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Battlestar Galactica: Season One (Now with 10% more vagina)
By RammspielerBattlestar Galactica. Yes it now has a female-to-male ratio of 2 to 1. Yes, it may be produced by the nerd equivalent of MTV. The more hardcore fans of the original, in all their fan boyish wisdom, have disowned it for "straying too far from the original". I also know that my love for the new series has made me the butt of many jokes amongst the staff here at the Raider. But I just have only one thing to say to all the naysayers. As Till Lindemann so eloquently sung in what was otherwise a pretty bad English adaptation of a good song; "Fuck you is the magic word." Or in this case would it be frack you?
In order to understand why I like this show so much, we must first list the things that Battlestar Galactica does not have that a show of it's genre should have.
Battlestar Galactica does not have:
As most of you may know, this Battlestar Galactica is loosely based on the late 70's show of the same name. The 70's version of the show was quite the opposite of the things described on the aforementioned list. After all, despite being one of the most successful sci-fi shows of all time, in the end it was a made-for-TV competitor to Star Wars. So of course it had to have aliens and lasers (thanks in no small part to John Dykstra who is well known for making Star Wars a reality and has as of late worked the same movie magic on the Spider-Man films.) But the characters and the story weren't too believable either. It was a more innocent time for television. In the end however, the same reasons why it was one of the more believable sci-fi shows of the time was what got it canned right after it's first season. It was the most expensive television show ever made and despite the good ratings and the excellent marketing campaign, it was given the Axe. There was a short lived spin-off but it was massively under-budgeted and the censors of the time insisted that it had to double as an educational show for children if it was to even be on prime time, so it got canned too and it's something that the BSG fandom would rather forget. Many proposals for a continuation were made, including one by Richard Hatch (Apollo) himself which went so far as to producing a trailer that was shown around a few sci-fi conventions. In the end, it was a proposal made by Sci-Fi channel for a mini-series based on a "re-imagining" of the concept not so unlike the "rebootings" that occur in comic book story lines, that one and it became one of the most watched miniseries of a network that has degraded itself to made-for-TV ripoffs of disaster and genetically engineered animal movies. This was enough to start a new series, and I have the first season of that series for review. So let's get this bitch rolling.I am sure that by now everybody and their mom knows that one of the more drastic changes to the concept was how some key characters have now become women and have switched races. Starbuck is now a woman, Boomer is no longer a black man but an Asian woman who is not only Asian and female, but a Cylon as well (how can you beat that?) and Colonel Tigh is an alcoholic white guy who isn't too popular with the Galactica crew. Many fanboys have bitched about this change and I would too, but not for the reasons that fanboys like to whine about. Starbuck being a woman now seems like an attempt to prove that "chicks can do the same as guys too!". Funny, I thought that by now, we all should know that. I don't know. I guess Katee Sackhoff's performance just comes off as a pissed off tomboy who always wants to prove that she can pee standing up than you know, playing the anti-hero role that Dirk Benedict made so famous. In contrast however, Boomer, whom in the original was pretty much a supporting character, now has her own story arc about eventually discovering that she is a Cylon sleeper agent and struggling with wanting to be the human that she isn't, while her double back on the planet Caprica, who is involved with an experiment with stranded human co-pilot Helo, knows that she is a Cylon, but when she grows too close emotionally with her study subject, is starting to doubt if she can go on with it after she gets pregnant of Helo. The strained father and son relationship between Commander Adama and Captain Apollo is also one of the more interpersonal story arcs that are explored in the series. I think that in all, theses changes are actually good, because they help to make this series such a dramatic departure from the Space Opera formula of the original. Here we have dysfunctional families, unwilling traitor's to humanity whom are so riddled with guilt, yet they still only care about themselves and the what's left of humanity wondering if their neighbor is a Cylon or not. Parallels with real world figures of power and how religion can affect their judgment when it comes to political and military decisions. This my friends is what a real "space opera" should be like.
Another thing that set's Battlestar Galactica apart from other shows is the atmosphere. It's an eclectic mix of faster-than-light technology and giant space craft with contemporary fashion from the real world, non-networked and outdated computer systems and 1950's era communications with bulky radios and ship-to-ship communication via telephone. At first, one who is used to seeing shows with higly advanced technology and everything else that screams "futuristic" might feel underwhelmed by this. But it has it's purpose too. In creating the perfect machine to serve mankind, the Cylons, Man also created something that can turn any computer system against him. So he was forced to "regress" a bit in terms of technological progress for fear of the Cylons. It's also weird at first to see a civilization so much like ours, right down to the language, yet with enough quirks to make it seem like indeed they are the lost tribes of humanity. Gone is the flamboyant costumes from the original and that weird way they had of telling time, but we do have "ambrosia" (an absinthe-like drink), a polytheistic religion worshiping ancient Greek gods and octagonal shaped paper, books and documents. Ok so the octagonal shaped paper is going a little too far, but it helps to drive the point home.Of course Galactica isn't without it's errors. The bad news is that these continuity errors are extremely noticeable. The good news is that it's just restricted to one story arc! Caprica was destroyed by the Cylons amidst spatial bombing with nuclear weapons. Of course a nuclear holocaust will leave a planet fucked up and whenever they show a cutaway of the planet, they show it covered in radioactive clouds and burnt from the worldwide fallout. Yet on the surface, everything is all green and dandy. A city that has had itself bombed the hell out of by an H-bomb will most likely be left in ruins and looking like shit. Not so in Galactica. Apparently, the restaurants knew of the upcoming Cylon sneak attack, so they had enough time to close shop, put the chairs up on the tables in a nice and neat fashion before the bomb. So we have city scenes with buildings still standing tall and with windows intact and no fallout despite being directly targeted by the Cylons warheads. Dawn of the Dead surely this is not! My other peeve with the show is the bizarre introduction sequences to the show. It's starts out with a sequence that gets old real quick about how the Cylons look like us now, followed by a recap of scenes from past episodes that are related to the current episode, then act 1 itself comes along, only to end in the opening credits sequence that starts out nice and ends with some rather annoying spoiler clips from the current episode.
The DVD set itself is pretty much standard for most TV shows released on DVD, so at a little less than $50 at Wal-Mart, where I got it, it's pretty affordable. The menu screens are static, and quite basic really, but it's pretty sweet how you can just stop an episode, go back to the episode menu and choose another episode right from the current episode menus screen. Most of the episodes also come with commentary from the producers that came out originally as podcasts on the show's site, so nothing is really new with the commentary if you already have all the podcasts. Sound comes in now standard 5.1 sound and only have English soundtracks with the option for English or Spanish subtitles. The last DVD however, along with the season finale, comes with a series of eight production featurettes, including how the transition from miniseries to regular series went.In all, I really don't see why the fanboys are complaining. It's an excellent show nevertheless. Stop whining and get over it. But I guess we will never understand why fan boys want to stick to the past. Some have even hinted as to how Richard Hatch, in the beginning was opposed to the new series, because his proposal got dumped for the current one. However, seeing as how he is now a guest star on the show from time to time, either he too has finally seen that the new show has it's merits, or he just needed the money real bad. Either way, I'm still waiting for season two to come out and I hope that this show will last for a while. It's already lived past the point where the original series got canceled and it has high ratings. I guess it's like Xena. It had a high viewership, yet nobody actually admitted to being a fan. Don't believe what the fanboys tell you!