For the Adherent of Pop Culture
Adventures of Jack Burton ] Battlestar Galactica ] Buckaroo Banzai ] Cliffhangers! ] Earth 2 ] The Expendables ] Firefly/Serenity ] The Fly ] Galaxy Quest ] Indiana Jones ] Jurassic Park ] Land of the Lost ] Lost in Space ] The Matrix ] The Mummy/The Scorpion King ] The Prisoner ] Sapphire & Steel ] Snake Plissken Chronicles ] Star Trek ] Terminator ] The Thing ] Total Recall ] Tron ] Twin Peaks ] UFO ] V the series ] Valley of the Dinosaurs ] Waterworld ] PopApostle Home ] Links ] Privacy ]

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

V: Arrival "Arrival"
V (the mini-series, part 1, hour 1)
0:00-50:06 on Side 1 of the DVD
Written and Directed by Kenneth Johnson

Gigantic saucer-shaped spaceships arrive over every major city on Earth, bringing alien visitors claiming peace and friendship and in need of help for their planet.

(This episode begins with Donovan and Tony covering the guerilla war in El Salvador and ends with Ruth getting ambushed and shot by a Visitor in her home.)

Read the story summary of the mini-series at the V Wiki

Didja Know?

As explained on the introduction page of V 1980 Episode Studies, I have broken down both of the mini-series into 1-hour segments. This is part 1, hour 1 of the original mini-series V. I chose the title "Arrival" for the obvious reason of it depicting the first arrival of the Visitors to Earth. But, there is a bit more behind the title. "Arrival" was also the title of the first issue of the Marvel comic book series ROM (based on the cyborg action figure by Parker Brothers) which ran from 1979-1986. I saw the title on the comic book's cover (but didn't buy it) when I was 12 years old on the spinner rack at the local 7-11. For some reason "Arrival" struck me as a great title for the first chapter of all sorts of sci-fi-ish adventures. I also have the beginnings of a story I wrote years ago telling of the Porter family's first days in the Land of the Lost (since that yarn was never told in the 1990s Land of the Lost series) and it is titled "Arrival". In fact, I have since also given that title to the opening credits sequence of both the 1970's and 1990's versions of Land of the Lost in the respective studies of each series here on PopApostle. I later learned it was also the title of the first episode of the classic BBC TV series The Prisoner.
ROM #1

Besides his role as Mike Donovan, actor Marc Singer is also well-known for playing the Beastmaster in three Beastmaster films and several episodes of the TV series.

Actor Robert England (Willie) is also the disfigured nightmare man with the taloned glove, Freddy Krueger, in the Nightmare on Elm Street films and TV series.

Clete Roberts plays a Los Angeles area newsman here...and was one in real life. He was also well-known as a war correspondent during WWII and the Korean War, even playing himself in several episodes of the award-winning dramedy M*A*S*H. Likewise, Howard K. Smith was also a long-time newsman for, first CBS, then ABC news; on the V front, Smith goes on to provide reports from the Freedom Network at the beginning of many episodes of the V ongoing series.

Each phase of V had a new main music theme. For the original mini-series, music is provided by Joe Harnell, possibly best known for his music from the Incredible Hulk TV series on which he worked with Kenneth Johnson.

Didja Notice?

The story opens with a guerilla battle in the country of El Salvador. At the time V was filmed, El Salvador was in the middle of a civil war between the right-wing government and several leftist militias. The war ended with a truce and new constitution in 1992.

The rebels in El Salvador fight with Ruger AC556K rifles, M16s, an M60 machine gun

During the battle in El Salvador, Donovan remarks to Tony that they're going to get another Emmy, implying they had already won one in the past. The Emmy is an award in the American television industry for excellence.

At 3:05 on the DVD, the rebel leader fires a Colt MK IV Series 70 pistol at a military helicopter.

At 3:21 on the DVD, an old Hollywood trick is used. During the guerilla battle in El Salvador, a damaged military attack helicopter disappears below the horizon of the camera just before an explosion indicates it has struck the ground and blown up. Producers save a lot of money (and helicopters!) that way.

The old, stripped down pickup Tony and Mike flee the guerilla camp in is a 1973 Chevrolet C-20.

