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Tricky Gives GALACTICA 1.1 Five Stars!! Plus'' 950 Other Limey Reviews!!

I am – Hercules!!

Well, I for one am very excited to see this. Loved the mini, love what I’m hearing this Monday night.

We yanks don’t get a peek till 2005, but the United Kingdom got the first episode of the new ongoing “Battlestar Galactica” series a few short hours ago via the Sky One satellite!!

Many of our limey cousins wrote in to say how 1.1 of the regular series looks. Bear in mind these filthy foreigners would all probably rather be watching soccer or snooker.

Please note that the following is teeming with spoilage!!!

“Tricky” gives this fucker five stars. Five of them. Behold:

Battlestar Galactica 1.1 FAQ

Where does it pick up from the mini-series?
Apparently 118.5 hours after the mini-series left off. This has all been without sleep for the Galactica’s crew as the Cylons are continually chasing them – this is brilliantly outlined in the opening 5 minutes of the show; exactly 33 minutes after each faster than light jump the Cylons jump in again to harrass the convoy on its way. This is now the 237th jump that the convoy has made in a row and nerves are getting tattered.

Is Gaius still hallucinating about the gorgeous 6?
Oh yes – she’s still present and correct appearing both with the rest of the crew of Colonial 1, where Gaius currently is (but of course they can’t see her) and in scenes of Caprica in Gaius’s imagination. She apparently continues to maintain a neutral point of view in their discussions together which still leaves us undecided whether she is just part of his imagination or whether she did implant a chip in his brain, as suggested in the mini-series.
His mental state seems even more erratic to the others especially when he hears that there is a doctor from the Defense Department amongst the survivors who wants to talk to the President about something he’s uncovered – about how the Cylons got through their defenses.

Do we find out how many people are surviving in the convoy?
50,298 but this number is dwindling; notably in an incident involving the carrier that this “doctor with information” is on which Gaius is both relieved and appalled about…

Any other news?
The guy who was Boomer’s co-pilot (callsign ‘Helo’, apparently) who was left behind on Caprica is still alive! He even meets up with an old friend…

What’s Good?
Damn near everything. The character work is still evident even in the limited room given in the tense first hour – there’s even some time for a small amount of humour between Starbuck and Apollo involving drugs (well how else did you think they’d stay awake for over 100 hours solid? Double espressos?). It’s as bleak as the mini-series was too; with that and the tension through most of the episode you’ll be on the edge of your seat for most of the episode. The effects shots are still great too; having that same ‘realistic’ feel to the camerawork that was on show in the mini-series (although they do re-use the Combat Landing shot used before – so shades of the original series there!).

What’s Bad?
Very little – this is good intelligent sci-fi. Maybe a few more character moments would be good but this is something that they can address in the next episode – they definitely needed to address what the Cylons would be doing in this first episode.

Tricky’s rating for “Galactica” 1.1?

*****

The Hercules T. Strong Rating System:
***** better than we deserve
**** better than most motion pictures
*** actually worth your valuable time
** as horrible as most stuff on TV
* makes you quietly pray for bulletins

“Mark” says:
I’ve just see the first episode proper of the new series, and felt honour bound to write.

Battlestar Galactica 1.1 FAQ

So the big question, is it better than the mini-series?
Actually the shorter running time seems to suit the show format, and were the mini series seemed slow and pondering at times the opening show really delivers some pace. What it gets so right is pathos of the unfolding events. Unlike the original show, where the magnitude of what is befalling people is a few people moaning about supplies, we are given subtle glimpses of a complete human tragedy.

Do we learn anything more about the Cylons?
Not really, except they may consider themselves Gods and that their intentions aren’t always obvious.

Any key developments?
The Baltar character is going to get progressively devious, but that was signalled beforehand. Number 6’s simple costume choices extend to a white, and there already down to less than 48,000 people. Though that doesn’t include those people left alive on the 12 colonies, which include the guy Boxey left behind. This first episode avoids talking about ‘Earth’ and lets them concentrate on just staying alive.

What’s best about it?
Cool if understated effects, and the stress and exhaustion of fighting and enemy that doesn’t sleep or get tired.

What’s not so good?
No new characters or cameos, but theirs plenty of time for that in future episodes.

Will die hard fans like it any more?
I doubt it. It’s a different show, for a new audience – but it kicks the current Enterprise into touch. The irony of which I’m sure isn’t lost on Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore.

On the Hercometre, I’d give it …

****

maybe

*****

The Hercules T. Strong Rating System:
***** better than we deserve
**** better than most motion pictures
*** actually worth your valuable time
** as horrible as most stuff on TV
* makes you quietly pray for bulletins

“Pauly,” who tipped the Americans off to the sneaky Sky One, adds:

Hi again mighty Hercules - hope things are going well for you at AICN Towers this fine day.

As promised yesterday I thought I would take the opportunity to drop you a line regarding the first episode of the new Galactica series, which aired on Sky One last night.

Like many I was a fan of the original at the time, yet if I am honest I can rarely sit through an entire episode nowadays, save for that one where Starbuck got stranded with a Cylon who eventually ended up friendly, Then got shot! I'd watch anything back in the 70's including 'Jason of Star Command' and in my humble opinion Battlestar hasn't aged too gracefully....hell, even that very fetching Cylon helmet DVD box set couldn't tempt me for longer than afew seconds in Virgin megastore recently!

At the beginning of the year I rather apprehensively sat down to watch parts 1 and 2 of the new re-envisioned Galactica, then showing on Sci-Fi I believe, and despite the reports that I had read (thanks Harry), found it to be thrilling and detailed if overlong and carrying 2-3 too many flat ideas for its own good. That said it was a pilot for the forthcoming show, and as I know little about the process of putting a series together, guessed that the mini was intended to allow room for feedback on concepts for the benefit of the later programmes.

Overall I found the decidedly downbeat and adult tone a welcome change from the current crop of sharp, witty self-referential scripts for shows popularised by Joss Wheddon et al, and have been looking forward to the return of the series for most of 2004.

