Battlestar Galactica

“The Miniseries”

3.5 stars.

Air dates: 12/8/2003 (Part 1) and 12/9/2003 (Part 2)
Written by Ronald D. Moore and Christopher Eric James
Based on a teleplay by Glen A. Larson
Directed by Michael Rymer

Cast includes: Edward James Olmos (Commander William Adama), Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), Katee Sackhoff (Lt. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace), Jamie Bamber (Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama), James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar), Tricia Helfer (Number Six), Grace Park (Lt. Sharon "Boomer" Valerii), Michael Hogan (Colonel Saul Tigh), Aaron Douglas (Chief Galen Tyrol), Tahmoh Penikett (Lt. Karl "Helo" Agathon), Kandyse McClure (Petty Officer Anastasia Dualla), Paul Campbell (Billy Keikeya), Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Felix Gaeta)

Review Text

The first thing you need to know is that I approach the new Battlestar Galactica with something between little and no knowledge of the original series. I did not watch the original series. I might have seen part of the pilot on VHS some 15 years ago, but most of what I know about the original series is from recent articles and comments that compare the new series to the old.

So, if you're looking for an expert knowledgeable on the original series who is going to draw comparisons between the two, you're reading the wrong reviewer. I approach the new Battlestar Galactica with an awareness that, yes, there was an original series beloved by presumably many — but for the most part that's not going to be a factor in my focus. As far as I'm concerned, this is a fresh sci-fi series rooted more in the events of our current decade than simply a remake of a series from 1978.

That said, my one-word review for this miniseries would be "fresh." The story is based on the original series' premise, and indeed there's a lot of setup and establishing of characters here as an outline for a series treatment, but the look and feel of Battlestar Galactica are what set it apart from other sci-fi series like, say, Star Trek. When Enterprise began in 2001, its creators promised a fresh, more down-to-earth take on the Trek franchise. It ended up being more similar to previous Treks than different. Battlestar Galactica, however, feels like a much more modernized sci-fi series, on nearly all levels. It is essentially a contemporary military drama set in space, with notably flawed, complicated characters.

The genre to which this belongs might best be called "military sci-fi" as opposed to simply "sci-fi." The backdrop is not exploration of strange new worlds, but a battleship at war. There are sci-fi elements, yes, but interestingly, this new Galactica goes out of its way to lower the tech level and make the atmosphere less futuristic, and more contemporary. Ronald D. Moore, the series' developer, knows that audiences are more sophisticated and jaded, and that a sci-fi prop is often recognized as simply that: a prop. By removing the typical futuristic sci-fi props and putting in simple, functional human objects (analog clocks, standard phone handsets, etc.), we find that we can concentrate on the characters and dialog instead of the tech. It's an interesting approach.

I also really dig the overall production design. In the past I've poked fun at Canadian sci-fi productions because they look cheap (see Andromeda), but I suspect this isn't because they were Canadian but because they were cheap sci-fi productions that happened to be filmed in Canada (which is different from a low-budget sci-fi production). Battlestar is a solid sci-fi production, in particular with its elaborate, authentic-looking military CIC and Adama's earthy, lived-in quarters.

The cinematography is much freer than traditional sci-fi, with a lot of hand-held and Steadicam work, lending the miniseries a more contemporary, documentary feel. More to the point, this is good hand-held and Steadicam work that fits the atmosphere without being distracting (which is a potential pitfall of hand-held). As a fan of such series as Homicide and The Shield, seeing this style of camerawork workably brought to sci-fi is refreshing. Also notable is how the in-flight space combat sequences use swish-pans and snap-zooms and plenty of chaotic movement, and do so believably. The special effects don't feel like special effects, but like spontaneous photography with a visceral edge.

The setup premise: The Cylons, in what is a departure from the original series, were machines created by man for the purpose of labor. The Cylons, apparently advanced enough as artificial intelligence, staged an uprising, and there was a bloody war, and eventually an armistice. The Cylons left humanity's 12 colonies of Kobol for their own world, and there were decades of peace where the Cylons were simply never heard from. The miniseries documents how that peace is swiftly and brutally ended by a Cylon sneak attack as seen on the colony of Caprica.

Prior to the assault, the Battlestar Galactica is about to be decommissioned and turned into a museum. Talk about a swift turn of events.

In addition to the main thrust of the story, in which the survivors of the assault flee Caprica (and presumably the other 11 colonies — a point that is somewhat unclear in terms of the planetary geography), there are a ton of establishing character relationships put into play. Among the highlights:

Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) was on the eve of retirement before the Cylon assault. His estranged son Lee (Jamie Bamber) has just been assigned to the Galactica. The ship's XO, Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan), is an alcoholic who has a running feud with hotshot pilot Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff); in their first scene together at a group card game, she taunts him until he overturns the table, then she slugs him in full view of a dozen witnesses. He has her thrown in the brig.

The secretary of education, Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), has just, as in today, been diagnosed with breast cancer. She's in-flight between worlds when the Cylons attack Caprica and wipe out most of the government. She inherits the presidency and is sworn in during a powerfully depicted scene that is borrowed directly from U.S. history.

Roslin comes into conflict with Adama in the course of the storyline when she advocates taking the surviving civilian population in a convoy and retreating without looking back. Adama, a military man, plans to launch a counterstrike. Roslin rightly calls it a futile cause: "The war's over. We lost." It's the first of what promises to be many battles of ideology between the head of the military and the head of the civilian government. The performances here are effective in their understatement; Olmos has a wonderfully effective, quiet gravitas, and McDonnell is good at evoking careful observation and introspection.

