Earlier this week I wrote a review on the PS2 and Xbox releases of Battlestar Galactica. The original rating was meant to be a 3 1/2 out of 5, but because of our "must average" scale, it ended up getting a 4. While discussing the game with several other individuals, I ended up getting in heated debates over the new Sci-Fi Channel revision.
I myself am a Galactica fan, but from what I have read since early May involving the Sci-Fi version, all hell was breaking loose about the series being a "re-imagining" of the series, and not a remake of the original. Fanboys and fangirls alike went ballistic over the fact that Starbuck was going to be a female, and the possibilities of the Cylons being a humanoid race. I might agree with them at first, because thoughts of humanoid Cylons bring back bad memories of Galactica 1980 (if you ever saw it, you will know what I talk about), or even thoughts of the Terminator series (not as bad, even 3).
Well after watching the final product earlier this week, all I can say is that it is nowhere near as bad as these fanpeople want it to be.
Keep in mind that there is a major time difference between 1978 and 2003. We've seen the hero stereotypes run into the ground. Apollo being such a goody goody and Starbuck being a cigar chomping, womanizing, hotshot pilot are old clichÃ©s. It was time for a change. In addition, with the advent of movies such as the Terminator and Matrix trilogies, the concepts of humanoid based robots are becoming common (the T-800 series, the Smiths, and now the Cylons).
In addition, you fanboys might not remember this, but when BG was released in 1978, it was initially panned as a blatant rip off of Star Wars. George Lucas even sought a lawsuit. With today's release we won't have to worry about lawsuits, because other series such as Babylon 5 would have been hit as well.
As for the miniseries itself, I entered into it with an open mind. After the previews I saw on Sci-Fi's Lowdown special I was interested, and from what I saw, maybe the female Starbuck wasn't so bad at all. It has been confirmed that she will NOT have any romantic links with Apollo, and for the most part that is true. She does, however, have a romantic relationship with his brother, Zak. This leads to the change involving Zak's death.
Remember in the original series he was killed while on patrol with Apollo who left him to warn the fleet about the impending attack. Today he is a victim of a flight accident because Starbuck, who is also his flight trainer, passes him despite failing basic flight.
This accident also leads to another plot change involving Apollo and Cmdr. Adama. Apollo blames his father because he feels that Zak only did this to win his father's approval, and as a result, shows nothing but disdain for him. That is nowhere near the close relationship seen in the original, but then again, not all families are that close these days.
As far as Starbuck with concerned, do not let the fanboys poison your mind. She is basically Dirk Benedict trapped in a woman's body except for one thing. Change the womanizing to being a loose cannon, which she does well. From the first time we see her playing Pyramid while chomping on a cigar and punching out what she refers to as a "superior A-hole," I was impressed with her character. It got even better when she found out the one Galactica launch bay was turned into a gift shop (the Galactica was to become an orbital museum before the attacks) and she actually yells out "Frak me!"
The last major concern about the series involved the Cylons being human. During the trailers we have seen in the last few months, the only Cylon displayed was the blonde Victoria's Secret model, obviously designed to provide sexual material. What fanboys don't realize is that if you listen to the storyline closely, there are only 12 models of human Cylon (the VS model is actually the sixth). Her character even plays out a critical role in the attack. Comparing it to the original film's "Trojan horse" armistice attack on the Colonies, the new series has Number Six used as a key ploy to obtain access to the Colonies' defense mainframe.
And in doing so, she ends up seducing Baltar, who himself turns out to be a womanizer and a total moron, despite being a computer genius known for his controversial theories. This year's Baltar doesn't realize what he has done until Number Six tells him and he regrets being known for it, fearing execution for treason. It doesn't help him either that Number Six implanted a chip into his brain so she can talk to him while no one else can see her.
With this storyline, we now see why Baltar is involved with the Cylons. In the original story, all we know is that he bargained with the Cylons to save his colony, only to have the bargain altered. We now see his weaknesses with women, and in doing so he ends up being responsible for all the colonies being nuked.