My wait was somewhat shorter than expected thanks to Sky One, who in exactly the kind of move the UK Science Fiction market needs, decided to pony up a great deal of cash to aid Sci-Fi with the creation of 13 all-new episodes to air weekly from 18th October. This means that we appear to have been lucky enough over here to get the series several months ahead of your good selves. I was quite surprised at this and had to check that my facts were straight as although Sky One have been pushing it for the week with a repeat of the mini-series over the weekend accompanied by their own in-house advertisements (which oddly enough feature no in-series footage, are visually weak, and conceptually seem to have had no input from the creators of the series, suggesting we really are getting these shows just as they are coming off the 'production line'), very little has been said about it in other areas of the press, but sure enough come 8.00pm on Monday I got to see Galactica Episode 1, titled "33". I could spend my time giving you a spoiler filled synopsis of the episode, but frankly Sky have done a far better job here:

http://www.skyone.co.uk/programmes/battlestar/

Suffice to say we start the episode afew days after the close of teh pilot, with the crews having to jump lightspeed every 33 minutes due to relentless regular Cylon attacks - they haven't slept for over 130 hours. Their are nods to the old series very apparent in the fleet and yes in this first episode we find ourselves on the planet 'Caprica' - although there appears to be no 70's cosmic disco there this time round. There is a new theme tune (but not the original orchestral march), and the show opens with a rapid-cut overview of the coming hours entertainment. Wisely '33' lays off on any major space combat - that was the pilots strong feature in my opinion and I can wait a while for a major face-off.

Tone is similarly dark to that established at the beginning of the year, if not more so as I refer to the manner in which a certain starship is destroyed late on in this episode. There are plenty of tough decisions in this version of Galactica and the writers seems to relish putting the cast through the wringer as a whole; I doubt things are going to get lighter as the series progresses. Of course this style of writing is going to have to rely on the fact that the cast can emote the fallout of decisions in which hundreds of lives hang in the balance.

The actors seem a little more at home in their roles this time round - they have obviously had time to absorb the characters that have been presented to them, but weighty acting is going to be required all round, with precious little humour apparent in the situations the cast are thrust into. Of all the apparent story-arcs it appears that Grace Park (Boomer) is going to have a demanding role and I hope she's able to carry it off - good writing should get around any concerns we might have with regard to her part. James Callis remains as surprising a piece of casting as ever in the part of Baltar with very little physical presence when compared to Olmos, for example, yet if he becomes less of the hapless victim of sexually-driven ircumstances (and who would blame him) and more a weasely malignant presence onboard theGalactica, then all should be well.

The episode finishes a little abruptly, clearly marking that any stories we are following will take more than a single hour to resolve.

Didn't like the female Starbuck or the Cylon Boomer? Well, sorry people, nothing has changed there - and it appears there's plenty more humanoid Cylons around to keep you guessing (although we get plenty more looks at the mechanical ones in this first hour too). Liked the Cylon Number 6 with a severe case of the cosmic wild thang? You're in luck my friend, though there's no spine glowing action this episode - she seems to have cooled off a just little in the past 8 months, although she is doubtless a welcome sight on screen. Speaking of which visually the show is as dynamically pleasing to the eye as the mini-series was, if not more so with some stunning imagery helping it to find its own style, albeit one which is admittedly influenced by the short-lived Firefly, which is no bad thing.

The ship designs continue to reflect some sort of technical grounding over form and as mentioned there are numerous legacy ships there from the original series.

I only hope that Sky learn to market this a little better during the week, and that it doesn't get lost in the sea of programming that is available right now (Carnivale, the O.C., Sopranos, Deadwood) - it certainly deserves a decent measure of success. Now, if the BBC can get their act together and manage to edit together a premiere episode of the new Dr Who in time for Christmas Day, that'll be 2 shows that will have arrived pleasantly ahead of time!

Best

Pauly

“Obraxis” says:

Hey Herc! Greets from the UK!

Galactica is the fucking dogs bollocks man! Just caught it on SkyOne over here. The dam thing was amazing! Continues in what seems like a week or so after the mini-series, the Battlestar is a step ahead of the Cylons...by only 33 mins a FTL. GREAT news that HELO (correct spelling - pronounced Halo) is back - and seems to have a large part in forthcoming episodes. He was the guy left behind on Caprica when he gave his seat up for Baltar.

The CG effects are awesome. Praise to the FX company Zoic Studios who have created a real world on a TV budget. We even get to see a fair bit more of the 'Warrior' Cylons which just fucking rule!! You wouldn't want to mess with one of those! And the intro music....totally different from the mini-series, it has kind of an eastern feel to it - and suits the images they put up there. Defiantly setting this up to be THE Sci-Fi-Epic-Opera since the end of DS9. Great. Although not ending on a cliff-hanger, this episode really REALLY makes you want to know more about EVERYTHING in this universe. I can't wait till next week.

The way the series focuses on the people and their problems makes this just as heart-warming and terrifying as the best episodes of any series on TV. Period. I'd easily compare this to the BEST episodes of DS9 or TNG.

All hail the return of great Sci-Fi, for it has been long since we have had a show, as good as this.

“Dragonsteeth” says:

Hey Herc

I’ve just seen the first episode of the new Battlestar Galactica series courtesy of SkyOne in the UK, I’d seen the miniseries on the same channel last week and was very impressed. It’s slick, stylish, and in Edward James Olmos, one of the best actors around, a believable leader of the rag tag fugitive fleet. All the characters, and it’s a big cast, have been given enough of a background to make you want to learn more and get to know them. Writers of Star Trek Enterprise take note!! The original series for me was all about spectacle and I loved it. However you didn’t really get the full scope of the desperation and utter destruction that befell the colonies in an instant. The new series solves that and also gives a background to the Cylons and in the character of number six an interesting insight into how the enemy thinks.

The first episode ‘33’ follows the fleet as they run for their lives. Having gone without sleep for days tempers are frayed and hope of survival is fading as after each successive light speed jump the Cylons find them 33 minutes later and attack. How can they find them, when will it stop, and how long before fatigue causes the fleet to make an error that cost them their lives. Amongst the palpable sense of doom and the fear of knowing there may be a traitor amongst them the crew struggle to keep things together, and when disaster does strike all the President can do is keep track of the falling number of survivors in the fleet.