One of the story's central relationships is established leading up to the attack. Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis), a brilliant scientific mind, is having a sexual affair with a tall, lithesome blonde (Tricia Helfer). Baltar is a womanizer and a boundless egocentric. When caught with another woman, he launches into a pathetically transparent series of excuses ("It's not you, it's me"), but the blonde has actually been using him. She's an evolved Cylon, the sixth of 12 models that perfectly mimic humans (Six of Twelve? Seven of Nine? Sexy blondes? Coincidence?), and had coerced Baltar into granting her access to the defense mainframe, which allowed her to deactivate crucial defenses permitting the surprise Cylon attack and nuclear bombardment.

What's great about Baltar is the multifaceted nature of his culpability. On the one hand, he did willingly compromise security, which unwittingly permitted the attack. On the other hand, we get the sense that many people would've been capable of his weakness. The brilliance of Baltar's character is that he's an utterly self-serving comic villain and at the same time a victim of appalling circumstances beyond his knowledge or control. "Scoundrel" might be a good word for him. Even as the bombs are falling and humanity is on the verge of being destroyed, he wants to call his lawyer and protect himself. James Callis, often very funny (and who has an uncanny resemblance in both look and accent to DS9's Alexander Siddig), plays his scenes at a frenzied level of guilty desperation: He didn't intend to be the instrument that wiped out humanity, but he nevertheless now hopes he can get away with it.

Baltar ends up with a trip to Galactica when Boomer (Grace Park) and Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) land their Raptor on Caprica (with the disturbing sight of mushroom clouds on the horizon) and evacuate a handful of survivors. In one of several scenes that is straightforward in its depiction and yet agonizing in its concept (an even darker scene involves Roslin being forced to leave ships behind to be slaughtered by the Cylons), we watch as numbers are drawn for a crowd of survivors to take the few seats available on the Raptor. Helo gives up his seat for Baltar, in a selfless act that he thinks is best for humanity. Ah, the irony — the selfish traitor ends up with a free pass on account of someone else's selflessness.

Later, Baltar begins having hallucinated conversations (and hilariously humiliating would-be sexual encounters) with Number Six, who has apparently been burned into his subconscious. It's an intriguing internal conflict: Here's a man driven insane by his own guilt, and yet still obsessed with the memories of all the great sex. It's a brilliant plot device, because it allows Baltar to have entire discussions with the Cylons (in his head) that for us shed light on their existence, while at the same time revealing Baltar as the self-serving sap he is. It's deliciously pathetic.

The attack on Caprica itself, and the immediate aftermath, strike me as a little arid. There is a strange non-reaction on the part of the characters in learning that the Cylons have attacked. My feeling is that this should've been depicted with more overt fear or grief or shock (like, say, the looks of pedestrians' faces in New York on 9/11) rather than simply blank stares, a near-silent soundtrack, and Adama's cold announcement that "as of this moment, we are at war." Perhaps it was a matter of confusion and insufficient information; later, there are scenes of convincing power when the Colonial One pilot's hand shakes as it holds a message reporting the destruction of virtually the entire government, or the way Roslin's voice quivers as she realizes the gravity of the situation.

A lot of these feelings seem to grow out of a post-9/11 mindset. After being accustomed to peace for such a long time, with a military in idle mode, these people are suddenly launched into responding to disaster. Also in the vein of current fears is the idea that the "Cylons look like us," something Adama encounters first-hand at a munitions facility. It's a story point ripe for development along the lines of terrorist paranoia. Just ask Baltar. And the reporter who is put off the ship — secretly and with no trial — for being a suspected Cylon agent. Is it the right move? In this case, it happens to be, but it raises interesting questions.

There's plenty more going on in this miniseries (drama, relationships, action, conflict, observant military details), which viewed on DVD plays uninterrupted as a three-hour sci-fi movie, setting up storylines for a dozen characters in addition to resolving the plot at hand, involving the Galactica and the human convoy attempting to escape the Cylon's pursuing base star. All of this is, essentially, a setup for a series as opposed to a real conclusion, but it still plays terrifically as a stand-alone (both as sci-fi and as drama) with an across-the-board solid ensemble of actors. I'm out of time, so I'll leave it at that.

Oh, yeah — and Boomer is a Cylon, and she doesn't even know it. Now there's a teaser for season one.

Next episode: 33

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Comment Section

50 comments on this post

    After hearing so much about Battlestar Galatica I've decided to buy season one on DVD. So far I'm loving the show. After watching Stargate, Star Trek, X-Files, and Sliders its kind of fun and interesting jumping into another universe.

    At first, when I saw Baltar - I was sure it was Alexander Siddig. James Callis and Alexander Siddig do look so much alike! Although playing Baltar would have been a step down for Siddig as he played the Sheikh in The Constant Gardener. I loved the subsequent cameos by DS9 cast members such as Nana Visistor in Season 3. Hope Sisko
    Cirroc Lofton) ends up being the one true God in the finale!

    I love the new Battlestar Galactica (although have only made it most of the way through season two -- I'm just so busy). But the way it's dealt metaphorically with 9/11, fundamentalism, and so forth -- and, my God, the way they directly tackled the abortion issue (no disguises there!) -- are EXACTLY what science-fiction is supposed to be, in my humble opinion.

