I admit it. I used to watch the original as a kid, where Starbuck hit on anything with a pulse, Apollo was all serious, Jane Seymour was sexy and that daggit was as annoying as Boxley. But that was then, this is 20 years later.
The basics are still here - Humanity on the brink of extinction thanks to the Cylons, whom we apparently created, but they rebelled. Major change #1 is that some now look very much like us; or rather there are 12 who do, sorta. There's more than one copy you see, so we don't really know exactly how many. Anyway, during the mini-series we learn of this and witness the destruction, leading to Galactica and a fleet of ships holding the last remnants of the human race. Of course, as per last time, they are looking for Earth and are led by Adama. But here's where it all changes, with Baltar still a traitor, but he now has a companion in his head in the shape of (and boy, what a shape!) Number 6, one of the twelve cylons, who has literally seduced him to the dark side. Starbuck isn't a womaniser now, but is actually a woman, but one who still smokes a cigar, Apollo is still highly strung and quite annoying really and most importantly - no robot dog! The thirteen episodes of season 1 follow the central characters, from Baltar making a Cylon Detection system, through to Starbuck piloting a Cylon Raider to the inevitable cliff-hanger.
Now here comes the part where I become a marked man. It's not as good as people say, hell, this has been hyped by its fans as the second coming. Well, let me pop that bubble right there, it's quite simply not and if you'll indulge me before I'm burned at the stake for heresy, I will elaborate. First off, comparisons are bound to be drawn with the original and while I don't doubt that this is the better written show, with a much higher budget, for some reason Lorne Greene IS Adama. Nothing wrong per se with the one here, but he seems to be channelling Daniel Benzali's portrayal of Ted Hoffman from Murder One (one of the best TV show seasons ever). Mannerisms, low gravely voice, words of wisdom and barely any public display of emotion, he's a dead ringer but with half the screen presence. On the flipside, Baltar is much more than his original counterpart, with more depth, more humour and much more of an explanation into his reasons for betrayal, although it mostly revolves around him being horizontal with an imaginary Number 6. Speaking of which, one word - Farscape. The character-in-your-head was done here before and, in my mind, much better but not quite as easy on the eye. It's still a good plot device and works well, showing Baltar's descent as well as some much needed comic relief - witness him being interrupted in the med-lab by Starbuck, while he's having sex with Number 6. Priceless. Now all these points may seem minor to most people, but the biggest one is pace. It seems to want to run before it can walk, which is ironically the opposite of the mini-series, which quite frankly bored me. 13 episodes that are paced pretty fast makes me question its longevity and if it can sustain this rate. Not only that, it's only half a regular season, so how would it cope with a 24 episode run? Maybe this won't be answered, it could use the HBO season length, I don't know for sure, but it is concern that it could potentially burn out over a longer run.
It also has, a mixed group of characters, ranging from the good (Baltar), the average (Starbuck) to the down right couldn't care abouts (Chief, Apollo, Presidents aide). In fact, after Baltar and Boomer, there's not really a truly interesting character, either being average, clichéd or just totally dislikeable. Even the attractive Number 6 isn't a particularly well rounded character, with only the slightest hint of any progression. But even though I've criticised this show, it isn't a bad one, in fact it's quite good, but it does show its first season legs, as said witness the difference in pace from the mini-series to the actual season. Somehow, it really needs to find a little more balance. At least the script and storylines help pull this up in that regard, even though again, they seem slightly rushed in giving you some answers to questions posed. There are some good character moments, such as Boomer in the finale, but I hope it calms down a little as I can't see it lasting at this pace beyond 3 seasons.
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