Ceci n'est pa un Battlestar Galactica
December 4, 2003 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Classic Galactica fans, don't watch it. It'll hurt you. So says the star of the new Battlestar Galactica remake, and from what I've read, I think I agree. Just another case of the suits slapping old names onto new products for quick brand cred, and continuity be damned. Just like Enterprise. Just like Netscape.
posted by brownpau (59 comments total)
 
More from Slashdot and Fark.

(I'd also like to point out that this topic has a special place in my heart solely because it was the subject of my very first MeFi post, an egregious newsfilter doublepost which I regret to this very day.)
posted by brownpau at 9:10 AM on December 4, 2003


I think it sounds great: more adult and potentially more intelligent than the original series. (Which, admittedly, I did love when I was ten.)
posted by bwerdmuller at 9:38 AM on December 4, 2003


I really enjoy decent science fiction, and I have always thought the original Battlestar Gallactica was among the cheesiest, most insipid science fiction shows ever committed to file/tape, so I for one am looking forward to SciFi's "reimagining" of the property. The concept of a reduced population of humanity struggling for survival, while not terribly original, still has legs and the promos and previews that have been available look like a decent amount of money has been spent to at least make it look good... I suppose I feel for the GalacticaNerds who are all up in arms about this desecration of their cherished childhood memories, but to me that's like getting upset because someone remade Fireball XL5 without marrionettes - the original is just dreck, so who gives a crap what somebody does to "remake" it?
posted by JollyWanker at 9:45 AM on December 4, 2003


You know, I've been thinking that if I actually watched the originals now, it would probably hurt me. I was 4 the last time I saw the show. I remember it being very sophisticated, edgy, often dark, but uplifting. I'm afraid to pop open those old episodes now and find nothing but feathered hair and bad special effects.
posted by scarabic at 9:47 AM on December 4, 2003


>The show appears to be darker, sexier and a lot less escapist than the original.

I'll bet it's going to be hyper-american now, like a space version of JAG or whatever this weeks patriotic tripe is. Including a thin metaphor of cylons and terrorists. Why do i think this, because there hasn't been much else lately, the networks have finally glommed on to the "with us or against us" vibe, and apparently we're just not smart enough to handle much else. It just makes me wish that I had taped a massive archive of network tv before 9/11.
posted by milovoo at 9:50 AM on December 4, 2003


I think it's a shame that they spent money on "re-imagining" Battlestar Galactica rather than, say, throwing some at J. Michael Straczynski to do another show in the Babylon 5 universe, or maybe producing some more Farscape episodes (I was never a fan, but I know lots of people loved that show).
posted by kindall at 9:55 AM on December 4, 2003


I'm with JollyWanker. The original was really, really baaad, much like the TV series Logan's Run (life in a shopping mall). Anything they do to it has to be an improvement.

But the rebranding in this case doesn't bother me. Remember the modernized Romeo and Juliet movie with Leonardo DiCaprio? That was a complete "re-imagining" of the story." It is a normal practice in the theater arts and other aesthetic enterprises to revisit classics. No problem there.

However, the rebranding of actual physical products is a different matter. It does seem wrong when Chevy buys foreign cars and slaps their own names on them (as they used to do with the Nova in the late 80's).
posted by yesster at 9:59 AM on December 4, 2003


First off, the man making this statement is Edward James Olmos, a sharp tack and a no-bullshit guy. Second, the original series was crap and if Olmos is indicating that this remake detracts from "the reality of the original," then I can only imagine the results of this "reimagining."

kindall: Be careful what you wish for. January 15.
posted by ed at 10:17 AM on December 4, 2003


Kindall - JMS has gotten funding for more B5 based work.
Sci Fi Wire Blurb
posted by Dillenger69 at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2003


It is a normal practice in the theater arts and other aesthetic enterprises to revisit classics. No problem there.

You haven't seen A Comedy of Errors as a western obviously. That was one of the more painful experiences I've seen in a theater. It also ended me ever going to MSU theater productions. (Of course, it didn't help that as I recall the other productions that year looked like they'd be even worse).
posted by piper28 at 10:39 AM on December 4, 2003


Kindall - also, Farscape (the best space opera to ever grace the screen) has started production on a four hour mini-series to wrap up the storyline. Small blurb here, more details and links here.
posted by kittyloop at 10:42 AM on December 4, 2003


JMS has gotten funding for more B5 based work.

