Battlestar Galactica: Miniseries.

So, here I finally sit down and start talking about the revamped Battlestar Galactica series. As I said in the preface, I was a big fan of the original series, and the revamped series was, of course, very little like it other than in name, names and the big event that starts it all. Beyond that, it’s a much darker, serious and dramatic series, that also contains a lot more sexuality than the original series did. One of the things that I found off-putting about the revamped series was that it seemed to be trying to pack in far too many updates and cool things: shaky camera, deep drama, highly-charged sexual atmosphere, so much so that it kept forgetting why it was doing those things in the first place.

But I’d made another mistake before watching it for the first time, which was to watch the “Making Of” episode first (or at about the same time). So I’d heard about some of the changes and was predisposed to dislike them. For example, I’d heard about Starbuck’s sex change and was skeptical, but then I watched the “Making Of” or read something about how that was done because they want to show how men and women could work together as colleagues without sex coming into play. Yeah, and look how long that lasted. But it was also the cause of the breakup of the main triumvirate that made the original series memorable. We all remembered Apollo and Starbuck as well as Boomer, the three fighter pilot heroes and friends who did pretty much all the work. Well, with the way the revamped series did it that was completely lost. Apollo wasn’t part of the Galactica’s crew originally, and came on later. He had a past with Starbuck, but didn’t know anything about Boomer. Boomer was friends with Starbuck but not Apollo, and her story arc had her associating more with Chief and Helo than with Apollo and Starbuck. Since Apollo and Starbuck’s relationship was definitely more abrasive and sexually charged in the revamped series, that main core was gone. And there was nothing to replace it, except again a more sexualized Boomer, whose first introduction includes having sex with the Chief.

Add to that that a lot of the elements in the revamped series were closer to DS9’s than the original series — prophets, how religion was done, and enemies that can hide among you and the paranoia that that fosters — and it’s hard to see how the two series relate at all. And so starting from the premise that the two series are supposed to be linked it’s hard to like this series, since it seems to ditch a lot of what made the original series good, and I, at least, was not convinced that the new things made up for it. It took, as I’ve said before, the board game to get me thinking of this series as its own series, and not just a crappy remake of a cheesier and yet somehow much better series. So, on its own, does the series stand? That’s partly what these recaps/reviews are aimed at trying to answer. So let’s get onto the actual series, starting with the miniseries.

Now, one of the first things to note is the change in the origin of the Cylons. In the original series, the Cylons were at least nominally an alien race that had attacked another race near the humans, and the war had started when the humans intervened. Here, the Cylons were built by humans who used them as slaves — or, rather, as machines — who attained sentience, rebelled, started a war, and then took off for parts unknown. Right off the bad, the moral ambiguity is introduced, and I’m not all that impressed by it. Considering how this starts, some unambiguous evil or at least malice might have been preferred. But then maybe I just like my morality a bit less gray than some people do …

Anyway, the intro is effective, but just highlights how sexually charged this is. Since about 90% of the time you see a 6 model it’ll be doing something sexually, I really wondered if she was supposed to be a sexbot. Here she walks in in a sexy manner, and starts trying to answer, it seems, if the Colonial diplomat is alive by kissing him. I’m not sure what kissing is supposed to prove, and she never really explains it. And, of course, while that’s going on, the Cylons blow up the station, killing everyone — but since the Cylons resurrect (although we don’t know that yet) that 6, at least, is okay. One problem with this is that later they’ll reveal that resurrecting too often can be problematic for them, which is a little inconsistent. But that’s minor compared to the other inconsistencies we’re going to have.

Anyway, the main theme and intro comes in at this point. You’ll not be surprised to learn that I like the theme from the original series better, but that was a more epic and heroic series. It’s a better song, but it wouldn’t really fit in this one. As it is, this theme works well and seems more cinematic, especially when you watch it more than once.

Anyway, what we have next is the opening credits, which intermixes some of the main characters on Galactica going about doing their everyday business. It does work not too badly to show some of the people whose survival we’ll hopefully be cheering for over the next four seasons. Let’s see how that turns out.

So after we see Tigh getting drunk and everyone else working, Adama comes down to the main hangar deck and is presented with his old fighter, that they’ve recovered and rebuilt, and a picture of him with his two sons standing by it when he was still in service. And in the picture, Adama really looks like “The Fonz”. I mean really looks like “The Fonz”. I’m not sure why that happened, but it did.