    The original Battlestar was indeed a ripoff of Star Wars. As for the new one ... well, "Then I was the learner, Obi-Wan. Now I am the master!"

    I mentioned this on the TrekBBS years ago, but it was this review and your thoughts on "33" and "Water" among other S1 gems that made me think "hmm...I should probably check this show out." Back in 2003 I was reading your ENT reviews weekly (or, you know, when they came out :-D) and loved them, then noticed this other section of the site with all these 3.5 and 4 star reviews...thanks, Jammer, for getting me into this show!

    I've of course since seen the whole series, and re-watching the mini has some great surprises, from subtle references about who is a Cylon that miraculously track with what happens later, to smaller but still fun things like Tigh pronouncing "Gaeta" differently than the rest of the show. It's also interesting hearing Richard Gibbons' score for the miniseries...Bear McCreary made the sound of this show his own, and although I still love this first score, I would say McCreary helped make the show what it became later. Great series, and thanks for letting me know it was out there.

    Is that a spoiler for the finale in Alexey's comment above (not entirely sure, I tried to stop reading it) ?! Yikes.

    Hmmm... unflinching loyalty towards the new series, bashing of the old series.. yep, I should steer clear of this section of your reviews. As someone who grew up with the old series, I was very much disappointed with the new one. The redesigns, the re-imagining, the way everyone looked like they'd fit just fine into 20th century Earth (and indeed drove a brand new vehicle that was released the same year as the show)... for me, this series was dead in the water.

    I gave the first season a chance, but by the time they'd hit the whole "we're gonna rape her cause she's just a cylon anyways" put off of it entirely. Granted that wasn't in this episode, but I don't think I'm going to read the other ones, as I have a pretty good idea of what will be said.

    Personally, I saw the new Battlestar Galactica as a polarization of the fans, not unlike the new Star Wars trilogy. You have one generation of fans vs the new generation of fans. I realize that both shows have their strengths and weaknesses, but where as the old BG felt ahead of its time, the new one feels like a soap opera set in space. Too many "current day" situations and issues that would crop up into the show, and plot points which just didn't feel right in a science fiction series.

    To be perfectly frank, the new Battlestar Galactica simply didn't FEEL like a science fiction show.


    I think your mistake is simply that you are trying to compare the new one to the old one.

    While many concepts are similar, this is an entirely different show. It was never designed to appeal to the original Galactica fans; it was created for a new generation, a new audience, a new era.

    Hiroshi, it's by reading your comments that I realized what a massive feat TNG was... it was probably the only "second generation" series to have equalled (or even surpassed) the original, not only in the eyes of new fans but old ones as well. That is no small accomplishment!

    I have no right to complain, because I should have known what I was getting into (i.e. "military sci-fi" rather than "sci-fi" as Jammer so aptly put it) but it really doesn't do it for me. Call me a naive optimistic fool, but I can't believe that the most interesting thing waiting for us out there in the vastness of outer space is war and hopelessness and all the other things that plague the world of today. I believe that we will continue to improve ourselves and that we will discover lots of amazing things about the galaxy. And the notion of man-made machines that turn on us - and also of machines that look like us - has been done to death (Blade Runner, The Matrix et al. not to mention DS9 itself) which makes the Cylons seem like pretty uninteresting villains. There were so many characters that I didn't get a chance to know any of them, though this might actually be a good thing in the long term, and something I hope to see in the next Star Trek series.

    On a positive note, I must say I really like Richard Gibbs' music. It doesn't at all fit with the military tone of the show but it would have been fantastic in a more optimistic exploration series... Oh, and Grace Park is really hot, and she doesn't even know it ;)

    I just watched the first season finale of Babylon 5, "Chrysalis" (aired in October 1994). I won't give away the plot, but let's just say there is also a scene that deliberately (as JMS has stated) mirror's Lyndon Johnson's swearing of the presidency after Kennedy's assassination. Coincidence?

    I echo Derek's gratitude to Jammer for "introducing" me to this show. If I hadn't seen it reviewed here, I'd likely never have seen a single episode. As it is, I downloaded the entire series and watched this two-part pilot last night.

    Though a lot of it is fiction in the true sense of the word (unlike Star Trek, these are not humans from Earth as such), in is genuine sci-fi and it is simply captivating. The story is told well, the characters are interesting, there is a good balance of everything you want in this type of show. Madam president is somewhat too politically correct for my taste but I can live with that.

    REALLY looking forward to starting Season 1. Thanks, Jammer!

    I agree with Nic that it was a feat for TNG to be loved by both old and new fans. That is indeed rare.

    BSG for me is the opposite of Rodenberry's optimism. I liked it regardless, a tad depressing at times but I love the care given to the characters, there's an actual running plot, there's mystery, action, romance, thought-provoking concepts. Good job writers!

    First TNG, now BSG, 2 for 2 there Mr. Ron Moore.

    I still remember when I heard about this series in 2003. At the time, I decided I'd skip it, since I didn't care for the original BSG.

    But a friend asked some of us over for a movie night, to watch this Miniseries shortly after it aired. He was really well-versed in good sci-fi, so we trusted him. Boy am I glad I took him up on the offer! BSG nights at his house, and those friendships, became some of my fondest memories of the decade.

