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Category: TV

Battlestar Galactica 1-3: Bastille Day

Richard Hatch in the Old FutureHey, look! It’s Richard Hatch!

(no, not that one)

Battlestar Galactica is a remake, as we all know. It’s natural to want to pay homage to the original, but that sort of thing runs the risk of getting silly. Using the original theme music during a newscast was wonderful, but cameos from the “original” Cylons in Razor were gratuitous.

So where does Richard Hatch fit in? He was one of the stars of the original series. I suppose the instinct might have been to cast him as a veteran fighter pilot, but Galactica went the other way: Tom Zarek was a terrorist – or a political freedom fighter, depending on your perspective.

Well, there’s not a lot of perspective involved. Zarek is, for the first couple seasons, a sinister semi-terrorist, always plotting some way to seize power.  He gets more interesting later on, but for now, they may as well have given him a handlebar mustache.

That said, Hatch did the best he could with the role. Zarek may be almost-kind-of-evil, but he always appears intelligent and reasonably charismatic. If he weren’t clearly set up as an opponent for Roslin and Adama, the “freedom fighter” angle might be easier to accept. As it stands, the prison setting in Bastille Day makes him look more like Hannibal Lecter than George Washington.

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Battlestar Galactica 1-2: Water

Grace Park as BoomerThe Cylon Sleeper Agent didn’t get a whole lot of use on Battlestar Galactica. Most of the Cylons, when caught, confessed to being Cylons, and then went about being evil, fleshy toasters.

But then there’s Boomer, who doesn’t know she’s a Cylon, even while she’s carrying out evil Cylon plots. She wakes up alone, soaking wet, with a bag full of explosives next to her. When Galactica’s water tank blows up, she doesn’t know what to think – she wouldn’t do it, obviously, but it certainly looks like she did.

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Battlestar Galactica 1-1: 33

Battlestar Galactica? Really?

You’re going to revive a 1970s  sci-fi series that was a flaccid attempt to emulate the success of Star Wars, replete with soap opera performances and 1970s fashion?

That, in itself, calls for scepticism.

But to the surprise of many, Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries kicked ass.

Surely, though, that creativity and quality wasn’t sustainable on an ongoing basis, right? It’s one thing to produce six hours of miniseries, but an ongoing series?

The creators of Battlestar Galactica must have been aware that the debut of the ongoing series would generate as much, if not more, scepticism than the miniseries. So they responded with 33, an exceptional “pilot” episode, and one of the strongest episodes of the entire series.

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When did Battlestar Galactica go wrong?

Season One DVD coverI have two memories of watching Battlestar Galactica: It was really good at the start, and really bad at the end.

At least, it was really bad near the end. I never finished the series, thanks to being terrifically annoyed by almost everything that happened in season 4.1 – not to mention being annoyed by splitting seasons into multiple DVD sets. So: I don’t know how the series ended. I didn’t care when the “final four” was revealed, and I still don’t know who the final Cylon was. Nobody tell me.

But one night, while browsing Netflix, I started watching the original Battlestar Galactica. It was really bad.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved it when I was a kid, and Dirk Benedict is still totally rad. But the special effects always looked like leftovers from Star Wars – and were often recycled episode after episode – and the story was generic and bland.

After half an hour of that, it occurred to me that I should re-watch the remake, since it was so good at the beginning. And then, I thought, I should figure out exactly how that great beginning turned so bad.

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I’m not bad, I’m just written that way

When it’s good, Mad Men is very, very good. Though season four started slowly, it’s begun to hit its stride, and The Suitcase ranked among the very best of the entire show. But the followup, The Summer Man, brought back one of the series’ recurring flaws: The one-note character.

A ruckus at the vending machine leads sexy senior secretary Joan Holloway to chastise copywriter Joey. Joey doesn’t respond well to this and turns the scolding around, telling Joan she dresses like a prostitute who’s trying to get raped. Things degenerate from there.