For sci-fi fans, it’s difficult to think of the name Desilu without thoughts of Star Trek coming to mind, just as in the same way writer/director Kenneth Johnson’s name suggests his iconic ’80s miniseries V. Now, in an interesting twist of fate, both are coming together for a proposed trilogy of feature films that is currently in development from both Johnson and a resurrected Desilu.
Desilu, of course, was the company originally created by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, ultimately purchased by Paramount (thus giving the studio ownership of both Star Trek and Mission Impossible) and phased out of existence. Well, businessman Charles B. Hensley has phased it back in by acquiring the brand with the desire to turn it into a “global entertainment and commercial empire.” That’s certainly intriguing, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out, but even more so is its first intended project, V.
“It’s too soon to get into any of the specifics,” says Johnson, creator of the Alien Nation TV series among others, and, now, an author, whose third novel, The Darwin Variant, will be published in June, “other than to say the essence of the story remains intact: it’s still about how a spectrum of ordinary people react to a new hyper-power appearing and altering their everyday life. It will still feature potent references to historic — and very present-day — examples of resistance against propaganda, autocracy, and tyranny.”
Those themes are also going to be explored in The Darwin Variant. In it, a virus brought to Earth in shards of a comet falling across present-day southwestern Georgia has the effect of increasing the intelligence of any person infected, essentially creating a new master race. “But those same people also have a diminishment of empathy, compassion and what we think of as ‘humanity,'” says Johnson. “Plus a powerful drive to dominate. So are they really superior humans or something much worse? Which seems to be the case as they organize secretly to become a shadow government inside the state of Georgia, but with ambitions to spread their influence and power nationally. And, as in V, some people embrace the power and the powerful, some just go along to get along, while the most heroic are determined to put their lives on the line and resist.”
The original concept of V is that a race of aliens, identified as Visitors, come to Earth claiming to be our friends and offering to help us solve our greatest problems, but, in an allegory of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, initiate an insidious plan for global domination. There was another miniseries in 1984 called V: The Final Battle (which Johnson dropped out of due to creative differences with NBC), and a short-lived weekly series that same year. ABC aired a reboot from 2009-11, and Johnson himself was behind a proposed new miniseries, V: The Second Generation, but ultimately wrote it as a novel instead.
In a previous interview with us regarding that novel, he expressed his feeling that the new V would actually be more relevant today than the original was, because, as he explains it, “in the early ’80s we were in a relative time of peace and prosperity; there were no major external wars going on that we had ventured ourselves in to. And in writing the sequel, The Second Generation, I was able to sort of make some comment on imperialism and the responsibilities one has as a hyper-power. When V was originally written, don’t forget there was still the Soviet Union and there were a number of superpowers, but no hyper-power. After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was indeed only a hyper-power which is the U.S. Which brings with it a tremendous amount of responsibility which we have not always handled very well. So in the sequel, I was able to make some sub-textural commentaries about that, and sometimes it’s even textural commentaries. There are lines in The Second Generation that are phrases we have heard some of the world’s leaders speak. One of the other elements was, if the original V was thematically about power, then I think V: The Second Generation is thematically about loyalty. Virtually every character in V: The Second Generation has, at one time or another, some crises of conscience regarding loyalty.”
Keep it locked to GEEK for more on V as it develops.
Images: Warner Bros., NBC, ABC