In this first of a two-part miniseries, the plot of the original 1978 Pilot movie is followed to a degree, however the events of this miniseries seem to come later in the continuity than expected. For example, in both the original and in the re-imagining we are faced with a ceremonial diplomatic end to hostilities only to be shown the duplicity of mankind's enemies, the Cylons. What is different is that due to the relative peace of the current Colonies Battlestar Galactica is being decommissioned and converted in to a War Museum like a Space-Docked USS Kidd!
The most glaring difference here is that rather than being the thriving scions of an ancient reptilian race led by an "imperious Leader," the Cylons are the children of humans, led by a lingerie model with a glowing spine! These prodigal sons (and daughters-*-beep-beep, ZIP-ZANG) aren't coming home to roost with Daddy to have a feast, though. Rather, they're coming home to skewer and spit their human forefathers for din-din and eradicate the very memory of humanity... Republican and Democrat!
Edward James Olmos takes the mantle of Adama from the late Lorne Greene and does a pretty spiffy job of making the character realistic, yet all his own. This is no retread of Greene's Adama, but is instead a gritty, flawed and sad Commander whose ties to the "old ways" might just be his saving grace. Mary McDonnell assumes the role of Laura Roslin, one of the last members of the Colonial Government. She handles the part with the dignity and sorrow that would be expected in the reality of such a goofy future. Both actors are very good and handle their respective roles here with dignity. Sure Olmos would prefer another Stand and Deliver and McDonnell would love another Dances with Wolves but neither actor approaches their roles as if they were slumming. They got soul!
Jamie Bamber just might be making Richard Hatch weep into his palms as Adama's Jackass son Apollo (AKA: "Captain Lee Adama"). The original series' subplot concerning Apollo's little brother dying in battle is milked here unflatteringly in order to give Adama and Apollo something to strain their relationship. While this does create some dramatic tension it also turns Apollo in to a bit of a whiner! Adama's reserved and stately manner is counteracted well by his son's "Daddy-why-didn't-you-love-me" nature, but whether that was intentional or not is one for the real critics and Bamber's therapist!
Probably the most controversy from the loyalists concerning this remake is that two all-macho-macho-males have been recast as females (Katee Sackhoff is now Starbuck and Grace Park is now Boomer). The fact that both these women handle their parts with respect and loyalty to the original Dirk Benedict and Herb Jefferson characters doesn't really help the case much. The problem with this is that in the first half of the series we see no reason why this should have been changed. In fact, both of these characters act so much like their original counterparts that the change seems to be made exclusively to give the impression of being progressive. Hey, no less than Jane Seymour was a pilot in the original... if it's going to alienate the fan base, and not add anything to the story but SEX appeal, who really cares? Maybe Starbuck is going to be a love interest for Apollo... but, wouldn't it be hotter if Starbuck instead became a love interest for Boomer? I'd buy that for a dollar!
One of my bigger concerns was James Callis' depiction of Dr. Gaius Baltar, which might be causing John Colicos to roll over in his grave. Here Baltar is less pure evil than purely ambiguous (both sexually and morally). Baltar is a foppish (more even than Apollo) scientist who is in the process of advancing humanity's new reliance on machines (normally shunned after the Cylon war). In the first half he's played mostly as a confused, appetitive and untrustworthy focus of the political and sexual seductions of Number 6!
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, Number 6! What a Biscuit! Number 6 (Tricia Helfer), a humanoid-disguised Cylon Operative owing as much to the Borg Queen as she does to Victoria's Secret, is the answer to the faceless Cylon emissaries of the original series. She's not a re-creation of the original series' "Lucifer" at all, but is a curious human looking woman that is as menacing (her first murder takes place in her first three minutes) as she is sexy. Man, Cylons having hot sex... who'd have thought? I would have expected more PBS-sex from a robot race. Still, I expected from the press and the Sci-Fi Channel's own documentary promo Battlestar Galactica: The Lowdown that her part would have been a complete travesty of what the Cylons are, however it makes some oddly foamy sense, really. The robotic and shiny Cylons are still around (in a more sleek and stylish form), but the Human-disguised nightmares are specifically meant to infiltrate humanity, not, say, go back in time to assassinate John Connor or something like that. By no means is Number 6 a typical Cylon... none of them are "Typical!"
Which brings me to the special effects... they were fantastic! From the preserving of the original Viper Fighters to the new versions, to the upgraded Galactica craft, it all pretty well made sense. And the dog-fights coupled with the Flanker-like new Cylon crafts have to be seen to be appreciated! Great SFX! Director Michael Rymer's Sepecial Effects department deserve some Scooby snacks for this!
One of the problems with this show is that the producers couldn't really decide what it was! Is this a "Remake" or a "Sequel?" On one hand, it just doesn't work as a Sequel because of the fact that all the characters seem to be named the same, and so many of the events happen in both this one and the original. On the other hand it doesn't work terribly well as a simple remake as it falls back on the old continuity a bit too much, from the recognition of the old-era Cylons to the citing of past events. It almost feels as if the makers of the miniseries realized that they just might have changed "Too Much" in their adaptation and had Ron Moore pack in as many nods to the old series as possible to appease fans too little too late.
Still for all it's flaws as either a remake or a sequel this is much better acted and written than it had to be. The special effects compliment the show well (and, people, with John Dykstra on the show, the original was no slouch), and the original story stays more or less intact (with a few less Star Wars and Star Trek rip-offs)! In spite of what it could have done it made me look forward to the second half. In short... it was better than I thought it would be, and it makes me feel really funny about Robots in general now. Hully Gee, Tricia!YYY1/2
Yes, I know that this is supposed to be a review of Battlestar Galactica part 2, but the above subjects are more interesting than what I just witnessed.
