Fans who viewed the pilot of ABC's upcoming reboot of the alien-invasion series V at San Diego Comic-Con may not have seen the final version (spoilers ahead!).
Executive producer and writer Scott Peters said that he is still tweaking the first episode, particularly a fight scene between visitors and human resistance near the end of the hour.
"We're doing a little bit of reshooting for the fight, because we feel like we want to make the visitors even more formidable and even more awesome," Peters said in a group interview last month at Comic-Con in San Diego.
Like the original 1983 miniseries, the new show deals with the arrival of alien Visitors who promise advanced technology in exchange for water and minerals. But as viewers of the original miniseries know, the Visitors turn out to be something more sinister.
Peters (The 4400) said that the new show sets up a bit more backstory for the aliens' presence, requiring the final fight in the pilot to be more extreme. "The original intent was that they would come in with silent weaponry," Peters said. "They wouldn't be [here] with guns, and they wouldn't be with lasers, because if they ever got captured or anything happened, they didn't want a piece of alien technology laying around. They also didn't want to draw attention. So they're very adept at hand-to-hand combat, which all makes logical sense. The feeling was it lessened their ability to seem as formidable as they are. So we're going to be adjusting that a little bit."
The fight scene as it was initially shot shows humans doing their best to brawl the alien visitors, who can jump higher and move faster, thanks to wirework. Peters wants to give visitors additional weaponry to make them even deadlier.
"We actually do want to introduce a tiny little bit of Visitor tech that comes in," Peters continued. "What we're determined to do is introduce a little bit, a new piece of alien tech, Visitor tech, try to do it every episode. Certainly try to give a little bit of culture, peel back the onion of what their mandate is, what's really behind it, what's really going on, and just see the political stuff that goes on aboard the ship, just like we have political stuff underneath the ship."
But Peters doesn't want to turn the show into a "battle of the week." "Oh, we're not going to shy away from an action element, by any means," Peters said. "It's just not going to be the driving force of the show. It kind of becomes a little less interesting to us. To us, the characters drive the show. Yes, it's set against this huge science fiction backdrop, but I can watch spaceships for a couple of minutes and be, 'Yeah, it's cool. Now what have you got?' I can watch an action sequence for a couple of minutes and go, 'That's great. Now what have you got?' Characters have to be the thing that drive the show and that you really invest in, and when you do have the action sequences and you do come to the new technology, it's just icing on the cake. It's super cool."
The characters include FBI agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch), the investigator and the skeptical priest who discover the resistance in the first episode. "It'll take a little time [for the resistance] to grow, but Georgie [David Richmond-Peck] will certainly be back, and certainly we introduce some new folks along the way," Peters said. "But, yes, Elizabeth and Joel are not going to be the only ones fighting the war."
Erica will face an additional challenge dealing with her teenage son Tyler (Logan Huffman), who finds himself recruited by the Visitors, or "Vs." "That's exactly going to be her issue," Peters said. "'If I had a hard time fixing it before, how the hell am I going to fix it now?'"
Tyler is tempted by Visitor recruiter Lisa, played by Smallville's Laura Vandervoort. "You will absolutely be seeing more of Laura Vandervoort," Peters said. "She was wonderful. She's joined the cast as a series regular, and you can expect to see a lot more with Tyler as things move forward. She has a couple interesting things up her sleeve as well."
Getting back up to the spaceship also adds a little pizzazz to the weekly political and religious metaphors. "That's also a mandate of ours for ourselves," Peters said. "Yes, it's mostly an earthbound show, but we love the candy of going up and seeing the inside of this place."
Meanwhile, Father Jack is dealing with religious implications of alien visitors. If the visitors can cure our diseases and provide technological answers, why would people turn to God?
"He's sort of in the business of asking people to devote themselves to his religion," Peters said. "This is a guy who used to step outside, look up at the sky, where in his mind God would be, and now there's a spaceship in the way."
Another aspect of V deals with the media. Anna (Morena Baccarin) opens up to a journalist, Chad Decker (Scott Wolf), giving him exclusive access. That is, of course, as long as he asks only the questions she wants him to.
"Chad is stuck," Peters said. "He's a guy who was plucked out of obscurity. She didn't pick Tom Brokaw to do it. She picked a guy who wouldn't get up and leave. So she's pretty good at manipulating folks."
The pilot also leaves the fate of Erica's FBI partner, Dale Maddox (Dollhouse's Alan Tudyk), up in the air. Peters only hinted about plans to bring him into the fold. "That's a hard question, because I don't want to give anything away," Peters said. "We love Alan. Clearly the audience loves Alan, and it would be awesome to find ways to maybe see him again somehow."
V premieres in November.