Old Idea, New Look

January 19, 2005

All right. I admit it. For once Mindcr…ummm C.J., the artist formerly know as Mindcrime ummm, Going Postal man, whatever the heck he’s going by this week, is right.

Battlestar Galactica, the new series, is one of the best sci-fi shows ever. Heck, it’s actually a darn good series even without the sci-fi.

I’ve watched the mini-series and the first two episodes (“33” and “Water”) of the on-going series and despite only a few small quirks I’m seriously impressed.

Let’s start with the good.

First, many of the characters – both Adama’s, Boomer, Baltar, the Chief, Madame President and especially the XO – are very well done. The actors are all good, even for the two characters I don’t like (see below.)

The writing is terrific. The first two episodes of the on-going series were so good I was riveted. They are smart, funny, powerful, and the tone they set is one of a cornered animal, you can feel the desperation of the humans as they make efforts to survive.

The production values are nice as well. Everything looks like it is something that could exist not to far in the future. You can buy into everything, no super-science, no mystic-science it’s all very grounded in reality.

Now, here comes the sacrilege. I hated the original series. I always have, even when it first came out. A good friend of mine (no, not Mindcr..man of a thousand names) loved it. We argued all the time. I thought the original series was boring, stupid and nonsense. Couldn’t stand any of the characters, couldn’t stand the stories and hated the way it all looked. But this BG rocks all around.

Now for the bad.

Biggest and most personally irritating aspect of the whole show is the sex pot cylon character. I’ve gotten seriously fed up with the need to throw in a phenomenally hot chick (and I must admit this one is supremely hot) just to boost ratings. The did it in Voyager (7 of 9) they did it in Enterprise (the Vulcan) and they do it in just about every show on the WB. It’s insulting, irritating and entirely unnecessary. It’s an uninteresting subplot, it’s boring, it’s old and I wish it would disappear. But sex sells, unfortunately, and it’s not likely to end anytime soon.

Next, the Starbuck character. I have no problems with the character being a woman, that isn’t my gripe at all (I like the character of Boomer and she was originally a he in the old series as well.) My problem is that like many characters that are written originally as men and changed to women the actress feels the need to try to hard to make sure the character is a ‘tough’ guy. It doesn’t read as settled. A guy, (or gal for that matter) who has lived life like you’re supposed to believe Starbuck has (i.e. gambling, tough, foul-mouthed, hot-headed maverick) is comfortable in their own skin and breathes it. This actress doesn’t have that yet. But, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt becuase she may just need some time.

Last but not least, you MUST, above all get throught the first hour of the mini-series and just deal with it. I don’t know how they managed it but the first hour of the mini-series is so dang boring, it’s such a mass of bad writing and cliches, that I very nearly gave up on watching it. But the moment the cylons attack it turns on a dime and gets real good. And the on-going series itself keeps getting better. Both of the first two episodes are probably two of the best first season episodes of any series I’ve ever seen.

My negatives are small, simple fixes that I can ignore. The pros far outweigh the negatives. I can think of a dozen things on the tip of the tongue that brush the bad under the rock of awesomeness.

So watch it. Enjoy it. And if you were a fan of the old series, give it a chance.

[UPDATE] – One thing I forgot to add. This is an ENSEMBLE story. There are no main characters. If one were going to quanitfy the main characters you’d have to say it’s the human race, not just individuals. I like that. A lot. Anyone who knows anything about my directing style from the theatre knows I prefer ensembles to movies with ‘lead actors.’ I hate that term, always will. In BG, everyone gets a chance to shine. Unlike Star Trek, so far you can’t get sick of seeing every other storyline being about Data having some new and subtle emotion of the week or 7 or 9 missing her long last sex pot status. This is just a good, strong, ensemble character driven storyline. That’s a HUGE plus in my book.