While fleeing from the guerrilla fighting in an old, stripped down pickup with Tony, Mike, still filming the action, exclaims, "I wish we had a Tyler mount!" A Tyler mount is a special gyro-stabilized camera mount for helicopters (and occasionally mounted to other vehicles). Considering they are caught in the middle of a violent gun battle, Tony wisely remarks, "I wish we had a tank!"

At 4:09 on the DVD, Mike appears to already be wet even though they have not yet driven through the river!

Although the battle at the beginning of the episode is presumably supposed to take place in a secluded area of the El Salvadoran jungle, sharp eyes can pick out several instances of buildings, water tanks and telephone poles on the hills in the background, indicating the scene was most likely shot in southern or central California.

After the teaser and opening credits, Act 1 begins with advanced medical student and biochemist Juliet Parrish reaching into a cage to remove a rat upon whom medical experiments have been conducted. This may be an ironic allusion to the Visitor character of Diana, who will be seen to have performed scientific experiments on humans. Julie calls the rat Algernon, the name of the mouse which is experimented upon in the 1966 Daniel Keyes novel Flowers for Algernon.

Has anyone compiled a list of all the cities that had Visitor motherships hovering over them? During various newscasts, we hear there are 50 ships hovering over cities around the world, including reports of ships over Paris, Rome, Geneva, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Houston, New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Cairo, London, Moscow (we hear Howard K. Smith mention a ship above the Kremlin), Athens and, of course, Los Angeles. And, since Donovan saw a mothership's approach in El Salvador, we can presume there is at least one over this small country, probably over the capital city of San Salvador. (The novelization also mentions Rio De Janeiro and Seattle; the novel East Coast Crisis mentions Dallas, St. Louis, Leningrad, Pretoria, Bonn, Peking, New Delhi and Jerusalem; the novel The Chicago Conversion mentions Mexico City; the novel The Alien Swordmaster reveals there were motherships over Seoul, South Korea and Hong Kong, China; and the novel The Second Generation reveals that there is a mothership over Beijing, China.)

As we are introduced to anthropologist Dr. Robert Maxwell, at 8:44 on the DVD, the Los Angeles mothership glides into the picture with the newly uncovered skull of an extinct Pleistocene hominid in the foreground, foreshadowing the danger to humanity the ship represents.
skull and saucer

We are not told where Dr. Maxwell and colleagues are when they witness the mothership move in. Considering they are uncovering a hominid skull from the Pleistocene, they would most likely be in Africa, the Middle East, or Central Asia.

Is there a record of the exact size of a Visitor mothership? At 8:52 on the DVD, a female observer at Dr. Maxwell's dig site remarks, "It must be 3 miles across!" Are they all the same size? (The novelization suggests that the L.A. mothership is about 5 miles in diameter, as does the novel East Coast Crisis.)

As burglar Elias Taylor breaks into a home for the purpose of stealing the valuables within, he seems concerned that all the devices he takes be in working condition...he tests both a Walkman-style cassette player and the television before taking them!

Many of the images of a mothership over foreign cities are clearly matte paintings. Many of these paintings seem to depict a fatter saucer shape than the ones seen in more detail throughout the series. Kenneth Johnson explains the discrepancies in the audio commentary; see "Notes From the Audio Commentary by Kenneth Johnson" below.

At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, the Maxwells' middle daughter, Polly, seems to be depicted as fairly tomboyish throughout the series. She is dressed in jeans, over-shirt and sneakers, makes several references to fighting and gets into a school fight herself, possibly is interested in science through the comment that she won the school science fair, and is even seen delivering newspapers on her bicycle.

As the L.A. mothership moves into place over the city, we get a fairly bad cutaway image of a residential neighborhood with palm trees against the skyline. (The scene below, with a rear view of our characters, is also the only one left in the series featuring Dominique Dunne as Robin Maxwell, one of the few scenes that had been shot before she was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1982.)
L.A. mothership

As the news reports of the gigantic saucers come in, Daniel seems to take special note of the fact that there is one over London to his family. Does London hold some special significance to Daniel and/or his family?

At 12:04 on the DVD, the famous Felix the Cat logo of Felix Chevrolet at 12th Street and Grand Avenue in L.A. can be seen in the bottom right corner of the screen.