Anyway, now we have our first introduction to Starbuck, in the card game, and our first introduction to Boomer, which is basically her being called a rookie by Starbuck and punching her, well, like a girl. Sheesh.

Anyway, Tigh and Starbuck get into a name-calling session, with Tigh calling Starbuck out on her lack of discipline and Starbuck making a reference to Tigh’s wife. We’ll find out why that’s a problem later. Anyway, Starbuck wins the hand and does a little celebratory dance, and Tigh — demonstrating the stability and vindictiveness that we’ll come to expect from him — flips over the table. Starbuck reacts by slugging him, and the other officers like Boomer and Helo get in-between them, and Starbuck pretends like she’s okay and then tries to get at Tigh when they relax. It doesn’t work. Tigh orders her to the brig pending charges.

Now, this is where even if you are okay with the gender change you’ll see that the Starbuck in the revamped series is the inferior Starbuck. In the original series, Starbuck was your typical rogue character: he had a temper, sure, and wasn’t above cheating and manipulation, but under it all you were sure that he cared, and was generally a good guy. Boomer and Apollo were both straight-laced enough to make good foils for him without it being antagonistic. But Starbuck in the revamp is basically mean and angry and stupid. Why in the world would you strike a superior officer for flipping over a table? What good would it do? None. At least original series Starbuck would have known it was stupid, even if he’d done it. This Starbuck will show no such insight or remorse. She’ll be good at her job, but won’t be in any way admirable or even trying to do the right thing. Or so it seems, anyway.

Adama and Tigh discuss Starbuck, and Adama gets Tigh to drop formal charges by essentially pointing out that Tigh started it, which Tigh denies and then admits that he might have done. I guess he was too drunk to remember what he did. Yep, again, the model of stability and generousity. If you come out of this part of the miniseries liking either Tigh or Starbuck, I have no idea what you could be thinking. Adama comes across well, though.

Next, we move to Caprica City, on Caprica, and future President Laura Roslin sitting in a very large and empty room, waiting for the doctor. It doesn’t seem that empty at first, since she’s in a little alcove, but as the doctor walks in … yeah, that’s a very empty room. And I’m not sure why it was done that way. Why would any doctor have an office that big that actually echoes when he talks? I mean, on a very overpopulated world — something like Coruscant or Mars in Babylon 5 — the argument would be that empty space is at a premium, and so having the money to have space be empty is a sign of status. But we’ll see later that Caprica still has wide open fields and even parks. It’s not that crowded. So what does this serve, if it serves anything? And this almost had to be deliberate; you could have found an office in any building that could have done this scene. Anyway, we don’t find out really what the doctor said until later, and so move ahead to Roslin, presumably, taking off in her ship to head to Galactica. Where we meet her aid, Billy, and see Roslin essentially shattered. And from her reaction, we can pretty much guess what the doctor said, if we were paying attention.

Oh, look, it’s 6 again. Are we going to have a sex scene? Surprisingly, no. This is the famous/infamous baby scene, where 6 makes small talk with the mother of a small baby, holds it, puts it back, and then snaps its neck. Now, I’m not sure why the snapping of the neck was needed. We already pretty much considered her evil; she didn’t need more villain cred. So it would have been better, I think, to leave it out and give her some humanity, especially considering how the character plays out. But from the scene itself it could have been accidental. Still, this is an odd scene.

Anyway, moving on, we now meet Gaius Baltar, and 6 the sexbot again. Baltar will be revealed as someone who is selfish, egotistical, and randy, and that’ll be pretty much his entire character throughout the whole series. He does re-introduce the idea of the ban on computer research, but that’s shorter than the sex scene with 6, and about as relevant. It’s here that they introduced the “glowing spines when having sex” bit, which they thankfully dropped.

And in the next scene, we meet Lee Adama, or Apollo, as he lands on Galactica to take part in the ceremony decommissioning it and retiring it. And he acts like an arrogant jerk for pretty much all of this scene, but at least he’ll get better later. But so far, almost everyone we’ve seen has been a jerk. That’s not a good sign. I’m supposed to want these guys to live, and I’d almost rather these guys all die.

