Verdict – Battlestar Galactica mini-series

Verdict – Battlestar Galactica mini-series

What is it about purest that makes them so stuck on one way of doing things? Change is good. I’ve been browsing the web lately, finding Battlestar Galactica sites to see reaction to the new mini-series.

I cannot believe the fury over the mini-series. There was reasonably strong support for a continuation of the original instead of a re-make/re-invention. I have seen Richard Hatch speak of this continuation revival at DragonCon and other smaller cons at least 4 times, and have seen the trailer he created for his concept. But I do distinctly remember coming out of seeing the trailer thinking “Man, most of those people are simply to old to be doing that now.” and just how hoakie some of that stuff looked. I was excited about the possibility of Battlestar coming back, but Hatch’s concept was not hitting the mark for me. Although I liked the original cast and wished we could get them all, some have died and doing it without them would just not be right.

Also, those that I know who have read Hatch’s BSG books say they are way too centered on Apollo (his character) and his ascension to demigod-hood.

Well, needless to say that there are strong feelings on both sides – reinvention vs. continuation. I considering myself pretty well plugged in to the sci-fi fandom of the Charlotte area and a vast majority of folks loved the mini-series here. Admittedly, most of these are the folks are younger than me and barely remember the original series when it first aired and probably saw it on re-runs on Sci-Fi Channel. I was 9-going-on-10 when the original series was out and I was a huge fan of the show. And I have to say that I loved the new mini-series even more.

I have never claimed to be a purest and never will. I accept the changes in Lord of the Rings open-mindedly, even though I read most of the 3 books. And in Battlestar, I have to applaud the writers and directors for a job well done.

Putting everything into a little more perspective… I watched the mini-series twice, and then went out and bought the original series on DVD. I watched the original pilot (as well as the cut scenes) and the second/third episode. Watching the original now, I can see many reasons why the mini-series is by far superior to the original.

Characterization is far better in the mini-series. The people in the 2003 are more tangible and real to the viewer, which is the intent of the director. In 1978, the characters were bigger than life and spoke dramatically about everything. However, I agree with the director of the mini-series when he said that they never seemed to really show the impact of 12 planets and 11 ships of their fellow crew being annihilated. In this world of post 9-11, I think we would want to see more of that emotion involved in that.

The 1978 version came in the aftermath of the success of Star Wars. TV wanted to capitalize on the success by basically making a Star Wars: The series without having to pay Lucas. So they did. In 2003, we all know that Star Wars now has taken a nosedive whose coat tails no one wants to ride. Now, we have post 9-11 and over-done wrong science in space. The space opera has been played out and thanks to shows like Babylon 5 and to some degree, Space: Above and Beyond, the viewer is smarter and expects more. The special effects in the mini-series reflected that, however that is just the advantage of time the mini-series has.

The darkness and dreariness reflects the post 9-11 era. Even as I watched the original pilot, I felt like something was missing in the emotion of the show. Twelve planets were just destroyed and suddenly, everyone is happy and having fun in a casino? The director made that point in an interview.

Some would say that after a thousand year (yahren) war with the Cylons, the death of 12 planets would have less of an impact on a society already hardened by war. But after 1000 years of war, do you not think that the society would be so beyond what we could relate to that it would be pointless to make a show or movie about it? I do. And so did the director.

The gender changes was simply because they trimmed down the cast. In the original, they had 4 primary men, and 3 to 4 primary woman… too many for today’s attention span. The Writer/Director admitted in a interview that the first thing he was going to do is change Starbuck to a girl. My only beef with that is that he made the Starbuck character more masculine than any of the male crew (with a few exceptions), but that might have to do with the fact that a majority of the male actors were British.

The major problem most people had around here was the ending – the MAJOR change to Boomer – the possibility that she is a sleeper Cylon. I really was OK with it because I never saw Boomer as a major character.

The struggle I had with disbelief was pointed out by one the BSG Fan Club critics – a diehard purest: the space storm nebula thing around the supply space station. Questions like:

Why the Cylons staid out of it if it takes a while to have an effect?

I was going to say that it takes a while to have an effect on humanoid replicants, and has a more immediate effect on the metallic Cylons, but I remembered that there were two inside the supply station in that last scene. DOH! My other guess is that it’s still a storm and it would be tactically stupid to try an attack in a storm. The XO was right. Why risk it when all they had to do is wait it out? Or maybe the effects on the Cylons is varied and they took the time to shield themselves before sending in the recovery team of the “tour guide” Cylon.

Why Number 6’s implant worked while in it?

I forget what they specifically said the storm effected in the Cylon make up, but maybe the implant was not made of that specific technology, maybe using Baltar’s own brain neurons and memories to play on his psyche.

If Boomer was a Cylon, why didn’t she get sick or why didn’t any other sleeper Cylon get sick?

Good point. All I can say is maybe she is not a Cylon, or maybe the Galactica shielded her from the effects.

The storm scenes did raise some questions in my mind, but I do see them as minor points easily explained later. They did not write themselves in a corner.

My problem with someone who nitpicks the mini-series, in defense of the original is that they have no ground to stand on. The original had too many holes to stand-up to today’s viewers. The mini-series actually fixed those holes.

The whole FTL question was answered. In the original, you just assumed they were flying in FTL between episodes and that all the other ships were FTL capable. I believe, in one episode, they stated that the rag-tag fugitive fleet was not FTL capable, so that blew that theory. In the new mini-series, the answer the question and then some. My favorite scene by far is the scene dealing with the non-FTL ships and having to leave them behind. That still haunts me. It was brilliantly executed.

Watching the ’78 show now, I question the character Adama – what was he? Ship captain, council politician, or religious leader? All three. Looking back, that is less believable in my mind. And this points to the difference between a larger-than-life space opera from back then to hard SF space opera of today. B5 is a modern space opera done right, with hard SF elements through out. No character had a role like Adama. Making Adama a hardened military commander was perfect.

The ships were done right and not too divergent from the original. That was one key to keeping it Battlestar Galactica for me. I guess in my eyes, in original, the universe, the storyline and the tech was bigger than the characters. IN the mini-series, it brings the characters back up to something we can relate to. They enable us to put ourselves in the character’s position a lot easier.

The near-real physics ins pace was AWESOME, to say the least. The muffled sounds in space was cool as was the directional jets on all the ships. THAT’s how real space combat would happen.

The larger than life type characters have been done and most believed it was OK, but it was also hoakie by today’s standards. Star Wars has been beaten to death and now Lucas has taken it in directions that most original fans hate. BSG can’t follow up on that now, and cannot follow up on the original concepts simply because it would not hold up to audiences today. I was skeptical if the re-invention, remembering that they called the new Planet of the Apes a re-invention. I hated the new Planet of the Apes, and was a HUGE fan of the original. But I was very pleased with this re-invention and look forward to the series (if they in fact do one).

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