It's interesting to note that at 13:08 on the DVD, we see that the mothership is so huge that wisps of Los Angeles' morning cloud layer from the sea is left clinging to the underbelly of the saucer.

What does Robin say at 13:21 on the DVD? She seems to be addressing Daniel as she comments that "this could be the last day we ever see," but it sounds like she says "Mike"! Listen: last day

At 13:45 on the DVD, bags, boxes, and buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken are seen at the Maxwell house as the family watches TV coverage of the arrival of the saucers. Some kind of generic-looking brand of canned soda pop is also seen on the coffee table.

A list of hospitals is seen on the wall at 14:00 on the DVD at the medical center: Midway Memorial, W. Valley General, L.A. City, Riverside Memorial, Hollywood Memorial, and County West. These appear to be largely fictitious hospital names, though some are similar to actual hospitals in the Los Angeles/Southern California area.

The rifles held by U.N. soldiers at the landing of the Visitors are Heckler & Koch HK93s.

Although we're never introduced to him, at 20:55 on the DVD we see a man who would appear to be the current boyfriend of Donovan's ex-wife, Marjorie. He can be spotted sitting on the couch next to her as they and young Sean Donovan are watching the news coverage of the Visitor landing at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The UN, of course, is an organization established to facilitate cooperation and peace among the world's many countries.

Julie remarks that whie the Visitors look human, it was no Nash Rambler they drove up in. The Nash Rambler was the first successful American compact car, first manufactured by Nash Motors in 1950 and later merged with the Hudson Motor Car Company to form American Motors Corporation.

As Supreme Commander John emerges from the shuttle to give Earth it's first look at the Visitors, Sean Donovan remarks, "...he's no E.T! He doesn't even look like Mr. Spock!" This appears to be a a dual reference to both the 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Vulcan Star Trek character of Mr. Spock.

The Visitors claim to be from the 4th planet of the star we call Sirius.

At the U.N. landing, Supreme Commander John introduces himself as an admiral of the small fleet visiting Earth. "Small fleet?" Dr. Ben Taylor comments incredulously as he watches the proceedings on TV. Fifty 3-mile wide starships would probably not be considered small by most Earthlings! This could be considered a conscious move on the part of John and the Visitors to subtly imply that they have many more resources at their disposal than has been seen...a subliminal threat, if you will.

John comments that unmanned probes have monitored Earth for quite a while, to learn Earth languages, etc. How long was this monitoring going on? (In the novelization, Donovan asks this of John at the start of the mothership tour, and he replies only "several of your solar years.")

John comments that some of his Visitor colleagues are not as skilled at Earth languages as others and he hopes humanity will be patient with them, a small foreshadowing of the script to Willie's difficulty with English later on.

As John explains that the Visitors' world is going through environmental collapse and his civilization needs Earth's help to manufacture certain chemicals and compounds in return for all the fruits of Visitor knowledge, Kathleen whispers, "Unbelievable!" and Donovan responds, "Yeah," in a tone that suggests he is already finding the Visitor story difficult to believe.

When John comments on the people of our world probably having a burning desire to see the inside of the spacecrafts, Robert Maxwell says, "An understatement," and his teen son Daniel turns to look at him with a smile. This is a nice bit, quickly establishing Daniel's desire already to get close to the Visitors.

Donovan's long-time soundman, Tony, seems to be a perpetual wisecracker. He makes several quips during the El Salvador sequence and when John invites the news crews to tour the mothership, when Donovan says "Hot damn, here we go!" Tony cracks, "I was afraid of this."

Earlier, when Donovan and Tony arrive at the U.N. and meet Kristine Walsh there, Donovan commented, "I thought I recognized your deck of cards." Yet, he seems surprised back at her apartment when she admits she "stacked the deck we drew from so we'd get the pool" (to be at the Visitor landing). (In the novelization, author A.C. Crispin may have noticed the same thing; Donovan's dialog at the U.N. has changed to "I thought I recognized your card in the pile downstairs." I assume this means that each reporter threw their business card in a pile and the winners were chosen at "random"...of course, we learn that Kristine stacked the deck somehow.)

When Kristine urges Donovan to play the tape of their ship tour again, she says "Play it again, Sam." This is a reference to the phrase which has become an idiom in the English vernacular and is attributed as originating in the 1942 classic film Casablanca, though it is never said quite that way in the film.

