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The Bookie’s Odds on the Final Cylon May 22, 2008

Posted by Chris in Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined), Interesting News.
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According to Wired and their stable of sci-fi TV bookies, odds-on-favorite appears to be Dualla.  Dan and I were recently trying to figure this out and we seemed to be narrowing in on Gaeta, although I’m not sure we were in complete agreement in the end.

BSG Season 1: Litmus Ep. 6 May 18, 2008

Posted by Chris in Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined).
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Doral:  Shows Up and Blows Up

Doral’s Not-So-Hidden Cylon Identity is the Least of Galactica’s Problems

You want to know what sucks, my friend?  It’s when your 5-year old picks up your computer and drops it on the ground…and it doesn’t work anymore. That’s what sucks!

Anyways, this episode reinvigorates a few themes that went fallow for a bit.  In particular, the concern about Cylons in the fleet returns and snowballs into a McCarthy/Salem Witch Trial type-thing.  Word that they now come in Human form sends shock waves through the fleet.  And get this:  Adama addresses it by appointing a head of inquiry…someone with “a free hand…the authority to follow evidence, wherever it might lead…without command review…”  He appoints a Sargent…hmmm….doesn’t that strike a little odd?  That he would appoint a non-commissioned officer to lead such a sensitive investigation?  I can tell you that it does to me.  And while it’s certainly not a death-blow of a critique, to be sure, it did register on the old B.S.-o-meter.  Oh, I know…nit-picky.  No doubt, no doubt.

Onward.  The theme associating Boomer’s fractured emotional life with water pops up again.  Just as a copy of the Cylon Doral appears on Galactica with an explosive vest that he detonates, Boomer meets with Chief Tyrol for a triste in the ship’s water storrage tank rooms.  The water is placid in this episode, suggesting that her Cylon identity is submerged for the moment.  But like a full resevoir, Boomer’s Cylon identity is only placid in appearance.  The potential energy waiting to be released (or harnessed) represents considerable force — both in physical and metaphorical terms. 

But perhaps the irony of this meeting place — a place to make love and, in a sense, engage in this most human of acts — speaks the loudest.  It is where they both betrayed Humanity, or what remains of it.  This, afterall, is the place where Boomer, in a fugue state, planted explosives of her own and blew up the fleet’s water supply in Episode 2, and the place where Tyrol tried to cover for her.  So it’s ironic that they would choose this place to make love and even more so, the fact that Boomer (unconsiously?) leaves a hatch door open on her way there allowing Doral to break into Galactica’s secure areas before he blows himself up.  Thematically and practically, it’s Boomer’s fractured emotional landscape that allows and propels these things to happen, and it’s Tyrol’s love for her that keeps it all under wraps.

Interestingly, love’s betrayal takes place in those same water tank rooms when Tyrol breaks off his relationship with Boomer and all but flat-out accuses her of being a Cylon.  So the betrayal of Humanity, each other, themselves, and perhaps the very concept of love itself all take place in this area of the ship that stores the very source of survival itself — water.

Meanwhile, Helo back on Caprica is on his own again after Sharon fakes her capture by the Cylons.  He’s faced with the decision of either searching for her or saving himself.  Now again, love conquers all and it would seem, in the worst way.  His affections for her drive him to choose the search despite the dangers — more tragic love (or so it appears), since she is a Cylon and one that knows she is.  But this facade covering her true identity and motives starts to show cracks.  In seeing Helo choose love and death for the slim chance of rescuing her, she starts to feel for him as well.  Perhaps this is love’s saving grace in this series.  Are these the seeds of love’s redemption in the eyes of the show’s creators?

More BSG After Season 4? May 16, 2008

Posted by Chris in Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined).
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Io9 reported (or passed on a rumor) today that there may be more BSG after season 4 ends.   These additional stories would most likely come in the form of made-for-TV movies, similar to the Razor movie broadcast late last year.  According to I09, “The Doctor and Mrs. Who radio show host Jim Laccino cited inside sources claiming there will be a series of movies following up on season 4 of BSG. The movies will go into production over the summer and will include some of the original cast. He speculates that we’ll see one of them by the end of the year. And he reminded us that actress Mary McDonnell did say that this was not the last we’d see of BSG (but is the last of the one-hour show).”

While Io9’s Meredith Woerner said she prefers the stories end with season 4, I’m eager to see as much as I can, assuming the quality doesn’t deteriorate substantially.  I’ll hold my judgement until more comes to light about who will be writing, directing and producing them.