    A friend of mine knew Jammer in college and introduced me to these reviews. The reviews became a companion-piece as I watches the series. They deepened my appreciation for the best episodes and (usually) confirmed my own suspicions about the weaker ones when they (rarely) came along! Jammer is insightful, and nearly always spot-on in my opinion (my biggest disagreement might be "Final Cut," which I really liked).

    Now it's 2012 and I just finished re-watching the series, re-reading Jammer's reviews too. The second time through, I found it even more satisfying and profound than the first. Without that voracious week-to-week appetite for pure plot I get during a good series' run, it was easier to sit back and absorb the larger story arcs, mythological elements, and great acting. Also, amusingly, the occasional slips where its Canadian-ness shows through (typically an oddly pronounced "o" here or there). So charming!

    And with the series still fresh in my mind, tonight I came back to the Miniseries, just to compare. It's truly cinematic in scope, doesn't play at all like television. I'm not sure any other miniseries/pilot ever made as compelling of a case for a full series run than this Miniseries.

    If I could compare my 3rd watching of the Miniseries to anything, it might be light hearing the opening heartbeat and "Breathe, breathe in the air" of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. I hear that, and I know that (no matter how many times I've heard it) I'm about to be in for a great experience.

    I guess this was more of a testimonial than a review. So it goes. Thanks for the fantastic website, Jamal!

    Great miniseries (or pilot). I've finally gotten around to starting it.

    I can't get the image of the swearing-in of Roslin out of my head. It was like watching the grief stricken Jackie Kennedy take the oath of office instead of LBJ. Brilliant. The only thing missing was someone winking at her.

    Just started watching this. Remember hating it as a child and then never watching the show but I also didn't like DS9 then and re-watching it now I enjoy it much more. So I decided to give this a go.

    Overall, enjoyed it. I found the drama to be terribly forced. For the first 2 hrs I don't think we encounter many characters that actually like each other. The wife and I agree that, I think her name is Starbuck, is just completely unnecesary. She's so combative you can practically write her lines before she even says them. We both understand why she's like this and we're both relatively certain we've predicted her entire character arc. That doesn't make her appealing in the least. Also she looks like Dolf Lundgren.

    I appreciated the hard decisions made here. Leaving the non-FTL ship's human cargoes behind (speed of the Cylon attack proved them so right!). Locking up the suspected infiltrator... though seriously, the guy IS a genius, they had the tissue, why couldn't he have come up with a real device for detecting them right here? I see no realistic reason for him to blubber and fake it - we don't even see him try to do anything. And I disagree with Gaius' hallucinations being fun in the slightest. This character is a weasel and I have no empathy for him. I didn't want to witness the end of civilization from his perspective. I don't want anything from his perspective.

    I did appreciate that at least two character's drama seemed to have been resolved by the end of the "movie." Father and son seemed a lot less estranged by the end. I just hope some sort of enemy/other gets solified soon so the crew can have conflict with that instead of with each other... hahaha what an empty wish, where's the ratings in a crew that gets along? But there has to be a middle ground between no drama and, "Hey Apollo in some strange convoluted twist of logic I can totally blame myself for killing your brother! It's the end of the world! Whoo!" I fully agreed with Apollo, "Why are you telling me this?"

    While I like the show thus far, the writer's seem to have had poor social encounters all their lives to base their stories on.

    Also, when they mention a 13th tribe my wife laughed and said, the 13 tribes of Isreal. I kept thinking about that and this pilot fits into the Hebrew tradition quite well. And I noticed no one else mentioned it.

    I'll try to simplify but it's hard. When the kingdom of David (Isreal) was very young, only maybe 2 generations, the Assyrians invaded and devastated the region until only Jerusalem remained. The inhabitants prayed for salvation (of course) while outside, the beseigers (naturally) began to get sick from the crops, water sources the Isrealites had poisoned and their own dead's corpses. The sickness is predicably attributed to God. Lo! a miracle. So Isreal is saved and their Lord is great because he saved them. This was a pivotal moment in Judaic history. This was the moment when their religion was still shaky, the "one true God" in a region surrounded by empires who worshipped many deities. It's a fun moment to play counterfactual history with since a death blow to Jerusalem here, could effectively eliminate all traces of the Judaic, Christian and Islamic traditions. Fun. But I digress. This is the first Cylon war excepting the "twist" that we made the Cylons.

    What we see though, is the 2nd Cylon war - 40 years later. 40 years, give or take after Assyria failed to conquer Isreal, another empire tried. In those 40 years, the children of Abraham began to wane in their convictions to God and some princes, lords and even priests were allowing idols of *other Gods* from the neighboring empires to be placed within Hebrew temples. The older priests spoke out saying that God would punish them. And God did. God sent Nebuchadnezzar II and the Empire of Babylon to crush the Isrealites. To cast down their temples. To grind her cities into the sand. To shatter the children of Abraham and send them flying before them. What this pilot showed us was the Kingdom being shattered and her children fleeing into the great desert of space.

    Now I don't know the rest of the series, this is all new for me but as it stands with the pilot, I see these events, I see this crew as the children of Isreal, smashed by Babylon, fleeing into the desert with nothing but the proverbial "clothes on their backs." They will be lost, they will be unwelcome but they will have their faith become firmer and firmer as they begin to accept that their God has *not* abandoned them but that he has sent *just* chastisement for their sins and that they will become stronger and better able to serve God. Their perspective, not mine (though I can certainly see their point of view if I allow for a) God and b) his interference as assistance or detriment). So I'm betting religion becomes a large issue for our poor lost Isrealites.

