Do I miss the original? Do bears bear? Do Bees Be? Do Ducks Duck? Does a Musk Rat Guard his Musk?
But it's not coming back, folks! This is what we get, and you'll eat it or wear it. The original Darrin Stephens ain't returning to Bewitched, Kemosabes! Dick York's back hurts and you've got Dick Sargent whether you like him or not! No, Freddie Prinze will not be in the final season of "Chico and the Man"! I miss him too, but he died, I'm sorry! I don't give a Rat's Ass whether you like Rebecca Howe or not! Shelley Long wanted to make The Money Pit and she did, so kiss Dianne's ass bye-bye! Kirk's doing movies now, get used to Picard; Dylan McDermott got canned, watch James Spader and shut up; I know Zev did nude scenes, but she's gone, and Xev's hot too; Richard Dawson ain't comin' back to Family Feud... I don't think so, Tim; and sure Van Hagar isn't so much the majestic band that gave us Diver Down, but hey, give Slammy a shot too!
That said (and I'd say this was way more than enough), taking the new series Battlestar Galactica as a self-contained entity, it's pretty damned good! BSG has the feel of a fresh show that got rid of its baggage in the mini-series and now that the set up is complete, by God, they're ready to pace themselves and build up some tension like a slowly twisting rubber band.
The new series, though a year and a month in the airing after the Mini-Series, kicks off mere minutes after the events of the second half. Sure this makes all the time wasting in the second half of the Mini all that much more insulting, however, they make up for this in "33". The uncertainty of the reasoning behind the Cylon attacks persist as the Rag Tag Fleet begins to high-tail it through the Galaxy with the Monsters of Metal hot on their tails like a bad Tabasco Joke on Curb Your Enthusiasm! The real kicker here, though, is that every inter-stellar "Jump" the fleet makes results in exactly thirty-three minutes of peace before the mech-baddies find them, no more, no less, and each time the Cylons return, the fleet has to jump again.
Naturally, no one sleeps, and because no one sleeps, mistakes get made. Things just keep getting better and better, naturally!
What separates this serial from the usual Science Fiction shows is its realism. This is no "Space Opera", by any means. This is a drama that happens to be set in space, and it deals with the phenomenal loss of the Caprica Colony in strikingly human ways. A wall of photographs of the dead and missing, hall-way-long, strikes very close to home and looks a lot like the aftermaths of our real life Earth tragedies.
And the serial nature of this new show persists as well, allowing for a well paced, slow burn as the characters begin to adapt to each other in the most unlikely of circumstances. Lee "Apollo" Adama (a rapidly maturing Jamie Bamber) and Kara "Starbuck" Thrace (diamond-hard Katee Sackhoff) are not just denied grief as they patrol the night surrounding the fleet, but they also have to deal with sleep deprivation, and the logical response to same, the affects of Stimulants.
What they don't have to deal with is the fact that their most trusted Confidant, Grace Park's "Boomer", is a Cylon Operative just waiting to pull a Rosemary's Baby out of her hat on her buddies. They shouldn't feel too Crunchy, though... because Boomer doesn't realize it either, and neither does the lucky guy who's sleeping with her (Aaron Douglas's Tyrol). Damned fine Bio-Mechanics those Cylons are, no? Let's see if we can get the fine folks at Adam and Eve to hire them!
But if realistic humanoid cyborgs aren't enough to grab your Friday Viewing Eye, the drama of Edward James Olmos' Galactica Commander William Adama and his assumption of the role of leader of the fleet. His interaction with Mary McDonnell's new President Laura Roslin is strikingly canny as impossible odds and unconscionable decisions weigh on them both. Roslin's grim task of keeping track of a rapidly dwindling survivor count is hard to watch because McDonnell is so very good at what she does.
And, of course, the Loony-and-Hating-it Doctor Gaius Baltar (James Callis) is still being haunted by his beautiful, ghostly, often nude, but never truly there Cylon Lover, "Number Six" (Tricia Helfer), whose memories and advice drive Baltar to treachery and insanity, mostly just because she's hot!
The rest has to be seen to be appreciated, and Writer/ Director/ Producer Ronald D. Moore is not above building the tension with hard-boiled situations and impossibly escalating dangers!
In the time that lapsed between the Mini-Series and the Sci-Fi Channel Season Premiere, it's clear that Moore has honed his vision of Glen A. Larson's old Star Wars Rip Off, and has added a brilliantly twisted story line to lace this serial together in a linear connectivity not seen since Babylon 5 left the air waves.
