So, I finally started watching Battlestar Galactica

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ronald Epstein, May 31, 2010.

  1. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    That's utter nonsense regarding why the original series, of which I am a proud fan of, is still fondly remembered. FIrst off, it was not a "rip off" of SW. That is George Lucas disinformation caused by a lawsuit he filed that was dismissed as being totally without merit. Second, the show was NOT a camp silly show in the tradition of a show like "Buck Rogers" or "Lost In Space". Conceptually, it was a much more serious, grandiose kind of show, and produced a number of outstanding episodes, such as the two-part "Living Legend" with Lloyd Bridges as Commander Cain, "War Of The Gods" with Patrick MacNee in his best known TV role outside of "The Avengers" and the last episode "The Hand Of God." These were epic style examples of storytelling that were not done for silly laughs (one of the greatest falsehoods perpetrated about the original is the notion that it was all about robot daggits etc. when in fact the screentime of the not fondly remembered Muffit was minimal) and in fact are far better examples of sci-fi storytelling than many an episode of original Trek (no one is ever going to say with a straight face that episodes like "Patterns Of Force" constitute better storytelling).


    Galactica In Name Only, was simply a politically correct rip-off that removed all of the things that made the original special. (1) Sympathetic characters (2) A universe that dared to present a conflict in the terms of moral absolutes of good/evil without falling back on the smelliest of stale cliches, "We brought this all on ourselves" (3) A universe that was actually sympathetic to the broader concept of a traditional Judeo-Christian perspective about religious matters. It was written by a person who had zero understanding of the original series (by his own admission he had watched only one episode since 1979 when he first put things together) and who treated the fanbase that had kept interest in the property alive for 25 years and who had simply hoped to see some closure to the series they had enjoyed, with the shabbiest contempt and condescension I have ever seen from an individual (and now this person has taken to referring to himself as the "creator" of Battlestar Galactica, which he is not entitled to do)


    Yes indeed, people are entitled to their opinion, but the condescending arrogance of the GINO fanbase as to why their show is viewed with total contempt by those of us who feel otherwise, in which they presume that we are somehow fans of this show for reasons borne out of an obsession with 70s hair and kiddie-fare (which Galactica was not) and are somehow not appreciative of so-called "good writing" is the most inexcusable thing about this controversy I've seen. No one bats an eye when one expresses a preference for the original Planet Of The Apes movie over Tim Burton's dreadful version, and it's no different for those of us who defend the original and the REAL Battlestar Galactica. Consider me among those who will never understand the obsessed determination to call GINO some magnificent work of art immune from all forms of criticism.
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Travis,


    I agree. I was somewhat a fan of the original series. However,
    it was just...well...campy. You are absolutely correct that they

    took the show's original concept and made it into something that

    has real substance.


    I just finished Season Three and briefly started watching the

    first episode of Season Four (before I was interrupted). I did

    not watch RAZOR. I will comment on that at the end of this
    post.


    I have to say at this point of where I stand in the series I am

    completely blown away by what I have been watching. Rarely

    do you see a science fiction series that has so much heart to

    it. I love the way the show not only focuses on its characters

    but delves into their inner minds as well.

    There's an episode that deals with the people and machinery

    deep in the hulls of the ship with a camera that takes you
    through a fuel line and out the other end where crew, covered

    in oil and soot who labor over the processing of Tylium. It is

    those rare moments where you look into the bowels of what

    makes Galactica run. Though it is just a small story it really

    builds upon the concept that all of this could be very real.


    There's a memorable episode in Season Three that takes place

    in a boxing ring -- however its setting is used merely as setting

    the tone for flashbacks that are intertwined with the struggle that

    is taking place in the ring. It's very hard to explain unless you are

    familiar with the episode but it is one of the most riveting and

    emotional moments of the entire series.


    I also felt that the "Crossroads," the two-hour finale of Season

    three that (in being careful not to spoilerize) involved a tribunal

    and strange music throughout the ship was one of the best
    season revelations/cliffhangers I have seen to date.


    There is real craftsmanship in the photography and editing

    which enables the producers to tell a story each week in a

    very interesting manner that keeps one at the edge of their

    seat or pulls every bit of emotion it can out of your body.


    Now about RAZOR....Should I have watched it prior

    to starting Season Four? Essential? Any good? I just

    wanted to start Season 4 which is why I skipped it.
     