That would explain why he's left Jeremiah, then. That show is starting to recycle B5, what with a "league of non-aligned towns" being formed and a powerful, evil enemy being unveiled. It already had substantial similarities in the first season, actually, with Thunder Mountain being an essentially sealed environment for which Jeremiah and his sidekick served as Rangers. There was even a betrayal of the leader by his security chief, for which said chief is now attempting to redeem himself. Frankly it seems a bit lazy of JMS, but I don't know whether it's the only story he knows how to tell, or whether his heart just isn't in the show like it was with the one he created.

Still, I'm enough of a fanboy that I still look forward to any new B5, even if I'm somewhat afraid that it might suck. I'd really like to see something dealing with the telepath war.
posted by kindall at 10:43 AM on December 4, 2003


What's odd about this is that it appears to be about humans from Earth --- characters with ranks like CPO, guys in suits and ties. Wasn't the basic idea behind Battlestar Ponderosa, I mean Cattlecar Galactica, or whatever, that they were from a different world and were looking for Earth?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:52 AM on December 4, 2003


Now that you mention it, G_S, I think you're right. They were from Andromeda, and were trying to get to Earth, to which their culture had long ago sent a colony ship . . .[Though, in truth, I despise any sci-fi story line that includes the notion of humanity originating extra-terrestrially, since that (a) demeans human accomplishment in a way that's hard to define- though is something along the lines of "we couldn't have done it ourselves," and (b) appears to solve the human origin question, which has been neatly answered by Darwinism anyway, while actually displacing the problem instead (i.e., "we came from outer space" tells us only where our species has been before, without actually addressing the true genesis)] sorry, end rant
posted by yesster at 11:07 AM on December 4, 2003


Most of all, I will miss the Cylons. I will always remember a gutsy and witty Army Lieutenant, standing at the head of his platoon when his (good natured) Captain issued his next-to-last order before dismissal of the company for a long weekend. In a *perfect* robotic Cylon voice, the Lieutenant loudly replied back "By Your Command!"
Everyone, and I mean, everyone, was laughing. It took several minutes to finish up and go home.

I wish the Cylons were still robots, though. We need more menacing robots on teevee. They're just cutting corners.
posted by kablam at 11:09 AM on December 4, 2003


I haven't seen Battlestar Gallactica since I was 10. Loved it at the time but I do remember:

1) having the hots for the girl fighter pilot. grrr.
2) they were going TO earth after the cylons empire people blew up their planet.

I just hope they don't remake Buck Rogers [although the evil chick was hot].

Yes I came of age with my ideal woman being either a fighter pilot or an evil villian.
posted by birdherder at 11:12 AM on December 4, 2003


Sci-Fi can do whatever it wants with remakes. Their versions of the Dune Trilogy were fantastic.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:16 AM on December 4, 2003


> I wish the Cylons were still robots, though.

I second this. I looked all over the site for pictures of the Cylons. Nothing recognizable. Is the chick the only one? And what's with the boring T3/Species retread, by the way? Work a little harder!

The Cylons were the best part of the original series, by far. And Doctor Whatshisname, the traitor (who's younger this time, and makes out with the hot Cylon). Now it's just all sexy stuff? Please.
posted by dammitjim at 11:30 AM on December 4, 2003


A friend of mine stands by his theory that the Cylons were *always* hot blonde chicks. They were just hidden behind all that armor before, with robotic eyes and voice changers.
posted by majcher at 11:37 AM on December 4, 2003


They were from Andromeda, and were trying to get to Earth, to which their culture had long ago sent a colony ship . . .

*ahem* Actually, they were originally *from* Earth. We humans colonized the galaxy, but by the time frame of Galactica that origin had devolved into myth. Nobody believed in the existence of this "earth", except Adama, who decided that, since this particular population of humans had basically been exterminated, the best place to go would be "home", or Earth. There was real potential for solid storylines, but it sadly remained just that - potential.

Of course, how that history squared with Galactica 80 (where they finally made it to Earth circa 1980), I have no idea.

I remember reading the book a few years back and thinking they could have really made something interesting out of the property. I respect Olmos enough to believe that maybe they have. We'll see.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:38 AM on December 4, 2003


The Cylons ARE still Robots -- just not big chrome ones.

Footage I saw on the Lowdown had big "classic" cylons as sort of the "stormtrooper" of the Cylon's army, with the pretty and hot human-looking ones being the brains.

I don't mind. If it's Sci-Fi, and on TV, I'll watch it. If it sucks (like Andromeda), I'll stop.
posted by HogarthNH at 11:38 AM on December 4, 2003


Will it have Daggett? That's all I remember about the show. I had a Daggett action figure. I broke it open on the theory that there was a plastic monkey inside. Really.