And here we get our first introduction to Boomer other than as an aside, and it’s that she’s not good at landings and … is having sex with Chief Tyrol. And if it wasn’t clear before this, the revamped series is clearly not meant to be a family show, with the very large amount of sex in it. Which is a shame, since I got into the original series watching it with my parents when I was a kid. Just more evidence that the two just aren’t related beyond the name and general story.

So, we get the introduction of Apollo to the rest of the flight team, in a scene that does nothing other than to hint of problems between Apollo and his father … which, since later they’ll spell that all out, makes this a fairly pointless scene. But at least it’s short.

So now we have another short scene with 6 and Baltar, where 6 makes it clear that she was playing around with Baltar’s code and, in fact, talks about her religion. But it seems that the religion she talks about was a valid religion, and one that Baltar isn’t surprised to hear about. She doesn’t talk like it’s the religion of Kobol, and yet he doesn’t even bat an eye. It’s not until Caprica that we discover that there was a religion like that, but it’s not as accepted as this would seem to be.

I didn’t like the museum thing as a tribute to the original series.

Billy starts his tradition of getting lost on Galactica, and runs into Dee in the communal bathrooms. That scene seems to add little. The later run-in would set everything up just as well.

I also don’t see the point of the next scene, where Adama and Roslin get into a discussion over networks on the ship. We already knew that there weren’t networks — Doral told us — and it’s not likely that there were going to set them up right before the decommissioning speech. Adama is not likely to be commanding the ship once it gets turned into a museum full time, so why even talk about it? This is another of those little short scenes that doesn’t really seem to do anything except drag the show out just that much longer.

And now, we get to the scene where Apollo goes to visit Starbuck in the brig, and we get told about their past. It all starts with Zac, who is already dead. I liked the original series’ death better, as it was more poignant. Anyway, we get the hint that Zac’s death has caused problems between Apollo and his father. And again, Starbuck turns out to be angry, bitter and mean as opposed to roguish. Apollo’s being the nicest he’s been this entire time, and gets called “a superior asshole” because of it. Now, what Starbuck gets ticked off over is a reference to Zac, when she’s calling out Apollo over his falling out with his father over it. Apollo says that Zac was his brother … and now it’s suddenly all about Starbuck, as she makes a comment as if Apollo had said that Zac was nothing to her. Well, from the perspective of the audience he wasn’t. I mean, we just learned that Zac was Adama’s son and Apollo’s brother, and we don’t learn what relationship Starbuck and Zac had until much later in the series. But, sure, maybe she could be upset if that was what he had said. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t even talking about her, and she jumps down his throat over a perceived slight that doesn’t exist. This is not the way to build a character that we’re going to want to come home every week. Starbuck, in both series, was a pivotal and important character. Is it too much to ask that I be able to like her in this one?

So now we have another of those short little meaningless scenes. Baltar is in bed with another woman — surprise, surprise — and 6 wakes him up and shoos her out. That’s pretty much it. We’ll continue this a little later.

Now we have a scene that’s actually relevant, which is the scene with Adama and Apollo. This could have replaced most of the other scenes with Apollo so far, making it shorter but just as interesting. Adama and Apollo fence for a bit, with Adama originally wanting to talk to Apollo, and then they get into a fight over Zac, with Apollo blaming Adama for pushing Zac into being a pilot and Adama saying that it was his choice and that he didn’t do anything for Zac that he wouldn’t do for anyone else. When Apollo beats him over the head with the fact that Zac shouldn’t have been flying, suddenly Adama doesn’t want to talk anymore. But it does reveal a human side to Adama, and Apollo comes off as less of a jerk than he has been so far. So it’s a decent scene. More like it and less of the other short meaningless scenes would have been a vast improvement.

Back to 6 and Baltar. She explains the situation to Baltar so as to panic him, and then promises that he’ll be saved. Later, she saves him … by standing in front of him as the window explodes behind him from the shockwave from the bomb. Uh, really? Her body would save him from that? Yeah, it’s not quite a human body but, still, really?

I liked the use of the original theme in the fly-by in the ceremony, but it could have been longer. Anyway, Adama changes his speech from a generally depressing one to a really depressing one, likely because of Apollo’s brow-beating. Roslin is the one to start the applause for the surprisingly depressing speech, which starts the process of making her be likeable.

And as we saw with the last Baltar and 6 scene, the attack has started.

