February 13, 2018
It Can Happen Here: Kenneth Johnson’s ‘V’ To Return as ‘V the Movie’
The classic sci-fi property is coming back again.
The V franchise began as a two-part made-for-TV miniseries in 1983, which was written and directed by Kenneth Johnson. The show followed humanoid aliens who came to Earth in peace and goodwill. With…ideas. The Earthlings call them Visitors. Over the course of that first miniseries, then another three-part mini-series, then a weekly TV series, we watched the peaceful Visitors slowly reveal themselves to be hideous, reptilian monsters underneath.
If you dug that classic show, get excited. Deadline reports Johnson will partner with Desilu to write and direct a feature-length film — currently billed aptly as V The Movie — as a sequel to that ’80s cautionary tale.
The series was loosely based on Sinclair Lewis’s novel “It Can’t Happen Here.” Published in 1935, the book tells the story of how fascism could absolutely arrive in America. A charismatic leader beats Franklin Roosevelt in the presidential election by promising an economic revitalization, and by lionizing patriotic “traditional” values. So. That’s alarmingly relevant. I’m sure this is fine.
Johnson took the story and turned it into the woeful tale of visitors from another world spouting rhetoric about friendship and togetherness as they secretly used their supporters as food. Honestly, it isn’t that much of a stretch.
We’re big fans of the original series around FSR. Opinions may vary when it came to the 2009-2011 ABC reboot, however. Unlike the Visitors, the reboot arrived, piqued curiosity, raised expectations, and disappeared into the ether. Never to be spoken of again.
According to Deadline, it’s Desilu’s first production under new ownership. Given the news over the last year, one can see their interest in producing the film. It’s super topical. And, by bringing the talented original creative voice back they could very well capture national attention.
It isn’t so surprising that this could catch fire. Confronting the horrors of the modern world in consumable stories is a hallmark of both science fiction and Johnson’s career. In addition to V, he is also the creator of The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, and the TV adaptation of Alien Nation. His stories have some depth to them. They create space to talk about current events in a way that is both very human and easily relatable.
Johnson, who was not involved with the 2009 ABC series, has continued to tell stories in that world. He’s written a series of books since it was last on the air. He says of the new reboot:
“We are delighted to team up with Desilu to bring the timeless — and timely — story of resistance against tyranny into the 21st Century. ‘V’ will be the first of a cinematic trilogy which will tell the full epic tale in the manner I always envisioned.”
Johnson is calling some pretty big shots, Babe Ruth style. Many have failed. Still. It’s exciting to see someone update a creative property they brought into the world 30 years ago. The movie doesn’t have a release date yet and there’s no news of who they might be looking to cast. I hope he hits a home run.