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In this case, V is for Very Very Extremely Ordinary.

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In this case, V is Very Very Extremely Ordinary.

Lizard aliens invading Earth under the guise of humans shouldn’t be “ordinary” — but by now, we’ve sat through countless alien-invasion stories told by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling and Roland Emmerich. By now, we have the Alien Invasion Checklist memorized.

Yes, we know they probably don’t come in peace. Yes, we know that some of the cast — including a priest (Joel Gretsch), a newscaster (Scott Wolf), and a kid (Logan Huffman) who dresses like Jonathan Taylor-Thomas did 15 years ago on Home Improvement — will fight the aliens, and that some will form alliances with them. At least one will get alien-pregnant.

Yes, we know that in most alien contact stories, bipedal aliens fall prey to the binary Dwarf/Elf (or Klingon/Vulcan) fantasy-personality dichotomy. They’re either savage warriors screaming for blood and raw meat, or they’re graceful beings with perfect diction. In V, they’re both — hellish aliens who pretend to be heavenly.

Most of Earth isn’t supposed to suspect that the visiting aliens are evil. But that only makes sense if you believe the people of Earth would trust the visitors.

If you want us to believe that, don’t make the ships look like slightly more sculpted versions of Star Destroyers or Death Stars. Don’t pump in eerie music; don’t make 90 percent of the named cast skeptical of the aliens.

Don’t have the aliens say things like “Compromising one’s principles for the greater good is not a shameful act, it’s a noble one.”

Subtlety is not V’s strength. The young female alien temptress holds an apple. Symbolism! The rumbling from the mother ship knocks a crucifix down from the wall of a Catholic church, and it shatters. Symbolism!

To be fair, the actors cast in V are great. Too bad the acting itself isn’t.

Elizabeth Mitchell was fantastic in Lost. But here, apparently deprived of a competent director or script, she’s lifeless. She delivers here-comes-the-backstory lines like “Is it because of your Dad? Is it because he left?” It doesn’t help that she plays an FBI agent — which is, counter-intuitively, the most boring job on television.

V wants it to be hard to tell the difference between those who are secretly aliens and those who are purely human. Battlestar Galactica did this by making their robots-in-disguise seem perfectly human; V does this making all the humans seem perfectly alien.

In V, the whole cast seems body-snatched.


Better Off Ted Despite low ratings last year, the weirdest, most absurdist comedy on TV returns, bringing with it a whole new season of hairy desks, exploding pumpkins, racist light sensors and soulless corporate jargon. The spirit of Andy Richter Controls the Universe lives. Even without Andy Richter. (Second season premieres Tuesday, Dec. 8, 9:30 pm on ABC)

Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special Y’all like country? Y’all like Christmas music? Y’all like the corporate synergy between the Fox network and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood? Underwood hosts this two-hour musical special featuring singing from David Cook, Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton, y’all. (Sunday, Dec. 7, 8 pm on Fox)

Mickey’s Christmas Carol There have been many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ tale of a miserly wretch visited by three nagging spirits. For hacky sitcoms, a Christmas Carol spoof is almost an inescapable requirement. But most other versions of A Christmas Carol, tragically, lack Goofy as an everklutzy Ghost of Jacob Marley. Mickey’s Christmas Carol corrects this error. Scrooge McDuck — in an unexpected and inspired bit of casting — plays Scrooge. (Tuesday, Dec. 8, 9:30 pm on ABC Family)


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