Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bark: Frack me!

It takes a lot to drag me away from my PC to watch TV, but over the last few weeks, I've been utterly addicted to the remake series of Battlestar Galactica. I've been getting them on DVD on our LoveFilm rental scheme (since I don't have - or want - Sky), and on Friday night I watched nearly six solid hours of it: the last three episodes of Series One, and rewatched the opening mini-series; meaning that I didn't get to bed until, oooh... about half five this morning. Pretty fracking extreme.

I knew that as a sci-fi series it was rather well thought of, but because it's never been on terrestrial TV, I never got around to it until now. Mainly because I seriously wasn't expecting it to be as good as all the hype.

I loved the original series of Galactica when I was a kid: it was right up with there alongside The A-Team as obligatory Saturday morning TV. So I was initially quite skeptical about how they'd changed the gender and race of some of the characters, but after watching the mini-series, I was totally blown away. All the character tweaks work, make it more interesting (you can't imagine the new version of Colonel Tigh really being played for laughs) and give the series so much more depth.

My favourite character of the show by far is Baltar. He's no longer an outrageous, evilly cackling ham: he's more of an accidental collaborator, betrayed (and betraying the whole human race) by his all too human flaws. James Callis is absolutely wonderful in the role, too. Performances are uniformly superb from the whole cast, with Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff as Number Six and Starbuck being my next favourites. Edward James Olmos is brilliant as well: he has a quiet dignity as Commander Adama - you can almost see the crushing weight of responsibility on his shoulders.

Perhaps the thing I like the most is that for a sci-fi series, it doesn't over-rely on special effects. Probably my favourite episode in the series is Flesh and Bone: and that's set mainly in a single room, with Starbuck interrogating a Cylon infiltrator. They're not jumping into Vipers every five minutes and blasting Cylon raiders into space dust - there's a real sense that the threat is much more insidious, because Cylons have the ability to appear as human. There's no gung-ho jingoism - fighting is rarely an option - they run because they *must*. It's well written, thought-provoking and wonderfully acted. It's the best TV series I've watched in years.

I've been on a bit of a downer all day because I've run out of episodes, and the Series 2 DVDs aren't out yet. Not to mention the fact that the series cliffhanger was one of the most unexpected and shocking I've seen. And I've got nearly two and a half months to wait until Series 2 comes out. Oh, MAN...
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