Unfortunately, he's also obviously gone to see Friday Night Lights, and liked it because the second episode, "Water", ups the ante with the "Nausea Vision". Clearly he thinks this will make Galactica a more realistic show by adding in the "Documentary Style" that passes for a trend these days, but he's really simply dating the show, and making it look amateurish.
Still, it does add to the desperation the collective crew is going through like a spatially unstuck Fun House... it's just hard to imagine a documentary Cameraman making quick re-focuses in a CGI Element that passes for deep space.
That said, "Water" continues the well-done story line that "33" set the bar so high for. Here, we see Sharon Valerii ("Boomer") starting to notice a few minor quirky things about her personality... such as the fact that she's planted a series of plastic explosives around the ship and conveniently forgotten about them! Man, I tell you what, that sounds like she needs professional help! But hey, if you don't realize you're a Cylon, perhaps denial runs a little deeper than the Nile!
One wonders how much further old Ron Moore is planning on pushing this torture of humanity thing, because, while the Cylons have apparently stopped attacking every thirty-three minutes, six detonators have gone off, allowing sixty-percent of Galactica's water to flow into space like... well, like the Nile! (I won't comment on what really happens to the old h2o in space, as I've suspended my disbelief enough to get through the credits.)
Now our Hungry Crew is thirsty too without water to quench the blaze! But Hark, juxtaposing the cold, dry crew in space is the plight of Helo, the Viper Pilot Boomer left behind on Cylon Occupied Caprica (played by Tahmoh Penikett)! Appropriately, while the Rag Tag Fleet flees from the depths of the grimy Earth like four dogs without water, Caprica is soaking wet in torrential rain storms. The Mechanical Cylons are a welcome returnee to the Galactica-Verse as they stalk Helo through the Jungle. His only salvation? Sharon "Boomer" Valerii! But wait... isn't Boomer planting bombs on the Galactica? Yep! And the newly spiritual Cylons apparently also believe in Doppelgangers! Number Six is down there pouting pretty as well.
Well Paced action and special effects are the key words to this series, however, the real seasoning and spice to the recipe is the acting. This show is a drama... an unpredictable drama set in deep space, but a Drama none the less. As Galactica-Boomer fights her damnedest to secure her innocence (at least in her and Tyrol's minds), a struggle ensues between her Cylon Side and her too-well-programmed human side! It's not an Overt trial, however, it's a slow and deep one that Grace Park goes through subliminally with her eyes. The lady can act.
She's not alone. The cast is universally well rounded and handles their responsibilities to their characters with aplomb. Moore and director Marita Grabiak realize what they have here and present the situations that offer the maximum amout of great acting opportunities. Real life isn't always heady drama, striking action or hilarious comedy, and Battlestar Galactica handles those not-so-strife-ridden moments wonderfully simply because of the backdrop these are played against. A mundane moment among terrors, tremors and depression can be like an emotional oasis, and these work on BSG!
Credit is due to both "33" and "Water", however, this isn't the brilliant show (yet) that Lost and Farscape are. There's no show like it, and ignoring my continuity complaints from the Mini-Series, this is a better show than I expected. Still, there are a few plot points left to Fizzle when no longer convenient, and the over-sexed consistency to the show plays a lot like a gratuity and a beg for ratings. (Not that I'm complaining about seeing Tricia Helfer's goodies!) The Special Effects are good for the Budget, but the CGI Cylons matted in to the natural background of Caprica reminds me much more of Who Framed Roger Rabbit than Shrek! The vastly overblown Documentary Style Camera work doesn't help matters as we see how unnecessary it's becoming to tell a realistic story. Without offering spoilers I can't say much more, but perfection is perfected in time, and the flaws here are superficial compared to the surprise of a good show.
Characters with conscience and accountability, great acting, unraveling spirituality and a building story line that is actually (drumroll) taking its time are all combining to make the new Battlestar Galactica a great TV Series. Four Stars out of Five for "33" and for "Water", two great episodes of what could become a new classic. Sure it takes itself a bit seriously, but the subject matter is serious, and its refreshing to see this sort of thing actually working without becoming corny as Jiffy-Pop! Now, if we could just get Showtime or HBO to pick this series up in a second run, we might get a more 360 view on the Cylon Babes we so richly deserve. Okay, sue me... I'll see you in the next reel, Child!
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