December 13, 2003

My Cynical Attempt to Draw Some Traffic by Leaping into a Hot-Button Topic with My Unfocused Half-Opinions

The new Battlestar Galactica is terrific.

A very nice Sci-Fi-Channel-having friend loaned me a tape, and I just finished watching it for the second time. I loved it. They took the basic plot, stripped away most of the the '70s sci-fi TV trappings ("There are only 2 other networks, boys, so what else are those rubes gonna watch tonight?"), and turned it into a stark, complicated, deeply weird, often bone-chilling military drama set in space.

A lot of the online hollering has been that it's too dark, too grim. "This is Battlestar Galactica, it's supposed to be fun!" Did you know that the original series was about billions of people being murdered and the few thousand survivors running for their lives? Yeah, Starbuck was a charming rogue, and the costumes were cool, and the blasters made awesome noises that you could imitate as you were running around at recess, but it started off with an act of genocide that dwarfs anything in human history. So if this new version wants to try to reflect how actual human beings might react to a worse atrocity than any of them could have ever imagined, I think that's okay.

Yeah, some of it was manipulative. These guys knew what they were doing when they put the new Colonial President (43rd in line of succession!) on a space shuttle between planets when news of the Cylon attacks came. Looked pretty much like a commercial airplane. Isn't that about the last place you'd want to get bad news, on a plane? And when Madame President has to pull herself together and figure out how to deal with the crisis, butting heads with the gung-ho Commander Adama and his second-in-command Col. Tighe (my favorite character, and not just because he's an unapologetic drunkard), debating whether to fight or run, it's every single debate of the last couple years rolled into one. But it made me think. What would you do in that situation? Do you really think you know? I sure as hell don't.

There are no easy answers. Not everybody is admirable. Not everybody makes the right decisions under pressure.

And not everything works. The producers chose to put all the civilian characters in suits and ties, polo shirts, and such, and everybody has first names like Paul and Kara and Billy. They use current American colloquialisms, and there's little of that "centon" jabber from the original series. Which is fine, but it makes it all the more disorienting when they blurt out things like "Frak me!" and "Thank the Lords of Kobol!" Sort of a disconnect there.

And about those Lords of Kobol. They didn't really delve into it, but these Kobol guys wrote the "ancient scrolls," which seem to be some sort of combination Bible/Constitution that these people follow. No separation of church and state in the Galactica universe, eh? I'm told the original series was all about Mormonism, but I don't know anything about that. Oh, and the Cylons believe in God too. In fact, they believe they're the only living beings with souls, and that God told them to wipe out their enemies. Yeah, like anybody would actually fall for that one... Oh. Right. Forgot.

So go ahead and yell at me if you want, but I thought it was great. There was an incredible attention to detail, good acting (with the exception of the block-of-wood Brit with the shaky, Tom Cruise-ish American accent who played Apollo), lots of little nuances in the dialogue, moral dilemmas at every turn, eerie reflections of The Way We Live Now, unexpected flashes of humor... and of course, incredible space battles, hot babes getting naked, fistfights, and plenty of other stuff to keep you from getting bored. Bring on the series.

P.S. Everything I just said is invalid because they made Starbuck a chick.
P.P.S. Not to mention: "This has to be one of the worst Sci-Fi productions in history."

Posted by Jim Treacher at December 13, 2003 11:42 AM

they made Starbuck a chick.


Okay. That's diversity gone too far.

Posted by: ilyka at December 13, 2003 04:31 PM

Huh, I didn't know it was about Mormonism. I would have thought with the name Cylons (Psylons?) it was about Scientology.

Posted by: Matt Moore at December 13, 2003 11:13 PM

At least they gave Starbuck a butch lesbian vibe. Anybody else notice that with all the gender changes, they just happened to get rid of all the black people? More like Battlestar GalactiKKKa.

But seriously, from what I've seen, the space battles and music are pretty cool, even if the new Galactica looks like some sort of cheese grater.

Posted by: scott h. at December 14, 2003 04:10 PM

"Okay. That's diversity gone too far."

And that's nothing compared to what they did to Boomer!

"Anybody else notice that with all the gender changes, they just happened to get rid of all the black people?"

Well, there was the really hot black girl who was flirting with the presidential aide. And the priestess lady at the end. But yeah. It was like Battlestar Canada.

Posted by: Jim at December 14, 2003 04:14 PM

I like it.Good special effects, the plot is real close to the original.I don`t like Starbuck (a girl? Puhleeze!!!) and I don`t like the Prez,she reminds me of a more sinister, NICER version of Hillary. Overall though it`s a keeper.

Posted by: joatmoaf at December 14, 2003 08:53 PM

Okay, I give. Tell me what they did to Boomer.

Posted by: ilyka at December 16, 2003 09:20 AM

They took Boomer (Nubian god!) and turned him into a little Asian girl. It's cuz The Man can't stand to have a powerful black role model on a sci-fi TV show.

Posted by: scott h. at December 16, 2003 02:38 PM

A little Asian... girl?

Posted by: Jim at December 16, 2003 02:53 PM

A little Asian hermaphrodite? What? Quit scaring me! I'm going to go have to look this up now.

Posted by: ilyka at December 16, 2003 06:11 PM

If this site is to be believed, YES! (SFW) Careful doing any googling!

Posted by: scott h. at December 16, 2003 11:09 PM

I enjoyed the miniseries, even with the gender changes, but I tend to go into these things knowing that the new producers are going to basically scrap continuity with the origional in the remake, and I try to watch it on it's own merits. In spite of the logic holes that Chris noted, I thought it worked, but it would have stood up better as an origional series unconnected to Gallactica.

I've got a review at Who Tends the Fires if anyone's interested. It's not bad for a "Near Galactica Experience".

Posted by: Ironbear at December 17, 2003 03:06 PM

One word...Dull.They could have done this in 2 hrs rather than 4.Half the story lines were too long and most of the others added little.

And frankly,would'nt you expect a little more...well....emotion at the lost 12 planets full of people?Appolo,for one seemed less upset that his dear old mom was on one of those planets and more concerned with prodding daddy.

Starbuck was obnoxious,period.

Balter was interesting.Too bad they didn't spend more time on the cyclons and less on the Prez(can you say nanny?)

In short,too much navel gazing with little or no point and battle scenes(only 2)that were well done but too short and lacked definition.

Posted by: M. at December 18, 2003 06:00 PM

M, it's kind of funny how you're talking about a space show, and yet you don't like to use the spacebar. Hee! Just kidding.

Posted by: Angus Jung at December 18, 2003 06:31 PM