A Visitor symbol or character is on the inner door of the hangar deck on the mothership. It looks like an "H" with a dot above the top poles. We later see a similar symbol is on the exterior of the hanger doors as well, this time looking more like a stylized X with a dot. interior hangar symbol
Interior symbol
exterior hangar symbol
Exterior symbol

During the tour, Diana gives us some facts about the motherships (assuming she is telling the truth). She comments that the gravity drive takes up almost half of the space on the ships and that they've had the technology for about 100 years. The drive propels them at speeds approaching the speed of light (which means it must have taken over 8 years for the fleet to reach Earth from their star, Sirius). When asked how many crewmembers are housed on each ship, Diana merely says, "It varies. Several thousand."

At 29:52 on the DVD, at the official start of Visitor participation at the Richland chemical plant of Arthur Dupres, the school buses seen in the backround are Crown Supercoaches. Robin's high school band plays a (bad) rendition of John Williams' theme from the Star Wars films.

As the Visitor procession disembarks from the transport ship onto the plant grounds, Harmony comments to her friend that she thinks "they look real snappy in those uniforms." This might be an early indication of one reason why she finds Willie immediately attractive.

Throughout the series there are instances when it can be seen that what, at first glance, appear to be plain, red uniforms worn by the Visitors actually have a pattern on them; there is a sort of "square snowflake" design repeated over and over on them. The instance below is from 32:06 on the DVD; notice Brian's left shoulder. Was this design intentional or just the production's costume department making use of an affordable material with a subtle print they thought would not show on camera?

At 33:37 on the DVD, Daniel is reading the Daily News newspaper. This appears to be a fictitious newspaper for the L.A. area. At 33:49, Denny is reading the Wall Street Journal.

A recurring theme throughout the scene of the Visitor workers arriving at the plant is "how many of them are there?" This begins to set the pace of the Visitors entrenching themselves in human endeavors.

At 34:58 on the DVD, Mrs. Maxwell remarks that the Visitor called Barbara seemed real shy and didn't talk much. Barbara probably seemed "shy" because she was actually a conscientious objector of what the Visitor Leader planned for Earth and humanity, as learned later in the series.

At 36:03 on the DVD, Quinton is looking at graphed photographs of Supreme Commander John's head. The notes on the photographs indicate that he is interested in the cranial measurements of the Visitors. Presumably, the measurements indicate a less human countenance than is easily perceived by the eye (especially since he is snatched by the Visitors from his car in the parking lot immediately after this scene!).

The Visitors form the organization called Visitor Youth or the Visitors' Friends for young humans who are anxious to gain first-hand knowledge of the Visitors and their technology. This is similar to the Hitler Youth program of Nazi Germany. It provided a haven for disaffected youth while indoctrinating them to the cause of the Nazi Party.

At 37:50 on the DVD, Robin is carrying a Pee-Chee folder for her school work. Pee-Chee folders were a popular stationary item among middle school through high school students in the 1980s and even up until the early 2000s (though still made by the Mead Corporation and in use).

There is some Visitor writing visible on the back of the transport at 38:48 on the DVD. V writing

Willie tells Harmony that he originally learned to speak Arabic for his Earth assignment, but his superiors screwed up and sent him to L.A., hence his difficulty with the English language.

Harmony remarks that Los Angeles beats being in Fresno. It may be that Fresno is where she grew up.

At 40:13 on the DVD, a Centac II air compressor is seen behind Steven at the plant. Centac was a manufacturer of air compressors and cooling/refrigeration units at the time.

At 41:53 on the DVD, Dr. Quinton's car is a 1975 Ford Granada.

At 42:04 on the DVD, Robert Maxwell finds the keys still in the ignition of the missing Quinton's car. This could be considered an indication of the Visitors' lack of experience with Earth equipment since finding the keys there makes Quinton's disappearance that much more suspicious.

At 46:28 on the DVD, Donovan is driving a 1975 Fiat 124 Sport Spider.

Sean Donovan delivers a bit of V humor: Did you hear how many Visitors it takes to change a light bulb? None, they like the lights out.

Sean's friend, Josh, has a toy Visitor squad vehicle with action figures of the Supreme Commander and Diana. The figures do not look much like their real-life counterparts though; the John figure has brown hair instead of white and the Diana figure has long hair hanging down her back, unlike the shoulder-length 'do she sports in this mini-series.

