By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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Like most technological advances, the DVR is a blessing and a curse.

Since I'm upgrading my hardware, I had to either delete or watch the things I'd stockpiled on my Digital Video Recorder. And one thing I hadn't kept up on was ABC's "V" since it returned at the end of March.

A new episode airs tonight at 9:02 p.m. on Channel 12.

Frankly, I'd been disappointed by last fall's four-episode run. My hopes were stoked both by the original 1983 mini-series and by the novel both are based on, Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here," a 1930s look at a fascist takeover of the U.S., as seen through the eyes of a small-town newspaper editor from Vermont.

The original "V" mini-series was state of the art for the early '80s. The aliens were quickly unmasked as people-eating lizards and a resistance movement organized against them. Sure, it was cartoonish, but it was high-class cartoonish.

TV storytelling has advanced since the 1980s, both in terms of the technology and in the actual telling the tale. With few exceptions, network TV drama is likely to move almost too quickly, to avoid viewers hitting their remote.

But not with "V."

Ten episodes have aired and, other than a flash of lizard skin or a weird eye, we have yet to really see what these guys look like under their human skin. 

A too-small group of characters goes through the motions each week, with the fledgling resistance led by FBI agent Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell) Evans. Her son is coincidentally the boyfriend of the alien leader's daughter.

Scott Wolf's TV news anchor character, Chad Decker, doesn't act on camera like any TV news anchor any of us have seen.

Other characters are two-dimensional: a conflicted priest, a mercenary, a V-turned resistance fighter.

The circles are too small for believable drama. Action is at a minimum. It seems that special effects are being rationed.

If that was all done to heighten the storytelling, it would be admirable. But the weekly plots just aren't moving the bigger story along with any speed.

We'll know next week whether "V" will have a second season. A recent Forbes list showed it as the fifth most profitable show on network TV, thanks to the ad buys for last season, based on the hopes for the show's success.

ABC placed it after "Lost," hoping that it could take its place next fall.

But "V" has lost a lot of its fall audience and there are no signs of that turning around. I can't imagine that the season finale would serve as a satisfying series finale. 

That would require the story to suddenly pick up speed.

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On TV: UWM student Jim Tindell walked away from Monday's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" with $5,000 in winnings after blowing the answer to the $12,500 question.  The question: "Angora wool comes from one of two animals:  the Angora goat or the Angora what?" A: Beaver B: Ferret C: Fox D: Rabbit."  He guessed "B." The correct answer was "D."

  • NBC has picked up "Chase," a thriller from "CSI" creator Jerry Bruckheimer about U.S. Marshals who hunt down fugitives.
  • If you're following HBO's "Treme," National Geographic has put together an interactive map to help place the action for you.
  • Alec Baldwin hosts this weekend's "Saturday Night Live" season finale, and there's talk that the surprisingly funny Justin Timberlake will show up.
  • There's more and more talk of NBC's "Chuck" returning next fall. We'll know for sure next week.

Here comes the next Susan Boyle: The latest entry in that competition is 81-year-old Janey Cutler, who's causing a stir on "Britain's Got Talent." Expect to see her soon on American TV.

Here's the video: