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Old December 17th, 2003, 04:30 PM   #1
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Default My Thoughts on the 2003 Miniseries (Part 1 of 2)

Several days ago, a member of a list I subscribe to, posted a message which referred us to a review of the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA in the December 5 edition of FilmForce. It appeared at this Web address:


The writer made a number of excellent points, which I won't repeat. However, I would like to add some thoughts of my own.
I am writing partly as a fan of the original series. As Edward James Olmos predicted, I was disappointed in the Sci-Fi Channel's "re-imaging" of the series. We got the the title, characters with the same names -- but little else resembled the original. In fact, these "re-imaging" efforts generally seem to fare very poorly. On TV, there has been The WB's BIRDS OF PREY, TARZAN, and its abominable "Lone Ranger." In the movies, there have been "Lost In Space," "The Wild, Wild West," "Car 54, Where Are You?" and "Sgt. Bilko." The movie version of "The Fugitive" and The WB's SMALLVILLE seem to be the exceptions, rather than the rule.
In the original series, the robotic Cylons had been created by a reptilian race, also known as Cylons. The reptilian Cylons died off several millennia ago. (Why was never explained. Possibly the Colonials were not supposed to have known why.) The robotic Cylons' relentless logic allowed for no compromise, no deviation from their ideas. Any race they came in contact with, had to be subjected to them. If a race proved too resistant, such as the humans, it had to be utterly annihilated.
Ronald Moore, who headed up the remake, claimed that he did not find this very interesting. (He claimed that the original series never explained the origin of the Cylons. Apparently, he missed the explanations that were given.) So, he re-envisioned the Cylons as having been created by humans. However, Mr. Moore left more questions unanswered than explained. First and foremost, he failed to explain what the Cylons' grievance against humanity was. Did they believe they had been mistreated? If so, in what way? What convinced the Cylons that there was no way that they could live separately from the humans? After all, the humans had left them alone for some 40 years. Why did these Cylons believe that their only option was to utterly exterminate the human race?
At the diplomatic space station, the Colonial diplomatic officer was reviewing a set of Cylon specifications (of centurions from the original series). This being the case, why weren't the Colonials simply able to shut the Cylons down? (Let us recall that in the episode "Baltar's Escape," in the original series, Dr. Wilker has dismantled Baltar's two Cylon pilots [captured with Baltar at the end of Part 1 of "War of the Gods"], in an attempt to decipher their programming. The implication seemed to be that it had been the first time ever that functioning centurions had been captured intact.)
Let's consider the character of Number Six in the new version. (One friend pointed out that the idea of a beautiful, sexy blonde villainess has been done to death.) When she first appears on the diplomatic space station, we are apparently supposed to believe that the Colonial diplomatic officer found her so dazzlingly beautiful that he was stupefied. This was apparently supposed to be some kind of experienced diplomatic officer; you'd have thought that he would have risen from his chair, and said something like, "Yes, madam? Are you some sort of diplomatic liaison from the Cylons? May I see your credentials?" When she asked if he was real, I'd like to have heard him reply, "What do you think you are asking, an illusion?"
Mr. Moore claimed that he wanted his production to look realistic. Unfortunately, his lack of knowledge showed up in some critical areas.
We were told that Gaius Baltar had granted Number Six access to the defense computer network, supposedly so that his girl friend could get come privileged information that would give her an advantage in bidding for an upcoming contract. However, much of our own Department of Defense computer network is on secure systems, which the World Wide Web does not even touch. To view these networks, one must first have been granted the appropriate security clearance. Then, one must go into a secure facility to view these networks, on secure terminals specifically connected to these secure networks. Again, you simply cannot just bring someone in, and let them look at these networks (particularly not a potential bidder on an important contract). That person must have an appropriate security clearance. Such a clearance is only granted after an extensive background investigation of the individual. The higher the clearance level, the longer and more thorough the investigation. Number Six reminded Baltar that he had noticed inconsistencies about her. A competent background investigation of her would have also brought up these inconsistencies. So, why was she granted a security clearance in the first place?
Also, much of the most critical information in the Department of Defense is classified under what are known as compartmented clearances. This means that access to this information is highly restricted, to only a select few. These select few must not only have a high enough level of security clearance, they must also have a need to know. Such compartmented information is normally kept in encrypted accounts that are only accessible by passwords. The bottom line is, there simply should have been no way for Number Six to have accessed all the information she supposedly did. So, how did Number Six get her security clearance? If she did not have one, how did she get access to all the data she supposedly did?
We were told that Gaius Baltar arranged this. Yet, security clearances must be periodically renewed. At some point or another, his penchant for beautiful women should have raised some concerns. After all, this was a potential weakness that an enemy might exploit.
It was inferred that the Cylons, over the past several years, had infiltrated Colonial society on a number of levels, and built weaknesses into Colonial technology, to the extent that they could shut it down, at will. Why did these weaknesses never show up during program reviews, or reviews and tests of source code, or developmental and/or operational reviews of the equipment? If there were only twelve models of humanoid-appearing Cylons, there theoretically was only one of each model around in the Colonies at any one time -- otherwise, people would have started to notice. Then, too, how were the Cylons able to smuggle so many bombs onto the twelve planets? Was security really so lax?
(In the original series, Baltar had been a member of the ruling Council of the Twelve, and he had a ruthless, ambitious organization behind him. He had made a deal -- or so he thought -- with the Cylons, to betray the Colonies, in exchange for his own colony being subjugated under him, as an absolute dictator. Presumably, he and the Cylon Imperious Leader had agreed that Baltar would be the Imperious Leader's governor on the surviving colony.)
A friend pointed out another inconsistency, this time with the character of Laura Rosen. My friend found it incredible that the Colonials had achieved faster-than-light star drive, but could not cure cancer. My friend suggested that it might have been more believable if Laura's doctor had said to her, "We'll schedule you for treatment right away," but she deferred, until after the Galactica's decommissioning ceremony. When their civilization was wiped out, so could have been her chance for a cure.
(To be perfectly fair, our beloved original series had its occasional lapses in logic, too. In the pilot, "Saga of a Star World," the Cylon ambush fleet sent out jamming that prevented Apollo and Zach from radioing back to the Colonial fleet [although it did not hinder them from talking to each other]. However, it did not interfere with communications between the battlestars in the Colonial fleet. Presumably, then, the Cylons' jamming was effective only within a certain radius. Once Apollo had flown his Viper beyond that radius, why did he not radio ahead and warn the fleet? This is no small matter. Apollo's failure to do so allowed the Cylons to maintain the advantage of surprise. If it had been Zach, we might have chalked the blunder up to inexperience. Apollo, however, was supposed to be an experienced warrior and a squadron commander. In 1985, I met Richard Hatch at a convention, and asked about this point. Had there been some scene filmed but deleted from the final cut, or some scene in the script that had never been filmed, which explained this problem? Mr. Hatch sadly admitted to me, "That just never occurred to us."
(Or consider "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero." Why did Adama not simply take the fleet around the opposite side of the planet from the Ravashol Pulsar?
(I read that Glen Larson originally planned for GALACTICA to be a series of occasional TV-movies -- but ABC-TV suddenly changed it to a weekly series, and everyone had to rush to get scripts ready, and so on. Even though the original series was always in the top 20 during its single year on network TV, its budget of a then-unprecedented $1 million per episode [probably equivalent to about $6 million today] would have demanded it remain in the top 10 or even top 5 to stay on the air. If Mr. Larson had been able to stick to his original plan, and had he the time to properly develop the stories, might GALACTICA have stayed on the air for several years? Sadly, we'll never know... )
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