Monday, 21 May 2012

V THE EPISODE REVIEW - EP3: BREAKOUT

BREAKOUT


“I think it was one of the best episodes of TV I've written, but what happened in the Director did such an abominable job.  He never got the prison camp down, and they wound-up holding that episode, not airing the episode and reshooting some stuff.” David Braff.  Writer.  Interviewed in The V-Files Book Five: Conclusion.


The Visitors set up a prison camp outside the city.  It's the place-to-be.

STOCK FOOTAGE
-       The Skyfighter combat sequence from the mini-series is recycled again here.  Ham tells Donovan that he's “improving”.  How would he know? 

CHARACTER NOTES
-       Donnovan is looking for his son, last seen at the State Academy.  The Visitors took all the boys, they “just disappeared”.
-       Donovan and Ham aren't very subtle in their sneaking just prior to their arrest.  The old couple in the background seem to be going about their business as usual despite all the activity.
-       Kyle Bates has spent the previous year racing motor bikes since being expelled from Stanford University the previous year.
-       Donovan tries to tell Robin that Elizabeth isn't the little girl she used to be.
-       Julie seems surprised that Bates asks her to develop a new Red Dust.  As the developer of the original, shouldn't she assume her participation would be automatic?
-       Only Kyle, the youngest and most buff of the regular cast, goes topless.  Maybe the others have a no nudity clause.

GROUND FORCES
-       The Visitors use a white van and a white car, both with added Visitor logo.  Ham and Donovan are transported to the prison camp on the back of a white Visitor jeep with one gold-helmeted driver and shock-trooper guard.
-       Diana arrives in a limo escorted by one laser jeep and two motor cycle outriders.  The laser jeep is not the same jeep seen earlier in the episode as that is seen parked as Diana's convoy arrives.

BATES MOTEL
-       Where did Bates get the photo of Elizabeth in Visitor uniform from her time on the Mothership? Did Science Frontiers crack at least some of the Mothership systems.

SECURITY ALERT
-       The Visitor troopers don't seem too concerned about two men sharing a park bench in suspicious circumstances. 
-       There's a lot of shouting and punching in the town square but nobody opens fire.  Only one of the alien reenforcements, the shock trooper, appears to be issued with a gun.  The four gold helmeted security personel only seem to have (budget-friendly) shock sticks.
-       The stakeout and search of the Club Creole isn't very well mounted if Julie and Elizabeth are able to wander out the back door DURING the search upstairs.  Was no-one watching the back door?  Sneaky those Resistance folk.
-       Security at the Visitor camp is equally shoddy.  The aliens should be using night sights, motion sensors etc.  Only Diana's apparently brilliant night vision (from inside a fairly well lit room while she is being clumsely seduced by Kyle) raises the alarm.  She's right to be unhappy with her staff.
-       Once again, the Visitors leave their parked Skyfighter unlocked on the ground.  Ground fire from laser pistols, even at close range, isn't sufficient to down an alien fighter.
-       Kyle is able to make his way into his father's office at Science Frontiers without anyone raising the alarm.

THE CULTURE SHOW
-       The prison camp is just a series of tents (despite being called “building 1” and “building 3” with signs in English and Sirian.) with a more substantial looking office/ command centre.
-       What exactly are the prisoners doing at the camp?  Wouldn't it be quicker and easier just to put them into storage on the Mothership as soon as possible?  Amongst the harsh duties: cleaning the white Visitor jeep (now without logo) and making concrete (possibly to replace the tents with more hardy accomodation).  Actually, this does make sense if only a few days have passed since the invasion began.  There wouldn't have been time to have already built a more substantial facility.
-       The Crivit (or Sand Shark) appears for the first time.  At least one of the creatures occupies the prison camp's sand moat.
-       Lydia and Diana's Mothership has assumed orbit directly above Los Angeles.
-       The Visitors enjoy success in Southern France, Jeruselem and Ho Chi Min City.  They are defeated in Houston thanks to resistance from the World Liberation Front.

RED ALERT
-       The prison camp is clearly located in an area where the Red Dust is not working.

BLOOPERS
-       Why is Nathan's desk photo of Kyle facing away from him until Diana turns it to make a point? 

JEDI MINDTRICKS
-       Elizabeth is now a skilled pianist.
-       When Elizabeth comes out of her 'coma' following the dog attack, she suddenly gains the ability to speak normally.

OBSERVATIONS
-       This episode was unaired during the show's original run and appeared for the first time in reruns during the summer of 1985.  As this episode and The Deception offer alternative accounts of several scenes (such as Donovan, Kyle and Ham meeting for the first time), broadcasters sometimes air either/ or.  Others air both which makes things a bit confusing for viewers.  Both were released (without context) on VHS and DVD.
-   The network apparently got cold feet over the episode's suitability for an 8pm family-friendly slot.  Surprising considering the network would have been involved in every stage of development and production, especially on a new show.
-       Howard K. Smith and the Freedom Network appear for the first time in this episode.  He expresses his own opinion about the future of Los Angeles.  The first story covered by the Freedom Network, at least 'on camera' involves combat in Israel.
-   Smith, a real-life seasoned journalist, became an ABC News anchor in 1969 and retired from the network a decade later.
-       Only a week has passed since the second alien invasion and Elizabeth's transformation.
-       Things return to normal in the open city or, at least the Club Creole, very quickly.
-       What are the dogs doing on the back of the pick-up outside the resturant?  Some reports say it is this sequence, deemed unsuitable for an 8pm family show, that got the episode dropped from the show's original run.
-       Diana is kept waiting rather a long time (allowing Donovan and Ham to have their reunion scene together) outside the camp commander's office.
-       Things are bad in Arizona but refugees are still able to reach the open city.
-       Donovan's cheesey 'V' should have been the reason enough to get this episode banned.
-       The Bates Goon Squad searched the Club Creole until daybreak but obviously didn't find the hidden rooms in the basement.  Ham, Elias, Julie and Donovan all unite at the resturant for the first time, until they all meet there again for the first time in the next episode.
-   When the series was released on VHS in the UK for the first time, this episode was a freebie released as part of a double-tape pack (tape 1: episodes 1 & 2, tape 2: episode 3) but priced the same as a single tape release.

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