It was good stuff and it keeps the tension going well as you watch the clock count down to the 33 minute deadline to see if the Cylons can find them again. Alongside the main story we get to follow what happened to Boomer’s friend who gave up his place on the shuttle to let Baltar on board. I didn’t expect to see him again and it will be interesting to see what happens next. I really enjoyed it and want to see more of Galactica to see were the writers take this adventure. Just when I was starting to despair that I would never see a good Sci-fi show again with Farscape more or less gone and Enterprise just re-cooked past trek episodes or just some weeks just prize winning crap, Battlestar gives me hope and I can’t wait till next week’s episode.

Be seeing you

“Zool” says:

Hi Herc.

It's 1.50 AM here in England and I've just finished this review. Rest assured the series won't dissapoint you as it ruled quite a bit. Hope you use the review.

Battlestar Galactica 1.1

The Synopsis is all spoiler and the Review has a few spoilers in there so walk soft, they both assume you’ve seen the mini series.

Synopsis:

It’s five days after the events of the mini series and the Galactica, Caprica one and rest of the rag tag fugitive fleet (still waiting for Olmos’s Adama to say that) aren’t faring too well. Roughly 50,000 humans have survived the Cylon attacks on the twelve colonies by staying one ‘faster than light’ jump ahead of the Cylon fleet.

The Cylons are relentless. Appearing and attacking exactly thirty three minutes after each jump (the opening sequence shows (amongst other things) various time pieces ticking down to that number), everyone is exhausted, a number of ships ‘FTL drives’ are breaking down, the fleet is getting slower and it’s clear that they will all die if the pursuit continues much longer.

Aboard Caprica one the new President of the twelve colonies is trying to keep track of how many people are in her care (there have been miscounts and confusion) and an exhausted and mentally frayed Gaius Baltar spends a lot of time within his own imagination, talking to and ‘taking comfort from’ the beautiful Cylon woman in his head (the talking is mostly about God). The President receives word that a scientist (an ex colleague of Baltar’s) on the ship Olympia (I think… I didn’t take notes, might have been Olympica) needs to speak to her urgently, he claims to have information on how the Cylons managed to access the Colonials defence network. Baltar and his Cylon ‘imaginary friend’ realise that this information could implicate him in the destruction of the colonies.

Back on a rainy ‘Cylon occupied Caprica’ (who saw that coming?), Boomer’s co pilot from the mini series tries to stay alive by injecting anti radiation meds and fighting off CG Cylons (who look better than I expected, better than they did in the mini-series certainly). He is captured by a blond ‘human’ Cylon (another replicant of Baltar’s companion).

Aboard the Galactica, between attacks the pilots and other crew attempt to make repairs, rest and just keep things moving. Tempers are frayed, a number of people have collapsed with nervous exhaustion and ‘stim’ medication is being issued to keep people on their feet. The rumour that Cylons look like people and that Tigh abandoned someone he ‘thought’ was a Cylon at the arms depot (events of the mini series) has circulated and is breeding some paranoia (and cements the crew’s hatred of Tigh). At the predicted time another Cylon attack occurs they make another jump but lose a ship, the Olympia (and it’s 1300 passengers).

Back on Caprica, the pilot is rescued from the sexed up Cylon (who is behaving exactly like her first appearance in the mini series) by Cylon ‘Boomer’ other Cylons are clearly complicit in this.

On the Galactica, the thirty-three minute mark is up and no Cylon attack occurs, it is speculated that the Olympia’s absence might have something to do with it. Baltar is relieved that the scientist who wanted to speak with the president is now missing. Tentatively, orders are given to start getting the crew rested and making essential repairs, the Vipers all land barring a small patrol made of Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer (in her Apache-like transport craft).

The Olympia arrives. It claims to have had engine trouble and that the Cylon fleet ignored it, Adama resets the thirty-three minute clock. Baltar, acting entirely in self-preservation strongly recommends that they cut off communications with the vessel and that the Galactica destroy it. He claims that Cylons must have infiltrated it, or at the very least have an agent/device on board which enable them to track the fleet.

The Vipers and Boomer get the Olympia to hold away from the fleet proper. The ship starts moving and attempts to join the fleet, it is scanned and found to be carrying nukes after some debate and with the Cylon attack imminent the order is given to destroy it (with the 1300 passengers aboard). Apollo braces himself to begin his attack but Starbuck refuses, the Cylons arrive and are minutes from weapons range. They both engage and destroy the ship. The fleet makes its jump.

Twenty four hours without a Cylon attack has passed the President is informed by her aide that the number of survivors has changed. A baby boy was born on one of the ships during the last Cylon raid.

Review.

The good news is that Galactica 1.1 is really pretty good, there’s no real bad news but I do have a few niggles.

Now, with Firefly killed off long before its prime (although I’m stoked that Serenity is happening) and the Star Trek franchise dying a slow, boring death it’s a real relief to me (and presumably nerds everywhere) that Battlestar Galactica is such a solid piece of work, this is a space opera that has a chance of being around a while.

You’ve seen the mini series so you know what to expect from the production. The design, CG, sets and costumes are all pretty much feature film standard (it’s amazing how much TV production values have come on in the last few years… if only B5 had this kind of budget). The credit sequence isn’t too inspiring, kicking off with images of Caprica city and other colonies (some taken from the mini series and some new footage), then the Cylons, then the orbital bombardment of a planet, then a pretty standard montage of action/character shots. A special mention should be made of the music in general, the theme tune isn’t memorable but the incidental and mood music throughout is really pretty good.

The focus of the show, the Galactica itself is solidly presented as an aircraft carrier in space, everything has a functional, clunky look to it and clearly a lot of research into naval vessels has been done. The procedures you see at work, the organisation, the communications, even the fact whiteboards and felt tip pens seem to play a big part in the future it seems (check the Viper pilot calls signs, and the gradually altering number of survivors) strikes an authentic chord.

The Viper pilots behave, well, like pilots they have a shared superstition on leaving their briefing room. The flight crews have that harassed, ‘same shit, different day’ look about them and are constantly manhandling equipment around (no tractor beams or anti-grav here) and the bridge and command staff are suitably tough and well disciplined. This all conspires to make the Galactica a boat that, if you watch the news at all, you kind of recognise. I think this is an important thing to note.

