Movies & DVD – Battlestar Galactica Season 1

4 09 2007

It’s the time of the year when waiting for the DVD release of the next 24 season gets easier. I remembered the same feeling last year as I awaited my favourite TV series… ever. The difference this year, however, is that while Emmy awards lauded on Season 5 heralded its coming, Season 6 seems to have taken a beating in fans’ opinions. While nervously awaiting facing the prospect of a “terrible 24 Season” for the first time, I picked up the Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica to ease the pain. I’ve heard of this title for some time but it being sci-fi made it hard for me to pick it up. I just didn’t think I’ll find anything new in this genre that Star Wars did not cover. Well, after finishing all 13 episodes (and the miniseries), here’s my assessment.

I found the premise of Battlestar intriguing. The opening scene of the miniseries was most promising. After an armistice was declared to stop the conflict between humans and Cylons, the latter left for deep space and were never seen again for forty years. Now, that’s a pretty long time not see the ‘toasters’ you created. And the miniseries have it that every year, the Colonials would send an officer to a designated remote space station to meet and maintain diplomatic relations. Unfortunately, the Cylons sent no one… ever. So we have an officer who turns up for duty at the quiet space station, seats himself comfortably in front of an opposite door that has never opened for forty years. Then… it opened.

That opening sequence got my attention… until Number Six catwalked her way to the astonished Colonial officer. Then the intrigue kind of lost its deep-space-anomaly-happening tension. It was just so cliche to have a model front a human-made race nicknamed ‘toasters’. A blip on the radar went on to be several blips of gradual waning interest… every time Number Six appears. Her stoic acting (although as a robotic Cylon) just destroys the build up of excitement and tension. And she goes on to appear as a calmly figment of imagination for most of the series when action is going on. It’s just so TV. Obi Wan was part of the Force for much of the OT and he still added emotions to the scenes.

There were highs in Battlestar Galactica as well. The backstory that humans once created Cylons was good. The Cylons evolving to be like humans was good as well but it relegated the armoured Cylons to foolish, slow reacting soldiers taking orders from their human-like counterparts. The revelation that the human’s home planet was Caprica was a surprise for newcomers like myself who were still trying to get the names in the show right. The designs of Battlestar Galactica, the Vipers and Raptors also grew on me. But the Cylon Raiders still looked rather darn weird with that front.

One aspect I liked Battlestar over Star Wars was the fact that dogfighting scenes between the Vipers and Raiders were almost too quiet. That was a refreshing change from Star Wars’ blaring blaster fire!

Moving on to the cast, Edward James Olmos’ Commander Adama was a powerful presence. His craggy face betrayed little emotion in the heat of battle. This commander was always sure of what he wanted. I did joked with Mrs SWFToys that Adama could not be a Cylon because a craggy face would take more effort to make than a smooth one. Talking about faces, Grace Park was another joy to watch. There’s something about the shape of her face that makes her look cute. James Callis as Dr Baltar stole many of the scenes. At the start of the show I thought he was the usual metrosexual shorty with a pretty face. As the episodes went by, not only was his character amusing, his acting was really splendid. Whenever, he was nervous, the audience was nervous as well. Whenever, he entertains Number Six, we can’t help but feel how the real person he was talking face to face with would feel from his constant state of distraction.

The rest of the crew was good but they did not leave a lasting impression. Ok, the XO’s addiction issue was played out with his character pretty well. The President, however, had the most weirdest of facial expressions. The smile made her face so rigid. Definitely aged since the Dances With Wolves days. After the many “I’m the best pilot on Battlestar Galactica’, we the audience got the idea that Thrace is the unquestionable best and maverick of pilot on the humans’ side. Adama junior made and impression with a muscular physique and similar ‘early-days’ Tom Cruise charm.

To be honest, I finished watching Battlestar Galactica ready to watch Season 2. It was pretty good. But unlike 24, it will not make me want to rave to my friends about it nor did it evoke emotions watching it. (24 was really powerful stuff… Things like the ‘Be presidential!’ admonition from Palmer.) And like most TV series, it ended with a large part of the story unfinished – a lure for the viewer to catch the next season. I was actually rather happy with the series until I polled Mrs SWFToys and she reminded me of the things I wrote earlier in this paragraph.

I’m curious how the next season will be. Will they find the ‘E’ planet? What lies ahead in Kobol? What becomes of dear Commander Adama? What about Valerii? What about the artifact to be retrieved on Caprica? All these loose ends are no doubt cliffhangers I will want to plonk my money on Season 2. That’s a testimony to the watchability of Battlestar Galactica despite my gripes.

 

 

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