Adama gets a call about the report of the attacks, and Galactica springs into action. Tigh is distracted from burning a picture of his wife — oh, how fun is he — and comes running up to command, claiming that it’s all a joke. Adama gives an inspiring speech — he gives a lot of speeches, actually — about them going to war. He then goes through a big checklist of things to get done, which includes getting Starbuck out of the brig.

We then see the Galactica fighter squadrons with Boomer and Helo acting as recon, and we’ll flip back and forth a bit between the two as this goes on. Starbuck comes into command and acts like a jerk again, taunting Tigh. Adama tells her they need fighters and pilots, and so they try to bring up the old ships in the museum and get them ready to go. Back in command, Dee points out that they’ve been having a lot of malfunctions, which is odd. Back at Galactica’s viper squadron, we discover why. Two raiders approach, stick their heads up with a side-to-side flashing eye … and the vipers go dead, and are blown out of the sky by missiles from the raiders. Boomer and Helo hightail it out of there, but will be damaged and will need repairs at some point.

So now we hop to Roslin in her ship, where they’re informed that something isn’t right. After a short conversation, they hop back to where Boomer and Helo get damaged. This hopping around is making it hard to do a recap, but it actually isn’t that bad when you’re watching it. Anyway, they’re heading to Caprica unpowered for repairs.

Back to Galactica, Adama is relating the damage they know is happening, and pushes them to get Galactica into the fight. Back on what will become Colonial One, Roslin comes up to the talk to the captain as one of the passengers has picked up the information. The very scared captain reports that Caprica has been nuked as well as a number of other colonies. Roslin takes charge and volunteers to tell them what they know, and ask the captain to see what he can do to help. She also starts organizing the passengers to get ready for an extended stay. Doral opposes her taking charge, but it’s hard to see why if he knows he’s a Cylon. Why would he want someone else to lead, or even lead himself? Is Doral a sleeper at this point? Anyway Roslin comes across really well in this scene; she leads calmly, shows concern for Billy whose family was on one of the nuked colonies, and does a good job. One character who comes across really well in the miniseries is, in fact, Laura Roslin.

Anyway, the Cylons launch a missile at them, and Apollo pulls it off the ship, shoots it, and then has it disable his ship, meaning that he has to come on board.

Now, we see Boomer trying to fix the ship and Helo trying to fix his leg, and a whole host of survivors show up to try to get off the planet. Baltar is among them. What will ultimately happen is that they’ll agree to take all the children, and then something like three others. Baltar will be tempted to cheat and steal the randomly chosen spot of someone, but will wait too long, but Helo will give him his spot anyway. The problem with this is that at that point we didn’t really care about Helo, so his sacrifice doesn’t mean anything. It makes Helo look good, but that’s about it. It would be nice if it had been with a more developed character. He also will shoot someone who tries to jump on after, making him, basically, the most likeable and maybe most effective character in the whole miniseries.

As Apollo comes on board, Doral continues his attempts to get someone other than Roslin to take charge by asking him to do it. Apollo looks at what she’s doing and decides that she’s doing a good enough job, telling Doral “She’s in charge”. But I still don’t get why Doral is doing this; all this seems to be for is to give Roslin some adversity, but it’s handled too quickly to really demonstrate anything. That being said, both Roslin and Apollo start to look like a lot better characters from all of this.

Anyway, a couple of raiders move in on Galactica, and they launch their antiques to deal with them. Although Starbuck’s won’t launch, leaving the rest to try to deal with the raiders. And they don’t. Now this is one of the problems with the revamped series. In the old series, the Cylons had the numeric advantage, the technology was equal, but the humans had better pilots, and won through that and iron will. Here, the Cylons have the technical advantage — since only the antiques worked –, seem to have the better pilots, and still have the advantage of numbers. The humans should be totally slaughtered in any battle. Every battle would be a desperate struggle to survive, with only blind luck carrying them through. That’s, well, depressing. This whole series is depressing, to be honest. I would at least have liked the humans to be more creative pilots and so have at least that advantage.

Anyway, Starbuck kills both raiders and shoots down two of the three nukes one of them fired, but the third hits Galactica and leaves it in big trouble. They have fires heading for really bad places and Tigh — oh, ye gods, Tigh — has to decide what to do. He hesitates, another officer almost takes over, and then Tigh decides to seal everything off and decompress everything, over Tyrol’s objections. This stops the fire, at the cost of quite a few crew members. Did Tigh do something competent? Well, he did kill a lot of people, so maybe, maybe not.