Good though all that is, that’s just the stage, the story and the players are where it counts.

This episode had a lot going on, we join the crew as they’re seconds away from their two hundred and something’th Cylon attack in five days, it’s tense, everyone’s exhausted and under constant pressure. This forced pace, and placing everyone under real stress is good writing but it doesn’t give any character much space (Baltar and consort seem to get the most screen time). The cast do everything that’s required of them (and I’m sure to learn their names soon), standouts being Adama and Tigh. But as I’ve mentioned Baltar gets the most play, now, I’m a big fan of regular characters in TV shows who are self serving pricks (I was gutted when Ralphie was bludgeoned to death by Tony Soprano a couple of seasons back). Baltar is such a man and there’s a lot going on with him, his entirely selfish agenda, his (current) lack of any guilt about his part in the genocide of his own race, the fact he’s got an alluring, crazy, obsessive girlfriend stuck in his head (whatever she turns out to be). It all makes for someone interesting (and funny) to watch. But also someone who seems a little out of place in the show. I’m intrigued to see how he fits when things settle down.

What I’m waiting for is the politics, the President and Adama are good characters played by good actors (the couple of scenes they had together in the mini-series were a joy) and I’m expecting their relationship and conflicting philosophies to become the backbone of a lot of episodes. Why I think Galactica succeeds is that a great deal of care and attention has clearly been paid to the details and the backgrounds of the characters relationships. An exchange between Starbuck and Apollo regarding taking ‘pills’ plays out beautifully and surprisingly, Adama and Tigh are convincing as both military men and old friends with a lot of history together. I’m taking these as good signifiers of what’s to come.

There were a couple of minor things that I didn’t like, I thought the Olympia should have clearly been full of people when Starbuck and Apollo blew it up (it would have leant a lot more impact to making that decision) and because so much happened in this episode it didn’t quite hold together as a whole (a little less Cylon philosophy would have been welcome).

My only real concern for the series future lies with the bad guys, I don’t get the paradoxical behaviour of the Cylons. I love sci-fi and have watched, read and otherwise consumed more of it than is probably healthy. Consequently I know this stuff, and have a few ideas on where it could go. I can understand a mechanical, unwavering killing machine and I can understand a ‘new’ sentience questioning what it means to be alive, have faith and love. But I don’t understand both things happening simultaneously. The weakest thing in this episode was the ‘meanwhile on Caprica’ segments, which are clearly ongoing at least for a while, and I can’t get that excited about the Cylons talking about God. I hope to be proved emphatically wrong.

The best moment I saw tonight was when one of the bridge crew (in one of the 33 minute periods of calm) asks a very strung out young officer about survivors from one of the colonies. He has little information and is unable to transmit her pictures (presumably of her friends and family) to the rest of the fleet. He tells her he can put them on the wall if she likes. We see the wall, a corridor really, with thousands of photos of loved ones, candles, ribbons. This is an image that gets a lot of information across, and one that, sadly, we have all seen a bit too often recently. This is the thing I find most impressive; Battlestar Galactica is bleak but contains hope and if it does all gel, it has a chance… an outside chance of not only being good sci-fi but being ‘relevant’ to current affairs in a away Star Trek has failed to be since the 60’s.

“Cheeze” says:

Just though you might like to know, I didn't have high hopes when watching the mini-series remake of this. It was different to the original series, where you had one story, whether the warriors were on the Galactica or in their vipers in the middle of a dogfight, because, at the end of the day, that's what the whole thing in my mind was about, the struggle a group of people had protecting the survivors of their race against an overwhelming enemy in testing times. I tended to ignore all the egyptian stuff, it gets lost on pre-teens.

When I saw the mini-series, I didn't mind about the gender swapping or any of the other controversy. What pissed me off the most was that you lost the personal connection with the dogfights in space. There were so many grey little specs darting all over the bloody place, you just didn't connect the 'epic' dogfight scenes with the people who were supposed to be in the ships. It came across a little...stale. It was like one story intercut with little sci-fi set pieces that just didn't work for me.

The first episode of the series has just finished on sky, and I'm glad to report that the signs are that they realized this in between making the mini-series and the series proper. It managed a good mix of familiarity for those who wanted something resembling the old series, while enough originality to hopefully attract a new audience who ain't, like me, in their thirties and can remember the original to compare it to. I think I can see why Richard Hatch done an about-face and is now going to appear in the series. I hope it's an indicator of the direction the series to come will follow.

“The Harbinger of Fish” says:

Just finished watching the first new episode of Battlestar Galactica '33' here in the UK.

It's a promising continuation of what was begun in last year's miniseries (Count me as a positive on the mini too). Here's my attempt at a review.

*WARNING SPOILERS*

The good:

- Baltar's serendipitous repentance to number six (It makes sense when you watch it!).

- Cylons hunting a lone Colonial in the forest.

- The president sacraficing 1300 people in order to save the rest of the fleet.

The bad

- I didn't like the 9/11 'wall of photographs' reference... it didn't make much sense in the context of the story.

- Half a dozen of the SFX shots near the beginning of the hour were taken from the miniseries.

Overall, the SFX were great, the writing more solid than the miniseries, and the acting believable. I'll definitely be sticking with it.

PS : LOST is definitely the best new show of the year.

“Dark Avenger” has a take:

Battlestar Galactica 1.1 FAQ

What's it called?
"33". So named for the 33 minutes which pass between each attempted Cylon attack and the subsequent jump to light-speed which the entire surviving fleet must make to avoid total annihilation (the episode opens with their 237th consecutive jump and the weary crew at breaking point). Don't ask why it's every 33 minutes.....

What does TV Guide say?
"After Cylons destroyed the Universe, can mankind's few survivors find the mythical planet Earth?"

Ok, how's the title sequence?
The theme is certainly less grandiose than the original, more akin to a gentler version of the Earth: Final Conflict intro, before kicking up the tempo to an intense tribal beat. Some nice lookin' clips from the series play during this.

Is Starbuck still a chick?
Yep. Still undecided on her after episode one. And speaking of chicks, Number Six is also still present. Oh yeah!

