to be gaining some second life after being declared near dead with the death of HD-DVD. The encode is fine; too fine, in fact. The problem with a 1080P encode of V is that not only do you get to see great shots of the Queen and the characters, but the bad special effects stick out like eyesores. Seams exist nearly everywhere; the ships look preposterously fake. Skintones, clothes and characters are beautifully shot and framed, which makes watching them walk across green screen areas completely unnerving as they seem to “float” about a quarter of an inch off the floor which apparently wasn’t the floor they were walking on in the studio. I rarely say this, but if any show needed to be, let’s say, at a lower resolution in order to cover up it’s flaws, V might have benefitted. The video quality is quite good – too good for this show – but it’s distracting. Shadows that don’t match the characters; hovering characters over bad floors; breaks and bends in supposedly “Special” effects that aren’t very special. The 1080P rendition of V definitely delivers the MST3k quality.
Audio: 2.5 / 5
Audio here is presented in 640Kbps Dolby Digital HD 5.1. I have no idea what to make of this sound mix except it comes across poorly in my livingroom. To note, I’m using a Denon 4810CI, (Review here) and at the moment I’m using all Definitive Technologies speakers. The problem with the audio mix is that while it’s full of booms and shots it doesn’t really work. The dialog at times comes across sounding.. wrong. I tried listening in a different room, on a HTiB to see if it was an issue on my end, but nope, it’s definitely the soundtrack. Booms deliver the LFE response, but it just leaves you cold.
I haven’t quite put a finger on what it is that’s wrong with this soundtrack, but there is definitely something wrong. That’s a hard thing to say but I wasn’t the only one who noticed. My wife, not a SciFi fan had initially asked “are the lips out of sync?” And, realizing they weren’t, still turned to me and said “something is not right”. But no matter where I went, that “something isn’t right” feeling followed us. It followed to a Playstation 3, it existed in the Oppo, a Samsung HTiB, Receiver, no matter where I played the disc or how, there is something hard to put my fingers on but just not right with the audio mix on this disc.
The fact is, anytime something pulls you out of the experience, it is a negative to the presentation. Regardless of what it is that is wrong with the audio on these discs, it’s definitely something.
Extras 3 / 5
The two disc set includes these extras:
Audio Commentary. Only episode 11, “Fruition” contains an audio commentary. And while the executive producers do address many issues it’s not enough time for them to really say anything of merit and there is a surprising amount of dead time.
The Actors Journey From Human To V (HD): Morena Baccarin and others talk about the inspiration of the original series and how they grew into their parts. Frankly, this is a standard package and it’s nothing you’ll watch more than once.
Breaking Story: The World of V (HD): They dig into the series vision, scripts and why they paced the show as they did. This is a strange post-mortem on a show that died for these reasons.
An Alien in Human Skin: The Makeup of V (HD): A look at how they did the makeup.
The Visual Effects of V (HD): How they prepped the motherships, backdrops, floors, and more to create a “real environment”. I kept wondering if they had watched any of their own episodes in HD.
Unaired Scenes: There are twenty four scenes, mostly short and most of which just expand or were replaced within the series.
There are extras here, but there is very little you’re going to leap up and watch.
Summary: 1.5 out of 5 (Not an average of whole)
In the end, the only reason to buy a series or a movie on Blu-Ray or DVD is whether or not it’s something worth watching. That’s the struggle I had with V. Even with nice packaging and a decent look to it, the show itself is not the kind of thing you’re going to watch all the way through and say “I can’t believe this was cancelled!” Because by the end of Disc2, you’ll know EXACTLY why the show was cancelled. I normally make an effort and put together screenshots. But frankly, there is no need of that here. “V” is a cautionary tale to networks of why rebooting a series doesn’t always work; and that scripts and a good fresh take on a story are what will keep you on the air. If you don’t have that, nostalgia wears thin real fast.