(It turns out that there wasn't a monkey inside, but he was lucky to go that way. I got a BB gun a few years later and that was an especially bad day for my Chewbacca and C3PO.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:48 AM on December 4, 2003




This series look interesting (and will surely be better than the laughably bad original, which I recently saw for the first time since childhood when my Tivo decided I would like it) but I'm much more excited about the new Dr. Who.
posted by boltman at 11:52 AM on December 4, 2003


As long as they kept the robotic furry dog thing, they'll do just fine.

And the lit face space helmets, those were really cool and helped what's his name, Face from the A-Team, Dirk Benedict, apply his eyeliner soooo smoothly!
posted by fenriq at 11:57 AM on December 4, 2003


Speaking of the Cylons, check out the Cylon page of Battlestar Galactica: Tech-Manual. Nice. I had forgotten about the almond-headed guys. They were the brains in the first series.

Also interesting is the History page. The plot of the original (read it - it's good, and there's no bad acting or feathered hair to get in the way) was big on politics and treachery, which is one thing I remember about it. Thankfully I don't remember the cheesy acting as clearly.
posted by dammitjim at 12:00 PM on December 4, 2003


Now wait just a centon!!!
posted by jonp72 at 12:04 PM on December 4, 2003


I just hope they don't remake Buck Rogers [although the evil chick was hot].

You mean like this?

Which is a bit of what gets me about the furor over Galactica fidelity. Galactica is its self an imitation of Star Wars which its self was heavily based on (and some would say plagarized from) golden age pulp science fiction. Lucas's lowbrow taste in science fiction/fantasy would be more explicit in the creation of Indiana Jones (which had its own imitation ala Battlestar Galactica in King Solomon's Mines.)

I think we are overdue for dusting off some golden age clasics like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. In fact, there are a ton of projects that I wish Sci-Fi would tackle like Caves of Steel (which apparently was adapted once for television back in 1964), I, Robot, or Left Hand of Darkness (since evidently Lathe of Heaven has already been screwed up once this decade). I would love to see a good Earthsea movie but dread who it might be given to. (Sally Potter comes to mind as someone who could manage the character development.) Heck, even Fritz Leiber would be good if they remebered to make it fun.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:06 PM on December 4, 2003


I caught the Sci-Fi Channel preview about making the show, and interviews with the old and new stars. It thought it looked pretty good.. same general story, but with tweaks to the story, reasonings, and made it more of a true space opera.

Though, when they professed to be original in making space ships that act more like ships in water, they forget the whole Starship Troopers thing., which I think they've stolen a few things from.
posted by rich at 12:15 PM on December 4, 2003


Galactica was great because of three things:

1. Glen Larson's theme
2. The Viper and its catapult launch
3. Cylons

I don't know about the theme, but I know the Viper got a pimp retrofit from those screenshots, and gets to keep its catapult launch. As for Cylons, considering almost all scifi shows have androids, you can't really judge the new show's take... but since they are using the very identifiable hum and red glow of Cylon eyes, I'm pretty sure it'll be used as some form of Cylon armor.

So all in all, I'm pretty stoked about the new series, even if I enjoy the classic ragtag fleet searching for the planet called Earth.
posted by linux at 12:32 PM on December 4, 2003


The only good thing about the original series was the cool looking spaceships and the cylons. If they still have some of the original chrome cylons as stormtroopers (and if they still say "By...Your...Command!") then they've preserved everything good about the original.

Although it would be fun if they used some of the dopey old slang like Frack! and Felgerkarb! and dated things in centons and microns (as Kibo has been doing since 1996), and there were other neat touches -- like how having 3 cylons in each fighter ship emphasized how outnumbered the humans were.

Of course, how that history squared with Galactica 80 (where they finally made it to Earth circa 1980), I have no idea.

I think the idea was that Andromeda had been settled by the high-tech Earth civilisation that built the Egyptian pyramids and made the giant crop circles in South America, but disappeared when Atlantis sank into the ocean or something. Notice how the fighter-pilot helmets look sort of like a Pharoah's headdress.
posted by straight at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2003


I'm still getting over my disappointment over the re-vival of Duck Dodgers.

Wasn't there some talk about a remake of the old BritSciFi show Blake's 7? Now that show had an evil chick...

It does seem a little scary that even the Science Fiction genre of TV/movies is running out of new ideas (Or does Ben Affleck's Paycheck sound like Total Recall 2 to anybody but me?)
posted by wendell at 12:39 PM on December 4, 2003


Just call it "Baa Baa Black Sheep 2200". The hell with it, I'm on pins and needles waiting for the new version of "B.J. and the Bear" to come out.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2003


I wonder if the new version will include subversive references to mormonism?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2003


Wasn't there some talk about a remake of the old BritSciFi show Blake's 7? Now that show had an evil chick...

