Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG Blood and Chrome - Season 1

BSG Blood and Chrome - 1x01 - Pilot, Part 1 - Originally Aired: 2012-12-7

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.95

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Synopsis
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (a prequel to the critically acclaimed hit series, Battlestar Galactica) takes place in the midst of the First Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, the sentient robotic Cylons, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a young, talented fighter pilot, William Adama (Luke Pasqualino), finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful battlestars in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. Full of ambition and in pursuit of the intense action that the Cylon war promises, Adama quickly finds himself at odds with his co-pilot, the battle-weary officer Coker (Ben Cotton). With only 47 days left in his tour of duty, Coker desires an end to battle just as much as Adama craves the start of it. Though they clash at first, the two men forge an unlikely bond when a routine escort mission with an enigmatic passenger (Lili Bordan) turns dangerous and becomes a pivotal one for the desperate fleet. [DVD] [Blu-ray]

Problems
- This entire movie conflicts with the dialog in the first Razor flashback where Adama claims to have never flown in combat before. The whole scene heavily implies that the battle which takes place in the Razor flashbacks is his first and last battle of the first Cylon war.

Factoids
- Carmen Moore, who plays Nina Leotie in this episode, also played Sister Tivenan in BSG: The Resistance and Fidelia Fazekas in Caprica.
- Mike Dopud, who plays Captain Deke "Minute Man" Tornvald in this episode also played Specialist Gage in the BSG episodes Pegasus, Resurrection Ship, Part II, The Oath, and Blood on the Scales. He also played Sal, the TV camerman at Atlas Arena in the Caprica finale Apotheosis.
- Ben Cotton, who plays Coker in this episode, has previously appeared on BSG as the terrified prisoner whom Adama meets on the ice planet in Razor. He also played Atreus, a Tauron mobster in the Caprica episode False Labor.
- This episode establishes that Adama's callsign "Husker" was given to him by Coker.
- Brian Markinson, who plays Commander Silas Nash in this episode, also played Jordan Duram on Caprica.
- Ty Olsson, who plays the tactical officer on the Osiris in this episode, also played Captain Kelly in BSG.
- Jill Teed, who plays Commander Ozar in this episode, also played Sergeant Hadrian in BSG and Colonel Sasha Patel in the Caprica episode End of Line.
- Sebastian Spence, who plays Jim Kirby in this episode, also played Lt. Noel "Narcho" Allison in BSG.

Remarkable Scenes
- The opening montage. Mostly a clip show, but still pretty.
- Adama's crazy eject-the-windshield maneuver.
- Coker giving Adama his callsign: Husker.
- Dr. Kelly and her secret orders.
- A body slamming into the raptor shortly before revealing the wreckage of the Archeron.
- The battle with the Cyclon raiders in the wreckage of the Archeron.
- Coker regarding his poor treatment upon landing on the Osiris: "Reminds me of Colonial Day at my mother-in-law's."
- Adama and Coker meeting Commander Ozar and going over Kelly's mission.
- Osiris engaging a Cylon basestar.
- Osiris kamikaze nuking the basestar after getting its ass kicked in the initial fight.
- The aerial dogfight over the ice moon.

My Review
In many ways Blood & Chrome is exactly what we've been waiting for since Razor aired: more detail about the first Cylon war. The Caprica TV series failed to deliver that, choosing instead to focus on what started the war rather than showing us its gritty action like Razor did. While I regard Caprica overall as a superior piece of drama, it most distinctly lacked the tantalizing action that Razor gave us, which is part of why it lacked the broad appeal that BSG had. As such, Blood & Chrome seeks to deliver the payoff to Caprica's long buildup. For the most part, Blood & Chrome succeeds in delivering the action that Caprica was leading to, but by cutting to the chase so quickly the narrative has lost most of its subtlety and intrigue. What's left over is terrific action devoid of the previously high quality dramatic backdrop.