Make no mistake, Battlestar Galactica doesn't suck at all, it just sort of winds down slowly in the second night slower than Howard Dean's maple trees in February! Essentially they've made it obvious that this is less a "Miniseries" or a "Prolonged-ass TV Movie" than it really is a Pilot for a hopeful series. Did I expect them to make it all the way to Earth in a two night miniseries? No! Is there potential here for a good series? Yeah! My gripes have nothing to do with the future... it's the present consisting of a lot of time-wasting and film padding to fill out the full two hours in order to get the penultimate cliffhanger that can only be resolved by more produced hours of Battlestar Galactica! Truly this could be a good thing and I'd definitely watch the show, but taken as an individual episode of a two parter, December 9, 2003's Battlestar Galactica spent a lot of time not doing much!
When we last saw our heroes at the end of Part One the "Rag-Tag Fleet" was just being assembled in two parts under Commander Adama and President Roslin! Cylons were attacking at every turn and the future looked bleaker than Kim Jong-Il's Birthday Bash! The good news is that the President has survived! The bad news is... so did Apollo.
What follows is the slow assembling of the Colonial rag-tag ships while everyone and their Dagget vies for power. Every six seconds the Cylons find the hiding place and a tough decision must be made to save the fleet as a whole and sacrifice a few lives or to stay and lose the whole fleet. After the third time this happened I felt like the audience GOT IT, and knew how bleak it was! Along the way Adama gets lost on a space station, Baltar is mentally and psychologically tortured by the boiling-hot Number Six through a psychic link(!) and a whole lot of waiting around transpired. There was a lot more talking than action, which can be great, but here just seemed like procrastination.
It took longer to get to any action here than it does to read one of my reviews... and that's saying something!
I couldn't help asking continuously if we really had time for all this in an only two night series. Maybe a third or ninth episode would have helped!
I'd have watched it! Why? The acting is still good! While on one hand all the characters are a little flat and dull, it's sensible that they should be thus because they've all been through a tragedy that makes the Xindi Attack on Earth look like a love-pat! At this point, almost in spite of myself I cared about the characters... even Apollo grew on me. All the while, Park's Boomer continues to shine as one of the most complex and emotional characters in either Battlestar Generation. There is one mass funeral scene in which Olmos shines as Adama trying to rally his citizens to carry on against worse odds than Slipknot winning a Grammy! And yeah, sure as corruption in the Senate... the Rag Tag Fleet is seeking out a Mythical Planet... know as... Earth!
A further goodie on this episode is that we finally get to see Apollo and Starbuck Side-by Side in battle. Hey, I'm a big Dirk Benedict fan, but Sackhoff is holding her own. The special effects and the action (when present) are both excellent, and we finally witness some more of the Cylon structures out there. Another welcome sight is the new Vipers flying with the original series Vipers. Not only does it look cool, but it furthers the concept of the Rag-Tag stretching down even into the military ranks. The Galactica can kick boo-tay when it needs to, equal to its original series counterpart.
Okay, I admit when I'm wrong... If I can admit that I voted for Ross Perot, I can admit that Battlestar Galactica is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I still felt a little used from the first six minutes on when it became blatantly obvious that they were setting up future episodes and letting this one fizzle. Man, so much time was wasted (I got so tired of Baltar hamming it up while a ghostly Tricia Helfer nibbled on his ear during a military interview)!
I'd say the biggest silliness about this episode is the sacrifice of the uniqueness of Number 6! Sure her being named "Number 6" pretty much belies any claim to uniqueness, but the concept that almost all the Cylons look like humans now and that Cylon Sentinels (here portrayed well with Computer Animation) are the minority distances us much further than need be from the original. This is only one of many, many needling changes here that didn't really have to happen. In some cases it feels like Change for the sake of Change. An upcoming sequel or series might explain some of these better, but so far there's no legitimate reason that the Cylons should have been created by Humans (except to Cash in on The Matrix and The Terminator), nor is there any valid reason they should want to eliminate humanity. Sure Ronald D. Moore's had some nifty ideas, but we have to get to a point where we ask... why is this called Battlestar Galactica again? It's good, all right, but it's got its problemmos too! YYY
It does have to be said, though, that the original Battlestar Galactica had its ups and downs too, and was good almost in spite of itself. Creator Glen A. Larson (here credited as "Consulting Producer"... RIGHT!) was known in the 1970's as a trend follower and would create shows based on other properties that he believed would be Profitable. In this case, Battlestar Galactica was mostly a TV Version of Star Wars with enough Star Trek and Silent Running to fill in the gaps. Hey, I love the show too, more than I can tell you, but that's the pedigree, my friend. In short, it's not a Holy Relic... it can be changed some. The choice of actors, the good effects and the overall feel of this remake saves what could be a travesty. Not to mention Tricia's leather panties!
Three and one half stars out of five for the new Battlestar Galactica! It's better than it has to be, and better than I expected, but it's also a set up for a potential cash cow for Universal and USA Television. I have to fall back on my irritation here though that Sci Fi can allow for a blatant (although above average) set-up like this one, not to mention green-lighting Tremors the Series and "Scare Tactics" but they have no qualms with canceling Farscape! Still, it shows how good Battlestar Galactica really turned out that in spite of the many flaws, especially in the latter half, it's still a surprisingly effective and interesting Space Opera. Let's give Olmos some Fan Mail here. Olmos deserves fan mail and a scooby snack! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go look for my old Viper Fighter toy! I think I left it somewhere in the vicinity of my old At-At walker! Hmmm... Anyway, watch this space for more BSG reviews! As sure as T4 this is going to happen. Ho-hum!
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