At 48:34 on the DVD, Julie's car is a 1977 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible.

Ruth reveals she obtained a tissue sample of Visitor skin (actually syntho-skin, I suppose) from some flakes that were left behind by Willie when he saved Caleb from the liquid nitrogen leak in the cryogenic transfer section of the Richland plant. But these samples are never mentioned again. Perhaps they were taken away when the Visitors ambushed Ruth in her home? (The novelization reveals that Ruth hid them and did not tell anybody where before her death by Visitor laser gun.)

Upon learning tht Ruth is in love with Dr.

When the Visitor shoots Ruth with a laser pistol, it can be seen that a pulse of light moves through the clear tube in the middle of the pistol.
Ruth lives at the Bruce Arms apartments. As far as I can tell, this was a fictitious apartment building.

Notes From the Audio Commentary by Kenneth Johnson

The opening scenes of El Salvador were shot at Indian Dunes in southern California. This is the same location where the tragic accident took place that killed actor Vic Morrow and two children during the shooting of the Twilight Zone movie in 1982.

At 2:18 on the DVD, Johnson points out that there is an aerial shot during the action of two men jumping into a vehicle. This was actually just another angle of the same shot in which Donovan and Tony jump into the stripped down pickup a little later!

The first appearance of a mothership at 5:58 on the DVD is accompanied by a slower tempo version of the first four staccato notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The "ba-ba-ba-baaaa" (three short notes followed a long) is the same rhythm as the Morse code for the letter V (•••-).

No models of the mothership were made due to money and time constraints. They only had 2 weeks of pre-production time. All of the mothership appearances were done with matte paintings. With so little time, several different artists were hired to do the paintings of the motherships over major cities, which is why the look of the ships varies (the fatter and thinner looks I mentioned above).

Several of the characters are named for Johnson's family. Julie and Mike were named after his kids, as was little Katie Maxwell. Kathleen and Robert Maxwell were named for Johnson's wife's sister and brother-in-law and Robin and Polly after their daughters.

The scene of Elias burgling a home was shot at the same house used as the Dupres home (Donovan's mother and step-father).

Dominique Dunne was to play the role of Robin Maxwell. Only a few scenes were shot with her before she was killed by her ex-boyfriend, a confrontation witnessed by David Packer who plays Daniel (they were rehearsing their lines at her home at the time). Dominique is best known as the older daughter in Poltergeist. After this tragedy, the role of Robin went to Blair Tefkin.

At the U.N. landing, the music heard as the Visitor shuttle descends to the rooftop was inspired by "Mars, the Bringer of War"  from Gustav Holst's orchestral suite The Planets.

The Visitor life-size shuttles were constructed as detachable sections so they could be reconfigured into different sized transports.

The Visitor transports were designed with a hooded cobra look to the front of them and a scaled look underneath to suggest the reptilian nature of the aliens.

The prop master designed the Visitors' sunglasses with various densities to the lenses so that the actor's eyes could be seen at some times and not at others as needed by the scene.

The idea of having many disparate characters who gradually all come together or have connections revealed was inspired by Johnson's reading of Tolstoy's War and Peace.

When the press is being escorted into the transport to begin the mothership tour, two of the press names mentioned are Jeri Taylor and Sam Egan, both television producers and friends of Johnson. Johnson comments that he tends to name characters after people he likes and sometimes villains after people he doesn't! Hopefully we won't find a villain named Clayton in his future work.

The interior shot of the mothership in which Diana is explaining the gravity drive was shot in a Budweiser brewery in Van Nuys!

Johnson says he wrote the script in iambic meter.

After Willie has rescued Caleb from the leaking liquid nitrogen, the effect of blistering on the alien's skin was done by adhering pieces of grapes to his skin and coloring with make-up!

The John and Diana action figures owned by Josh were hand made for the scene. Johnson still has them in his personal collection.

Notes from the V: Behind the Scenes documentary on the DVD

Actress Faye Grant mentions that Juliet Parrish is a Republican.