    Of course this all has a large sci-fi twist since I doubt the Isrealites made the Babylonians though I could allow for Babylonians that look just like Isrealites infiltrating the defenses haha

    Just got netflix so am watching this from the beginning. I was a huge fan of the original series and used to have nightmares about cylons--those bastards were SCARY when I was 12.

    I LOVE what they did with Starbuck. The original was the cute rogue--and now the new one is a cute rogue. Perfect casting--she's great! Her story arc may appear obvious to some, but I think she's got depth, humor, and charm, so I won't mind.

    I like almost everything about this except the stupid religion. Seriously? Humanity is apparently advanced enough to travel to the stars and colonize new worlds and so they bring along this tired reworking of the Judaic tribes story? Rosario was right about much--except it's 12 tribes, and one got lost. (Apparently to the United States, according to the Mormons. And Kobol? Where the Mormon star is Kolob?) I have no idea if that is intentional or not, but it was irritating. Priests with scrolls. Blech.

    But what annoyed me more than anything was Adama telling everyone they were going to Earth to "give them something to live for." How about living for the truth, you cult leader? Covering up truth with superstitious crap is a pastime of far too much of humanity--I am disappointed to see it carried to the stars.

    But it's good--I'm gonna watch and hope the religious idiocy doesn't get too cloying.

    "I have no idea if that is intentional or not, but it was irritating."

    The tribes stuff, as Rosario elaborated above and with all the Mormon baggage as well, is borrowed directly from the original series you were such a huge fan of.

    "I'm gonna watch and hope the religious idiocy doesn't get too cloying."

    Uh, yeah. About that... well, you'll find out soon enough.

    @grumpy_otter: I'm with you. I found the religious angle -- and as Grumpy hinted, you're NOT going to be a happy bunny as the show progresses -- annoying and a waste of time.

    Having said that, I do not find it implausible at all. Much closer to home, on our own planet, it is stupefying that even today, after all the technological and scientific development, the preponderance of the human race still believes in a supernatural entity that is in active interaction with humans. Not only that, but the bulk of those believe that the characteristics, character, personality, decrees, etc. from that supernatural entity are contained in "holy" books, written millennia ago by a bunch of primitive, violent, smelly, uncouth, benighted men. What more can one say...?

    @Grumpy -- really? I had no memory of the religious stuff. But then, I was 12, and being inundated with religion daily, so maybe it wasn't so obvious. I just had a huge crush on Apollo and wanted to grow up to be Cassiopeia.

    @Michael -- don't I know it! And the internet has made it all the more apparent how many still cling to the idea of an interventionist god. I teach reason in my classroom--they accept it as it applies to history, then ignore it in their beliefs.

    Wikipedia has a whole article on "Religious and mythological references in Battlestar Galactica." Spoilers for the new series, but it starts with a look at the old, which was originally pitched as "Adam's Ark."

    A friend of mine, who was a Mormon, could not get enough of that show. Only later did I learn why.

    Just found the entire series and some of the extra shows on Netflix UK.
    As I missed quite a few episodes (and one whole season) I am starting from scratch and will probably feedback on every episode!
    The mini series still holds up well in terms of modern TV, especially as it doesn't need real swearing or OTT bloody violence.
    Watching 33 and Water as soon as my Wife goes to bed!

    So far, it seems like a right wing series about religious zealots attacking a multicultural band of humans.

    Oh WOW. Did I know there were BSG reviews here? Bye for five hours.

    I've finally got round to adding my review to IMDB:

    The first season was mostly solid, but the wobbly tower had already started being built. From the word go there were problems, inconsistencies, and things that did not make sense (for example, characters surviving a head-on blast from a nuclear weapon). That got me worried. I also didn't buy the premise that the Cylons could look and be indistinguishable from real humans- That really, really didn't work (with better writing, it may have).

    But these problems could be ignored as they didn't, at that point, impact too greatly on the story. By the second season, warning bells had started ringing in my head. I could see that the writers had not planned the story from the beginning and were making a lot of stuff up on the fly (unlike Babylon 5, which still remains the greatest series put to television). I hoped BSG could be salvaged into something that was at least satisfying.

    Even though it was clear to me by the end of season 2 that there were serious issues in the writing department, it was still entertaining- but worse was to come... By season 3 the game was up for Ron Moore and co. The writing had disintegrated and I just knew that they were now running on fumes. Nothing was making sense. Everything was being written with "DRAMA!" in mind, no matter how forced or phony. And, my god, worse was to follow.

    I finally abandoned the show in the middle of Season 4. I could no longer stomach the insulting writing, inconsistencies and plot holes. I have never seen a show fall to pieces as badly as this one did (I haven't seen Lost, though). Not even DS9's final season is as bad as this. It absolutely disintegrated, and all because the writers had no plan for the show and no idea how to wrap up all the nonsense they had been churning.

    Instead of developing the characters properly and making a clever, cohesive story, the writers resorted to this ridiculously childish "Who could be a Cylon?" thread. And who liked that? Only the most brain-dead of viewers. The writers had clearly just decided to appeal to fanboys and the easily titillated as a last resort to make a few more bucks. It wasn't as if this childish plot idea was executed well... it wasn't. Predictably, the useless writers decided to go for the totally obvious and totally ridiculous conclusion, namely that certain main characters were Cylons all along (urgh).