  3. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    The question of "When to watch Razor?" has been a semi-debated topic in other BSG threads but I don't want to get into spoiler territory so I'll be cautious.


    Chronologically, Razor takes place during S2 but it aired in between S3 and S4 so you can watch it any time you want now. If I were you, I'd just take a look at it when there isn't a 'To Be Continued' at the end of an episode. Someone with a better memory than me (Josh Dial is a BSG encyclopedia) will correct me if I'm wrong but I think episode 2 of S4 doesn't end in a cliffhanger so that's as good as place any to watch Razor.


    Either way, don't sweat the exact placement because you don't NEED to see Razor but it's still a pretty cool little mini-movie.
     
  4. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Razor has some good elements, but the main plot isn't one of them. Think of it as Galactica-light.
     
  5. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    I don't know what exactly "politically correct" means -- sometimes it is used when a show has people of other races than white, but the original Galactica did that too (Boomer and Tigh). Sometimes it means relativistic morality, but that's...that's always been the case with everything. Sometimes it is used when people use neutral words instead of biased words, but Galactica is full of nasty terms for the toasters. Pardon me, Cylons.


    But it sounds like this vague charge was being leveled at the current Galactica because the current Galactica presented the theme of responsibility (which was showcased in Adama's speech at the ceremony in the first episode). It may not be fashionable to have villains with motivation, but, it is more realistic.
     
  6. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Actually, I'd say it was a lot more politically correct on the part of GINO to (1) take the two most traditional old style male warriors of the original, Starbuck and Commander Cain, and then purposefully make them butch females and (2) to take the character of Colonel Tigh and NOT make him a black man after loading him with all these dysfunctional problems and character flaws the original did not possess. Of course what really struck me as so funny when forcing myself to watch S1 was how the whole soap opera with Tigh and his wife and between "Adama" and his son, was nothing more than a warmed-over retread of the plots of one of the worst movies I ever saw, "In Harm's Way".


    As for villains with motivation, the original gave it in simple terms as Adama summed it up at the beginning of the pilot movie. "They hate us with every fiber of their being. We love freedom, independence, the right to question.....to them it is an alien way of thinking. They will not accept it." That to me, sums up more credibly the motives of an adversary that commits acts of genocidal destruction than any of the "complexity" that others often presumes to masquerade for supposedly deeper thinking since it is in keeping with the realism of how genocidal regimes have come to be and carried out their acts of genocide.
     
  7. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    I wouldn't call making Starbuck a woman was politically correct, more like they wanted some beauty for the male fans to watch. That could be considered "sexist" as much as it could be considered "politically correct".


    "'They hate us....' ... That to me, sums up more credibly the motives of an adversary that commits acts of genocidal destruction than any of the "complexity" that others often presumes to masquerade for supposedly deeper thinking since it is in keeping with the realism of how genocidal regimes have come to be and carried out their acts of genocide."


    Hate, because they hate. Well that may apply to the followers, because certainly they are prompted to hate for any reason that can impel people to hate -- and any lie will do -- but you'll find that even the most insane dictators tended to write entire books about their reasons, which the dictator actually believed were sound.
     
  8. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    But there's one other thing to add to the subtext regarding why the Cylons in the original series could not be viewed through shades of grey. In "War Of The Gods" we in effect learned that the robot Cylons who had fought the thousand yahren war against humanity were in effect the creation of the Devil himself and brought about the destruction of the original race of Cylon reptiles. The ingenuity of casting Patrick MacNee in this role of Count Iblis, the Devil, after previously utilizing him for the voice of the Imperious Leader (and specifically referencing the connection) gave the whole conflict its deepest subtext possible.


    Now this may or may not be philosophy one can personally agree with, but one thing it is not, is storytelling from a "camp" context. And that is the thing that has to be recognized about the original series. That regardless of the flaws it had (and no fan of the series denies them; but then again Star Trek fans have their share of clunker episodes big time, and they didn't just all start with Fred Freiberger in S3), at its best, it offered some very good sci-fi storytelling that equaled if not exceeded the best that had been made *up to that time*. And Galactica I would note was also the very first sci-fi series in television that broke away from the completely self-contained format, and sustained an underlying running subplot in which you had to pay attention to what had happened previously. And in Galactica, strong guest characters who were around just once were never forgotten and not referred to again (Jane Seymour's Serina or Lloyd Bridges' Commander Cain) unlike previous sci-fi shows. In this way, it was Galactica that opened up the doors for the kind of serialized sci-fi storytelling that has become the norm. And that kind of respect is something it would be nice to see others acknowledge for a change.
     
