WC11: V Invades San Francisco
V, the ABC re-imagining of the of the 1983 alien-invasion miniseries, is in trouble. After a well-received first season, the second season episode order was reduced, leaving the future of the sci-fi drama in question. However, stars Elizabeth Mitchell and Marc Singer and showrunner Scott Rosenbaum remain firmly committed, and spoke candidly with reporters at WonderCon in San Francisco about the series, and what Season 3 might entail.
The network announced in October, while the series was on hiatus, that it was trimming the number of episodes from 13 to 10, a move that forced Rosenbaum to change his approach to Season 2. “Once I had found out that we were gonna have less episodes than we had originally planned, I realized I was gonna have to speed things up, for good or for bad,” he said. “The last four or five episodes were in the vein of what I wanted the show to be.”
Asked what that was, Rosenbaum revealed, “There was a desire to make the show a little more soap-y, and I wanted the show to be a more visceral, action-packed, adrenaline-fueled [drama], with character as well. It was hard to convince the powers that be that that was the way the show should be.”
If V were to be renewed for a third season, Rosenbaum said he plans to introduce flashbacks as a narrative device to depict what some characters were doing before the Visitors’ arrival, and in those days afterward.
He also hopes to pursue the revelation that the Visitors have been here since the 1940s. Alerted to Earth’s existence by the use of nuclear weapons, the aliens integrated themselves into organizations around the world and have spent the last 70 years pointing humanity along a path, both technologically and spiritually, that allows us to be overtaken in the present day.
However, Rosenbaum said that writing for a third season would pose a quandary. “I would try to figure out an ending [for Season 3] and then also what happens after the ending,” he said. “So you could have a complete ending if there’s a Season 3, but if there’s a Season 4 it’s very reasonable that the show would have continued and won’t feel forced. It’s a little bit of a challenge.”
“I would be thrilled to just get 13 more [episodes],” Rosenbaum said. “I believe in the show and I believe if we get more episodes we will continue to gain viewers.”
Singer, perhaps best known for his roles as the title character from the Beastmaster films and Mike Donovan from the original V, spoke about his recent reintroduction to the franchise as Lars Tremont, leader of the top-secret government agency Project Aries.
“It’s a little like asking a cowboy what’s it like being back in the saddle, and the answer is, it suits me fine,” Singer quipped about his return to V. “It was something that I felt was inevitable.”
It took a while to get him back on to the show, but Singer feels that “no actor could be blessed with a better introduction than the one I was provided with on the episode that introduced Lars Tremont into this series.”
Tremont, who debuted in the closing minutes of Season 2, is a character Singer looks forward to playing. He hopes that in a third season Tremont might get to “knock a few bad guys in the chops and take a few shots at people.”
On the differences between the original V and the new version, Singer said the original was a discussion on “how society is subverted by forces from within and without and how fascism runs rampant and Nazism can take over, in whatever guise.” The strength of the new series is that “science, chemistry, technology are opening so many doors so rapidly, technology is advancing and doubling itself every day now,” and the new show relates how people deal with this change in society.
Singer said that co-star Mitchell “is the kind of actor that I like best. The one who says, ‘I like you’ first, and that was how she greeted me coming on to the set.”
Mitchell, who stars as FBI agent and resistance leader Erica Evans, was enthusiastic about her role and her career. “I do have a great time with my work,” she said. “I’m lucky to be working. I’ve been doing this since I was 7. It’s far less likely to not be working. Double negative, but you get my point!”
Mitchell’s character will have a close relationship with Singer’s if the show continues, and it was evident from the convention panel that the two have chemistry off-set as well as on. “He’s from Texas, so yeah,” Mitchell said. “He’s a big, strong man who knows himself, and there’s nothing sexier. I’ve got his back and he’s got mine.”
It’s no surprise then that Mitchell hopes Singer’s role becomes a regular one, should the show be renewed. “That’s what they’re telling us, and that’s what we’re hoping for,” she said. “I do hope for that because I think it gives the show so much weight. … It gives the audience the idea that we can win, instead of being just another plan that won’t work, because that’s not fun.”
Erica has gone through many changes during the course of the series, not the least of which is her transformation in the second season into a darker, detached heroine. Mitchell said she’s ecstatic about the changes, saying, “[Scott’s] taken a chance on taking her down such a dark path. He’s taken a chance on alienating viewers, he’s taken a chance on making her likeable, but for me it’s been fantastic. … She has no fear left. She has nothing left to live for.”
At the end of the day, though, Mitchell says she would rather play a hero than a villain or anti-hero. “I really like nice people, I think they’re fun,” she admitted. “Granted, they’re not always as interesting or as rich.”
Most fans remember Mitchell from Lost, where she played Juliet Burke, sometimes-member of the Others and love interest for Sawyer. Lost has a cult following that will forever remember Mitchell as the charismatic doctor. Being part of the fan culture, epitomized by conventions like WonderCon, is something she embraces.
“I love it, it’s really exciting,” she said. “It’s better than someone seeing you across a room and being, ‘God, I feel like I’ve seen her before. Oh, she might be somewhat semi on-occasion famous.’ No, it’s more like, ‘I know her, I know her character,’ and that is immensely flattering.”
She still fields questions about Lost, but can only answer so much. “I’m just as curious as the rest of us.”
One thing she can comment on is why Juliet appeared in the Lost finale. “I definitely believe it was the fan response to Juliet being gone and how they felt about that storyline,” Mitchell said. “That’s the only reason I think they did. … I’m really grateful, I really am. It was one of those situations where I couldn’t quite believe it. I wasn’t supposed to be, then there I was. It wasn’t a predetermined thing.”
Related: WonderCon V panel report