Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday: On Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Among the genre shows I fell in love with (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Supernatural, and Doctor Who primarily) I also had a longstanding affair with the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. I tried to love Caprica, but I still feel that the show waited until what was unfortunately the end of their run to come out swinging. 

But when Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome was announced, I got frakkin excited. I don't even care if this blog doesn't generate the numbers that pissing all over Christopher Nolan films does, I had to take a moment to talk about this webseries/potential pilot for the (alas) now dead project. I loved this feature-length webseries. I loved it for all the reasons I loved the show, condensed into 90 minutes. For me, this is a prequel done right. 

Most Idiotic Review

"The reason the reboot of Battlestar Galactica worked so well was because of its adult themes, sophisticated characterisation and involving story arcs, performed by a cast of very talented actors. What we have in Blood & Chrome is none of these things ... I can only assume that this substandard, humourless clone of a mediocre episode of Stargate SG-1 was intended to hook a younger (and stupider) audience than the original series because aside from some of the spaceships, it has nothing at all in common with it." — garyX (Rotten Tomatoes)

What I really take umbridge with in this review is how f***ing boring the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries is in comparison to the rest of the show. It's not bad by any means, but it wasn't introducing extremely adult themes, involving story arcs, and my interpretation of the characters after my initial viewing of the Miniseries was that they were archetypal at best, and cliched at worst. Seriously, Saul Tigh is a commander with a drinking problem. Starbuck is the ace-pilot with an authority issues. Adama is the wise captain who is beloved by his crew, except for his son, Lee, who has issues with him. One of the pilots (boomer) has a forbidden relationship with the deck Chief. The only interesting character right off the bat for me was Baltar, and he remained so for the majority of the series. 

The rest of the cast certainly gained depth over time, and I'm not saying they were horrible by any means, but in the Miniseries they weren't winning any awards in my book. Well, this was doubling as a Pilot for a prequel show. Let's face it. These writers have never come out of the gate swinging necessarily. Battlestar just had a leg up that the inciting incident of the show was humanity getting wiped out. After that kind of opener, the story tends to write itselfif you're writing sincerely, and I'm pretty satisfied they were.

The only thing that I really enjoyed more about the reimagining was the theological implications raised by the show (that were dashed pretty badly during the fourth season, but I di-f***ing-gress. Those are nowhere to be found here. I think Blood & Chrome was operating under the 'No atheists in Viper Cockpits.' Ludicrous.

Most Accurate Review

"Much of the production team from the incredible Battlestar Galactica series - executive producers, writers, visual effects supervisor, composer - are on hand to bring this lavish, adrenaline-fueled movie set 10 years into the first Cylon War. Conspicuously absent though is the man who gave the show its true heart & soul, Ronald D. Moore. The followup Caprica series was not as well received by fans for its cerebral storytelling, so they went in the opposite direction with Blood and Chrome - this thing is almost all action .... it was great donning a flightsuit and manning a Viper once again, and the first sight of the Galactica brought a lump to the throat proving that there are many stories left worth exploring in the BSG universe." — DrStrangeblog (Rotten Tomatoes)

I definitely spent a great amount of the run-time thoroughly giddy at simply returning to the BSG. A lot of the sets were recreated digitally, and I'm pretty sure a majority of the budget went to those effects, since some of the other scenes ... weeeeell, let's just say the script's ambition outreached the capabilities of the effects department, who were obviously trying their hearts out, so I'm not bothered. 

It does feel very much like a homecoming for a fan of the reimagining, with the writing, stylized dialogue, and world largely intact. I think actually this is what Star Wars fans were hoping for with the prequels they got slammed with. Poor guys. 

As DrStrageblog pointed out, this show really swings the pendulum the opposite way from Caprica, trying to launch the Viper Firing so to speak (I'm full of puns today ... not sure why). While I might actually prefer the slower pace of Caprica, I think this model had more room to wiggle through. I feel like if you start with a family drama primarily focused around a scientist, a lawyer, and a robot-girl, it's harder to showcase the action (not impossible by any stretch), but a show focused around military-life already has a story that can easily slip into drama ... with explosions too. Win/Win!

What I Say

It's not often I can come out and say how much I love something, but I really loved this. Why? I'll try to be fast.

PlotThe basic premise of the show is following William Adama as a young hotshot on his first covert mission aboard the Battlestar Galactica. It's ten years into the war and things are not as they seem. It's got a real buddy cop element to it with ... I guess a femme-fatale? I will give credit, while the story is not necessarily the most original (which I totally lambasted Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for in my review of it), it has enough twists and turns that it kept me pretty engaged, which is rare for a prequel. Most of the time, there's not really a lot going for the plot to be surprising. You know who'll live, you'll know who'll die, and you know what the ultimate outcome is. It's pretty hard to build tension out of a setup like that, but Battlestar Galactica left most of this area vague enough to still instill some pretty invoking drama.

CharacterI know a big complaint about Blood & Chrome was Luke Pasqualino's casting as a young William Adama, taking over the role made iconic by Edward James Olmos. I actually liked his portrayal. He was a bit of an asshole, I'll give him that, but if anything, he seemed like an odd amalgamation of Starbuck and Apollo from the original. He had Apollo's sense of duty and morality, but he had Starbuck's cocksure attitude and independence. The rest of the cast is pretty interesting, but I'll mainly focus of Coker, who's only forty-seven days from retirement, as he will constantly remind you over the course of the show, leading to only one of two possibilities, either he'll die, or he'll reenlist due to the effect our patriotic and idealistic William Adama has over him. That was my takeaway.

Spectacle — As I said, the effects aren't as good as the previous shows, but they're still trying really hard to bring that same weight Battlestar Galatica had, even if they're falling short. The designs are very sleek and nice, and in some cases (like the titular ship) identical, while some things, like the Cylon Centurions, Raiders, and Basestars are updated in a retro way (it is a prequel).

Still, if you're a fan of Battlestar and were a little less than thrilled by Caprica, maybe this will be more your cup of tea. Alas, the show was never picked up. It's a shame, as I personally would have enjoyed seeing the ongoing adventures of young William Adama.

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