As we now finish out the Caprica scene, I just noticed that the old woman who was looking for her glasses had them on her head.

Back on what will become Colonial One, they receive a call to determine who is the next in line to lead the government. Roslin asks for her code to be transmitted, and there’s a very short discussion while Roslin tells us how far down she is … and then we get told that she is next in line. I found this part a bit rushed. It would have been nice if this had been extended a bit to let it really hit home. But, after this, Laura Roslin is the President and now I can say that this ship is Colonial One instead of that it will become Colonial One.

As they pull out the bodies from Tigh’s decision, we discover that 85 people died because of it. Tyrol isn’t happy about this, and complains about it to Adama, and Adama says that he would have done the same thing. Adama doesn’t really seem to show much compassion here; I would have liked a less cold delivery, but I think that’s too much to ask for that character. Anyway, they decide to make a risky jump to Ragnar Anchorage to get some weapons. We also learn that most of the battlestars have been destroyed. Adama then says that he will take command of the fleet.

Meanwhile, back on Colonial One, Apollo gets the message that Adama is taking command of the fleet, and Roslin — as if the President is the Commander-In-Chief — orders Adama to help them with rescue operations. Adama, of course, takes this about as well as you’d expect, and gets into a conversation with Apollo about it. It’s an entertaining conversation, actually, with decent banter. It gets interrupted before Apollo has to make any decisions by Cylon raiders leaping in. Apollo recommends to jump away, but Roslin won’t leave the civilians. Apollo then runs off to figure out how to defeat them, and ends up doing so with an EMP pulse. It looks to Adama, looking on, as if a nuke had exploded, and he finally shows that he actually cares about something, and really cares about his son, in this scene. This scene’s well-done, and shows a human side of both Adama and Tigh. If Tigh wasn’t such a jerk, this could make him seem almost likeable.

This is followed by a short scene about Starbuck’s viper damage and the supposed death of Apollo, and how Boomer is still missing.

Now we have a scene between Boomer and Boxey. Considering what comes later, Boxey would have made a good morality pet for Boomer, but he drops out shortly into the series and is never seen again (one of the novels actually outlines, in part, what happened to him).

Galactica jumps safely to Ragnar Anchorage, but that’s not a surprise. We then return to Colonial One, with everyone waking up after Apollo’s trick move, and he explains what he did. And I liked Roslin’s line about “Thank you, Captain Apollo, for saving our collective asses”.

Anyway, we now have some reaction shots about the deaths as Galactica docks at the Anchorage, including a morgue shot and Starbuck praying for Apollo. Which is definitely muted because we know that Apollo’s alive. They could have done the whole docking scene first, and then hopped back to Colonial One to let the audience in some way feel what Starbuck was feeling.

Anyway, they go into the Anchorage, and find Leoben. And then we flip back to Colonial One where Boomer has found them and explains to Apollo about how all the new vipers are shut down. Both Boomer and Apollo express the hope that Baltar was worth Helo — and since he was responsible for the trouble in the first place that’s not likely — and Apollo again comes across as, well, not being a jerk. He’s come a long way from where he started, in just a few short hours. Anyway, Roslin co-opts Baltar into helping her, and then asks Boomer to bring all the ships she can to Colonial One so that they can build a fleet to move to Ragnar for protection.

Now, all through this, Baltar had been having fleeting glimpses of 6, but here he has a full on conversation with her, and he starts trying to figure out what she really is. And there’s more sexing up. 6 pushes the love line really strongly throughout this, making me wonder if they really were supposed to be the actual love couple before Helo was kept on (scuttlebutt has it that he wasn’t supposed to appear past the miniseries, but they liked him so much they kept him on). Which would have a lot of things make more sense, as well as make the later associations with Hera an aside at themselves.

Adama then comes on board, and talks to Leoben, who pretends to be an arms dealer/smuggler/thief, and the crack crew of Galactica tips over a rack of explosives, and one of them rolls towards Adama and Leoben, who dive behind a bulkhead and survive. Naturally. Anyway, they were going to dig them out, but Leoben says there’s another way out. Adama tells Tyrol that’s what he’s going to do, and Tyrol asks if that’s wise. Adama says it is, and then leave Tigh in command. It seems to me that Tyrol should have asked “Is that wise?” to the second order and not the first …

Back to Colonial One. Roslin tours a botanical garden ship, and we meet a young girl called Cammy, who tells Roslin that she’s supposed to meet her parents in Caprica City. Which has been nuked. Now, in any other show, this would just be a scene to drive home the human side of the disaster. But not this one. You just know that something bad’s going to happen to her.

