Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 0 - Episode 02

BSG - 0x02 - Pilot Miniseries, Part 2 - Originally Aired: 2003-12-8

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 6.37

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Synopsis
Forced into an uneasy alliance, President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) do their best to lead the military into battle and the civilians to safety. Gaius Baltar (James Callis), the corrupt genius who inadvertently helped the Cylons infiltrate the government's defense systems, has been rescued, treasured as one of humanity's last great intellectuals. No one has yet discovered Baltar's involvement in the Cylon attack or that he is still haunted, and possibly controlled, by visions of the seductive Cylon "Number Six" (Tricia Helfer). Aboard the Galactica, Baltar's superior intellect ironically leads to his designation as the authority on all things Cylon. Outnumbered and outarmed, Adama reluctantly concedes that President Roslin was correct; this battle was lost before it had begun. With no choice but to flee, humanity's survivors set out in search of the mythic 13th Colony of Kobol ... a legendary planet known as Earth. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- The countdown for Galactica's jump was not measured in seconds. So what was it measured in?
- Right when Galactica jumps, the flight pods should be retracted, but are erroneously depicted as not retracted.
- The Galactica is shown retracting its landing bays prior to the jump, but the external shot of Galactica jumping shows them extended.
- Why the hell are there little glass windows all over CIC? So they can break and to add dramatic effect to battle scenes? ;)
- Three distinct copies of viper 1104 can be seen during the battle. One is flown by Starbuck and crash lands, another is destroyed, and another lands safely at the end of the battle.
- Adama receives a note that there are only 12 Cylon models. One wonders who left that there for him to read. Baltar? If so, why? And while maybe we can accurately speculate as to who left it there, does Adama know who left it there? He has no reason to believe Baltar or anyone else would actually possess this information. Did he perform an investigation to determine who gave him that note and why?

Factoids
- This film (both parts together) received a Visual Effects Society award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Television Miniseries, Movie or a Special, Miniseries. (2004)
- This film (both parts together) received a Visual Effects Society nomination for Outstanding Compositing in a Televised Program, Music Video or Commercial, Miniseries. (2004)
- This film (both parts together) received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. (2004)
- Let's talk about "frak." RDM speaks: "It's straight out of the original series. I dropped many other terms from the old show like "centon" (a unit of measurement) and "yahren" (year) because I felt they distracted from the mood I was trying to create and they sounded a bit silly to my ear. There was something elegantly lovely about "frak," however. There's nothing like being able to say my favorite four letter word on TV over and over again and I salute Glen Larson for giving the joys of frakking up, frakking off, not giving a frak, and frakking-A to the masses."
- Originally Saul Tigh was supposed to be Paul Tigh, but they had to rename him for legal reasons.
- According to Boomer, both of her parents died when she was a kid.
- According to Boomer, the newer model vipers are designated Mark VIIs.
- According to Tyrol, there are over 2000 people on the Galactica.
- Roslin's convoy was originally comprised of about 60 ships, but only 40 of those had FTL.
- The scene with Cami holding her doll is a deliberate reference to the (in?)famous Lyndon Johnson presidential campaign advertisement (1964) which depicts a little girl ("Daisy") holding a flower as a mushroom cloud appears on the horizon, after which the screen goes white.
- The ship named Astral Queen mentioned by Billy in this film is a direct reference to the Star Trek original series episode The Conscience of the King, which featured a ship of the same name.
- Adama's famous "so say we all" scene wasn't, in fact, scripted to play out the way it did. He was only supposed to say it once, but he just kept saying it louder and louder to encourage crowd enthusiasm and the idea played out so well during the scene that they just stuck with it.
- Adama says the first words of the scriptures state that "life here began out there." This was also the first line spoken on BSG TOS.
- The closing line by Boomer: "by your command," is a reference to BSG TOS. The Cylons used to say that a lot.