What do we learn?
Less than 50,000 humans remain following the destruction of the 12 colonies, so it's looking like resistance is futile.........so to speak. Also, Baltar keeps seeing Number Six (it's not clear if he has completely lost it at this point or if it's the product of some Cylon technical wizardry).

The good?
Lots. This is an awesome follow-up to the very solid miniseries. The action sequence on the Cylon-occupied planet of Caprica is pretty cool as are the space FX. Edward James Olmos(Adama) and Jim Callis(Baltar) are both note-perfect in their respective roles. The ticking-clock motif, onboard memorial and casualty scoreboard are all nice touches. The harsh reality of war is also well played out - how one simple human error (or perhaps not) can lead to the loss of 1,300+ lives, etc.

The bad?
Jamie Bamber's portrayal of Apollo leaves a lot of room from improvement (c'mon, no one could ever had accused Richard Hatch of being a wet blanket).

How does it end?
The total number of survivors goes up by one. Aww.

“R of Loxley” says:

Greetings from Nottingham, home of Robin Hood and...er...Robin Hood.

Just a quick email about the first episode of Battlestar Galactica that screened tonight in the UK. If you use this please call me Moon Zero Two (well, I like it).

I'll keep this brief, as I'm sure you'll get hundreds - OK, tens - of emails tonight from Brit-based readers anxious to spill the beans on the brand new series of Galactica. Let's face it, we don't get out much over here (unless of course we are off to the pub, sipping afternoon tea by the village green or dodging dentists generally) so, sadly, this is something for us to get excited about. So, was it any good? Amazingly...

...yes!

Maybe I'm still tired or hung over from the weekend but visually this programme was stunning to look at; the FX were first rate for TV and the production design overall was top notch. The music is also very strong: unobtrusive, even chilled at times. Not sure about the theme tune but I'm sure it will grow on me (yes, I'll be watching next week). The acting too was very good and very straight-faced. Starbuck may be a girl but she was more of a man in this than the original ever was! If you don't believe me just compare their haircuts. However, perhaps the best thing about Battlestar Galactica 2004 so far is the fact that it's adult viewing - adult as in mature, not adult as in find yourself a real girlfriend - and enriched in a post 11/9 (sorry, 9/11) desperation that might prove to be the show's major strength. Until they land on casino planet or wild west planet that is!

Anyway, it's past my bedtime but for what it's worth I liked it and it helped me get the ironing done. (And we got it first SO THERE!)

“Viridian Alien Horde” says:

The UK getting the world preview of the new series of Battlestar Galactica a couple of months before the US, eh? Hey, it’s nice to get some payback for Tony Blair rolling over and let Dubya tickle his tummy for the past couple of years (though I’m not sure that when he said, “Look, I want to see the spaceship plans, George” that this is quite what he meant).

You have no idea of the sheer, visceral pleasure us denizens of this particular part of the North Atlantic have in writing the following and winging it across the ether to the US of A: Spoiler Alert. Yup, not only have we produced the funniest film in years with Shaun of the Dead and will see the new Doctor Who waaaay before anyone else beyond these shores does, but we know what happens in the Galactica universe before you do. Hyuk.

So, I’ll say it again. Spoilers sail the choppy waters beyond this sentence. Watch out me hearties, aaarrrrrr.

So, where are our merry crew then? Well, it’s been about five days since the twelve colonies were somewhat pulverised by the Cylon menace and things aren’t looking too good for the home side. The problem with being pursued across the galaxy by a race of relentless robots is that, well, they do tend to be a bit on the relentless side and the strain on Galactica is showing.

The crew’s been without sleep for 130.35 hours, the cylon fleet keeps turning up every 33 minutes like clockwork, and something really has to give. Meanwhile, Dr Baltar’s virtual Number 6 has got God in a fairly major way, the numbers in the gene pool keep tumbling downwards, Helo is fighting a solo rearguard action as the rains pour down on the devastated Caprica back home and, to top it all, it looks like Boomer might not even know she’s a cylon herself.

The big question right here and right now is though can the show make the transition from four-hour mini series to full-on episodic glory (kind of a reverse transition to the one Farscape is just going through)? On the evidence of this first ep, that’ll be a yes. There’s a cloying claustrophobia to this episode that’s pretty impressive, leading you to conclude that in launching a series in such a downbeat way, those that know where it’s headed have got to be pretty confident of their roadmap. Cylons chase humans/humans escape/cylons track down humans/cylons chase humans again and so on ad infinitum is not going to work for anyone in 2005.

Beyond the plot of any individual episode, however, it also seems to check all the boxes it needs to to get the wide world of sf fandom on board en masse. There are multiple story arcs kicking off in the background, including some intriguing inter-cylon rivalry; it’s got a tense, edgy atmosphere (crucial for these paranoid times – watch out for the very affecting scene where a corridor becomes a cross between a vast missing persons register and a memorial); there is enough crytpicism to keep newsgroups happily chewing over the bones for a while; and it’s also got plenty of two-legged eye candy, Number 6 continuing the tradition of intergalactic robotic crumpet on the small screen by out-sevening 7 of 9. Plus, and this is the clincher, it’s not made by Fox so has got a good chance of not dying still-born before it gets time to really show what it can do.

Talking of which, the effects work hits the same superb high standards as both the mini series managed last year and Firefly (a pox on all your descendents, Fox Television Execs, may your stomachs roast in hell) did before it; all shaky handheld shots, focus pulls and the like. This contributes greatly to the show’s overall aura of gritty realism, giving the whole project an almost semi-documentary like feeling.

And gritty is what it is. Forget Ronald D Moore’s previous sojurn in the Trek universe, the grime, the grit and the creeping sense of paranoia Galactica engenders tend to remind you more of the best moments of Babylon 5 than anything else. It’s a post-24 B5 though, Galactica being more sharply edited and jittery, not to mention being capable of hitting bleaker moments than even B5 ever managed. Sadly, however, the comparison also extends to J Michael Stracynski’s occasional wooden ear for dialogue too, the odd banal utterance falling to the deck with an all too audible clunk.