While Caprica felt like a vast, expansive world, Blood & Chrome feels remarkably claustrophobic. Only a few characters, such as Adama, Coker, and Nash have any dramatic potential. All the others are one-dimensional throwaways, many of them played by actors we've seen play other roles already on BSG or Caprica. There are in fact so many actors reused from BSG and Caprica that it's hard not to be distracted by them throughout the whole movie. Some of the performances were so good that it may have been worth recasting the actor; particularly Commander Ozar of the Osiris (previously Sergeant Hadrian on BSG), who was delightfully evocative of Admiral Cain without the baggage of being a corrupt antagonist. A shame they had to kill her off. I liked her more than Blood & Chrome's primary cast. Her leadership of the Osiris and the battle which destroyed her ship were perhaps the most memorable parts of the entire movie.

Another reused actor that stood out as perhaps well worth it was Galactica's Commander Nash (previously Agent Duram on Caprica). But as fun as his character was to watch, it was disorienting. It's hard not to wonder things like "how did Agent Duram become a battlestar commander?" before realizing "oh right, it's a different character." Likewise, but conversely, it's also hard not to be distracted by the fact that they couldn't get Nico Cortez back to reprise his role as young Adama that he played in Razor, forcing Blood & Chrome instead to cast a different actor for the same role.

What's worse is Blood & Chrome's premise is one giant continuity error. It's established in the Razor flashbacks that Adama had never flown in combat before the battle which destroyed the battlestar Columbia, which was the final battle of the war. Blood & Chrome on the other hand establishes Adama fighting in the war much earlier than that. This is definitely sloppy, but luckily the movie dodges an unresolvable retcon thanks to the fact that the offending scene in the Razor flashbacks was actually cut from the final edit of Razor. You have to watch Razor's extras to see that scene and I'm perfectly fine with declaring all the Razor flashbacks which were cut from the final edit of Razor no longer canon, which obviously the producers of Blood & Chrome are asking us to do as well.

Not all the continuity in Blood & Chrome is sloppy though. It was fun watching the viper simulation program Adama participated in, which was quite obviously an evolution of Caprica's holoband. It seems likely that as the war progressed, such technology was eventually phased out in accordance with BSG's stated strategy of deliberate technological regression out of growing fear of Cylon cyber warfare. Additionally it was a nice touch to introduce the character of Dr. Kelly as a former Graystone Industries staffer who worked on a more advanced MCP for the Cylons.

The Blood & Chrome pilot is a two hour (two episode) pilot. My review continues in the next episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Mazryonh on 2014-02-06 at 4:52am:
    Did this movie at least show the spark that started the Cylon War? I haven't seen it yet I thought it might be something like the Colonials looking to engage in a bloodless "robotic war" to settle their differences, only to have their robot soldiers say "we won't stand for this, YOU are now the targets" after the forces mass for a big battle.

    The internet clips I've seen of William Adama blowing out his canopy and splashing a Cylon Raider with nothing but his sidearm seems completely unbelievable to me. For one thing, unless Cylon Raiders are made out of wet paper, there is no way a few shots from a sidearm would cause one to explode, and the Cylon Raider would have flown away from William's Viper unless it was terminally stupid. One way around these two problems would be for William to perform the "Canopy Kiss" from the movie "Top Gun" but up to eleven, ramming his Viper's vertical wing into the Cylon Raider to restrict its movement somewhat, then pulling out a demolition charge (or other over-sized hand grenade) out of his cockpit, attaching it to the Cylon Raider, then turning his Viper away (ripping off his vertical wing in the process) and speeding back to base as the Raider is gutted by the demolition charge's explosion.

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BSG Blood and Chrome - 1x02 - Pilot, Part 2 - Originally Aired: 2012-12-7

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 3.59

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Synopsis
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (a prequel to the critically acclaimed hit series, Battlestar Galactica) takes place in the midst of the First Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, the sentient robotic Cylons, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a young, talented fighter pilot, William Adama (Luke Pasqualino), finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful battlestars in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. Full of ambition and in pursuit of the intense action that the Cylon war promises, Adama quickly finds himself at odds with his co-pilot, the battle-weary officer Coker (Ben Cotton). With only 47 days left in his tour of duty, Coker desires an end to battle just as much as Adama craves the start of it. Though they clash at first, the two men forge an unlikely bond when a routine escort mission with an enigmatic passenger (Lili Bordan) turns dangerous and becomes a pivotal one for the desperate fleet. [DVD] [Blu-ray]

Problems
- When they reach the ski lodge, the CG snowflake effect is not in sync with the camera's motion, causing the snowflakes to look unnatural.

