You might've seen the commercials for ABC's new alien-invasion series , V (our review), which premieres tonight (8/7c). It's a reinvention of a 1980s TV series by the same name, but with quite a makeover. This time, the aliens don't appear scary and lizard-like; they appear like beautiful humans, benign, almost divine—and bringing great promises to a frightened, confused world. Earthlings buy into it, though some remain skeptical—including a priest, one of the central characters, who remind his flock to test all things against the truth of Scripture. (Yes, a priest on mainstream TV actually says that.)

CT television critic Todd Hertz recently interviewed V executive producer Jeffrey Bell (The X-Files, Angel, Alias) about the big-idea allegory behind the show's aliens, the priest's role in the story, and the power of science fiction.

How does the creative team view the show's connection with the 1983 miniseries?

When the idea first came up, the vision was to reimagine it and pay respect to it but also to update it, give it relevance. There are differences. The lead characters are different. How the Vs [aliens, or "Visitors"] present themselves is different. How we unfold the plot is different. After all, we couldn't ignore the fact that the original show is out there. Everyone knows the Visitors have a dastardly plan. It didn't make sense to anyone to play that card face down. Instead, we thought: Let's just get to it in the first episode.

The biggest difference between the two franchises is that the original felt like a military show; it was war versus the Vs. But for us, this is about discovery. Our small band of characters sees through the Vs' plan, but don't know enough yet to wage any kind of battle. They are ...

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