Saturday, 6 December 2008
Kenneth Johnson 'V' Interview!
How did the concept for V originate and what kind of work had you been doing up until that point?
"At the time I started working on V, I had already created The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk, as well as a number of other television movies. I had read a novel by Sinclair Lewis written in the '30's called It Can't Happen Here, which was about a fascist takeover of the United States, and I thought it was very intriguing and it would be an interesting opportunity to examine how ordinary people reacted in extraordinary circumstances, particularly as nothing like that had ever happened in the United States."
What were the biggest influences for you as you were creating the story and were there any themes you were trying to explore with the Visitors?
"In fashioning the screenplay for V, I went back and looked at a lot of historical references to see how history had unfolded, particularly during World War II, and how the Nazi rise to power had seduced a number of countries into believing that the Nazis were in fact good guys. V was never about spaceships and lizard people, however, it was really about power and people who were in power and abused it, people who sucked up to it, like the Vichy French during World War II, and ultimately the heroes who fought against it and became the resistance."
Was V always intended as a TV show or did you ever plan for it to become a movie? Did you plan out the entire series before you started writing the first episode or was much of it created as you went along?
"I thought of trying to do V as a movie originally, although this was before there were even any aliens in it, but quickly realized that I had so much story to tell that I would do the characters of the story a disservice by trying to cram it down into too small a space. Hence, a mini series seemed to be the ideal way to go."
How difficult was it to find a producer or studio that would take a chance with a sci-fi show or had the success of the likes of Star Wars helped open doors for you?
"I was under contract to Warner Bros. at the time and my friend, Brandon Tartikoff at NBC, was very excited about the idea and jumped on board immediately."
Would you say that V is very much a product of the '80's? Are there any elements to it that you feel capture the era in which it was made?
"I do not think that V was a product, particularly of the '80's… the idea of resistance fighting oppression is a timeless story Spartacus' revolt of the slaves."
The show originally aired as a two-part mini series. Was this always your intention, as the second episode ends rather abruptly? Did you always plan to continue the story with The Final Battle?
"The original four-hour mini series was originally designed to be a pilot, that would continue as an ongoing one-hour series. That proved too expensive to do, and the decision was made to do a six-hour sequel, but I left Warner Bros. before it could be completed by me."
Rumours has it that you eventually walked from the project due to creative differences. How true is this and can you shed any light on this?
"Warners and I had creative and contractual differences that just could not be resolved, so I left the studio."
Would you say that Alien Nation was in any way a continuation of the themes and ideas you first explored with V?
"Alien Nation in some ways continues some of the themes of V, but Alien Nation was really more about prejudice and intolerance and discrimination than it was about power."
Twenty-five years later, how do you feel about what you achieved with V and what convinced you to resurrect the series?
"I'm very proud of what I achieved in the original four hours of V, but recently I've begun to think that there are… there's a whole new audience out there that would be open to hearing some of the ideas afresh and that is very appealing to me. Also, to carry the story on beyond from where I left it off twenty-five years ago."
What can you reveal about the new series of V? Which characters will return and how will the story continue from the original?
"We're currently working very hard at this point to bring V back in front of the cameras, probably as a theatrical feature motion picture, and all the information will be at my website, www.kennethjohnson.us."