Remarkable Scenes
- Roslin regarding Apollo's very technical explanation about how they survived: "The lesson here is not to ask follow up questions but to simply say thank you Captain Apollo for saving our collective asses."
- Galactica navigating into the eye of the storm at the gas giant where Ragnar Anchorage is based in order to dock.
- Six: "Have you considered the possibility that I can very well exist only in your head, without being a hallucination?"
- Baltar and Six discussing how the Cylons pulled off the attack. Six created backdoors within Baltar's Command Navigation Program (CNP) which the Cylons then exploited when they attacked.
- The scene depicting the discussion of whether or not to leave the sublight ships behind to save the FTLs from the impending threat of Cylon attack in the near future was fantastic, especially the camera work.
- Roslin: "The world is coming to an end and all I can think about is that I have cancer and I'm probably going to die. How selfish is that?" Billy: "It's not selfish. It's human."
- The scene depicting the little girl playing with her doll just before she's killed is pretty twisted.
- Leoben: "Maybe the Cylons are god's retribution for our many sins. What if god decided he made a mistake and he decided to give souls to another creature like the Cylons?" Adama: "God didn't create the Cylons. Man did. And I'm pretty sure we didn't include a soul in the programming."
- I love the decidedly disgusted look on Boxey's face when Tyrol and Boomer start making out.
- Leoben to Adama: "Sooner or later, the day comes when you can't hide from the things you've done."
- The infamous Adama-beats-Leoben-to-death-with-a-flashlight scene.
- Six to Baltar: "I remember you telling me once that guilt is something small people feel when they run out of excuses for their behavior." Baltar to Gaeta: "It is hard. I feel responsible in a way for what happened." Six: "But you don't. That's part of the reason I fell in love with you. You have a clarity of spirit. You're not burdened by conscience, or guilt, or regret."
- Six pointing out the Cylon device in CIC to Baltar.
- Six regarding Baltar's plan to warn the Galactica crew about the Cylon device: "How do you propose to do that? Oh look, a Cylon device! Really? Well how do you know what a Cylon device looks like, doctor? Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm familiar with their technology because I've been having sex with a Cylon for the last two years now."
- Six regarding Baltar's plan to implicate Doral as a Cylon agent: "He doesn't seem the type and I don't remember seeing him at any of the Cylon parties."
- Starbuck revealing to Apollo that she passed Zak even though he failed basic flight because they were in love.
- Six, just after Baltar implicates Doral as a Cylon and Tigh buys his technobabbly explanation: "And just like that, Dr. Baltar invents the amazing Cylon detector."
- Starbuck witnessing the Cylon armada just outside the Ragnar storm.
- Adama and Roslin discussing the possibility of martial law and the survival of the species.
- Adama regarding Billy and Dee: "They better start having babies." Tigh: "Is that an order?"
- Tigh leaving Doral at Ragnar.
- The battle... visually spectacular.
- Starbuck's maneuver landing both her viper and Apollo's dead viper aboard Galactica.
- The iconic "so say we all!" scene in which Adama declares the fleet's mission is to find Earth.
- Tigh apologizing to Starbuck. Her response: "You're a bastard." She goes on to say: "You're dangerous. You know why? Because you're weak. Because you're a drunk."
- Roslin confronting Adama about Earth. She knew there's no Earth because she knew Adar knew there's no Earth.
- Six revealing to Baltar the possible existence of Cylon sleeper agents within the fleet, programmed to impersonate humans until activation.
- The revelation that Doral really was a Cylon.
- The revelation that Boomer is a Cylon.

My Review
Part two is just as spectacular as part one, with a few minor problems. For starters, I had issues with part one's cliffhanger. It seemed entirely manufactured. I mean, did anyone really believe Apollo and Roslin were going to actually be killed off like that? After all they're main characters. A better cliffhanger would have involved Galactica joining the main fight, only to see the Cylons mopping up the last of the Colonial Fleet and Adama ordering an emergency jump to Ragnar. The way the story is told is good, but I felt that for the perfect score across the board, we should have seen some actual battlestars fighting briefly and picked off when the Cylons hacked them. Alas, I suspect we didn't see any of this for budgetary reasons.

The second issue the second part of the miniseries had was pacing. The first part wasn't exactly fast paced, but there weren't any scenes that seemed largely pointless. There definitely were a number of scenes in part two though that felt fairly filler, mostly because they just went on too long. Overall, I felt the scene splicing in the miniseries was close to perfect, but nevertheless, part two still seemed to drag slightly in places. That and some minor technical problems make part two undeserving of a ten. However, I reiterate that I still feel part two was still totally spectacular, if imperfect.

It seems clear now that one of the reasons for the Cylon attack on the colonies is a religious conflict. The Cylons are clearly monotheistic while the colonials are clearly polytheistic. It also seems clear that not all the colonials are religious. Both Baltar and Adama display little interest in the distinctions between monotheism and polytheism, showing that neither character is particularly interested in religion, while other characters like Starbuck and the priest at the end are devout in their worship of the lords of Kobol. That, and the Cylons talked a lot about a singular "god."

One nice detail about the latter half of the film is the whole deal regarding Roslin abandoning the jump-incapable ships. The scene depicting the little girl playing with her doll just before being blown to bits by missiles is very moving. The fact of the matter is a convoy of ships is only as fast as its slowest ship. Making sure every ship in the convoy is jump-capable eliminates the problem they had in BSG TOS which led to, in that series, a great deal of technical problems. RDM has stated this is one pitfall he explicitly wanted to avoid when drafting this series.

