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- AN EXAMPLE OF HOW A LARGE CAST CAN WORK -

"V: The Series"
V Motherships
"The Conversion"
Writen by: Brian Taggert.
Directed by: Gilbert Shilton.
(Original Airdate: January 4, 1985)

SYNOPSIS OF THE STORY


V Symbol
- THE SERIES PREMISE -
It first began as a 4 hour mini-series: One day, 50 giant UFO's arrived in orbit of Earth. They claimed they came in peace, until scientists started disappearing and people learned what they were really here for. An allegory for the conditions in Europe during the years that lead up to the Holocaust, the mini-series was so successful that a year later another 6 hour mini-series resumed the storyline 4 months later ("V:The Final Battle"), concluding the story by driving the alien visitors off Earth with a deadly virus called "Red Dust". A weekly television series followed shortly after for 19 hour long episodes. With the first episode kicking off on "Liberation Day" (one year after the conclusion of the mini-series), we learn the red dust has evolved and is now only active in colder climates. This makes places like Canada and Russia pretty much lethal to the aliens, while places like Greece, America and Mexico are now a battle ground when the Visitor fleet returns from hiding behind the moon, with Diana now in charge.

- THE PLAYERS -
V Symbol
This episode featured Fifteen Main Characters.

Diana Mike Donovan Robin Maxwell Ham Tyler Lydia Nathan Bates Elias Taylor Juliet Parish Kyle Bates Willie Star Child Mr. Chiang Chris Howard K. Smith Charles

THE CHARACTERS

  1. Diana - The Lizard Bitch Queen herself.
  2. Mike Donovan - Former Cameraman, now resistance fighter.
  3. Robin Maxwell - The mother of the Starchild.
  4. Ham Tyler - Hired mercenary.
  5. Lydia - Another Lizard Bitch Queen to give Diana someone to catfight with.
  6. Nathan Bates - Owner of Science-Frontiers, father of Kyle Bates. He made it possible for L.A. to be an "Open City" with no fighting by threatening to detonate the Red Dust factory, killing all the aliens in the city.
  7. Elias Taylor - Former robber, now resistance fighter. Owner of the restaurant Club Creole, where everyone hides.
  8. Juliet Parish - Former Scientist, now resistance fighter.
  9. Kyle Bates - Son of Nathan Bates. He met up with the resistance when he rescued Robin Maxwell, and is now in love with Elizabeth.
  10. Elizabeth - The Starchild, daughter of Robin Maxwell. My they grow up quickly.
  11. Willie - A Visitor on the side of the resistance.
  12. Chris - A mercenary, like Ham.
  13. Mr. Chiang - Nathan Bates' Henchman.
  14. Charles - The Visitor Leader's envoy.
  15. Howard K. Smith - A real life reporter, one of many who appeared as themselves in the original mini-series. Most episodes of the series opened with a news report from Howard K. Smith reporting for the "Freedom Network" to show the viewers the "grand scope" of the war by revealing what is taking place in other parts of the world beyond where these characters live. These news broadcasts not only teased the viewers to watch, but also reminded them that this was a global war beyond the confines of Los Angeles.

THE STORY
V Symbol
Each Character is in Bold as they show
up for the first time in the Episode.

During a raid on a Visitor transport truck, Diana captures Ham Tyler and Kyle Bates.

Chris informs Dononvan, Julie, Elias, Robin and Elizabeth that Ham and Kyle were captured.

Diana's victory is tarnished when she is presented with a new problem: the Leader has sent a special envoy, Charles, to take command from Diana. After establishing Lydia as his second in command, Diana lets information leak to the resistance where Lydia will be going to (because Diana hates Lydia). This is picked up by Willie and the resistance over the communications. They mount an effort and successfully capture Lydia.

Charles uses a new conversion process to brainwash Ham's mind and program him to assassinate Mike Donovan at the speaking of a key phrase which is to be spoken at the Prisoner exchange. The Prisoner Exchange would be telecast on live national television by a news crew.

