Wednesday, 16 May 2012

V THE SERIES REVIEW - EP2: DREADNAUGHT

DREADNAUGHT

The vanquished Visitors intend to use their space-based super weapon, the Particle Beam Triax, to obliterate the captured LA Mothership.


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aka The Visitors Strike Back.
-       On the Particle Beam Triax: “The production people at Warner Brothers came over to us and said 'do you know of any stock footage that exists of space ships that look nine miles wide?'  Their plan at that time was to try and find some stock footage at Universal of maybe the Galactica or something, and then turning it upside-down and backwards.”  Adam Berger, special effects.  Interviewed in The V-Files Book Three: Stalemate.

CORPSE OF THE WEEK
-       Robert Maxwell pilots the captured Mothership into the Particle Beam Triax.  Robert is “a great, great zero” according to Willie.  Touching.

STOCK FOOTAGE
-       The Visitor attack on the city is made from stock footage from the feature-film WAR OF THE WORLDS mixed with existing Skyfighter footage.  The sequence where the humans attack a 'parked' Visitor ship from the back of a pick-up truck is recycled from the first mini-series.

TONIGHT'S MENU
-       Nothing.  Again.

CHARACTER NOTES
-       Tyler lies to Donovan about his reasons for being at the tracking station.  Donovan doesn't have a chance to question them.
-       Tyler keeps plenty of spare ammo in the glove compartment of his car.
-       Diana orders an all-out attack but she has no stratergy.  Her orders are, basically, just “blow the crap out of the humans!”
-       Robert Maxwell keeps teflon-coated bullets at his ranch.  Just for this sort of emergency? The Visitor body armour, althrough identical to that seen previously, is obviously improoved as it is now resistant to the teflon bullets.
-       Julie and Nathan Bates have a slightly flirtatus relationship (at least while Julie is trying to manipulate him to get access to the Mothership).
-       Donovan's chalkboard map of the Mothership interior is so simplistic that it would be no use for the mission.  How does Donovan even know how the interior of the ship is laid out, all those rooms and corridors are pretty confusing.

GROUND FORCES
-       The Visitors are using a jeep at the road block but it isn't fitted with a laser cannon.

BATES MOTEL
-       Bate's pulseometer is harding state-of-the-art micro-technology.  If his pulse stops, it will trigger a massive release of Red Dust that will posion the planet, and everything on it, to the aliens.  It's a bluff: heavy doses of the dust (on lab animals) cause mutation and further releases would be a threat t the survival of Earth's native species, including humans.
-       Why doesn't Bates suspect the Visitors will use the treaty signing as an excuse to just steal the captured craft?  He has diverted security from other facilities so this would be an ideal moment.

HARDWARE
-       The alien squad ship isn't seen landing and no-one in the house sees or hears anything.
-       The Particle Bean Triax is usually deployed to protect the Sirian space lanes and can only be moved on the orders of the Leader.  Apparently Diana can “cut through red tape” to get it re-deployed.  The Triax is tested by destroying one of Jupiter's moons.
-       How does everyone get on-and-off the captured Mothership?  There is no visible means of entry from the ground?  Do they have a very long ladder?
-       The plan to 'hide' a mile-wide flying saucer, easily visible from the ground or from the air, at the Maxwell ranch is bizarre.

THE CULTURE SHOW
-       In the year since the aliens were forced off the planet, their own world had suffered further environmental collapse making the capture of the Earth, and her resources, an even greater objective.
-       How did the Visitors find the Maxwell Ranch so quickly?  Did they recognise the local geography from the TV reports?

RED ALERT
-       The Red Dust stills kills very quickly (the time span between first symptoms and death is still moments) but the aliens no-longer suffer its affects as soon as they are exposed to contaminated air.
-       Diana is very confident that the danger of the Red Dust has past, she despatches her troops into combat without testing that her theory about the dust is right (it isn't) or equiping them with breathing apparatus to protect them.
-       Visitor troops fall victim to the Red Dust in New York, Moscow and Tokyo.  Success is achieved in Panama, Rio and Miami.
-       According to the highly simplistic Visitor map, the UK does not experience temperatue drops below freezing.  The Red Dust needs freezing conditions to regenerate.