More intrigue: I find it fascinating that Baltar implicates Doral because Doral witnessed Baltar being pleasured by (masturbating to?) the Six in his head. It's ironic and amusing that Baltar's cruel way of getting rid of someone he doesn't like and/or perceives as a threat to his credibility ends up actually ridding the Galactica of a Cylon agent among them.

Regarding science fiction guilty pleasures, I think it's worth noting that the battle featured toward the end is one of the most spectacular space battles ever shown in film. What these battle scenes lacked in numbers like you'd find on Star Trek DS9 or Babylon 5, is totally made up for in quality here. This was the most realistic and detailed space battle ever shown in film and that certainly counts for a lot. Watching all those bullets and missiles firing and those vipers and Cylon raiders flying erratically in three dimensional space according to the laws of Newtonian physics was quite a treat and is one of the biggest reasons this TV series is something to treasure.

Also, it's fascinating that Adama bluffed about Earth to give the fleet something to live for. "They'll never forgive" Adama indeed!

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Chiya on 2008-05-29 at 3:06pm:
    I just started watching Battlestar galactica. The bit with the girl with the doll sort of reminded me of the girl with the red coat from Schindler's List. I think that kid had a big impact on that Laura woman. (Although I don't know why she didn't save her.)
  • From Mazryonh on 2014-02-05 at 11:21pm:
    Even after all these years we still haven't seen much in the way of starship combat with pre-Fall ships like the pilot did here. "Blood and Chrome" went a ways towards scratching that itch, but it didn't get turned into a full series, sadly. I would love to watch a series where Galactica in her prime fought long and hard through the first Cylon War, or even a "Fall of the Colonies" scenario where we see more Battlestar classes (such as the Valkyrie-class) in combat.

    That bit about the fleet only possessing 40 Colonial Vipers at the start of the show was a bit silly, though. How do you hold off hundreds, if not thousands, of Cylon Raiders and Heavy Raiders without quickly losing your own Viper complement due to attrition and accidents? The Raiders are jump-capable too, unlike Vipers. The writers tried handwaving this by claiming that Cylon Raiders weren't very good at space combat even at the start (and forcibly made that true later in the series), but as someone once observed, "quantity has a quality all its own." This would have been solved if they just said that Galactica had a Viper factory onboard that was mothballed but not dismantled.

    Speaking of Vipers, this miniseries loved to play up how the Mk. 2 Viper could still hold a candle to the Mk. 7 Viper. There's just one problem with the old 1970s-style design, which I think you should have added to the "Problems" section of this review.

    The nature of the problem is that changes weren't made to plausibly allow the Mk.2 Viper to fire bullets instead of "laser bolts" like those of the X-Wing from Star Wars. How can you tell this? There's a scene later in the series where a character handles Viper ammunition, which looks like a fair-sized autocannon round. The lateral wings of the Mk.2 Viper (and the delicate-looking area the cannons are mounted on) don't look like they have anywhere near inside to mount a feed mechanism to feed the ammo into the guns. This might be solved if the designers made the Vipers larger (they're clearly undersized compared to real-life jet fighters) to accomodate realistically-sized autocannon mountings (like the famous 20mm Vulcan Cannon), but in this respect my suspension of disbelief wasn't upheld.

    The Mk. 7 Viper is slightly more realistic in that an ammo feed (but not a realistically-sized firing and belt-link-recovery-system) could conceivably fit inside that design's wings. The dorsal wing, however, has a cannon that somehow feeds without interfering with the topmost engine thruster, which again doesn't work very well with me (unless the belt feeding system bends around the thruster assembly, which could be a problem because chemical ammo that gets too hot will explode on its own, something that could happen with being so near the Viper's engine).

    Finally, having craft capable of surviving atmospheric re-entry shouldn't have protrusions (like the Viper cannon barrels) on the parts which they push through the atmosphere during re-entry. There's a reason why every spaceship we've built that re-enters the traditional way (putting a blunt side towards the direction it's falling in) has no protrusions--the less surface area something has, the more heat is transferred to it, which means it's that much more likely to burn away. Even real-life cannon-using aircraft fighters (look at the various World War 2 fighter aircraft) didn't have protruding cannon barrels when those cannons were mounted in the wings so as to cut down on drag--their cannons were mounted with nothing but an exposed muzzle to let the bullets through.

    Maybe you'll do an article on how Battlestars and fighter craft are unrealistic in the re-imagined series soon?

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