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"The V Files: The Shocking Legacy Of An 80's Sci-Fi Cult Classic

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Even 40 years later, V is still getting under people’s skin. The writer, producer, and director Kenneth Johnson has never stopped getting fan mail about the miniseries he created back in 1983, which rattled America with its depiction of cold-blooded authoritarians conquering the world. The invaders in red jumpsuits, dark glasses, and ball caps were actually beings from another planet, but Johnson intended the sci-fi drama to be more than mere escapism. To him, it was a warning.

When he gets new letters from viewers, Johnson opens them hoping they got the message, which seems as obvious to him now as it did back then. “I got to thinking, God, how would everyday people feel if suddenly there was a sea change in our life that turned it all around, if suddenly some hyper power rolled over us, just like the Nazis rolled into Europe?” he says. But in recent years, far-right conspiracy theorists, QAnon followers, and garden-variety lunatics have instead homed in on the fact that V’s extraterrestrials were secretly reptilians disguised as humans to mislead us. Many harbor a sincere belief that a reptoid cabal really does control the world. “I’ve gotten emails over the years and letters from people on the fringes who say, ‘Oh, you get it!’” Johnson says. “‘You know that there are lizards among us!’”

This is just one twist in the real-life saga of V, a show that changed television by bringing blockbuster scale to the small screen while presenting an eerily prescient political allegory that most viewers saw clearly. The title had two meanings: V stood for the Visitors, who appear in our skies promising medical advancements, astounding new technology, and good old-fashioned peace for our time. It also stood for “victory,” the battle cry of the rebellion that forms when the newcomers are revealed as scaly predators. As their power grows, the aliens round up resisters—who become their favorite new source of food.

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V was watched in more than 33 million homes, which amounted to 40 percent of all TV viewership. (The most popular series in America today, Yellowstone, averages 13.1 million viewers per episode.) V’s popularity spawned a second miniseries, then a weekly show, and decades later it was remade in a glossy 2009 reboot. Although memories have faded over the years, it retains a robust cult status. Red-suited invaders can still be spotted among the cosplayers at conventions.

Few fans are likely aware of V’s backstory, its origin as a pure anti-fascism parable devoid of extraterrestrials, or the horrific true-life crime that shocked its cast and crew when one of its stars, Dominique Dunne, was savagely killed and another became embroiled in the tragedy as a witness. And despite the show’s success, Johnson was forced out, leading to the eventual collapse of the franchise. The making of V could be a prime-time soap opera of its own.

Today, Johnson hopes to reclaim the show—from the executives who bungled it, from the conspiracy obsessives who misunderstood it, and from the reliquary of nostalgia TV. He is actively trying to remake it as a series of movies, believing its themes are more relevant than ever. Now 80, Johnson is a lean and limber presence, battle-scarred by his years in the Hollywood trenches but still energized. With his ginger-gray beard and ring of hair, he bears a striking resemblance to Don Quixote. V is now, and has always been, his impossible quest.


Read the rest of this article ( should be a freebie ) here. 

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I absolutely loved this show in the 80's, but of course didn't quite get the full implications of it until I grew up. The two miniseries were good, although the whole half-breed "star child" plot was stupid. It got even more stupid with the weekly series. 

I've read the books, including the one based on the screenplay more as Johnson intended. There was also a sequel he wrote that wasn't too shabby either. 

The 2009 reboot had such potential, but they dropped the ball on it. 

This article was really interesting, especially as a fan. I had no idea that the Robin we saw on screen wasn't the original actress they intended. 

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