FROCKS ON THE BOX
-       Lydia's Flash Gordon meets BLAKE'S 7 fashion faux-pah.  Her make-up is a little on the severe side too.  Despite appearing in the credits for the first episode, this is Lydia's first appearence.
-       Despite only narrowly escaping recapture (or worse) on Earth, Diana's hair and make-up still look perfect.
-       Diana wears her white (with black breastplate) 'diplomatic' uniform for the first time.

BLOOPERS
-       Mike fires very briefly with his machine pistol, yet all three Visitor troops fall to the ground.
-       When Diana orders one of her gold-helmeted troopers to prepare her shuttle, he turns swiftly to walk away and almost collides with the other troops following behind.

JEDI MINDTRICKS
-       Elizabeth's arm is covered in scales before she emerges fully from the caccoon.  She swiftly removes this layer of scales before collapsing.
-       Elizabeth cannot speak after she emerges from her caccoon. She does recognise she has grown, her mother (and, probably, her mother's night dress as well).
-       Willie recognises Elizabeth because she carries the “Mark of Zon” (two small marks at the base of her thumb on her right hand).  Elizabeth has a panda cuddly toy.  Her transformation is the “weirdest thing” Elias has seen since the aliens arrived.
-       The Mothership reactors were shut down “months ago” but power-up again quickly with the help of Elizabeth.

OBSERVATIONS
-       The episode is almost a direct continuation of the previous, it begins with Donovan and Tyler leaving the tracking station.
-       Why do the police open fire on Donovan and Tyler without provocation?  Who issued their orders?
-       To insert the picture of Elizabeth into the 'PDA' screen in the close-up shots, the image is actually frozen.
-       Despite an all-out attack on the city, the electricity still works fine.
-       Elias thinks that no-one else knows about the secret rooms under the Club Creole.
-       The Visitors are very slow in openning fire on Elias after one of their number is downed. They give him time to shelter behind the bar and then attempt to capture rather than kill him.
-       The daylight outside the viewport of the captured Mothership and the darkness outside Lydia and Diana's seems like a continuity error (you'd expect it to be daylight outside both) but the 'new' Mothership has yet to assume its position above LA. 
-       Diana leaves the TV station intact when the media is usually one of the first targets of any coup or invasion.
-       The alien attack on other parts of the United States seems to create very few refugees.  In most conflicts, as the agressor army advances the civillian population retreats in an attempt to stay ahead of the enemy and find a safe haven.  Los Angeles, despite the presence of the Visitor forces, represents such a haven yet life continues much as before with little evidence of a growing population or over-stretched infrastructure.
-       The gun battle in the Command Centre is badly staged.  It's already been established that the room is not exactly vast yet the battle is directed as if it is taking place somewhere much larger.  The two groups are no more than a few metres apart.  At that range, everyone should be dead after a few shots.  It's reminiscent of a gun fight from POLICE SQUAD.  Why didn't anyone think to close the main hatch?  The security officers run at the first sign of take-off.  How do they plan to get off?  It remains unsaid but, presumably, they are vaporised along with the ship.
-       Is it really likely that a craft as vast and complex as an alien Mothership could be piloted by one human with no previous flying experience?  Not only is Maxwell able to understand the Mothership's own controls, he can also decypher the energy read-outs of the Triax.
-       Somehow the Triax ends-up between Lydia's Motphership and the captured one.  The captured ship then rams the Triax, destroying both craft.
-       Wouldn't Robin's empty car at the road block draw attention to the fact that someone, probably with something to hide, has attempted to escape?
-   Episode two is a direct continuation of the first, allowing them to be edited together into a feature-length premiere.
-   Several series regulars are introduced for the first time.
-   The DUKES OF HAZZARD style car chase is (sadly) a sign of things to come.
-   Despite the inflated budgets allocated to the initial episodes, the Particle Beam Triax still presented a problem.  Initial plans called for the purchase of stock footage from another production (possibly BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY) before the effects team realised an existing model, built as a hobby project (built by Dale Fay, one of the FX team, for a student film) was available.
-   The story continues in the following episode.

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