    The tower went from wobbly to a pile of rubble. The only way you can possibly defend this show and the basic writing is if you have very low standards or simply do not have much intelligence. It's that simple.

    And it's a crying shame because, like with a lot of stories-gone-bad, there is great potential here. I really liked some of the characters (NOT Starbuck, largely because of the irritating actress) and wanted to see them done justice. Gaius Baltar is still one of my favourite characters (although he was also ruined) but, in the end, not even characters like him are saving this ship.

    @DLPB, I think you missed the point of BSG. Go back and read Jammer's reviews. It's about the characters and their journey. Yes, some plot points might be inconsistent, but the show managed to tackle big questions and provide compelling drama. I just watched B5 for the first time and it doesn't hold a candle to this show in terms of the story, production values, acting, or raw emotional drama.

    That sounds like apologist nonsense to me. A story has to be well written and characters have to make sense and be true to themselves for it to work. BSG absolutely didn't do that, and so it is impossible for me to enjoy the journey. A journey full of plot holes, mistakes and lazy writing is not missing the point at all- excusing said errors is.

    Quick summary.

    I thought season's 1 & 2 were some of the best sci-fi I've seen on TV. Riveting most of the time.

    Seasons 3 & 4 were nothing but character assassination. Couple redeeming episodes, but I almost stopped watching.

    The ending was predictable and by the end, the only character I cared about was Roslin.

    Ron Moore could have used some of those restrictions he so loathed in Trek. He couldn't figure out how to end the thing because it was just one character thumping after another instead of any semblance of story direction. So he defaulted to "it's the characters stupid" .... yes, stupid.

    It was very frustrating as I really enjoyed the series when it began.

    DLPB, I agree. BAB5 was a far superior series. Season 1-4 anyway, those were planned out. Season 5 was a surprise. Just imagine what Straczynski could have done with the technology available to Moore. Imagine what BAB5 could have looked like.

    You never know... it might still get a make over one day graphic-wise. But it also had a solid Season 5 that wrapped up everything and an excellent final few episodes. I'm so glad it didn't end at Season 4's finale, because imho that's the weakest episode of S4, and maybe the whole run.


    The season 4 finale we got was not the real finale. How season 5 ended was the season 4 closer. Once they found out they got another season, they just didn't show it until the end.

    The new BSG was everything that Star Trek Enterprise was not, edgy, gripping, relatable, make-you-stay-up-until-2 a.m.-because-you-just-have-to-see-the-next-episode science fiction, and on a simple level just downright awesome storytelling. Kudos to Ron Moore (loved all of the episodes he wrote for Star Trek over the years) for creating a masterpiece. And a big thank you to those idiots Rick Berman and Brannon Braga for being so stubborn, arrogant, and inflexible that they forced Ron Moore to leave Star Trek Voyager early in its 6th season (although, had Ron Moore been the Exec. Producer of Enterprise, that series would have turned out SOOOOOO much better and probably would have gone 7 years like prior Trek series). But Star Trek's loss was a big giant gain for us sci-fi fans, because this mini-series along with the 4-year series that followed was mind-blowing. Loved it!!!

    I notice that most of your reviews for the Battlestar Galactica series are favorable and most of your reviews for a variety of the Star Trek series episodes are negative. I, and I am sure a lot of others are convinced that you do not like Star Trek. BSG was probably one of the worst sci-fi series on television. If you do not like Star Trek Jammer, you should have never reviewed them.

    Nathan W: Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I think you’ll find that your opinion on BSG is in the minority though. Both the mini series and the ongoing seasons received critical acclaim and fans loved it.
    I can appreciate people not getting it but to say it is one of the worse thing on TV is laughable.
    Also, look at it this way. There have been 5 series of Star Trek and some of those series had over a hundred episodes. With BSG there are 75 episodes.
    Stands to reason there is more likely to be more dross in Star Trek given there is so much more of it.
    Also, if you think Jammer dislikes Star Trek then you’re clearly not reading his reviews properly.

    Latex Zebra,

    Personal opinions aside, and I did enjoy nuBSG, it received worse TV ratings than 'Enterprise' did. So the "critically acclaimed" stuff is pretty much fluff and 90% of it is generated by those involved with the show. Now if they would have kept up the show as it was written in the first two seasons then yes, it probably would have had a larger audience and really been as successful as everyone claims.

    Yanks: Maybe my memory isn't what it was but I recall it getting a lot of love at the time. Maybe not ratings wise but I've never paid much attention to those.

    It has certainly aged well and, maybe it is just the circles I move in, it is constantly being recommended to people on the look out for new TV series to watch.

    Agree Latex Zebra. It's just funny when folks call 'Enterprise' a "failure" when it pulled better ratings that the "critically acclaimed" nuBSG. I personally would have held the series in even higher regard had the closer answered many unanswered questions and not just been flat out stupid.

    @Yanks - TNG set the bar too high. Any Star Trek show that couldn't go 7 years was a failure. Enterprise is a failure in concept to me because they never really "found it" (except maybe in the last year). First it was TNG set in an earlier time period, boldly going where literally nobody had gone before with new eyes. Then it was a season long drama. Then it was "Federation : The Early Years". It was a ratings seeking missile, but they could never figure out how to get the ratings or how to keep them or what the show should be.

