The Battlestar Galactica mini-series has come and gone, and I give it a guarded thumbs-up. I think its better than the original in many ways, chief among them being the lack of campiness, and worse in one big way. I’ll go into that in a bit so I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. In fact, you’ll have to clicky on the link below to see the rest. Consider yourself warned. And what does Hamilton have to do with it? Read on!
First, the goodness. I like the look of the show. The sets, the ships, the clothes, everything shows that a lot of thought was put into creating a visual treat for the viewers. I actually do like the new Galactica, and the fact that the landing bays retract into the ship is cool. Not necessary perhaps, but cool. I really like the Vipers a lot. They look great and they actually maneuver as a ship would in space, with attitude thrusters placed to allow actual 3D movement, a la the fighters in Babylon 5. The only thing that nagged at me was the fact that the pilots would be pulling some serious Gs during some of those moves while the Cylon ships, being AI controlled with no crew, don’t have to worry about G forces. Well, I’m assuming that a spaceship can handle significantly higher Gs than a human. Advantage Cylons. I also like the CGI. It looks really good. Ronald Moore seems to have taken the opposite tack of Babylon 5 and went with muted tones, dominated by grays and blacks, with splashes of color. B5, of course, went with a ‘brighter’ look with color everywhere. BG looks like they had a large budget to use and it shows.
The ‘Meh’ factor comes from the actors themselves. I liked Olmos as Adama, but after that, everyone else made me think ‘Meh’. Nothing spectacular. The characters themselves didn’t do a whole lot for me, aside from Adama. The new President – meh. Apollo – Meh. Starbuck – a beeotch, but still meh. Baltar – kinda meh. I find it difficult to believe this guy is a computer genius. He doesn’t act the part or look it. 6 of whatever – m….uh, wow, that outfit is red. And how does it stay on? Oh, it barely does. What was I saying? Oh yeah – Hubba. The key to this show being successful is in the characters. Much more needs to be done to make them interesting. 6 of 12 seems to have her own agenda apart from the other Cylons, so that could be interesting. And what’s up with all the sex? I felt like I was watching a re-imagining of “The Night’s Dawn” trilogy (see! Hamilton!) without all the space stuff and just the sex parts left in. I felt it detracted from the show overall ( just as I felt the sex in the first part of TND detracted from the story). Get a room. Jeez.
The badness. Well, first of all, changing Starbuck and Boomer into women, well, it didn’t work for me. I’m not a BG fanboy, but I felt these changes were made only to make a change. I guess they wanted more relationships in the show. More on this in a bit. The whole Cylon attack of the colonies felt sanitized. I didn’t get the impression that the colonies were actually destroyed. Oh sure, everyone kept saying they were, but the images shown sure didn’t make it feel that way. That’s one area where the BG movie p0wned. I remember seeing it in the theater, with Sensurround sound, and stuff blowing up everywhere, people dying, the seats rumbling, it was great. The TV series version – meh. Lets talk about the 3 main relationships here. Apollo and Starbuck first. I get the feeling this will be a David and Matty thing with sexual tension driving the relationship, but without the messy acting upon it. Unless of course the show jumps the shark and needs it to happen. I don’t think this would have happened in the original show. Baltar and 6. Well, being involved with a ‘machine’ could have its advantages. But 6 isn’t really a machine, is she? Its made clear that the humanoid Cylons are indistinguishable from humans, except when parts are cremated and the resulting gasses analyzed. Of course, Baltar has a chip in his head allowing 6 to screw with his mind. Literally. Did I mention that 6 was hot? Man, her spine glowed. Anyway, I think Baltar will eventually distance himself from 6 so I don’t know where this one is going. Too bad. The original Baltar was the guy you loved to hate. Now Boomer and the Chief. Wha? Ok. No back story as to why. Just them jumping all over each other when they get together. Bah. Now, big spoiler, but did anyone notice that the two relationships that seem to have ‘culminated’ shall we say, are between a human male and a female Cylon? That’s right Boomer is also a Cylon although she may not know it. I felt the whole Cylon saboteur thing was poorly done. Baltar getting lucky by pinning suspicion on the PR guy (but really, aren’t all PR guys robots anyway?) and then there just happens to be another Cylon mole on the Galactica? Meh. And the real big thing, the one that the original got right and the new one got wrong: The Quest for Earth. The original series had the Galactica leading the fleet on the quest for earth, as described by the Lords of Kobold. So does the new one. With one big difference. The original Adama had faith that Earth existed and that they could find it. He used his faith to inspire those around him to undertake the journey. He gave them hope based on his faith. Uplifting and all that. The new Adama doesn’t believe in Earth. He lies to fleet to inspire them. You can see some of the people are confused by his saying that the high-ranking military commanders know where Earth is, but the just hadn’t got around to telling people because of security reasons. Right. I’m not sure a true leader would do this. In fact, I think the original way is the best way. This should come back to bite Adama in the ass. We’ll see. I didn’t like this whole aspect.
Whew, ok almost done. Its nitpick time! Woo hoo!
1. A nebula that is so dense, you need a tunnel to get inside? Right. Please.
2. A nebula that has lightning? Right. Oh I’m sorry, its a storm. Or something. Right again.
3. I’m assuming that the Colonials can create artificial gravity since the Galactica seems to have gravity inside of it. Given that, what the hell is the point of having a rotating space station? For what? Did the defense contractor sneek one past the budget committee? Or maybe they were too cheap to install the gravity device. But it must be relatively inexpensive since all ships have gravity! Aaargh.
4. Let’s talk nukes. The Cylons seems to have quite a bit of them They even pegged the Galactica with one. But the Galactica seems to have survived a direct hit by a nuke. I guess in space, no one has to worry about radiation sticking around for more than 5 minutes. And why exactly, given the Cylons’ propensity to get straight to the point with nukes, did the Cylons NOT use nukes when the Galactica was leading the fleet out of the nebula, space storm, whatever it was? Suddenly the Cylons wanted to capture the ships? I’m not buying it. The writers couldn’t think of a way around the nukes so they ‘forgot’ about them. Bah. Stupid.
5. And why exactly are there 2 Cylon humanoids on the Galactica, a ship which was being decommissioned?
6. And Ragnar Station just happens to have oodles of weaponry, but no one guarding it? Uh huh.
If this goes to a series, it will live and die by the characters and stories. Based on what I’ve seen, I think they have a chance. But I think the only reason they called it Battlestar Galactica was to get them a built-in fan base and to relieve them of having to come up with a universe and back story on their own…