TV Review: Battlestar Galactica

1 Comment

Battlestar Galactica

With the spate of ‘re-imagining’ going on these days, it’s the luck of the draw whether your childhood memories are going to be skewered through the heart or not. They blew it with Lost in Space (though I hear there’s a new pilot, directed by John Woo and written by Doug Petrie of Buffy), but, while Battlestar Galactica never held as great a place in my sub-teen heart, this time they’re right on the money. The new four-hour pilot held me spellbound from start to finish.

Despite the public complaints of a few oldies like Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo from the original series—since mollified by a role in the new series), Battlestar Galactica goes back to the start of the ‘saga’ and turns a pretty wimpy premise into a hard-hitting, gritty, modern sci-fi drama. The characters are real, the script doesn’t hold your hand and treat you like an idiot, and there’s an excellent balance of human drama and gung-ho action. Executive Producer Ron Moore gives a few respectful nods to the original series and then takes it to a new level of sophistication.

Commander Adama is played with stoic, battered intensity by Edward James Olmos (of origami-folding Blade Runner detective fame). In one scene we see him fighting hand-to-hand, but no fancy martial arts moves here; the scene is shockingly effective in it’s violent realism as he desperately struggles to win. Far from squeaky clean ‘models in space’, the characters are fallible (an alcoholic second-in-command) and interesting (the newly appointed president dealing with responsibility and newly-diagnosed cancer), and scenes don’t always play out the way you expect. Changing Starbuck to a woman was a masterstroke, as was upping the level of intensity to make her abrasive and confrontational rather than just cheeky.

The effects by Zoic Studios are stunning. They pioneered this kind of ‘hand-held in space’ camera work on the sadly short-lived Firefly, and there’s no doubt they are doing the best and most original effects work out there right now. Unlike Firefly, there is sound in space this time, but cleverly the sound is ‘compressed’ for the space scenes, an effect like listening to loud noises through earplugs, which gives us an eerie, spacious counterpoise to the action.

I’m looking forward to the start of the mini-series in a week’s time—here’s hoping they can keep the quality at this high level.

Four rag-tag heroes out of five.

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Guy Jeffrey
    Feb 18, 2005 @ 21:04:49

    Yes couldn’t agree more. Great script and production values. Got to love that hand-held in space cam.