V novel Notes from the V mini-series novelization by A.C. Crispin

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published May 1984)

Pages 1-72 cover the events of "Arrival"

The book adapts both the V mini-series and V: The Final Battle. The nice thing about Crispin's novelization is that it was written after the initial mini-series aired, so she is able to meld the two series with some nice touches and incorporate changes that were seen on screen but were not in the working script (same-time adaptations in multiple mediums are notorious for their story and character differences due to the authors usually having to work from an early script and without the benefit of having seen the final base-product).

Page 3 reveals that Tony's full name is Tony Wah Chong Leonetti.

On page 9, during the battle in El Salvador, as the chopper is seemingly about to gun down Donovan (just before the mothership shows up behind him), he decides to focus in with his camera on the pilots who are about to kill him. Donovan recognizes the man in the co-pilot's chair as Ham Tyler! The passage also reveals that he had heard rumors that the former CIA agent and current member of U.S. black ops was operating in El Salvador.

Page 10 reveals Dr. Metz's first name is Rudolph.

The book replaces most of the scenes of television newscaster Howard K. Smith with Dan Rather. This difference is probably part of an attempt by Crispin to ground the story a little more in reality; in the real world, Howard K. Smith had retired from newscasting in 1979. Plus, it is easy in a book to use a public figure like Rather; in a television production it can be problematic to get real public figures to appear as themselves, especially news reporters, who need to maintain credibility (although later decades after the '80s seem to have loosened the rules of reporter appearances in film and television).

Page 11 reveals Dr. Quinton's first name as Arch.

On Page 12, as Elias breaks into an apartment to burgle it, it is explained that cheap electronics are not worth the effort to take, which is why he turns on the Walkman to check the sound quality and the TV to be sure it is a color tube. Here in the novelization the TV turns out to be black-and-white and, thus, not worth stealing; as filmed, the TV is color.

Page 14 features a scene not in the series. Donovan escapes El Salvador with the injured Tony in a Learjet piloted by a man named Joe Harnell. As mentioned previously in this study, Joe Harnell is the music composer of V the mini-series!

Page 15 reveals that Daniel Bernstein is 18 years old. This differs with Ruby's statement in the series that he is 17.

Daniel states that he has heard that the mothership over Los Angeles is "a good five miles in diameter."

On pages 17-30, during Supreme Commander John's announcement on the roof of the U.N. building, the narrative stays with Donovan rather than cutting to our various cast members who are watching it on television. But Crispin manages to touch on the same themes that were voiced by the characters in the omitted scenes. For example, Donovan's thoughts in the book echo the comments of Denny and Julie as they watch it on television as seen in the mini-series. In the mini-series, Denny says, "Talk about an offer we can't refuse" and Julie responds, "I wonder what would happen if we did?" Here in the novel, Donovan thinks, Talk about offering us heaven on a silver platter--what would they do if we told them to stick it in their non-pointed ears? (The pointed ears reference is to the fact that the Visitors look so human, but may also be a reference to the well-known pointed-eared alien Mr. Spock on Star Trek.)

On page 24, Donovan wonders about the Visitors' aversion to bright light because he thought he'd heard that Sirius was a really bright star. He speculates that perhaps their planet has a heavy cloud cover. Sirius is, in fact, quite luminous.

Page 32 reveals that Robin is 17.

On page 35, several characters are wondering what is the chemical compound the Visitors need so badly and what will it be used for? Robert Maxwell has heard that the compound will be made mostly from garbage and other wastes. Arthur Dupres' Richland plant will both manufacture the compound and desalinate sea water (obviously part of the Visitors' secret plan to steal the Earth's water).

Page 36 reveals that Polly Maxwell is 12 years old. She tells the same joke that Sean Donovan tells his father about how many Visitors it takes to change a light bulb.

Page 39 reveals that almost all of the chemical plants located on seacoasts in the world have been contacted to participate in the Visitors' plan. Obviously this is to precipitate their secret plan to steal the Earth's water.

Page 42 introduces us to Tony Leonetti's wife, Fran. In the mini-series, we get no indication that Tony is married and he does not appear to wear a wedding ring.

On page 44, Steven says the Visitors' world is somewhat larger than Earth. If it is larger, it would have stronger gravity and may explain the aliens' superior strength. Page 52 confirms via Willie's thoughts that Earth has lighter gravity.