  9. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    Are we seriously going to have this discussion again?
     
  10. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    The simple way for the discussion to end is for the fans of the other show to quit succumbing to this incessant urge to run down the original show with mostly inaccurate information about it, and insult the fanbase of the original show for preferring it. That is chiefly the reason why so much bad feeling erupted over the last few years concerning this issue.
     
  11. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    I loved Razor. It's not essential to the forward thrust of the last couple seasons, but it does a good job of illuminating other facets of previous events, and it's a good, action filled romp on its own.

    I think I watched it between seasons 3 and 3.5 and there's is one dialogue exchange in it that colors the big cliffhanger of season 3 with a little more of a sense of "uh-oh"- although I suppose most people seeing the big reveal would already have a sense that things aren't quite as rosy as they appear.
     
  12. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    What I like about watching Razor in S2 is that that dialogue (to keep it spoiler free) starts to lay that story line down much earlier on in the narrative than it does when you watch it between the third and fourth season.
     
  13. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Ron, you should watch Razor at some point soon. It takes place during season 2; however, there is what might be considered a minor spoiler for the season 3 finale. Since you have already seen the season 3 finale, it's fine to watch Razor.


    I liked Razor. I thought it was a well made film (which aired in between seasons 3 and 4), and there is a flashback sequence in it that is outstanding.
     
  14. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    I like the original show. I watched it when it aired. I even went to the movies to see the re-edited version of the pilot (in "Sensurround!"). I picked up the series on DVD when it came out. It's a fun show. But it's not mature science fiction.


    A lot of words come to mind regarding the modern show; "politically correct" is not one of them. "Mature" does. "Complex" does.


    In rock and roll, when one band records another band's song, it's called a cover. The ultimate goal of a cover is to bring something new to it, make it greater than it was, and make it your own. A good example of this (coincidentally) is Jimi Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Dylan wrote and recorded the song for his 1967 album John Wesley Harding, which was a somber, acoustic collection. Hendrix recorded the song for his Electric Ladyland album and created the rock song that everyone knows. It's been recorded many times since then, by many other artists. Everyone still turns to Hendrix's version; it is widely considered the best.


    Most remakes of old shows or movies aren't very good. The reason for this, IMO, is because the remake begins with the studio beancounters who are aware of properties that the studio has the rights to and who want a product with some name recognition to bring the built-in audience. But most of these are uninspired. Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes is a good example of a studio's desire to bring a well-known franchise back to life that resulted in a huge failure. I've never met anyone who thinks the end result was good.


    Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica is a good example of how this is done right. Moore took the original idea, added something to it, changed it a bit - or played it his way, to use the rock and roll example - and the result is a classic (yes, a classic) show that expands on the original in every way and makes it more mature, more complex, more meaningful. Moore's Galactica is Hendrix's Watchtower. It's the definitive version. That doesn't discount Glen Larson's (or Bob Dylan's) version. (And there are likely to be more versions of BSG - a new film by Universal and possibly Bryan Singer is said to be progressing that would be different from the old show and the new.)


    So, I like the old show; I still enjoy most of the episodes (although some were too silly for me, even as a 12 year old in the late 70s); I think that show did a lot for television, bringing state of the art special effects to the small screen on a weekly basis. It obviously created enough of a lasting fanbase that Universal felt the property was worth bringing back. But the new show moves so far beyond the original in nearly every way that it's dishonest to deny it's greatness. The new show - what I like to call The Soprano's of science fiction, for the way it elevated the dramatic level of storytelling - has also added something substantial to TV history.


    Lastly, I'll paraphrase Gene Roddenberry, who was once asked about the competition to Star Trek from newer shows like Space 1999, and whose comments apply here: "I think the fans are the lucky ones," he said. "They get to watch both shows."
     
  15. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    THe only reason why Universal felt the property was worth bringing back was because of the efforts of the loyal fanbase of the original, who only wanted to see closure to the original series, and who were cruelly gypped at the last minute when the Tom DeSanto continuation project was halted, and then Moore took over the project and proceeded to ruin it for all time. In short, the ones who waited with the patience of Job since 1979 to just see their hopes rewarded and who spent a lot of effort and energy over the years to correct the lies and disinformation that have been told about this show more times than I care to remember (you will find it amazing how many reference books don't even mention that the George Lucas lawsuit was dismissed as having no merit), had to then see the property revived in a way that purposefully ran down and trashed all that made the original special.

