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Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries Review

30 Mar

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“Are you alive? Prove it.”

Battlestar Galactica is, at its most basic level, a survival story. The human race has been stripped down to around 50,000, and over the next 70~ episodes, we’ll get to know a small fraction of that, a group of characters whose worlds are shattered, who are forced to rebuild themselves–and by extension, humanity as a whole–bit by bit, day by day, battle by battle. Where this miniseries succeeds is really delving into our various characters and the places they occupy in the community, and we get a real sense of who they were before and how this situation changes them. BSG isn’t as much interested in telling stories about newfound lands and strange discoveries than it is about a ship and its crew placed into chaos.

The entire miniseries totals about three hours, so it’d be impossible to touch on everything I want to touch on without occupying six fracking pages (see what I did there?). Clearly, though, it’s a well-written, well-acted intro to the series that hones in on our characters. The central conflict–and man, it is a good one–is between President Laura Roslin and Captain William Adama, both of whom are in the positions of power they’re in because they’re the ones who didn’t die. They might have clashing ideologies, but they’re certainly effective leaders, and there’s an excellent scene in Part IV in which they take different approaches to an argument (note how Adama doesn’t refer to her as President; nice touch there) before later realizing they have to come to an understanding. They’re going to disagree in the future, but if they’re going to survive, they need to be able to acknowledge and use each others’ views. These are the leaders–only they know, for example, that Earth is just a fantasy–so they have to.

Other characters include Katee Sackhoff’s Kara Thrace, a charismatic and independent woman who isn’t afraid to punch a superior officer. I can definitely see why Starbuck is a fan favorite, and I look forward to exploring her character throughout the series. Elsewhere, we also have Lee Adama–who has some nice scenes with Captain Adama–Sharon “Boomer” Valerii–Cylon!–and Colonel Tigh–whose moral dilemma in this episode is similar to those of the leaders–but the one who has the largest role in the miniseries is Gaius Baltar. He’s really interesting because he’s definitely self-serving, but also seems to genuinely want to do good; then again, he had no qualms about what he did, but then again, he didn’t mean to inadvertently cause the end of the world. It’s a complex situation, and it’s even more intriguing with the introduction of Tricia Helfer’s Number Six. She kills a baby pretty early on–I knew something bad was going to happen, but not that–but kudos to Helfer for really making her seem kind of conflicted about it. The character’s fascinating, what with her sexual nature and her child-like curiosity both shining through at times.

On a wider scope, the miniseries deals with themes of technology (I love how nothing’s too fancy, and how appropriate that this all happens when the ship’s being decommissioned to become a museum), religion (tons of religious symbolism) and politics, drawing from fears of terrorism and war and applying that to our characters’ situations. It doesn’t oversimplify these issues, though. We’re presented with a rich, complex, and engaging story that manages to effectively pave the way for the rest of the series. Let’s get to the rest of the series.

GRADE: B+

OTHER STUFF:

-Welcome to BSG coverage! I’m expanding my TV Classic section as we move into the summer, and now, we got this and Friday Night Lights going at once. I’m thinking I’ll dive into such shows as Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, and much more.

-Some nice score work here, one which seems to replace the usual tension-filled music with tension-filled pounding. I like it.

-The most prominent example of BSG drawing from post-9/11/wars in the Middle East fears is the Cylons–we were the ones who created them/gave them the power in the first place, and now they’re turning on us, etc. etc.–themselves.

-Great opening to the miniseries. It’s intriguing right off the bat and speaks to the unpreparedness for the Cylon attack, and it also leads into a nice introduction to the ship afterward from the tour guide.

-Even after the opening, the show still had me skeptical; however, everything grew on me as I watched.

-Starbuck. You gotta love her.

-Callum Keith Rennie shows up, too, and he has a very intense and thrilling fight scene with Olmos.

-The scene where Roslin’s taking the Oath definitely looks a lot like the LBJ oath.

–The perspective you’re getting here is from a newbie. I am a newbie. I know many of the criticisms early on stemmed from people comparing this to the original, of which I have no knowledge (I know Starbuck was supposed to be a guy, and that’s about it). Any thoughts on the differences/similarities would be welcome.

-This is far from a perfect backdoor pilot, of course. Some of the dialogue is still in stages of development, and that’s understandable because the characters are still being developed. At times, the story can feel a bit melodramatic and a bit cliched, and though there are emotional scenes, I don’t feel like the miniseries really packs an emotional punch, given its premise. That’s fine, and these are pretty standard pilot problems; any doubts are pretty much erased, though, by “33”.

Photo credit: Syfy, Battlestar Galactica

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