Tales from the Cultural Wilderness Journal

Monday, July 18, 2011

Battlestar Galactica (Remake) - "The Miniseries"

[Previous entry: "Demons - "They Bite""]

This is not going to be a straight review of the miniseries - it can't be; I'm too biased by what followed to be uncritical of it. To be frankly honest, I thought the show overall was okay, nothing particularly special, lost its way a bit in the fourth season and then decided "what the hell, we don't know how to end this, lets just make some s**t up and slap it on the screen, it's only 10 episodes, who cares?" Or at least, that's how I felt on first viewing.

So, with that out of the way, how does the miniseries hold up?

We open with backstory, get the whole "original Cylon war" stuff up on screen in text and then launch into the actual introductions. But this is really an introduction to the Galactica itself, as everyone else gets about 1 character beat and then they're shuffled off for someone else. Basically, it's a big crew, and some of these guys are important. Considering there's such a big cast, I'm going to be a bit scatty:

The good:

  • Commander Adama, or "The Old Man." Edward James Olmos gives a brilliat performance at the center of this, giving real weight to the old warhorse forced to go back into battle with the Cylons, just when we was about to retire. He's clearly a commander who loves his crew even if he doesn't outwardly show it - he can read their moods easily and give them just the right level of support to get them moving forward. See his response to Tyrol's "40 seconds" complaint, or his "So Say We All" speech. The family dynamics though - having real trouble relating to Lee after the fallout from Zack's death; the emotion he conveys without words when the nuclear explosion apparently kills Lee; the fact that he relates better to Kara than his own son - are the highlights here.

  • President Laura Roslyn. Again, carrying the huge weight of responsibility, but willing to step up, take charge, and even put Adama in his place when he needs it. She's the spark that carries the non-military half of this story and it really shines here.

  • Deck Chief Tyrol. Okay, now I'm biased by the rest of the show; the Tyrol we see here is good, quietly competent, but still mostly a background character. We get to see a few standout moments (again, taking his complaints about Tigh to the Commander) but mostly he's just quietly competent.

  • Lee "Apollo" Adama. He comes across as a bit bland at first, even his interactions with his father are mostly just "here's a pretty face for Edward James Olmos to grizzle at," but the moment he's left to defend the transport he suddenly comes into his own, proves a competent pilot, a smart tactician, and willing to buck his father if he thinks it's the right thing to do.

  • Billy and Dualla. Awwwww.

The bad:

  • Kara "Starbuck" Thrace - admittedly, I might be biased by the rest of the episodes, but were we supposed to like her here? She just came across as annoying most of the time, and the fact that she was so far gone that she barely responded to Adama's "What do you hear?" in the final battle sequence makes me wonder how she can really be a good pilot when situational awareness and staying with your wingman are useful skills to have.

  • Colonel Tigh. It might just be that he spends most of his scenes with Starbuck, and I can't spare a care for either of them, but he knows he's got a problem, he knows he's three-sheets-to-the-wind when the war kicks off and he suddenly has to make command decisions, but he doesn't even have the courage to relieve himself until he's slept it off. He's another obviously flawed character in this very flawed crew, but the way he carries that flaw just annoys the heck out of me.

The ugly:

  • Gaius Baltar - ugh. Just ugh. I'd forgotten quite how annoyingly gratingly awful he was. If it weren't for the hallucinatory Number 6, I'd want him spaced in the next episode, but unfortunately we've got to put up with this awfulness for the rest of the show.

  • Boomer. Although not quite as grating as Baltar, she just comes across as a complete wimp. She's led around by the nose for the entire episode without a thought of her own and the reveal at the end was so underwhelming. Oh, and stranding Helo on Caprica and never mentioning him again all episode seemed a bit harsh, even if he chose to stay!


  • I don't know how I feel about Number 6 at the moment. Yes, she's creepy, but there's something in her eyes as she walks away from the baby she kills that seems to indicate there's a lot of emotion going on under the surface. Of course, it's all spoilt by the fact that we have at least two different portrayals of Number 6 (the one who kills the baby on Caprica, and the hallucinatory one), so it's hard to get a good feel for the character.

  • I had to skip back after watching a couple of minutes and check out the opening camera shot that just goes on, and on, and on, through the corridors of the Galactica. I suspect they hid a cut in there somewhere but can't spot it, as otherwise, how many takes did that take to get right?

  • So how did Adama work out that the guy on Ragnar was a Cylon?

  • On a similar note, how did Baltar successfully pick out the tour-guide as a Cylon? Was it just dumb luck, or did the hallucination subtly point him in the right direction?

  • The original version's theme used for the Vyper flyby and the "By your command" were nice elements for the fans of the original to spot. The slightly more heavy handed "original Cylon" schematics and dummy were also welcome. I'm sure I missed a bunch more though.

  • I'm glad they drop Boxy out of an airlock between now and the actual series.

  • On that note though, the woman in the crowd with him on Caprica was played by Erin Karpluk of Being Erica fame.

Oh, and yes, I have become a reader of MarkWatches.net from his Firefly and Doctor Who reviews, and this review (although slightly more full of spoilers than his will be) was indeed timed to coincide with his beginning to review the show...

[Previous entry: "Demons - "They Bite""]


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