January 16, 2011
New article: V for Vitriol!

Hey, all! It’s been a while… hope you had a happy 2010 holiday season and that 2011 is off to a great start for you. Anyway, Scary-Crayon is back — at least for the moment! And to that end we’ve got a new article, V for Vitriol, which is about the 2009 “V” television series and why it kinda sucks. There’s a brief discussion of the 1983-85 series as it compares to the new show, too.

I’ll make no promises regarding future content. SC will remain active while breath animates my fingers as they fly across the keyboard and manipulate the mouse for image editing and such, though I can’t say how frequently. I can, however, say that I hope the next article won’t be two months away, and I hope that some of y’all out there are still with us. Thanks. 🙂

-posted by Wes | 3:20 am | Comments (7)
  • Dave says:

    Good review, but I think you can’t be to harsh about this soul thing. Souls have been addressed in Sci Fi before – in Babylon 5, one race is afraid of a “soul thief” which the humans dismiss out of superstition, only to find out that that race actually does track souls after death due to reincarnation and the “thief” had been capturing them, for -in his mind- benign reasons. That episode was sort of weak, but at least there was coherence and depth to it, and the concept came back in a big way later in the series – the ultimate effect was that whatever silliness there was in the concept had been done already and was out of the way when the concept came up as a big plot point later.

    I’m not emotionally invested in the show anymore, so nothing really bothers me, but it’s insulting to intelligence to have a bunch of angry, suspicious, scheming, fearful and covetous people say they don’t have emotions and look down with disgust at people who they say do – it’s like listening to a Republican describe Democrats (ha!) Original Trek so thoroughly explored the role and nature of emotions – and demonstrated their necessity – the fact that this show ignores all that – not even rebutting any of it – that it’s like a sci-fi show for people who have never watched sci fi before. (Now, I know that’s super nerdy of me to be all like “But Spock needs emotion! But the Mumbari actually have souls!” but I’m just trying to figure out who’s watching this show, because it’s likely not science fiction fans) …I have let go, though. V doesn’t bother me anymore.

    In the original V, we see that they eat their food live. So, naturally, they can’t have us fighting them, even if they are superior technologically and militarily, because if they kill us all, they lose their whole goal of being there. But in this one, you’re right, super, super, ultra nerds would have sex with the lizards – and for the rest of us, why can’t they just leave the blond teenager costumes on? And it seems like they can lay thousands of eggs, so what’s the rush? And they haven’t shown that anyone has to die from this – au contrare, didn’t they have to go out of their way to kill the 5th column guy’s wife?

    Also -minor point – but if emotion “leaks” through the human skin, why do they wear it when on the ship? It’s just a quick spray on process, as we’ve seen.

    Finally, my favorite scene, above all, is when the ships arrive, hovering over a crowd of people, covering the entire field of vision for the area, all staring up at it, and one or two people point at it, as though they think people are staring at something else.

    • Wes says:

      My problem isn’t so much that souls haven’t been or can’t be addressed in sci-fi (I can think of quite a few examples, particularly given the frequent overlap between sci-fi and the fantasy/horror genres), but rather how ridiculous it seemed in V. I’m not familiar with the Babylon 5 example, so I’m not sure how silly it came across there, but your description identifies one thing that might have made it easier to swallow — that at least someone dismissed the idea at first. A lot of ludicrous developments in media seem less so when the writers predict possible viewer reactions and address them through the characters.

      So while Diana’s mention of the soul wasn’t terribly objectionable, the newfound emphasis on souls in the fiction became so (for me) when Anna immediately pounced on the concept and became determined to isolate it in the medical bay. Perhaps it would have worked better if she’d received the concept with a little more skepticism. Of course, even if Anna had been less committed to the scientific investigation into souls, that wouldn’t have changed the reality that — insofar as human emotion and the inability of controlling hybrids that feel it are the primary difficulties here — there are fairly obvious solutions to Anna’s problems that don’t require accessing a metaphysical phenomenon.

      You’re right that “V” seems like a sci-fi show for people who’ve never watched it before in that emotion has been fairly well explored in other shows yet is treated so poorly here (I’m reminded of the “emotionless” Cybermen during the 1980s Doctor Who serials) — but then, who else but sci-fi fans would keep watching this show? I think it’s probably sci-fi written by people who haven’t watched much of it, or by people who are just poor writers who haven’t thought through the ideas they’re dealing with.

      (And yes, the killing of the human mother was completely pointless, considering that she would at least have made for a valuable specimen for further study and could certainly have been used to manipulate Ryan further.)

