Sep 10, 2009

[TV] Battlestar Galactica Miniseries

Battlestar Galactica MiniseriesWhile going over my library of titles trying to figure out what to discuss for this week's "TV Thursday", I realized that I had never actually posted reviews for any of the Battlestar Galactica seasons. Sure, I had posted a few videos and memes related to the show and discussed my excited about the upcoming seasons at the time but for some reason I never really got around to posting actual reviews.

How weird is that. I feel like I lost a geek experience point or something.

So let's rewind a few years and start a journey of discussing what I'd definitely argue to be one of the best science fiction TV shows in a long time. One can have all these different notions about how good this show was or not, but either way it deserves some discussion time.

It all started in 2003 when SyFy (then still SciFi) premiered what is known in the industry as an "inside pilot" for the show. The Battlestar Galactica Miniseries was a risky maneuver for its time given the original 1978 series was the kind of campy science fiction action that dominated the airways after Star Wars changed the movie landscape. So a reboot or reimagination (as they had practically coined the term at the time) of the series wasn't something that was commonly done. However the fan nostalgia was definitely there along with a new set of science fiction viewers who were curious as to what Ron Moore had in store for them.

The two-part series acted on a premise that was similar to the original series but it was not quite clear if it was supposed to have a direct connection to the old show continuity-wise. It is 40 years since the end of the last Human-Cylon war and every year a human representative is sent to Armistice Station waiting for a Cylon representative. When the Cylons finally send a representative, they reveal to the lone diplomat that the Cylons can now replicate human beings and this meeting marks the beginning of new hostilities.

In the miniseries Battlestar Galactica, Capric...Image via Wikipedia

In the series, the Cylons launch a massive attack against all 12 Colonies, killing most of the human race. Since they managed to get access to the computer codes of all government and military systems through the betrayal of Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis), their offensive is met with hardly any resistance. However the aging Battlestar Galactica under the command of Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) did not have networked systems and manages to survive the attack on the very day it was being decomissioned and turned into a museum. Thus this ship becomes the backbone of human resistance and soon a motley fleet of sheets starts to form with the Galactica acting as its sole protector.

The series was just landmark for the time and certainly helped renew interest in science fiction stories on TV. The manner in which the story was handled and the detail that went into the crafting of the characters truly made for a rich and compelling story. Once this series was out, it became the most-watched TV show on SciFi in the history of SciFi at the time. Yes, the chances of it becoming a full TV show were beyond a doubt given its surprise success.

The big plot device at the center of the miniseries was the fact that the Cylons were no longer just the blocky robots of old but were now far more dangerous. The danger did not lie in their stronger Centurion soldiers and nimble Cylon Raider ships but in the fact that there were 12 different human models that the Cylons had used to infiltrate the human race. It's a classic storytelling device - introduce the element of fear and doubt into the mix and leave the characters to deal with the possibility that any of them could be the Cylons - the enemy.

Some might argue that the story was a bit too showy and some of the action that took place were just done for shock value. It's not often that an entire civilization is practically wiped out in the first 30 minutes or so on a TV show after all. Add in characters that one could claim were created to be stereotypically "cool" like the spunky Viper pilot Kara "Starbuck" Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) or others possibly casts based on pure face value like Lee "Apollo" Adama (Jamie Bamber) and Karl "Helo" Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett). All nitpicking aside, the cast worked out remarkably well together and it just goes to show that regardless of the reasons they were selected, at the end of the day they worked together and managed to present us with a very believable crew that would soon evolve into a family. It was the only logical next step given the trauma they had all faced together and the continued challenge ahead of them.

When I first saw this series on some bootleg video streaming sight, I was totally overwhelmed. In my head I knew I was more than impressed and keen on seeing the rest of this dynamic series. It wasn't all about high technology or fantastic aliens. Instead of was just a gritty military story set on an aging ship against impossible odds. It had villains that were not on-dimensional and whose motivations weren't clear at all and thus one can't help but be curious as to the true nature of their plans. In other words, it was precisely the kind of pilot show that TV executives love - the kind with a great story but with an even greater hook.

The Battlestar Galactica Miniseries gets 5 nuclear strikes out of a possible 5.

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