Servalan was well tributed as Mele-on Grayza in the later episdes of Farscape. As for whether there are any plans for Blake's 7, i'm starting to think there must be as the release date for the DVD box set keeps getting pushed back - maybe they are trying to match up with some announcement or other?
posted by milovoo at 12:56 PM on December 4, 2003


Paycheck and Total Recall are movies based on Phillip K. Dick short stories. Different short stories.
posted by linux at 1:08 PM on December 4, 2003


More than just a rumor. The Blake's 7 project is seeking funding.
posted by ed at 1:09 PM on December 4, 2003


Some of the best shows of all time had terrible moments or cheesy special affects. It was the 80s.

Knight Rider? Dukes of Hazard? CHiPs?

I'll probably watch the new BG on dvd someday (no cable) but my issue with the re-tooling is what's the point?

Why have a Apollo, Adama, or Starbuck? Just say they are descendents of the original cast. There's no point, since the people who will know starbuck from apollo will want to see dirk and richard reprise those roles.

Why make Cylons just bad robots we made? Just say they upgraded and here's the new ones.

Just do a ST:NG thing and spare all the fanboys, while keeping your audience.
posted by Yossarian at 1:54 PM on December 4, 2003




Why have a Apollo, Adama, or Starbuck?

Or at least keep the characters the same sex they used to be and somewhat in line with the previous character if you HAVE to use those names. I caught about 10 minutes of the "making of" show during which I discovered that Starbuck was now female, and that made me wonder what ELSE they completely changed (other than the Cylons which I had already heard about).

I don't mind remakes, or new stories/series created in the same "universes" as older ones. I do have a problem with taking a known "universe" and just doing with it what you will and still calling it the same thing. It would be like making a new Star Trek series, but the Vulcans are purple and have 6 legs and the captain of the Enterprise is still called Kirk, but he's a she.

I'll watch it, of course, because I love science fiction, but I use to love the old Galactica, so I am not holding out hope that it's going to be one of those shows I just can't miss. I think either a straight remake of the old series or a completely new series using the old one as a history would have been preferable to just picking and choosing the names and places you want to use and throwing away the rest. Who knows ... I might like it.

Oh, and of course the old series seems a little silly and corny now, but so did just about everything else on TV and in the movie houses at the time. TV has come a long way in the last 20ish years.
posted by Orb at 2:39 PM on December 4, 2003


elwoodwiles : my question, exactly.

I loved watching the show and "getting" all the references.

Very fun.

I doubt they're still there, though, as they were always just soft references to a larger, un-charted mythology...
posted by silusGROK at 2:45 PM on December 4, 2003


damn milovoo, I have no idea how that utterly slipped by me but you are totally right.

evil? check
showing off the breasts? check
cute-short black-irish haircut? check
making out with the various heroes? check
making out with the various bad guys? check
everyone wants to kill her? check
generally unkillable? check

just finished watching the fourth season (henceforth known as 'the season where tarrant replaces avon as my favorite character because avon is just too damned annoying'). also waiting for the mutiply-slipped dvds of which you speak.

---

having watched the first 20 or 30 minutes of the first lord of the rings movie, I can safely say that I will never watch a single minute more of any of the lotr movies, lest I destroy forever the personal value of the books to me. sometimes reinterpretations or treatments in different media are a good thing; sometimes they are just utter crap. I was never that big on battlestar galactica (most likely because I had little to no access to it as a kid) so I'm rather unsure what to think about this remake. scifi *used* to be pretty good until they sold out all their decent shows for junk about angels and poor x-files ripoffs. guh. and as for mr. darrow's remake of b7, well I'm not too sure about that either (just have that idea that he kept getting more and more annoying even after the series ended, heh)
posted by dorian at 2:58 PM on December 4, 2003


Boomer has turned from dashing black man to cute Asian woman.
posted by linux at 4:48 PM on December 4, 2003


Let see, "Centons" was a measure of time. Was it "Centars" that were a measure of distance? At the time, I think someone suggested that their writers needed a good kick in their "Centoids."
posted by kablam at 5:15 PM on December 4, 2003


That would explain why he's left Jeremiah, then.

