And it’s better than I remember.
V (or V: The Original Miniseries) is a two-part science fiction television miniseries, written and directed by Kenneth Johnson. First shown in 1983, it initiated the science fiction franchise concerning aliens known as “The Visitors” trying to gain control of Earth, and of the ways the populace react to this.
Inspired by Sinclair Lewis‘ anti-fascist novel It Can’t Happen Here (1935), director–producer Kenneth Johnson wrote an adaptation titled Storm Warnings, in 1982. The script was presented to NBC for production as a television mini-series, but the NBC executives rejected the initial version, claiming it was too “cerebral” for the average American viewer. To make the script more marketable, the American fascists were re-cast as man-eating extraterrestrials, taking the story into the realm of science fiction to capitalize on the popularity of science-fiction franchises such as Star Wars. V, which cost $13 million ($30,000,000 today) to make[ premiered on May 1, 1983.
Aside from It Can’t Happen Here, several scenes from the original TV pilot resemble the Bertolt Brecht play The Private Life of the Master Race. A short story by Damon Knight entitled To Serve Man (later adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone) had a similar theme suggesting that deceptively friendly aliens were secretly cultivating humans as food. The introduction, featuring large ‘mother ships’ over major Earth cities, is nearly identical to Arthur C. Clarke‘s novel Childhood’s End.
The story became a Nazi allegory, right down to the Swastika-like emblem used by the Visitors and their SS-like uniforms. There is a youth auxiliary movement called the “Friends of the Visitors” with obvious similarities to the Hitler Youth, and Visitor broadcasts mimic Nazi-era propaganda. The show’s portrayal of human interaction with the Visitors bears a striking resemblance to stories from Occupied Europe during World War II with some citizens choosing collaboration and others choosing to join underground resistance movements.
Where the Nazis persecuted primarily Jews, the Visitors were instead depicted to persecute scientists, their families, and anyone associating with them. They also distribute propaganda in an effort to hide their true identity. Some of the main characters in the initial series were from a Jewish family and the grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, frequently commented on the events of the past again unfolding. Once they are in a position to do so, the Visitors later declare martial law to control the scientists (and resistance fighters) as well.
EDIT: Both episodes of this were up on YouTube but were deleted after I embedded them here. Do a search – you may be lucky and find some “V” episodes elsewhere.