DirectorRichard T. Heffron, created Kenneth Johnson
Release Date(s)1984 (April 14, 2020)
Studio(s)Blatt-Singer Productions/Warner Bros. Television/NBC (The Warner Archive Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: D
Given the ratings success of V: The Original Miniseries (reviewed here on Blu-ray), it was only inevitable that NBC would commission a sequel. Broadcast the following year, the three-part V: The Final Battle miniseries was once again to be written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, but he left before production began due to a disagreement with the network over the story direction. The episodes were instead written by a hodgepodge of TV scribes, with Richard T. Heffron (Futureworld, Foolin’ Around) taking over directing duties. The result is at once more tense and edgy, but also more melodramatic—occasionally even cheesy—drawing plot elements from War of the Worlds and other genre fare.
After winning its first victories against the alien Visitors, the Resistance is growing ever stronger. But the Visitors are adapting too, strengthening their armor and security measures as they harvest Earth’s water and Humanity itself for food. The good news is that there’s an alien Fifth Column that’s willing to help stop them… and the Resistance has discovered a bacteria that can kill the Visitors. Weaponized as a “red dust,” it provides the perfect means to fight back. But Diana and the Visitors have a contingency plan—they’ll use one of their “motherships” as a doomsday device to destroy the Earth if their efforts are defeated.
The production this time featured a smaller budget than the original V despite its greater 272-minute running time. Marc Singer, Faye Grant, Michael Wright, Jane Badler, and Robert Englund all returned to reprise their roles, joined by the likes of Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Scanners, Top Gun) and Sarah Douglas (Superman II). And genre fans will note that composer Dennis McCarthy provided music for the miniseries (he would later go on to score many episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise).
Unlike the original miniseries, V: The Final Battle was shot and broadcast in a 1.33:1 TV aspect ratio (and only protected for widescreen). It was released on DVD by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2002 in the 1.78 anamorphic widescreen format. But after the outcry over the 1.78 release of V on Blu-ray, the Warner Archive Collection has released the sequel series on the format in its original 1.33 (as the director intended it to be seen). But of course fans of the original DVD release will be upset to lose the widescreen presentation (again, it’s a shame that both 1.33 and 1.78 weren’t included). In any case, the full frame image is of excellent quality, with lovely fine detail and texuring, vibrant colors, and excellent contrast. And since it’s not being blown up, photochemical film grain is only light to moderate. Note that the episodes are split over two Blu-ray Discs this time.
Sound is included in the original 2.0 mono in English DTS-HD Master Audio format. The track isn’t going to dazzle sonically, but dialogue and effects are mostly clear and clean (if with a few age-related issues from time to time). Optional English subtitles are available.
The Blu-ray offers no commentary this time, but it does at least include a pair of extras not found on the original DVD:
- Next on V: The Final Battle – Part 1 (HD – :32)
- Next on V: The Final Battle – Part 2 (HD – :33)
These are essentially just TV previews for the first two installments (there is no preview for Part 3). But they’re scanned from film, which is a nice touch.
Fans of V: The Original Miniseries should be pleased to have the follow-up on Blu-ray as well. It’s not a huge upgrade, but nor is it an insignificant one. And hell... for those who saw it on TV the first time around, it’s a good deal of 80s nostalgia fun. It will be interesting to see if V: The Series (1984-85) follows on Blu-ray next.
- Bill Hunt