Charles and Diana take Ham to meet Nathan Bates and his henchman Mr. Chiang at Science Frontiers, informing him that they have his son, Kyle. They explain to Nathan that they have brainwashed Ham to assassinate Mike Donovan at the prisoner exchange when Nathan speaks the line "There's my son now". The prisoner exchange is to take place at a location chosen by the resistance, and broadcast on live television. They give Nathan a demonstration convincing him that Ham is fully brainwashed.

Lydia lets it slip where Ham is going to be held, and the resistance rescues him.

Mothership over Los Angeles

On the mothership, Kyle attempts to escape, but is recaptured.

When Ham is rescued, Chris talks with him to see if he is all right, but while Ham doesn't remember the details, they both know the Visitors messed with his mind somehow.

The resistance arrives at the location and plants small explosives to act as a diversion if needed. They then leave and inform Nathan where the meeting would take place.

With the news crew present, Charles and Diana arrive with Kyle, and Nathan Bates follows. The resistance arrives with Lydia and they begin to make the exchange. Nathan looks around and doesn't see Kyle. When he questions where Kyle is, his words trigger the first steps of Ham's brainwashing. Elizabeth sees this, and her starchild powers kick in. When Nathan finishes the key phrase by saying "There's my son now", Ham attempts to fire at Mike, but Elizabeth uses her powers to knock a light onto Ham, causing his automatic gun to fire, hitting Nathan Bates. All hell breaks loose and the resistance detonates the small explosives as the news crew escape. A small fight begins before the resistance escapes with Kyle, forced to leave his father behind.

As Charles, Diana and Lydia drive away from the situation, even though it didn't go as planned, Charles decides it is something that works to their favor.

THE END.


OVER VIEW:
V Symbol

Considered the best episode of the Television Series, this episode runs non-stop where as numerous events take place, that other shows would have spent several episodes to do.

With the conversion of Ham Tyler, you'd think it was just another cliche-type episode that was typical of the 1980's (Buck Rogers comes to mind), except it ends with the unexpected shooting of Nathan Bates, and the consequences would carry over into the next batch of episodes, carrying story into story similiar to what Babylon 5 did at its high-point at the opening of their fourth season when the Shadow-Vorlon war was full blown.

Although I'm using this episode as an example of how a large cast can work, and this is the best of the series, the series writers, some of which formerly worked on "The Dukes of Hazzard", had a hard time dealing with a large cast regularly, and this was the first step towards a "cleaning spree" where several key characters were taken out over the next few episodes. The Leader's envoy Charles would be killed an episode or two after that, although his death introduced another envoy, Philip, the twin brother of Martin from the mini-series and first episode of the television series. Luckily, one of the writers had previously worked on Dallas, another (non-Science-Fiction) program that dealt with a large cast and was very successful, so he was able to slap around and keep the pathetic whining Hollywood hack writers in line.

Charles was able to use the conversion process on Ham Tyler and brainwash him to kill Mike Donovan by showing illusions of Mike with Ham's wife and daughter, who had been missing since the Vietnam War. The revelation of Ham's wife and daughter was first revealed just an episode before (a Christmas episode), when Ham's heart was touched by a little girl who found him to be a confusing human being.

Due to the Sci-Fi Channel's obsession with editing programs to sell more commercial time, it's hard to be certain whether Howard K. Smith actually opened this episode, because some of his "Freedom Network" news broadcasts were edited out by SFC to give their owner the USA Network some extra cash to produce more USA Network cable crap. Oh, Joy.


THE OTHER EPISODE STORIES FEATURED:
TRANSFORMERS: "Ghost in the Machine"
TRANSFORMERS: "Call of the Primitives"
E.N.G: "Seeing is Believing"
G.I.JOE : "Cobrathon"
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: "War of the Gods Pt. 1"
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: "War of the Gods Pt. 2"
V: "The Conversion"

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