The original V may be remembered for its flying saucers and its sinister aliens, but those are things we almost didn't see. In fact, the original concept for V was about human fascists — not aliens — taking over America.
Kenny Johnson told Variety that his original idea for a television show wasn't about visitors from another world. It was speculative fiction, but in a very different vein. Originally, the show was about a fascist takeover of America, but NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff felt audiences wouldn't understand the story. The aliens were added to make the story more accessible.
"What it was really about was power and people in power," [Johnson] said. "It's funny, when you go back and look at my original 'V' miniseries, there are a lot fewer special effects than people remember. ... My frustration originally was I couldn't make it look the way I wanted it to look. We didn't have the money or even the tools."
But even without the special effects Johnson wanted, it was the idea of an alien takeover that captured viewers' imaginations. Johnson said he still gets mail from V fans who remember loving the series for the science fiction and only later recognized the deeper political story.