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“V” was a border-line call on renewal, and probably wouldn’t have earned another season if ABC had gotten any of its other first-season dramas to work.

But the early second-season episodes that begin Jan. 4, happily, represent a marked improvement, with more tension surrounding the Visitors’ plans and higher stakes in terms of zeroing in on their scheme for world domination. There’s some particularly nasty business — which I won’t divulge, but thoroughly enjoyed — in episode three.

Vpic The storyline is still unfolding a bit too slowly, perhaps, for this sort of serialized affair, but the icy charms of Morena Baccarin as the alien leader, Anna, and her plans to colonize the Earth help make the show worth tuning in for. Lizard-like threats to humanity don’t come in much niftier packages.

Will audiences come back? Probably not in sufficient numbers. “V” steadily lost viewers, and it’s difficult to imagine many who gave up in year one after the strong debut (which I almost did) being enticed into another visit, even with ABC’s promotional assault for the show.

That said, at least the creative team didn’t squander the opportunity they were handed, bringing back a darker, more compelling show, with a touch more of “Battlestar Galactica” in it and less dead weight.

In short, the Visitors in “V” may be “of peace, always,” but in terms of getting canceled without a fight, at least they don’t intend to go peacefully.