That is forgivable though. Characters take a while to establish, so too do writing teams, and it’ll be more than interesting to see what they manage to brew up together as season one progresses.

Oh yeah, can’t really go without mentioning the original series, BG:TOS. It’s simple really; everybody has to grow up, people. You’ve done it, now let your TV shows do it too.

“J.” chimes in:

Just watched the season premiere.

For me, it carries on exactly as the mini series left off, so if you enjoyed that you'll like the series. I felt the mini was strong when it concentrated on the shit hitting the fan, the tragedy's and the tough choices. It was weal and amateurish when it slowed down to look at Baltar's relationship with the weird fembot thing, or when it tried to be a soap opera.

The first episode of the series shows both of these sides. It starts with the fleet still on emergency footing, the Cylons are attacking every 33 minutes, leading to some pretty good tension. Theres plenty of moments that play to the allegory of post-9/11, moments that look at people dealing with the stress and the loss. Moments stressing the effect the rising death toll has on those left alive.

In the tradition of the best of DS9 this is not so much sci-fi as a 'war movie set in space', and the tough choices that were made in the mini continue here. Does the President shoot down a civillian craft when it breaks radio contact and possibly poses a threat?

However, the weaknesses of the mini still shine through aswell, and the pace and tension is stopped in its tracks several times to concentrate on Baltar's Fembot (now also sporting a white Mac. Character development), and not all the characters have yet settles into the show, some still seeming forced or out of place.

Still, for me at least, it looks promising. It has at least earned a chance.

“Wolf at the Door” says:

How does it look, you ask?
Not terrible, but not great either.

How does it start?
With a ‘previously on Battlestar Galactica’ clip package from the mini-series. Then we get the pre-title setup. Galactica and the fleet have been on the run for 5 days, with the Cylons attacking like clockwork every 33 minutes. The fleet has made 237 jumps and everyone is showing the strain, unshaven, etc.

What’s the title sequence like?
More Shots from the mini-series – the cities being attacked, mushroom clouds, vipers fighting cylons, the fleet jumping – with enya-like pipes and chimes. I’ve seen and heard worse (Enterprise) but it don’t exactly get the blood pumping.

Is the hot Cylon babe still around?
There is hot Cylon action from the very beginning.

What about sexy Boomer? Is Boomer showing any Cylon-like tendancies?
No. She shows human-like crankiness like the rest of the crew. Although the other crew joke at one point that “she’s a cylon” because she doesn't seem to suffer from lack of sleep.

What’s Apollo doing?
Conducting ‘Hill Street Blues’-style flight briefings with the pilots. He even says “let’s be careful out there”. Plus he also argues with Starbuck.

How’s Starbuck?
Still ugly, annoying and generally unlikeable as a character.

And Dr Gaius?
Lots of hallucinating conversations with the hot cylon babe. He becomes alarmed to learn that another scientist wants to speak to the President about how the Cylons really penetrated the defence system.

And on Cylon-occupied Caprica?
Cylon-occupied Capria? No I wasn’t expecting this either. But Boomer’s old crewmate is on the run. This may be setting up a 1984/Matrix-style subplot because he gets captured pretty quick. And then rescued by Boomer!

Uh? Boomer’s on Caprica?
Or someone who looks like her…

And the 9/11 parallels?
These come thick and fast throughout the episode. First, there’s lots of 9/11-style impromptu photo memorials for victims of the cylon attack. Second, the President and her staff keep revising the death toll. Third, the Vipers are forced to shoot down one of the fleet that turns up late after a jump (it may have been infiltrated by Cylons). Plus the Cylons keep talking about god.

Is it as good as the original series of Galactica?
Hmm. I have fond memories of the original Battlestar Galactica. Mostly fond memories of laughing at it because even as an 8 year old, my friends and I could recognize a bad Star-Wars rip-off when we saw it. Nonetheless, there were some cool things about the original Galactica. The special effects (Dykstra went straight from Star Wars to Galactica), the Cylons, the title music, the Vipers.
So does the new series retain what was good and jettison the old? Not so much. It's replaced cheesy with dark and gritty &i really admire the naturalistic tone of the show, but Moore forgot to bring the funny – there ain’t many laughs in the new Galactica other than the unintentional ones. None of the characters are very interesting, many of them are insipid and one or two of them are just fucking annoying. When a show makes you long for the chemistry of the Enterprise crew or even the Voyager crew, then you know you have some serious problems.

A footnote-y digression. “Sexy Boomer” is right!!! Between Sexy Boomer on “Galactica,” Hottie Hoshi on “Star Trek,” Geek of my Dreams Lane on "Gilmore Girls and Way-Too-Snoggable Sun on “Lost,” Hercules is giving serious thought to retiring to Seoul. Were the Korean girls anywhere near this hot on “M*A*S*H”?





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Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 18, 2004, 11:08 p.m. CST

    this sounds awesome

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    The mini was an incredible ride... I hope they can keep that quality with the series. Hey, I loved Galactica when I was a kid, but this is completely different, and better.

  • Oct. 18, 2004, 11:18 p.m. CST

    Now this, is encouraging.

    by CaptainWalker

    It is all well and good to remember the origional fondly, as it well deserves the warm memories of childhood dreams. Bet age does not bless us all with equal grace. It pleases me no end, to discover that a new telling of the tale, can lend insight, and inspiration. Just as T.H. White engendered new excitement to the tale first spun by Sir Thom, of Newbold Revel. Let us Hope that this new retelling of the Aneiad coninues to favor us well.

  • Oct. 18, 2004, 11:57 p.m. CST

    The new Starbuck: I'd hit it.

    by Voice O. Reason

    And so would you. (Yes.)

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 12:11 a.m. CST

    "33"? Ron Moore's a Pumpkins fan!

    by Tall_Boy

    I gotta watch this now. I heard the mini was kinda weird with horny fembot cylons so I turned that off.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 12:19 a.m. CST

    so basically we need to wait almost 4 months to take a peep?

    by kobain

    hell no way!!! can you say BITTORRENT? god I love these times... the P2P community has given a hell of a kick in the arse to the anti-globalists! :P

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 1:50 a.m. CST

    What the f***'s up with this???

    by RedAntBoy

    OK, I loved the old Galactica and the new mini-series was excelent but why do we have to wait untill January to see the new series??? Just not fair damnit!!!

