Monday, March 15, 2004

Battlestar Galactica 2003

When I heard the news that cult Sci-Fi Battlestar Galactica was being remade it sent a shiver down my spine. Here was a show, which despite it's aging through the years still invokes happy memories of childhood in me. It was the show that first got me hooked on science fiction and the television industry in general.

Then as the first pieces of information began to leak out my shiver turned into fear and in the end anger. How could they make Starbuck a woman? How could they have some Seven-of-nine look-alike as one of the main villains? A move clearly designed to appeal to the 14 year old boys out there.

Of course, all this was based on not actually seeing the 3 hour pilot and more importantly, ignoring the most vital piece of information, who was making it. Ron Moore is one of the best popular science fiction tv writers of our time. He was one of the main reasons for The Next Generations brilliance and Deep Space Nine's diversity.

And so after watching the pilot I should have not been surprised to find how good it is. Intelligent, well written, well acted (by most, not all) and well executed.

The original story was always supposed to be dark, but due to 1970s storytelling and popular culture it was far hammier and nicer than it ever should have been. This modern version is very dark.

Like all remakes, there is going to be contention about the changes. The biggest talking point which surrounds the origin of the cylons is understandable, but makes for very good storytelling. The master/creator story has been done many times before, but it still feels fresh.

The struggle between reluctant president (Roslin) and aging warhorse (Adama) is well played out and this relationship I'm certain will be of great importance as the show develops.

The relationships between the characters seem to have taken the primary role in the story, and this is long overdue. If there is a criticism of the original show, it's that the main characters were too happy and friendly. Not in this Galactica. Apollo is arrogant and self righteous (although clearly he has a soft side). Adama is stubborn and reckless, but loyal. Tigh (I'm still angry about them changing his skin colour to white) is weak and full of pain, but this adds depth to a character that deserved more focus in the original.

The introduction of human looking cylons is a nice touch and certainly saves on special effects! I was somewhat disappointed with the decision to have a sexy woman to appeal to the boys, although I was impressed with the dark sides to her character.

And finally to Baltar... his characters motives are clearly still open and the depth of his personality is far greater than that of the original. But again, the jury is still out. It's a smart angle that Ron Moore has taken with this character, and it's a risky one. Most people (myself NOT included) demand a single villain to hate. This is why the borg queen was created for First Contact. There is no single villain with the cylons, yet. And I applaud this move. Of course, I look forward to seeing the direction in which Baltar goes.

The direction of Galactica is another success. It's raw, with an almost student like intelligence. The space battles have some excellent camera movements, and this combined with the simple but gripping soundtrack is mesmerising.

Anyway... I really enjoyed this. Galactica had it's flaws, but for once I am not going to dwell on them, because it deserves recognition for taking such stick over the months during production and emerging with a well-rounded sci-fi story.

How could I have doubted Ron Moore...

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