Anyway, Boomer returns with the last ship, and a raider jumps in, sees them, and jumps out. Then we have a really annoying circling camera work scene as they debate what to do. Apollo says to jump now. The captain and Doral argue that they should wait, and get more people off the ships that can’t go FTL. Roslin eventually decides to just go ahead and jump. Billy goes over to say something to her, and she just blurts out that she has cancer, which is generally how she reveals it. It’s never a case where it comes up or anything like that, she just blurts it out to Billy. Who, interestingly enough, already knew. Anyway, Roslin feels guilty about thinking about her cancer when all of this is happening, which makes her more likeable. Billy then tells her that Cammy’s ship will not be able to make the jump. Told ya that something bad would happen to her.

Anyway, they prepare for the jump, and the other ship captains are asking for help or at least the co-ordinates, but Apollo says not to because if they’re captured the Cylons will know where they went. Cylon raiders jump into the middle of the fleet and launch missiles, just as Apollo warned. We flip back to a few people, including the dear, sweet little girl Cammy on her ship as they all jump away safely, with the remaining ships destroyed.

Yep, something bad happened to her.

Anyway, Leoben and Adama proceed through the Anchorage, and Leoben is showing signs of illness. He dismisses it as allergies, and then pontificates. But remember that he’s trying to pretend that he’s a human, and yet he talks about God as if it’s perfectly normal for humans to do that, except that the humans tend to talk about gods. But Adama doesn’t seem to blink an eye at that. This is an inconsistency that’s never really addressed. It’s not addressed at all until Caprica, and not done well there either since the God religion was not standard.

Anyway, Roslin arrives at Ragnar Anchorage, and runs into Tigh. Who is staying completely in character and being a jerk, refusing to offer any help to them. Tigh says that there’s a war on and so preparing for that is his priority. Roslin says that the war is over and they lost. Tigh denies it, and Roslin tries to give Tigh orders, implying that the President is indeed the Commander-In-Chief and so is legally able to give those orders. Tigh says that she doesn’t give orders there — likely because she’s a school teacher, as Adama griped earlier — and things get heated. Apollo steps in and asks for some disaster pods to get at least some help, and Tigh says he’ll do it because Adama will be so glad that Apollo is alive, and promotes Apollo to CAG.

Anyway, Billy is walking with Baltar and is lost again. We then cut to Tyrol meeting Boomer and Boxey, and being overjoyed that she’s alive, which was a nice scene. Back to Billy, he sees Duala again — and she just kisses him, for no reason. The music was good, though, for the reuniting scenes.

Apollo meets up with Starbuck, and there’s some really good banter there. Things will get awkward later.

And now we get to the famous scene where Adama figures out that Leoben is a Cylon and bludgeons him to death with the flashlight. Adama reveals that he’s smart enough to figure a lot of things out, but I don’t really know why Leoben said so much (like about transferring out).

Gaeta and Baltar talk about finding the virus in the new navigation program, and they talk about purging all of it. Gaeta talks about how it must be making Baltar guilty that he was responsible for it, which Baltar takes as Gaeta figuring out Baltar’s real involvement. So we find lots of hints about how Baltar is more worried about himself from his 6 imaginary friend and then she reveals a Cylon device on Galactica and leaves Baltar to decide what he’s going to do about it, since it reveals that there is a Cylon on the ship.

Baltar eventually decides to pin Cylonness on Doral, and 6 gets her line of “I’ve never seen him at the Cylon parties”. Tigh and Adama talk about Leoben, and Tigh tells Adama that Apollo is alive. We see Apollo in his father’s quarters looking at pictures, and Adama comes in. Since Apollo’s mother — Adama’s ex-wife — is likely dead, Adama says “I’m sorry”. They share a short hug revealing that they do care about each other, which is nice … although the latter part of the miniseries does that an awful lot, so much so that it loses some of its emotional impact.

Adama and Tigh basically put Baltar in charge of creating a way to screen for Cylons, which plays right into his hands.