Page 48 reveals that besides the standard photographs seen in Dr. Quinton's file on John in the mini-series, there are also some infra-red ones that reveal unusual heat patterns from the alien's head.

The book goes into more detail on the party thrown by Eleanor Dupres (Donovan's mother) for the Visitors (discussed by the Maxwells at 34:07 on the DVD). It reveals that Donovan was present at the party but had to leave early to do a special interview with Diana. In his haste to leave, he forgot his still camera at his mother and step-father's house. A couple weeks later, after Donovan has become a fugitive from the Visitors (in the next episode, "Visitors, Victims and Victory"), in a scene not in the mini-series, he sneaks into the house to get the camera back and is seen by his step-father, Arthur. Donovan makes good his getaway but expects a shout and pursuit that never comes, further evidence that, unlike Eleanor, Arthur is not happy with the Visitor influence on Earth affairs.

Page 51 reveals that before his assignment was changed from Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles at the last minute, Willie's name was to be Ahmed. Would he also have worn syntho-skin with more Arab facial features, hair, and skin tone? It also states that John had ordered all crew members to talk and think in their assigned Earth languages. Willie had learned to think in Arabic and part of his problem with speaking English was training himself to think in Arabic as well, not to mention now having to think in English.

The gray boxes the Visitors are seen carrying at the chemical plant are called c-units (cryo-units).

On page 53, when Willie first meets Harmony, he identifies her as female by the rounded protuberances under her dress. This indicates that Visitor females do not have breasts, which makes sense, at least from an Earth reptile-mammal perspective.

Pages 55-56 feature a scene not in the series. Juliet and her colleagues at the medical laboratory are frustrated that the Visitors have, for the second time, canceled a seminar for scientists aboard the motherships. The aliens have also requisitioned more lab animals (unknown to the humans, obviously not for research so much as for food).

Page 64 reveals that Ruth's last name is Barnes.

Page 65 reveals that Ruby's last name is Engels.

Page 66 reveals that the shuttle that flies overhead while Abraham and Ruby are walking down the street (at 45:15 on the DVD) is the same shuttle that Martin is ferrying Donovan on to meet his son (at 45:59 on the DVD). In the DVD audio commentary, Kenneth Johnson points out that the shot of the shuttle is a zoom in on that same effect shot during Abraham and Ruby's walk!

Page 68 reveals that the convertible sports car Donovan drives to meet his son at Marjorie's house (and later scenes) is not his own, but is a rental and also suggests that he is planning to take Sean camping for the weekend.

On page 68, Sean's friend Josh is stated to be 13 years old and his last name is Brooks.

In the series, when Donovan drives up to Marjorie's house and sees Sean in his L.A. Dodgers cap, he asks, "Well, who are you today, huh? Fernando Valenzuela or Steve Sax?" In the novel, Steve Garvey substitutes for Steve Sachs. Why the change? Yes, Steve Garvey is more well known, but Steve Sax is no slouch either. All three were Dodgers players in the early 1980s.

Page 71 adds some dialog as Julie drops Ruth off at her apartment in the evening. In the episode, it sounds as if Ruth has not had a chance to look at the Visitor skin flakes she retrieved from Caleb's clothing. In the novel, she comments she started to look at them before other urgent work interrupted her. She says the samples did not appear to have cells, they were a smooth material. After Julie leaves, Ruth wishes she had remembered to tell her where the samples were hidden.

V: East Coast Crisis Notes from the novel V: East Coast Crisis by Howard Weinstein and A.C. Crispin
The events of V: East Coast Crisis take place concurrently with the two mini-series V and V: The Final Battle and detail the goings-on in the area around New York City.

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published September 1984)

Pages 1-74 take place concurrently with the events of "Arrival"

Page 1 describes the Visitor fleet first entering our solar system and passing the "ghostly and gray...small planet...[that] rode the loneliest reaches of its solar system." This must be Pluto. But in 2006, the ninth planet from the sun, Pluto, was demoted to dwarf planet status as, among other arguments, other similarly-sized objects have been found along with Pluto in the Kuiper belt since Pluto's original classification as a planet in 1930. Coming from outside the system and with the scanning capabilities of the Visitors, they would have realized this before we did, if they had existed in the real world.

On page 3, command crew member Jennifer comments that their strategy for Earth is based almost entirely on long-range surveillance and monitoring of informational and entertainment broadcasts.

