Review: Battlestar Galactica: The 2005 Series

Before The Dragon Page's website was hacked (no doubt, by Bonnie Hammer and her pretty-people Cylons), I posted a spirited review of Battlestar Galacatica: The Mini-Series along with Evo. We both went off on the mini-series on many levels, and I discovered in talking with other Battlestar Galactica fans on the short-comings and annoyances with this ambitious remake that we were not alone in our opinions.

To sum up, here were some issues voiced:

  • New Cylons seen only at the beginning and at the end
  • Pretty People Cylons who boff humans into submission
  • Baltar, a GQ Pretty Boy who is haunted by erotic fantasies between him and a PPC named ?Six?
  • One mention too many of Classic Battlestar Galactica
  • Starbuck as a chick
  • Overly horny, overly dysfunctional, overly angst-ridden characters
  • Reality Camera SFX used in outer space
  • Preoccupation with "zoom lens" SFX for "jump" effects
  • Too much "Let's talk about what happened?" SFX as opposed to seeing it
  • A really contrived ending

However, on second viewing of the mini-series Skiffy aired to herald tonight's premiere, there were some things I wanted to admit the new Battlestar Galactica had going for it:

  • Cutting edge SFX
  • Less "SciFi"/More "Military" approach to Battlestar Galactica such as pilot callsigns, infantry jargon, etc.
  • Concentration on interpersonal and less-than-perfect relationships (within reason)
  • Edward James Olmos as Adama?great choice

While I bonded with Richard Hatch at GalaxyCon 2, I'm apparently not on his Christmas card list (and after the ball-busting I received from him on the show, you think I would be?); but the guys from The Dragon Page are in good with Classic Apollo who sent them a sneak peek of the new Battlestar, and the guys were impressed. So, on the recommendation of the guys, I promised to open my mind and give Bonniestar, I mean... Battlestar Galactica a try.

The opening kickoff episode "33" gets its title from the Cylons' tactic of attacking the Colonials every thirty-three minutes, and so they have been doing?for five days. Five days, every thirty-three minutes. Strung out, sleep deprived, and a little whacked-out after two-hundred-plus jumps, the crew lose a civilian ship christened The Olympia and all thirteen hundred souls. Only Baltar seems a-okay with this as the vessel was carrying a fellow scientist with some important information about "a traitor to the human race" on Galactica. Baltar does the math and figures out it's him. The good news: three hours has elapsed with no Cylon attack. Then the Olympic reappears, calling for assistance. Adama's got a bad feeling and calls the hands to General Quarters. Galactica picks up two signals: thermonuclear warhead signatures (on a civilian ship?!) and Cylon Basestars coming out of jump. Both Adama and the President have to decide whether or not to destroy the ship.

The second episode, "Water," begins with Boomer waking up in the maintenance bay, soaking wet. As she collects her bearings, she looks into her gym bag to find a towel, a fresh change of clothes, and?a detonator connected to a block of plastic explosive. While trying to remember her missing block of time, explosions rip open the Galactica, and vent their water supply into space. Now, Raptor-class shuttles hunt for a planet with water while Boomer's boyfriend, Chief Petty Officer Tyrol, covers up her involvement in this complete and utter SNAFU. One by one, the Raptors come back with no good news. On Boomer's shuttle, she reports to her co-pilot that the last planet they're surveying is also dry?even though she's staring at a readout reporting multiple sources of water. She can't quite understand what is going on?

What Boomer doesn't realize: she's a Cylon!

Okay, just let me air out my issues first, then I'll give you final impressions?

Galactica is really going for storytelling on an epic scale, developing not one, but two plotlines. While the humans are hauling ass out of the galaxy, a Raptor co-pilot that goes by the callsign of Helo struggles to stay alive on Cylon-occupied Caprica. He thinks he is completely alone until Boomer (yep, another PPC) shows up out of the blue to rescue him. This subplot might have looked good on paper, but it tends to distract from Galactica's quest for Cylon-Free Space.

The writers are also working hard on developing interpersonal relationships full of strife, struggle, and (of course) sex. My problem here is that, at times, it shows. Chemistry and interaction between the characters sometimes comes across a bit forced, if not awkward. Now that the cast has a series, maybe this problem will resolve itself from episode to episode; but in these two episodes, we dealt with Col. Tigh struggling with his alcoholism, Apollo struggling with his new-found position on his dad's ship, Boomer struggling with her identity, and Baltar struggling with his guilt in handing over the human race to the Cylons on a silver platter. With so much struggling, I think the writers need to loosen up a little.

Speaking of Baltar... I do have a major issue with the computer chip that PPC Six apparently planted into Baltar's brain, producing either an image of Six sitting next to him in the real world that no one else can see, or reproducing an idyllic setting of his summer home where the two are doing a horizontal hula?

And just what is your problem with that, John?
Harvey, for the thousandth time, my name's not John. It's Tee.
Sorry, old habits. You understand?
Sure I do.
Excellent. Now, about Wormholes?
What does have to do with this review?
Absolutely nothing.
So I thought. Now Here's an ideas. Change outta that weird "Gimp-style" leather outfit, change into a Hawaiian shirt, and we can unwind a bit?with Margaritas shooters.
Splendid idea, John?

Sorry... the point I'm getting at is I think we've seen this before, and it was done a lot better than Baltar's reoccurring wet dream.

Now that I've aired out my issues?WOW! Solid, kick-ass Military SF with a very deep, human touch! (There was a particularly touching scene where Petty Officer Dualla walked through a shrine of photographs created for missing Caprica family members. A 9-11 moment in outer space. Very intense.)

Two Starbucks Meet for Coffee

at (you guessed it?)

As Starbuck would lay his/her cards on the table after creating a full pyramid, I am too. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that someone at Skiffy listened to the fans, took the feedback under consideration, and is offering a bold, ambitious, and strikingly-beautiful new Science Fiction epic! To say I was impressed would be a grand understatement. This new, edgy Battlestar Galactica is delivering the goods on its first night with interest, and whatever issues they had with the mini-series is in the past. They are looking forward, and promising even more incredible plot twists and confrontations. The writing improved between the mini-series and tonight, and between the two episodes, ?Water? really showed what this cast can do with an intriguing script and terrific dialog. Let's see if they can maintain this break-neck pace throughout a season...or longer...

So before I completely gag on this crow pie, let me say it for the record. Battlestar Galactica has made quite a first impression on me, and I look forward to the episodes to come.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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