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 2:06 a.m. CST

    As good as the mini

    by Xaximus

    Was a bit concerned the series would be a let-down after the FANTASTIC mini, but it was great... no complaints at all, and I'm incredibly eager to see the next episode. As for that fucker at the end of the reviews saying the episode made him wish for the "chemistry" of the Enterprise crew, he's clearly insane and/or a imbicile. The BG crew and their chemistry is outstanding, as is every single other aspect of the show as far as I'm concerned. P.S. BitTorrent is your friend.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 3:44 a.m. CST

    LOL @ PooBurn

    by aceattorney

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 3:45 a.m. CST

    We'll make a deal...

    by Praetor

    You get rid of Dubya and we'll hand over the episodes. Otherwise screw the lot of you.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 3:49 a.m. CST

    The old show (at least the pilot and the first couple episodes)w

    by WONKABAR

    Seriously, there seemed to be a nice chemistry and bond between the original cast. The mythological/religious aspect of the show was interesting. And the design-ships, costumes etc. along with the music were excellent. The old show was flawed, but the things that were promising did not carry over to the new show and I think it's kind of a shame. I mean, I'll get over it I'm sure, I'm kind of over sci-fi in general anyway. But I can't help but feel that BOTH shows=missed opportunity

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 4:01 a.m. CST

    Very average...

    by badboymason

    After enjoying the miniseries more than I expected, I eagerly tuned in last night to watch the series proper: I was pretty disappointed. To me, this is the kind of episode that would work as a mid-season change of pace: the crew exhausted, the outlook very bleak, no end in sight to the cylon attacks. I hope it is not setting the tone for the whole series, as I dont want to watch something this depressing for another 12 episodes - Heres hoping the rest of the series has more shades, as in, light moments or moments of victory to counter the darker parts, which, based on the first episode it doesnt have...

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 4:44 a.m. CST

    Team Galactica - fuck yeah!

    by Doghouse Reilly

    That clunky term 're-imagining' is in still bad odour after Burton's atrocities against Planet of the Apes, but here's a remake that really delivers. Never a fan of the original Galactica (great Dystra SPFX, otherwise just another Glen Larceny movie rip), I approached this with all the enthusiasm of an eyeball scrape; especially after grim advance reports on AICN. So, where to start with how terrific it all is? The performances, particularly Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, are top drawer (an Olmos toenail clipping has more authority than Bakula has mustered in four seasons of Enterprise), the FX (how much did this cost anyway)? The taut, gritty script that takes all the halfway decent SF concepts from the original, but unerringly ditches the cheesiness and dross, or the masterstroke of making the Cylons humanoid in appearance, thus opening up far more dramatic possibilities (though the original clunky robotic guys survive too). Probably best though is the staging and direction. The entire production, even the space battles, has a hand-held, documentary feel never before seen in coaxial SF. Characters sweat, footsteps clank, voices echo -- you believe they're on that incredible ship and in deadly danger. In space the image pitches rolls and yaws; debris bounces off the lens and sends the camera spinning. Trek should have done this stuff years ago! The characters are all solid too; even the much derided decision to give half the original cast a sex change really works. One sour note -- a recent article in the Sunday Times (UK) quotes some female actors expressing frustration with some of the later scripts, Katee Sackhoff complaining that Starbuck is constantly angry, which can make her wearing to play; McDonnell lamenting that the male characters are all buddies, yet females rarely have so much as a scene together. Maybe Moore needs to go all the way and get some female writers aboard. Still and all, Battlestar Galactica is now better than Star Trek -- by a looong way. Who'da thunk?

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 4:55 a.m. CST

    5 Stars!!!!

    by magnius

    LOL....It's nice that us Brits get something first for a change. Anyway, I have just watched the first episode, and it ROCKED!!! Don't expect the glitz and glamour of the original series, this new Galactica begins just days after the events of the mini-series and finds the convoy of human ships on the run. Nobody has slept in 130 hours and they are having to make FTL jumps every 33 minutes because the Cylons keep attacking at these exact intervals (strangly enough the exact amount of time it takes to plot a course and reset the FTL drives). I won't say anymore...you'll just have to wait until January :)

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 4:58 a.m. CST

    DVD+R comes into its own...

    by Charlie & Tex

    The timeslot picked for it is crap, but Mondays at 8.00 is Sky's usual dumping ground for new SciFi, so it comes as little suprise. Luckily, we shoved a DVD+r disd into the recorder, set it to HQ and did a digital-to-digital anamorphic copy of it for later viewing. Did the same for the premeire of Stargate: Atlantis, and is becoming a regular thing for us when new shows are placed in questionable slots.

  • I know, it's symbolic of the tonal change, but that original theme music was damned cool. I'm sorry also to hear that the show isn't showing any signs of a lighter side. It needs to give the characters, and the audience, a break from all the morbid gloom and doom. I don't mean send them to a Casino planet, but I think the anti-Whedon sentiment is bullshit. We need to be able to laugh along the way. I'm looking forward to the show, but I continue to hope it won't get bogged down by its own seriousness. Even Babylon 5 had some terrific moments of humor (and some bad ones, it's a risk worth taking though).

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 9:39 a.m. CST

    PooBumBum

    by Strabo

    Good news for you, Poo! Several of the Whedon-verse rippers are in the U.K.! If ANYONE will rip it, I'm sure one of them will. I'm at work right now, so can't check that exploding sun place, but I'd be willing to bet that it's up there already! If not there, then certainly one of the major TV Torrent sites.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Pift...bollocks!!

    by Syd Mead

    The U.K. is a great place to premiere a Sci-Fi show....they kept Dr. Who on for 68 years when it clearly ate wet corn fed shit. Electro-lux robots that scream ....Exterminate!! EXTERMINATE!!! That's fuckin' entertianment my friends. Yeah...yeah..I love Red Dwarf ...just funnin' ya. Now go brush your teeth.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Hey Herc, Lived in Korea, stay here!

