In this sprawling television miniseries, originally aired in May 1983 on NBC, a race of seemingly human-like aliens arrive en masse on Earth. These "Visitors" promise cooperation and friendship -- then launch a clandestine takeover of the planet by accusing the entire scientific and medical community of conspiring to destroy them, then finally "benevolently" seizing power. Inspired by Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, a 1935 account of a fictional fascist takeover of America, V uses a huge ensemble cast and an elliptical method of storytelling to trace the contact between humans and the Visitors, from the arrival of 50 giant flying saucers in low Earth orbit to the first major victory of the underground resistance that opposes the aliens. Major characters include Mike Donovan (Marc Singer), a television cameraman who leverages his experience filming in various war-torn locales to help expose the Visitors' true nature; news anchor Kristine Walsh (Jenny Sullivan), his sometime girlfriend, who allows her ambitions to cloud her journalistic judgment and becomes a pawn of the alien invasion; Juliet Parrish (Faye Grant), a young biochemist who finds herself thrust into the role of resistance leader; Abraham Bernstein (Leonardo Cimino), the patriarch of a Jewish family divided between the lessons of the Holocaust and the need to survive; Elias Taylor (Michael Wright), a petty thief who joins the resistance after the Visitors kill his doctor brother, Ben (Richard Lawson); and Robin Maxwell (Blair Tefkin), the surly eldest daughter of a scientist (Michael Durrell) who finds his family the target of harassment and intimidation. The Visitors, who assume common human first names as their monikers, include supreme leader John (Richard Herd); sultry science and security officer Diana (Jane Badler); hunky Brian (Peter Nelson); and gentle Willie (Robert Englund). V was written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, who initially envisioned the project as a less fanciful story of fascist aggression; when his pitch to NBC seemed to be faltering, Johnson allegedly added the alien angle extemporaneously, securing himself a green light and NBC a sweeps-week hit. The success of V spawned a second miniseries, V: The Final Battle, and a weekly TV series that lasted 19 episodes from 1984 to 1985. Johnson ended his association with the world of V halfway through production on the second miniseries, but his work on the Alien Nation TV spin-off years later would resurrect many of the themes of V. Actor Singer was already known to sci-fi fans as star of The Beastmaster, while Englund would go on to portray Freddy Krueger in countless Nightmare on Elm Street films.
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