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."