Starbuck gets sent out to recon to see where the fleet is, and somehow decides to confess to Apollo that Zac should have failed basic flight and so should not have been in that cockpit, but Starbuck passed hum because she … felt something for him. I’m guessing it was love. Anyway, Apollo asks the question we’re all asking, which is why she told him at that point. She replies that it’s the end of the world, but that doesn’t help. There’s no reason for her to say that, really, and if Starbuck as a character could have the emotional maturity to actually know why she did say that we might be able to figure it out as well. But she doesn’t, so it seems out of place, at least slightly hurtful, and she’s hurt when Apollo reacts that way. This is not going further to make Starbuck likeable, even if it should.

And surprise, surprise, we see some armed guards deciding to escort Aaron Doral to the brig. Seems that Baltar’s Cylon screenings have identified him as a Cylon. They stick him in the brig, and Tigh asks why Doral isn’t sick yet if he’s a Cylon. Of course, Adama already knows the answer because Leoben not only had progressive sickness, he told Adama that it would take some time and so the Cylon Fleet would be able to wipe them out if they stayed. Baltar theorizes the exact thing that we know is true. Did Adama not tell anyone that, while telling them everything else?

Doral, throughout the whole thing, does a good job of acting like he’s shocked by all of this. So either he was a sleeper, or he was a really good actor.

So, using the fact that Doral is a Cylon, Baltar then blames him for planting the device. It turns out that Gaeta had noticed it and not said anything. And Tigh is surprisingly not a jerk here, saying that Gaeta wasn’t the only one who missed it and that he didn’t notice it either. Tigh, while still a jerk, softens as the miniseries weighs on, which will be really important later.

Starbuck completes her recon, and discovers that a very large Cylon Fleet is waiting for them at the exit to the Anchorage. So, no easy exit, then …

There’s a status report given by Billy, and we find out a few things, like about the prisoners on the Astral Queen. There’s a lot of that sort of thing: set-ups for the rest of the series that won’t make sense until we get there. Normally, that’s considered part of good writing, but with a full series in the offing it could have waited, and it detracts since it seems like we, the audience, are wasting time listening to little details that add nothing when we want to get to the good stuff, like the discussion between Adama and Roslin.

Adama and Roslin banter for a bit. Roslin repeats her line about the war being over and we lost, and introduces her line that the survival of the human race is about them getting out of there and starting to have babies. Adama clearly doesn’t find it as good a line as we do, and leaves. He returns to Command, and they talk about how to get out. Billy comes in, and talks to Dee. Dee says she doesn’t know why she kissed him, and neither do we. Adama is watching their conversation, and in the middle of the discussion blurts out “We better start having babies”. Apollo, Tigh and Gaeta look at him, puzzled, and then Tigh says the genuinely funny comeback of “Is that an order?”. Anyway, Adama does a full 180, accepting all of what Roslin had been saying, and deciding to take the civilians away, jumping past the red line, and going away to, well, have babies. They leave Doral behind on the Anchorage, protesting that he isn’t a Cylon the whole way.

They then engage their risky plan of having Galactica cover the civilians while they jump away, and we get the first real battle of the miniseries. And as this is in the last twenty minutes, it’s the only one. So, not an action series, then? Galactica moves out, the raiders move in, and the battle commences. The vipers are launched and there’s a lot of firepower being expended. I’m not sure I like the addition of missiles. It might make sense, but it changes the combat up quite a bit. Anyway, the battle is chaotic, the civilians jump away and Galactica is about to jump as well. Apollo is hit and his ship is crippled. Starbuck tries the very insane move of basically pushing him into the hangar. This is nice for two reasons. One is that Starbuck does realize how stupid her plan is, when he asks if she isn’t coming in a bit fast and she replies nervously “No. Not really.” The second thing is that it establishes better than anything else just how good a pilot Starbuck is. So now we have something else proven about her other than that she’s a jerk. And Apollo’s reaction when he figures out what she’s doing is priceless. Anyway, they make it in and Galactica escapes.

So, then they have a service for the dead on Galactica. The crew gives a weak “So say we all!” at the end, and so Adama, glaring at them, browbeats them into repeatedly giving a better and stronger one. Which to me reveals a problem with his understanding of religion. Most people at religious services kinda mouth the platitudes. He’s taking it as a sign of weak morale, and is probably right, but it would have annoyed me more than boosted my morale. Anyway, Adama goes on to give a speech again. He’s turning into Captain Picard. He then talks about Earth, and says that he knows where it is, and that that’s where they’re going, which seems to boost morale.