The combat sequences were interesting compared to the original series. No longer do we have the same repetitive "stock footage" seen week after week. Even the ships are now different. At first the Colonies use the new Viper Mk VIIs but they fall victim to a new line of Cylon Raider. Now fully automated (no more three Centurian crews), the new Raider has a special jamming device emitted from the famous oscillating red lens capable of rendering the Mk VIIs useless. Turns out the antiquated Mk II's used by Adama during his flight days are immune to the jamming, as Starbuck finds out the hard way (even yelling out one of her famous "Frak me" lines).
The sequences are uniquely displayed with the same type of camera angles used during the Geonosis battles from Episode 2, full of unique zooms and shaky cameras. It ends up working pretty well.
As for the cast I will have to go over and rate each of the main characters separately because while some are very strong, there were some weak links.
CMDR. WILLIAM "HUSKER" ADAMA (Edward James Olmos): Talk about a surprise. I didn't think that Olmos could be at the same level that Lorne Greene was during his days. Adama is a very powerful character, and shows it well even when debating with Apollo about Zak's death. His speeches about "playing God" hit hard, and when he makes the announcement of the Cylon attack, it strikes you in the same way President Bush announced the 9-11 attacks. What gets me though is how the game version has such a wimpy character for Adama, while in this series he is so passionate. I guess war does that to you. A-
LT. LEE "APOLLO" ADAMA (Jamie Barber): Aside from the debate between himself and his father, I didn't really follow Apollo's character as well. I don't know, he just seems a little flat to me, not having the emotion and desire that Richard Hatch displayed. If the miniseries follows up with a regular series, I would love to see some improvement. C
LT. KARA "STARBUCK" THRACE (Katee Sackhoff): Forget what the fanboys maybe have told you. Starbuck is back. I could go on and on about how impressive she is, but just read above. A
DR. GAIUS BALTAR (James Callis): Another big surprise comes in the form of Baltar. At first we see him as an arrogant, womanizing smartass thinking he knows everything about computers. Leave it to a female Cylon like Number Six to convert him into a sniveling whiner avoiding persecution for what he has done. Callis does the role perfectly, and no offense to the late John Colicos (the original Baltar), but I think he has met his match. A
NUMBER SIX (Tricia Helfer): What a seductive wench! Anyone who can seduce a womanizer like Baltar to the point of obtaining access to the defense mainframe deserves my credit. She does lose a few points for being so vile to kill a baby in cold blood, but then again, I am sure the robotic Cylons would have done it as well (and then again it would have happened during the nuking). B+
PRESIDENT LAURA ROSLIN (Mary McDonnell): At first I didn't like this character. When we see her at the beginning she is simply the "Secretary of Education" and she is only concerned about herself. She has been diagnosed with malignant breast cancer. However as the story goes on she is suddenly thrust into the role of President of the Colonies. As the story went on we see her arguing with Cmdr. Adama about critical matters such as rescuing colonials or avoiding her ship being attacked by a nuclear blast. I can see potential in her character's political opinion versus Adama's military tactics, but there is still a long ways to go. C+
LT. SHARON "BOOMER" VALERI (Grace Park): If there was a weakest link to the series, it would be Boomer. We don't see her doing much aside from being a pilot whose heavy fighter crashes, and being struck into a hostile rescue situation. If it weren't for one shocking surprise at the end, the character would be a total failure, but I won't mention what it is for now. D+
I will give Ronald Moore and David Eick credit for having the balls to come up with this. We know how fanboys can be, they are passionate about their material and fear change. If they don't like it, don't watch it. Stick with your Epic series on DVD, and take Katee Sackhoff's advice: DEAL WITH IT!
GAMING NOTE: During the miniseries, codes were given out for the PS2 and Xbox games. Unfortunately there were only links to hidden still pics from the new miniseries on the games. It would have been nice if they provided some invincibility cheats or something similar, to make one tough game easier. But at least this is a good first step in game and television interaction.