    For better or worse I hope 2017 Trek has a vision and sticks to it.

    It all depends what you mean by success or failure. Critical acclaim and ratings are two very different things. Just because something is popular, with high ratings, doesn't make it good (or bad). For that matter, ratings success is hugely relative, based on where and when something aired. A successful show today ratings-wise is not the same as a successful show 20 years ago because the audience is so much more fragmented today. Or a network versus a cable show. Just for example.

    For the BSG/ENT argument, I would say one really needs to compare apples to apples for it to be valid. So ENT critical acclaim versus BSG critical acclaim. Not ENT ratings versus BSG acclaim.

    That's assuming we need to do a "versus" here at all. We really don't.

    Jammer's comment is really the alpha and omega of this exchange. Subscribe 100%.

    Yeah, trying to work out which thing was more successful based on ratings can be taken to the extreme. I guess what a lot of people mean here is commercially, financially successful. In terms of how succesful something was as a piece of creative storytelling and how well recieved it was by the people who watched it, that's a different issue.

    I do understand why it's commonly considered one of the weaker series of Trek and I'd probably agree, but I've definitely warmed somewhat to Enterprise lately. It's very flawed but I do like the 'pioneer spirit' feeling from the first couple of seasons, and I liked a lot of the in-universe nods from season 4.

    Either way you look at it though, Enterprise was considered by a lot of critics to be quite stale and maybe representing a franchise that had lasted too long without enough innovation. BSG on the other hand was considered a bold, original breath of fresh air. Enterprise sticks to a very classic, safe formula. Light banter and action hour for the most part whereas I think many critics saw BSG as blowing away a lot of the cobwebs from sci-fi TV and really shaking up the forumla for the 2000s.

    I don't really think one or the other type of entertainment is better or worse. I try to like my 90s style sci-fi and my gritty 2000s sci-fi fairly equally, but I think in terms of objective critical acclaim, BSG was the winner. It's harder to compare financial success because it's difficult to seperate the sole financial success of Enterprise from the net financial success of Star Trek the franchise.

    Ratings is commonly used to justify a series "success". By the end of BSG, they had an all out campaign in an attempt to find new viewership. Not that I hated the series, (I bought it) had they continued what they started in seasons 1 & 2 I would have put it up there with Firefly. Too many unanswered big questions in the finale. They had no idea what they were doing during seasons's 3 & 4.

    Enterprise suffered from what I call "B&B fatigue". They had just done too much trek over the years. Coto brought new life in but it was too late. Now, a new series is coming out, trying to be different and getting pummeled for it.... and not one episode has even aired yet. I swear, there is no fan-base harder to please than trek. Coto gave them exactly what they were clammoring for and they didn't come back and watch.

    Jammer's right, we should compair apple to apples. The problem is, the Apples for ENT S1&2 weren't fresh and new so it took unjust criticism for that while BSG was ALL new and folks loved it for that. The wrting on BSG early was outstanding too. What's funny is, even though we think BSG was so good, especially early on, it still didn't pull really good numbers. One has to wonder why.

    Please allow me a lame question. At some point Adama says "Jesus"... was there a Jesus in Caprica world aswell?

    Watching this for the first time and quite enjoying it so far. I'm still trying to figure out how the ranks work though. The Captain seems to be below Commander, and Colonel answers to the Commander. Which is very different from Star Trek.

    What a ride. An exemplary piece of work and a true achievement in science fiction. Compared to what I've seen of Enterprise, the NuBSG miniseries has superior writing and has aged a heck of a lot better. The stakes seem immediate and real, the aliens actually feel threatening, and I have a reason to care about most if not all of the characters. I never watched this show when it was on the air (I don't even remember seeing ads for it), but I'm glad I can see it now.

    I'm the Michael from the comments above, re-watching this show almost a decade later. I doubt I'm going to be commenting on individual episodes, but just to share a few thoughts that struck me seeing the miniseries again.

    First, I remember what a bond I formed with the characters, in a way I never did with another show before or since. I also remembered what a love-hate relationship I ended up having with almost every character as the show progressed. BSG never sought to portray anyone--including the Cylons--in that facile, cartoonish way as the good guy or the bad guy. They were all just...humans: fallible, emotive, temperamental, capricious... Did I mention fallible? Human imperfection was depicted superbly as the show progressed, which evinced in the viewer (armchair quarterbacks, all of us!) strong feelings but feelings that continually changed. With Adama Sr., for instance, I went from admiration and respect to questioning him to disbelief at his actions to loathing to partial redemption to sympathy. That is the show's greatest strength, which, as I said, no other show I ever watched managed to do and I can't stress enough what an achievement that is in my eyes.

    Secondly, the early scenes of the denizens of the Colonies going about their daily minutiae, blissfully unaware of what was to come later that day... - boy, makes you think, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, knowing what the four seasons of the show have in store and how it all ends. Though I try to reconcile the "Y.O.L.O." mentality with making plans and provisions for the future (and not sure I'm being successful at it), there's a lot to be said for living in the moment and taking each day as it comes. The permanent destruction of everything BSG humanity thought was secure and durable and reliable, in an instant, is something that could happen to our humanity also. Take that as you will...