    And I think those who would say that Galactica was not "mature" sci-fi in the tradition of "mature" sci-fi that is revered like Trek, haven't actually watched the series closely enough. If a show that produced great episodes like its pilot, "Living Legend" can't be appreciated as good sci-fi drama of the day, then that means Trek TOS was not "mature" either.

    I absolutely reject the argument that GINO's "greatness" has to somehow be accepted as an objective truism of life which is what its supporters seem to keep constantly trying to assert as if it is somehow exempt from any kind of criticism whatsoever. I see nothing "Great" in a show that decided to remove all of the underpinnings of the original that made it special to its fanbase (in effect, Moore remade Galactica in the image of those who hated the original), and also chose to appeal to the lowest common denominator with its sex obsession from the get-go, and its dislikable characters who were just warmed over retreads from a bad movie like "In Harms Way" (which Moore openly admitted was a favorite of his). And what I also find amusing all these years later is that at the time, the principal argument made to justify this version rather than the continuation we had hoped for was that reimagining was needed to "broaden" the fanbase. In the end though, this version was the ultimate niche property, never attracting a rating higher than what it got the night it debuted and taking a slow escalator ride down in the ratings ever afterward (and getting a rating even worse than the XFL did the one time NBC put it in prime-time) and but for the fact that it was the teacher's pet project of Sci-Fi, it would never have lasted as long as it did.


    That is my view of things, and I make no apologies for holding these views. And because I and many hold these views does not mean we are capable of appreciating good writing, good drama etc. The reason why we're still fans of the original all these years later is because we've learned as adults to appreciate things about it that we didn't quite see the first time as kids, and that is the real testament to a show's long-term staying power.
     
  16. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Hey, you're entitled to your opinion, but this is wrong. There are many, many elements of the original show in the new, from Adm. Cain, the Pegasus, Kobol, the Rising Star, and on and on. Even the spirituality of the original is there. The new show followed the trajectory of the original in a lot of ways. Moore's show - while not for everybody - is certainly not what I would call an appeal to the lowest common denominator.


    We get it, Jack, you don't like the new show. That's cool. Don't watch it.
     
  17. Corey3rd

    Corey3rd Screenwriter

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    You really think the new Battlestar appealed to the Lowest Common denominator? The series won a Peabody Award. I don't know of too many dumb guy shows that win a Peabody.


    When a pal of mine told me his producer boss was in the process of reviving Galactica, I was expecting the campy worst. I didn't like the gender changing. Or the flesh cylons. And then I watched the show. It was worthy of being revived. The changes in gender worked. The show was intense in attitude and dealt with more issues than the original one.


    Unfortunately the show has inspired way too many suits to green light revivals that stink.
     
  18. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Using names of ships, or characters radically altered from how they were in the original (and I could smell the device of turning Commander Cain into a female right from the outset, in keeping with Moore's PC philosophy) is nothing. That's why the show is called Galactica In Name Only by the original series fanbase. As for the "spirituality", Moore's show decided to make the genocidal maniacs a close parallel to American Christians while making the other side Greco polytheists and in the process turn upside-down the religious underpinnings of the original that made it uniquely different from other sci-fi shows of the day. And as for appealing to the lowest common denominator, I only had to see that verified in the opening scene of the first episode with the bizarre introduction of the Cylon slut and the hot sex scene before bumping the crewman off (so much for professionalism in the ranks) followed by the repeated handjobs on the Baltar character. Graphic sex galore and dysfunctional characters is no more the essence of Galactica than it would be for a reimagined Star Trek.


    I'm not going to begrudge those who want to enjoy GINO. But whenever the praise is made at the expense of the original, and often in the form of repeating things about the original that are not true, then that is when the controversy gets revisited. Original series fans like me will not accept the notion that the original only has value as kiddie-fare and is for less deep minds etc. which seems to be the persistent mantra that comes out of the ranks of the GINO fanbase.
     
  19. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Speaking of a persistent mantra...
     
  20. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Like I said, you can discuss it to your heart's content. The only reason I jumped into this thread had to do with the comments about the original.
     

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