BSG Season 1: You Can’t Go Home Again Ep. 5 May 13, 2008

Posted by Chris in Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined).
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How Does She Do It?  Starbuck Saves Herself From Herself Again

Picking up where the last episode left off, this one follows through on the action and themes developed previously.  Starbuck has crash-landed on a moon with a limited air supply.  As she struggles to hold out as long as possible for rescue, Galactica launches an all-out, overwrought, desperate, visual search of the moon’s surface for her.  So while Starbuck has just put her life on the line for the love of her fellow pilots and the remaining Humans of the fleet, she’s suffering the consequences of her love and sacrifice.  The theme of love leading to sacrifice leading to personal disaster continues with depressing consequences. 

Meanwhile Adama and Apollo are driving Galactica’s crew hard to find Starbuck with a damn-the-depressing-consequences attitude.  Love is again implicated as a Human weakness, as it drove Starbuck to the brink and now drives Humanity’s last hope to waste fuel, time, and makes them all vulnerable to Cylon attack.

Back on Caprica Helo and Sharon are hold-up in a fallout shelter, enjoying a few creature comforts.  Their mutual affections continue to grow.  As Helo goes upstairs to make breakfast (toast!), Cylon Centurions enter the building.  While hiding from them, the toaster he was using pops, a supposedly clueless Sharon comes upstairs (she’s a toaster too, who pops up from the bunker), and the Cylons (“toasters”) start shooting (popping) all at once.  While not terribly profound, this sequence is interesting in its use of recurrent themes of how machines and Humans relate to one another.  A relatively harmless machine that is presumably under Human control for Human benefit, the toaster betrays its Human master — just as the Cylons did — at the same time Sharon reveals their presence as well.  So two toasters reveal betray Helo to a third.

After the exhausting search of the moon’s surface for Starbuck yields no results, Roslin confronts Adama and Apollo, accusing them of wasting the fleet’s resources and putting them all in danger.  Interesting that Roslin, the president who pressed Adama to love humanity enough to save the survivors of the Cylon’s attack, now argues that he needs to ignore his feelings of love for Starbuck and give up the search.  Adama and Lee relent.  As they’re preparing to jump away, Starbuck shows up in a Cylon raider she shot down in the fight leading to her crash.  While it seems unlikely that the Raider would survive the same fiery descent through the atmosphere of the moon that her Viper couldn’t, and while I doubt that the Raider’s internal, biological flight controls would could be worked by pressing on it’s internal organs (squeeze this brain-part and fire the guns!) we willingly overlook these technical shortcomings.  All-in-all, Starbuck’s ability to save herself from herself is welcomed with open arms by us (the viewers) as a lovable character trait, and as we’ll see in future episodes and seasons, a theme integral to the development of the series.

Iron Man: Worth Every Penny May 3, 2008

Posted by Chris in Interesting News.
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I saw Iron Man last night and got quite caught up in it.  This is a SciFi TV blog, so I’ll keep this post about a movie brief. 

Downey and Stark Discover Their Potential Despite Personal Vulnerabilities

Robert Downey Jr. was a perfect choice for this role.  It’s great to see him doing good work and looking healthy after so many years of trying to kill himself with drugs.  This aura of personal vulnerability worked well for his portrayal of Tony Stark, the super hero who needs to keep a high-powered magnet embedded in his chest to keep bits of shrapnel he was hit with from migrating to his heart.  Jeff Bridges did a great job of playing the mentor-turned-villain.

It goes without saying that the special effects were incredible, but I’ll state the obvious:  The special effects were incredible!  Ahem….excuse me for that brief outburst.  That said, there are a few moments that stretched credulity for me.  In particular, there are several scenes where Stark crashes at very high speeds into concrete walls and floors that nobody could have survived, even if encased in a super-powered exo-skeleton.  But, these moments were all in good fun.  I could explain them away in my mind by reminding myself that the story was based on a comic book and the standards for realism sometimes seem to get distorted in translations to film.

It should be interesting to see how this movie plays with audiences.  I attended an opening night viewing at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, and while it was not sold out, there was a solid mass of enthusiastic fans, excited to see a favorite comic come to the screen.  So while has definitely been built up to be a blockbuster release, it’s not clear if it’s going to make a big enough splash to be considered a success.  Perhaps we’ll see it become a sort of sleeper hit/blockbuster hybrid where the initially modest box office receipts are driven up over the coming weeks by enthusiastic fans and positive reviews by the critics.  I hope so!