Page 10 reveals that the mayor of New York City is Daniel O'Connor (his big mouth reminds me of our real-life former Vice-President, Joe Biden!). In the real world the mayor of New York City at the time of the mini-series was Ed Koch.

Page 15 reveals that the President of the United States is William Brent Morrow. In the real world at the time of V, Ronald Reagan was the President.

On page 29, Isaac Asimov, writer and science authority, is interviewed by newscaster Denise Daltrey about the arrival of the motherships. This is similar to Julie's remark in the mini-series that Dan Rather had science-fiction writers Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clark on TV to provide commentary as well.

Pages 33 and 35 provide some background on the Swedish U.N. Secretary-General, Olav Lindstrom, who is seen only briefly in the mini-series but is the first human to meet the Visitors. The book reveals that he has apparently been a diplomat and person of note for some time, having met the likes of Hitler (Chancellor of Germany 1934-1945), Stalin (leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s through 1952), Mao (leader of China from 1949-1976), Einstein (renowned theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity in physics), and Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Prize winning philosopher and medical doctor). In the real world, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru was the U.N. Secretary-General at the time of the mini-series.

Page 35 has an interesting description of the Visitor language's alphabetic characters: "Jennifer sat at her console, busily keying in her native language. To a human familiar with ancient Hebrew or Sanskrit the characters might have appeared faintly recognizable, but to anyone else they would have been totally indecipherable." From the images below, it can be seen that the three alphabets do have some similarities, but how could an unfamiliar, alien alphabet from another world have characters that are "faintly recognizable"? Could the authors be planting a hint that either 1) the Visitor language originally evolved on Earth or 2) the Visitors had visited Earth previously in the distant past and influenced human language (this seems to fly in the face of Diana's statement that they have had the gravity drive for only about 100 years)?
V alphabet 1980    
Visitor alphabet (from Omniglot)   Hebrew alphabet   Sanskrit alphabet

One of the major characters in the book, Lauren Stewart, an assistant to Secretary-General Lindstrom, accompanies him to the roof of the U.N. building for the historic first meeting with the Visitors on page 39, but separates from him before the televised view of Lindstrom we see in the mini-series.

On page 46, Roger, the commander of the New York mothership, is offered food at a party thrown by the mayor. Roger declines, saying that their scientists have not yet completed their analysis of Earth's flora and fauna for Visitor edibility. Of course, we know the main reason he doesn't partake is that the reptilian Visitors do not eat cooked food.

Page 51 reveals that the Archbishop of New York is Edward Cardinal Palazzo. In the real world, John Joseph Cardinal O'Connor was the archbishop at the time of the mini-series.

On page 51, Jennifer says to Cardinal Palazzo that religion has mostly faded into an item of historical interest with little impact on modern life for the Visitors. She also comments that she had expected more upheaval and fear from human religious groups upon the Visitors' arrival. Cardinal Palazzo defends religion (mostly the Western variety) by pointing out that the Bible states that God created the heavens, the Earth, and the stars and that that makes the Visitors part of what He created. Palazzo continues, "...that's why the Church has no trouble accepting and welcoming you (...) to us, you're just newly discovered children of God." This acceptance in the context of V may be due to the Visitors' human looks (unknown at this time, artificial); since the Bible says God created man in His own image, the Visitors are vaguely acceptable as God's creation. But if the Visitors' true form had been known, would they have been accepted? It has been argued by many that religion, particularly Western forms, would have trouble accepting the existence of extraterrestrial beings, particularly if they did not look human. For one, if God created man in His own image, why would He create other intelligent beings not in His own image? Does that make them inferior to us? And since the Bible tells that man was saved from original sin by the sacrifice of God's son, Jesus, what about the aliens? Were they free from ever committing original sin and therefore more perfect than man (human)? A lot of religious questions will come up if we ever encounter intelligent life from another world.

Memorable Dialog

I wish we had a tank.wav
no worse than Cambodia.wav
don't want to die until I've made love.wav
Mr. Spock.wav
my name is John.wav
an offer we can't refuse.wav
quite prestigious.wav
ain't even from this planet.wav
I am just.wav
it beats Fresno.wav
someone who flies around in spaceships.wav

Back to Episode Studies