Factoids
- John Pyper-Ferguson, who plays Xander Toth in this episode, also played Tomas Vergis on Caprica as well as Captain Cole "Stinger" Taylor in the BSG episodes Pegasus and Resurrection Ship, Part I.
- Coker is from Aerilon.
- According to Dr. Kelly, Cylon centurions are capable of feeling pain.
- Tricia Helfer, who plays the Cylon-human hybrid prototype in this episode, also played humanoid Cylon Number Six in BSG.

Remarkable Scenes
- The eccentric Xander Toth rescuing everyone from the evil Cylon space monster and leading them to his hideout in the abandoned ski lodge.
- Adama beating the Cylon with a pipe. Parallelism! ;)
- Kelly regarding the Cylon "screaming" noise: "They feel pain."
- Coker suddenly shooting Kelly upon deducing that she's working for the Cylons.
- Kelly shooting Coker and doing a tell-all once she realized that Coker's deductions were correct.
- The Cylon-human hybrid prototype killing Kelly.
- Commander Nash's explanation to Adama of how the mission was orchestrated to fool Dr. Kelly.

My Review
Ultimately Blood & Chrome's story plays out very much like the rebooted Star Trek movie, Star Trek XI. A younger, more eager version of our hero (William Adama vs. James Kirk) is caught up in a new, sexier, glitzier adventure. Things don't go according to plan and our hero ends up on a barren ice world (the Cylon outpost vs. Delta Vega). The ice world has an obligatory space monster, which is dispatched by a convenient, quirky, temporary resident of the cold, barren world (Xander Toth vs. Old Spock), who ultimately guides him to the final leg of his adventure. After a difficult confrontation with a mysterious villain (Kelly vs. Nero), our unlikely hero saves the day and is given an unlikely auspicious military promotion (special ops vs. Starfleet captain). An unfortunate, but necessary comparison.

Anyway, the story unfortunately slows to a crawl in the second half once our heroes reach the ice world, but there are still some good moments. Dr. Kelly intriguingly tells us that the war is going more poorly than the government lets on. This makes sense, given how long the war was and its eventual end in stalemate. At first the fleet of hidden ghost ships is presented to us as a brilliant tactical maneuver; a decisive master stroke even that could decide the war in favor of the Colonials. But in the end we learn both from Kelly as well as Commander Nash that it was little more than a last ditch effort to stave off a crushing defeat at the hands of the Cylons.

These stakes are fun to take in and Nash's cynical portrayal of the war as little more than a financial enterprise adds some delightful texture to this period of Colonial history. Had the story been allowed to continue, it would have been enjoyable to expand on the concept that while yes the war was one of survival, that it may also have had an element of corruption of the military-industrial complex as well. Kelly's rebellious act along with the dialog between Nash and Adama at the end all seem to imply that peace with the Cylons was attainable through diplomatic negotiation and could have been achieved much earlier, but there were war hawks in the leadership seeking to prevent that from happening.

But the story has not been allowed to continue, as SyFy has declined to continue the pilot into a series. Like Caprica, it ends prematurely without having been given sufficient time to develop. In my view, both shows suffered from the same problem: narrow focus. Had Caprica's dramatic subtleties and Blood & Chrome's masterful action been combined into a single prequel series that properly tackled the epic sweep of the first Cylon war's buildup, outbreak, onslaught, and resolution, then we could have had a concept capable of the critical and commercial success that SyFy sought.

Such a series would need to have resembled HBO's Rome or Game of Thrones in depth, production values, and action. The best parts of Caprica and Blood & Chrome combined together could have added up to all that if more careful attention were paid to planning, writing, and budgeting. But I don't know if SyFy has what it takes to embark on a project so ambitious anymore. Overall Blood & Chrome is an even less successful attempt than Caprica to revive the greatness of BSG. It may even serve as the franchise's swan song.

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