    Lastly, I definitely matured on the subject of religion since my comments a decade ago. The mystical mind-trips (season 3, IIRC, was particularly heavy on them) still don't connect with me and I doubt they ever will, but the notion of a god, interlaced with love, does. I don't believe in gods or anything supernatural, to be sure, but I can see why a race that conquered the universe would eventually turn on itself and/or devise a belief in something greater. After all, once you achieve immortality, existence becomes meaningless... - unless there is something bigger, something that gives meaning afresh, something to live for forever. An eternal existence--where you are no longer fighting for survival or creature comforts--becomes exceedingly depressing , being devoid of purpose, so a purpose is fabricated through a god. And since you no longer need a god to save you from death or show favor upon you as you fight your enemies, that god morphs into or manifests itself as pure love.

    All very thought-provoking ideas and concepts. I really can't think of another T.V. show that ever came close. And man, WHAT a contrast with Star Trek:Voyager that I just finished re-watching!

    Just a question....

    Was Baltar's death in the mini series ever addressed? Clearly he got blown to bits when he was at home with the Six, when the bomb went off. We saw his death for years in the opening credits. But then he inexplicably shows up to the Raptor (with Sharon and Helo), somehow having survived...No explanation given at all. Because of this, because he had his own 'Angel' (The six that died with him??) it made me think that he was one of the final 'five' and I waited for him to be 'discovered' for years. Was he like Starbuck, who died later on and was resurrected for a specific purpose? It just seems odd that his death was never explained....


    From the horses mouth...

    - How did Baltar survive the nuclear explosion?

    "Well, he survived the nuclear explosion because if you look at the shot when the windows are blown in, you see that Caprica Six is actually protecting him at the moment -- she kind of grabs him and shields him with her body."

    So no, Baltar was not a Cylon.

    Is there ANY justifiable reason for the cylons destroying Armistice Station at the beginning with a Six and two toasters on it? Why would they do that? Why waste resources? Why not just blast it without boarding?

    I literally couldn’t get a friend to watch the show because of that.

    What effects! What spending!
    Watching BSG for the first time... The miniseries is staggering on many levels.....difficult to watch so much destruction. At points it was a roller-coaster of same.

    @Wayne Ostler & Yanks Re. Baltar

    Having just reviewed footage of the Tohoku Tsunami of 2011, I can safely say:

    Baltar could not have survived the nuclear shock wave which struck his beautiful home with such magnitude.

    If the "him" that shows up for evacuation later the same day is not a cylon, the writers surely missed an important opportunity.

    Pretty good "pilot" to get the BSG ball rolling as it certainly sets things up very well for what's to come. Like what I see in terms of characters/actors and there's definitely a difference in their style from say 1990s sci-fi. Speech is more subdued at times, mumbling, almost hard to make out. Maybe the series goes too far in making the characters flawed -- like the whole bit with Adama and his sons, Starbuck, and the alcoholic colonel.

    Can't get over how much this reminds me of B5 so far, with the fighters, the Cylon ships evoking the same sentiments in me as the Shadow ships used to, even the military uniform of Commander Adama, the story taking place several years after a major war (Cylon War vs. Earth-Minbari War) etc. etc. Truly military sci-fi here as opposed to Trek which I'd call a much softer form of it.

    Dr. Baltar and Number Six are quite interesting -- Baltar maybe should be an older character for me, but having a bit more youth makes him somewhat more credible as being a greedy weasel toward some objective like wealth/power. Didn't see Boomer's co-pilot opting to stay on Caprica and thus giving Baltar a spot on the fighter. Thought Baltar would take the older lady's No. 47 ticket...

    I do wonder about Roslin taking over as President -- I suppose it's what the law calls for, but wasn't she the education secretary? Can see why Cmdr Adama, calling her a "school teacher", is pissed at the end with her orders. But it's good that she's credibly portrayed as knowing what she's doing under the circumstances.

    Didn't find there was a great deal of depth here, but I liked Cmdr Adama's speech at the ceremony -- questions about why as a people they are worth saving, playing God creating Cylons, not being able to hide from what they've done anymore.

    Had some doubts about the colonel after his bust-up with Starbuck after playing cards -- but he made the call to seal off part of the ship, resulting in many deaths of people who worked for Chief Tyrol. That part was well done, as it was when Roslin takes the oath.

    3 stars for "Miniseries" -- very good plot mechanics and a good story is being told. As it should be at this stage, there are many valid and intriguing questions it brings up. Definitely edgier than classic Trek but also far more sensible and realistic than nu-Trek. An effective "pilot" with things looking quite dim for the human race coming decades after the Cylon War.


    "Please allow me a lame question. At some point Adama says "Jesus"... was there a Jesus in Caprica world aswell?"

    I think Ronald Moore addressed this. They're not really speaking English and may not have had a Jesus, and Caprica City didn't really look suspiciously like Vancouver. We're seeing a "translated" version.

    Perhaps it's a tiny cheat, but developing all that from scratch would end up sounding and looking cheap and also be very expensive.

    I'm thinking that must have been the commentary for the miniseries DVD. Because I remember also he said they considered using real earth animals and specifically decided not too... only to realize to their horror that the little girl actually name dropped chicken pot pie.


    So is it me or is there a very strong implication Adama was aware the cylons were attempting to appear like people? Perhaps just general closely held military intelligence. Because he figured out quick that Leoben was a humanoid cylon. It's hard to make that huge intuitive leap without SOME knowledge.

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