Actually, that was because he came to the conclusion that he despised working for MGM. Apparently the editorial oversight from MGM got too bad.
posted by piper28 at 6:30 PM on December 4, 2003


IIRC kablam, they used "microns" as one measure of distance. Leading a fellow I know to suggest the whole thing took place on a subatomic scale. (Not sure about that -- a micron is a mighty long way if you're smaller than an atom.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:44 PM on December 4, 2003


hrm, maybe it was mgm that was responsible for the utter crap of a wind-beneath-my-wings opening sequence? in which case I really can't blame jms for leaving...

any idea how many (if any) of the unreleased eps he actually worked on? 2x08 had some bits that were pretty iffy, but also some really good parts.
posted by dorian at 6:45 PM on December 4, 2003


maybe it was mgm that was responsible for the utter crap of a wind-beneath-my-wings opening sequence?

It seems almost certain. I think they were going for an Enterprise sort of thing there. I TiVo skip past it, naturally.

Why do studios hire a guy who did what is universally regarded as his best (and, not coincidentally, his most commercially successful) work when he mostly got to do what he wanted, and try to tell him how to make his show?
posted by kindall at 6:53 PM on December 4, 2003


They damn well still better be Mormons. Will it be updated that the lost colony has casinos? Without Crockett and Tubbs, I'm betting on the robots. Scary, fatty, and slutty1&2 can't protect humanity without them. No matter how emotionless Edward James Olmos is. He seems to be a better robot than human.

Seriously though, there's a ton of good sci-fi books out there to be mined. I wish they wouldn't buy a name then completely redo it. Napster anyone? Dune looked pretty, but had already been done ( And no Sting, even for a cameo. I'd bet he do it for a pound of tofu ). I wish these folks would realize that good writing outweighs name recognition. Especially for something like sci-fi on tv.
posted by superchris at 7:32 PM on December 4, 2003


I don't care if Starbuck is female, but she damn well better be a cigar-smokin' ladies' woman.
posted by dhartung at 11:38 PM on December 4, 2003 [1 favorite]


GhostintheMachine: *ahem* Actually, they were originally *from* Earth. We humans colonized the galaxy, but by the time frame of Galactica that origin had devolved into myth.

Actually, Earth was also a colony. The humans were from another planet, possibly Kobol from memory.
posted by biffa at 6:35 AM on December 5, 2003


Let me say that im going to watch. I'll give it a fair shot but a few things trouble me. 1) the cylons are humanoid robots (ala terminator) and to me this is just dumbing the idea down for 20 something's that just can't accept that "sometimes a robot is just a robot". 2) Starbuck is a guy stoopid(sic) The whole idea of the starbuck persona is taken from the "ba-ba blacksheep"school of heroics. Handsome,brash,totaly undisciplined and a bit of a womanizer but one hell of a pilot, in other words a "mans-man"(note if your under 30 ba-ba black sheep is a series from the late 70's early 80's about an american ww2 fighter squadron) any how this idea doesn't work for a woman...sexist yes but true! I have to say though the idea of edward james olmos as Adama thrills me! Hes really the only one other than Lorn Green that could pull it off.
posted by hoopyfrood at 6:56 AM on December 5, 2003


George spiggott....sorry I didnt see your post before I did mine(my bad) I applaud your connection between BA BA and Galactica...cheers!
posted by hoopyfrood at 7:14 AM on December 5, 2003


The whole idea of the starbuck persona is taken from the "ba-ba blacksheep"school of heroics. Handsome,brash,totaly undisciplined and a bit of a womanizer but one hell of a pilot,

From what I can gather from the "about" page at SciFi.com, that's what they are trying to get away from ... heroic, black-and-white characters:

See, we were young once and when the old guy spun his tales of Apollo and Starbuck, we were satisfied with clear-cut heroes and nakedly evil villains. But we're older now. We've eaten a lot of popcorn over the years. We're ready for a bigger meal. Make the story more complicated. Make the people less black-and-white.

You know, we're older now ... we want blond bombshell Cylons and more sex!
posted by Orb at 7:40 AM on December 5, 2003


We're ready for a bigger meal. Make the story more complicated. Make the people less black-and-white.

Which is exactly the opposite of what they said when they cancelled Farscape.

"Hi, We're the SciFi Channel, we'll say what ever it takes to get you to watch this show..."

Idiots!
posted by milovoo at 5:17 PM on December 7, 2003


Hey, that was good!
posted by NortonDC at 8:05 PM on December 8, 2003


Hey, that was good!

Agreement! I'm pleasantly surprised!
posted by biscotti at 10:28 PM on December 8, 2003


Ditto! I'm (as the Brits say) Chuffed!!
posted by black8 at 11:08 PM on December 8, 2003


Very pleasantly surprised... and just our luck : it's completely written to a sequal or a series.

I especially liked the complex characterizations.
posted by silusGROK at 8:07 PM on December 9, 2003


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