However, when he meets with Roslin later, she calls him on it. She’s sure that if anyone knew where it was, the President would have, and he didn’t know. Adama admits that he lied about knowing where it is, but was trying to give the people hope. This is another change from the original series that’s worse. In the original series Adama, due to family history and interest, had some knowledge of Earth that others hadn’t, and so it was credible that he might know or be able to figure out where it is. Here, it’s just a bald-faced lie. Given that Adama was more intellectual than others, it wouldn’t have cost much to have him have studied the myths and so believe that he has an idea where it might be. It would have taken a lot of the burden of the mythologizing off of Roslin and Elosha and made it so that there was one less source of conflict between himself and Roslin.

Tigh then comes to see Starbuck, and he essentially apologizes to her due to what she did for Apollo, about how impressive she is as a pilot. Starbuck can’t even take an apology well. She turns around and says that he’s a bastard and dangerous, because he’s weak. But Starbuck is dangerous, too. Tigh storms out, but the thing that really makes this bad is that dangerous or not, they’re all that’s left. Starbuck, again, is acting like a jerk while at least Tigh has softened a bit. Why, then, am I supposed to like her? I don’t like Tigh, and yet still like him better than her. Can we not get something that would make her seem at least a little likeable?

So here, then, is the meeting between Roslin and Adama. She calls him out on not knowing where Earth is, and then they decide to split the duties, where he makes all the decisions that are military and she takes all of the civilian. Did she, then, give up power? Is she really the Commander-In-Chief?

The split between President and Commander in this series doesn’t work that well either. All it does is introduce conflicts at the beginning of the series, conflicts that are stupid. These were avoided to some extent in the original series because Adama was both Commander and President. Yes, you had politics interfering but at least it wasn’t Adama acting like a child demanding his own way, or the President overstepping her bounds. Adama was the noble character we could admire, and we could see the others getting in their way as being the ambitious or closed-minded ones. If the conflicts were more sensible, were more about differing ideas, then it might work. But even then I’d like to see their power being more equal, with both of them having power over each other if they cared to use it and them being forced to work together despite often not viewing things the same way. But in this series of flawed characters, that isn’t to be. And so it becomes an annoying distraction.

Then we have a cool down that summarizes the characters for us as they go about their new lives. This probably could have been cut since it didn’t add much, but it’s short so it’s not a problem.

Finally, we cut back to the Anchorage to discover that Baltar got lucky and that Doral really was a Cylon. We also get a reveal that Boomer herself is a Cylon, and then the miniseries ends. It would have been better to leave the Boomer reveal for the actual series, because doing it here will cause two major problems. The first is that when we go through Boomer’s sleeper arc, we’ll know that she’s a Cylon even though she doesn’t, so we lose some of the potential suspense of wondering if she really is a sleeper or if it’s someone else. This, of course, will also cause issues for the Helo story arc since we’ll know that she’s a Cylon from the start. Now, with these two story arcs we were going to know that anyway, but all we needed was a hint that maybe Cylon models were based on real people as real infiltrators and that would be solved (even if it wasn’t true). 6 could have lied about that to make it work. But as it is, these story arcs are made less impacting by the fact that the main question is already answered for the audience.

I’m not going to give scores for these reviews, but I’d like to give a finally summary of what I thought of it. If you start from the original series and try to link to this one, you probably won’t like this miniseries, or the series itself. Taken separately, is it a good series? Well, it’s watchable. The characters, though, tend towards being unlikeable, the drama can be overdone, it’s a bit dark, and the camera work can be too fancy and annoying. The real issue is that it seems to try to do too much, and you get overloaded with all the realism and drama and flawed characters and all the gimmicks. If you put that aside and filter out what’s over the top, you can get some decent entertainment out of it, despite its flaws.

But the board game is still much, much better than the series, and it’s not in the same league as shows like Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9.

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One Response to “Battlestar Galactica: Miniseries.”

  1. Sorting … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] I did a few posts in that category, including the analysis of the Prime Directive and a full-form summary/review/analysis of the revamped Battlestar Galactica mini-series. I also have a category called Not-So-Casual Commentary, which started as a bunch of video game […]

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