Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

Michael Bryant
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Battlestar Galactica

It probably will not come as a surprise that I’m quite the fan of Battlestar Galactica, or at least I was until it finished. For those not in the know, the series begins with a genocidal attack on Humanity by their old servants/slaves the Cylons, reducing the Human population from 19 Billion to 49,998 by the series’ first episode. The Cylons are a machine race whose religion is based on a single all loving God in place of the polytheistic pantheon of gods and goddesses that Humans believe in. The series continually played on this theological difference to reflect our own modern world. It was an easily relatable hook that drew the audience in. Additional intrigue came in the foreknowledge that 12 people weren’t people at all. They were Cylons, Machines that look, feel and occasionally even think they are Human. There’s too much confusion, I know.

With a mix of Military science fiction, intrigue and musings on God and Divinity, the show developed a strong fan-base and an amazing Cult status. I had the good luck to watch the series from the start recently with my boyfriend. One thing struck me once we had finished the final episode: at Four Seasons long, Battlestar was lucky that its creators/final five realised that it was better to end on a high than drag it out over several more series and watch as the quality and audience inevitably dropped.

Unfortunately, in the world of TV, a hit is a hit. Just because the people who created a series want to finish it, that doesn’t mean that network executives or even fans for that matter, will let you end. None of them along the line know what any of it is worth, not really worth anyway. And so you have to work something out. Without spoiling anything in case you’ve never watched before, Battlestar Galactica ended in a rather complete way. You really couldn’t write a valid sequel, but a prequel? ‘Maybe’ said the joker to the thief.

First came The Plan. The first two seasons were heavily Human centric and included a few continuity errors. So a film was made that was for all intents and purposes a retelling of the first two seasons from the perspective of the villainous Cylons and tied up any remaining loose ends. And so began the declining quality of the Galactica brand. (Not that this is bad, it’s actually excellent, it’s just rather inconsequential.) Nothing happens in the movie that isn’t thoroughly explained in the series and although it’s nice to see it, it’s just not bringing anything new to the table. So how about another prequel?

Enter Caprica, set on the twelve colonies of Man, 58 years before the fall of Humanity. The series is a really mixed bag. If I were to compare it to pick and mix I’d say it was a bag with one quarter white chocolate mice (Delicious), one quarter gummy bears (Nice) and half chocolate covered ants (pretentious nonsense). It was okay, but no reason to get excited. The main problem with the series was that it was so different in tone. Where Battlestar and The Plan were about trying to secure the remnants of Humanity a new home whilst being constantly hounded by a genocidal race of killer machines, Caprica was about family ties and the ethics of creating artificial life. The series failed to make a big impact, in part because it took far, far too long to get good and because even at its best it just wasn’t great.

There must be some way out of here, so where to take a big money making series now?

Well the thief he kindly spoke and so enters Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. A sequel to Caprica and a prequel to Battlestar. The first big decision is to add Battlestar Galactica to the title. Maybe people didn’t realise Caprica was a spin off? So that’s one thing. The second is to take two years writing and filming a 90 minute movie as a pilot that can work as a potential lead-in (this after all is how they started Battlestar and Caprica). But what do you do when the pilot that you receive is so awful, so utterly putrid that you know there will be no coming back from it? Release it to DVD? Air it and say what the hell? Or acknowledge that what you’ve got is just terrible and stick it on YouTube for free?

They took the free YouTube option. It was the only way to go. People would not have stuck around to watch the whole thing on TV and after reading a few reviews no one would have bothered to buy the DVD, so stick it on YouTube and pretend it never happened.

I don’t want to talk about it in any depth because to give depth to it would be to acknowledge it and I feel some daemons are best off just ignored. All I want to do is quote Charlie McDonnell of charlieissocoollike fame in his review of Cars 2 ‘It’s so bad I don’t even know why it exists’. It would appear I can’t get no relief.

I’m afraid there is no real ending to this article. So just sit back and listen to the music.


 

If anyone was wondering, I put 10 geeky references to Battlestar Galactica in this article hidden in plain sight. Just thought I’d draw your attention to it.