      Regarding the skin — and I’m just speculating here, since nothing’s been said about it on the new show — I’d generally thought of it as a largely permanent procedure, which would explain why they don’t remove it when on the ship (aside from the obvious production explanations). That they often have humans on board could also be a possible explanation; the cat would be out of the bag if a human encountered a “naked” Visitor in a corridor. And the idea of emotion leaking through the skin is so silly that I’d previously treated those references as figurative, or at least not paid them much mind since the general concerns regarding human emotion were so much more offensive to me. The soul thing seems even more ridiculous if we take the skin-emotion transfer literally: if emotion comes from the human soul, and Visitors develop emotion as a result of having human skin, does that mean the soul resides in the skin? Do human skin cells have souls?

      Sometimes pointing is a reflex. 🙂

  • Dave says:

    Oh yeah – My reason for bringing up other shows was to point out that it has been handled well before, so there is no excuse.

    OK, fine the skin thing is permanent, fair enough. You know, I read somewhere that since each cell of the body contains the entire DNA of the entire body, but only “knows” the info regarding it’s purpose (a fingernail cell only “knows” how to act like a fingernail cell, even though it contains the entire body’s blueprint) that that suggests that each human brain may contain the entire blueprint for some kind of oversoul – We only access 3% of this potential, thus perceive ourselves to be individuals, when in fact, we’re like “cells” to a larger consciousness. That would be consistent with the soul residing in individual skin cells. …and clearly, we’re meant to pontificate on such things when watching this show (-sacrasm).

    I though the new series Cybermen episode handled it in a cool way, BTW. Cyberman: “We’re making them superior. why do they resist?” Dr: “You’re taking them away from their homes and families – if you had emotions, you’d understand that!”

    But about V, If they’ve been studying human beings for decades, and have mastered enough of our culture to manipulate us so well, how did they miss out on the concept of a soul until now? They didn’t encounter religion in their observation of human beings – an observation designed to understand how to manipulate us??

    And the people who would watch this show besides sci-fi fans include 80s nostalgists, people who watch whatever is on ABC at that time, and, honestly, I think people who like cop shows might like it. A bad guy trying to find the human soul might not be much different from a bad guy trying to find the pink panther diamond or the NOC list, or whatever happens in those shows.

    • Wes says:

      If the show had excuses, I wouldn’t be so frustrated by it!

      We could go on about the skin cells and souls… and while that conversation would certainly be fun (if the soul resides in each individual skin cell — or cell in general — does that mean we have multiple souls, or does the metaphysical character of each cell combine with that of the others to form one unified soul? Suppose we can remove a piece of tissue and artificially keep it alive; does it have a distinct soul as well?), you’re right that the show itself doesn’t even approach that kind of depth. Unfortunately, the concept of souls (and what makes human emotion unique, for that matter) is a pretty deep one, and it frustrates me to have it raised in a show that clearly isn’t operating on that level.

      New Who did do a much better job with the Cybermen, though I admit to regarding their explosions following their reinstatement of emotion to be on the silly side. If I suddenly woke up to find myself in an immortal cyborg body, I would not freak out and combust. Instead, I’d probably be like, “This. is. awesome!!!

      And Anna did casually mention that she’d always thought the soul was a myth — but that made it seem even more ridiculous that she’d seize on the idea so rapidly for such unconvincing reasons. I mean, suppose you think winged alligators in the sewers were a myth, and you find yourself in a strange-smelling part of town. If a bum on the corner tells you the smell comes from winged alligators below — even if you do become a little more receptive to the possibility — you’re probably not going to immediately and completely disregard your prior skepticism. Right? But yes, the Visitors should definitely have a better understanding of religion considering the extent of their observations of human culture.

      Hmm, you might be right about the audience — and now I’m curious to learn what non sci-fi fans think of the more recent developments. I haven’t detected nearly as much vitriol and disgust in the other reviews I’ve skimmed, and some of those reviewers probably aren’t as into sci-fi as we are (though I guess they’re into it enough that they didn’t pawn the reviews off on another staffer), so maybe the show seems somewhat less ludicrous to them. Hm.

  • Tresob says:

    I’d say the show jumped the shark…but can we know whether or not it really is a shark? What if it is a reptilian alien disguised as a shark…

    Anyway, it was good to see some activity on the site. This way we know the visitors didn’t get you.

    • Wes says:

      Indeed! Though if the Visitors were implementing the sexy plan — rather than the meal plan — and were all as attractive as Laura Vandervoort, I’m not sure I’d mind them getting me. 😉

  • greybob says:

    —-“New Who did do a much better job with the Cybermen, though I admit to regarding their explosions following their reinstatement of emotion to be on the silly side. If I suddenly woke up to find myself in an immortal cyborg body, I would not freak out and combust. Instead, I’d probably be like, “This. is. awesome!!!””

    And then you combust from the overwhelming awesomeness! Duh!

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