19 January 2005 | dezell6
Battlestar Galactica is a Black Hole of Imagination
It is far easier for those that are originality-challenged to "sample" from an old classic that has instant name recognition than to "imagine" something that bears any resemblance to something unique. The New Battlestar Galactica (NBG) is nothing more than a regurgitated amalgamation of other Sci-Fi TV shows and movies (Space Above and Beyond, Wing Commander, Starship Troopers) with elements borrowed from yet others ('Replicants' from Blade Runner, and '7 of 9' from ST:V). Sadly, it is not just that NBG intentionally divorces itself from the Original Battlestar Galactica (OBG) it takes the highly unimaginative route of assimilating all of the cool stuff from other sources and re-labeling the finished product as a re-imagination. While NBG is good entertainment, it is hardly deserving of its own hype. But the NBG creators are only victims of the fanatical trend to reproduce old classics. In short, the OBG was a new universe complete with differences in language, culture, and technology a universe that was somewhat set apart from the one that we are familiar with. While the OBG had a look that was stylish and new, it still retained a feeling that its origins were ancient - unlike the NBG which looks freshly micro-waved. Remember that the OBG had to fight for its viewing audience against other TV networks in competitive time slots while also fighting against the stereotype that it was nothing more than Star Wars Jr. Comparatively speaking, NBG has it easy. But the NBG creators were so enamored by their ability to create cool sfx that they became lazy and complacent when it came time to seriously dissect the OBG story and retell it from a new perspective.
Despite all of the criticism of the OBG by the NBG creators they have achieved little (so far) in satisfying there own story discrepancies, let alone improving upon the original story premise or elements. What makes a Cylon a Cylon? Why are Cylons called Cylons? Why did they revolt? Why do the Cylons need to develop other versions that are capable of evolving their programming to include human emotions and sensibilities? As with many other creation versus creator stories, the created are a product of their creators; so a human Cylon look-alike would be expected to aspire to be human, whereas a Cylon look-alike created by a race of computer toasters should be more akin to the Terminator. So why all of the subterfuge? Why produce bimbo infiltrator agents? The answer is simple: because it makes for good entertainment. Why complicate things with a comprehensive, multi-layered story with compelling characters, action, and comic relief when you can get away with a sci-fi soap opera. NBG lacks any sense of suspense you don't have to wonder about motivation. To date, all that has been revealed about the Cylon origin is that there was some kind of toaster revolt, the humans managed to fight to a stalemate, and the Gen-0 Cylons high-tailed it out of town whereabouts unknown.
Fans that like the NBG have hailed it for its gritty realism. But what about plausibility? Militarily, the Cylons appear to be formidable, almost undefeatable; superior weapons, advanced technology (e.g., genetic cyborg clones), and deadly effective tactics. The Cylons have every tactical advantage: element of surprise, a secret base of operations, replenish-able numerical superiority, and no human weaknesses (conscience, emotional liabilities, and 'slow' intellects). If NBG were a chess game, the Cylons would possess every advantage needed to checkmate the humans: time, position, and material not to mention superior processing power. The battle between humans and Cylons boils down to one factor: Birth Rate (Humans) versus Manufacturing Rate (Cylons). What was stopping the Cylons from mounting an all-out frontal offensive against their former Colonial masters? From an historical perspective, the advantage during a siege resides with the attacker because they can 'starve' the defenders into submission. The Cylons don't have to worry about a timetable, because for all intents and purposes, they are immortal. So what if the Cylons engaged the humans in a centuries old battle time is on their side. For example what if every 33 minutes the colonial planetary defenses were bombarded by nuclear weapons capable of projecting a 'scrambler' that would render these defenses useless? Why not send the Cylon equivalent of a 'Typhoid Mary' as a delivery device for a highly lethal bio-genetically engineered pathogen with a timed activation perhaps timed to coincide with a sneak attack? All of these suggestions are story killers, but they point out the lack of plausible reality that the NBG creators used to develop their version of the BG universe. Much of the NBG's story doesn't add up, yet but maybe they'll get around to making sense, eventually. So, despite my continued reservations, I am willing to give NBG a chance and to judge it on its own merits and not as a scion of the original. But I will not be so easily won over.