    by kdoc13

    Herc, while the Korean women you mentioned are all incredibly hot, having lived in Seoul for many years, I can tell you that those ones are really hard to find. You go expecting to find every woman looks like Sung Hi Lee, and you find out that most of them look more like Bruce Lee. Yeah, there are some cute ones, but they aren't interested in Americans. The ones that are interested? Find them in the bars, knock em up and bring them back here like most GI's do, but they won't look anything like the ones you mentioned. Just a note of warning. -Doc

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 1:30 p.m. CST

    Watched it last night

    by A Yank in London

    I find myself in agreement with the concensus of reviews. It's pace and tone were an improvement on the mini-series (which I thought was very good itself). There are enough strands of plot to keep this going for quite awhile . . if the writers get it right. All in all, the new BG has been a very pleasant surprise.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 2:26 p.m. CST

    I am going to watch it however nothing will ever live up to Fars

    by Judge Briggs

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 3:17 p.m. CST

    NOW IF THEY CAN WORK ON A BETTER SOUNDTRACK...

    by UncleSam

    Today's soundtracks for movies and television stink. The new Battlestar Galactica soundtrack can be summed up to one instrument... BONGO DRUM! I want a symmphony not a guy petting his bongo. But just as with the Cyclons are now human looking, the reason is money. They can't afford costumes so they make Cylons look human. They can't afford a symphony so they hire one guy to play the bongo. I prefer the robots and the symphony.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 8:16 p.m. CST

    IT SUCKS!...Someone had to say it. Why do the outer space battl

    by Rolling_Stone

    And the theme sucks.

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 8:18 p.m. CST

    Great news!

    by 900LBGorilla

  • Oct. 19, 2004, 8:21 p.m. CST

    Great news!

    by 900LBGorilla

    I loved the Mini so much that I went out and bought the original BSG "Movie" to get more... if anyone wants to buy the movie ...please... take it... I'll pay YOU actually... it has CERTAINLY NOT aged well. The mini threw away the cheese and gave us true sci-fi drama. Glad to hear the series is clearly living up to the mini's high standards.

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 3:51 a.m. CST

    Rolling Stone

    by smylexx

    Think you'll find that the shaky-cam is a STYLE thing. Since the shots are computer controlled, it's actually harder to make the images look this way than it would to make them smooth and gliding. The hand-held feel is an attempt to make you feel as if it was shot by a human being and put you in the action. See also Episode II: AOTC and the escape from Cloud City in Episode V: TESB for more examples

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Galactica Theme

    by Doghouse Reilly

    Kinda like the new creepy ambient music... but the original Galactica anthem does make a cameo appearance, at least in the mini-series, as backing to an air show sequence (one of several affectionate nods to the original).

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Praetor...

    by TV CASUALTY

    ...nice...

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Rolling_Stone is right. The new BSG effects suck.

    by Jeditemple

    They look worse than a Roger Corman low-budget flick.

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 6:23 p.m. CST

    Any of you Brits have bit torrent?

    by Nick Rivers

    Would be lovely to have this up on demonoid or suprnova.org

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 7:49 p.m. CST

    Saw it, loved it...

    by Anlashok

    Thanks Suprnova, you rock the fucking planet!!!

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 9:25 p.m. CST

    I know I'll get pimp-slapped for saying it,

    by ol' painless

    But I kinda liked the actress that plays Staruck: she's unconventionally beautiful, and manages to project just the right levels of attitude, toughness, and vulerability. The guy that plays Apollo - he's a different story. When he starts to emote, I feeling throwing him a pacifier.

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 9:48 p.m. CST

    hey badboymason

    by ol' painless

    I also kinda like a series that starts out dark and grim. Let's face it: its a bloody grim situation. I personally don't need to see a Base Star get exploded in a nick-of-time escape every hourly episode. I really want to feel that the fleet is at that the start of a long dark tunnel of trial and tribulation. It will make the payoff at the end all the more satisfying. If they try and make war fun, it'll just end up pathetic: you know, like the Phantom Menace.

  • Oct. 20, 2004, 11:52 p.m. CST

    I like what I hear. The 33 Minutes thing sounds cool. BUT...

    by Mutant Leader

    I think we have had enough military-in-space/war sagas. Maybe it's time for the genre to move on (if it can).

  • Oct. 21, 2004, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Just remember what happend to the last intelligent show on Sci-F

    by 84 Charlie MoPic

    I'm talking about: Farscape. I'm not trying to compare the two; the tone and theme are radically different. However, Farscape was critically aclaimed and had a solid fan base (just like I predict this show will) but Sci-Fi axed it just the same because the raitings wern't as strong as Crossing Over and it cost a lot of money to make. I predict Galatica will have the same "problem" and in the end it will suffer the same fate.

  • Oct. 21, 2004, 11:04 p.m. CST

    So Starbuck is still a DYKE? Yuck.

    by jackburton2004

    Seriously. Someone tell the writer that making a woman "independent" and "strong" doesn't mean give her a big penis and metal balls and introduce her to the joys of munching carpet.

  • Oct. 22, 2004, 6:57 p.m. CST

    The new Galactica

    by Bart of Darkness

    Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Imagine Deep Space 9 or Babylon 5 when they were at the top of their game. The ONLY new show on TV I will go out of my way to watch at the moment, unlike (yawn) Enterprise.

  • Oct. 23, 2004, 2 a.m. CST

    This sounds pretty good. but they could have left off the secret

    by TheGinger Twit

    check it out - it's on everything.

  • Oct. 23, 2004, 11:20 a.m. CST

    Give Rick Springfield a guest shot in an episode

    by Noell

    Rick got killed off early in episode one of the original and then went on to be one of America's biggest pop stars of the 1970.s and 80's with 17 top forty hits,Grammy awards,Platinum albums that hit number one. This time give him a whole episode. They can even call the episode "Jesse's Girl".

  • Oct. 23, 2004, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Cylon factoid you might not know: The idea of a human looking Cy

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

    And now you know.

  • Oct. 23, 2004, 9:13 p.m. CST

    Absolutley fantastic

    by Nick Rivers

    I had given up hope on intelligent sci-fi series. With the exception of Farscape and a few seasons of DS9 there hasn't been much in the last 30 years. Between the mini-series and the 1st episode I am finally excited again about sci-fi.