Monday, January 17, 2005

Befuddlement Galactica

I'm a little late with this, but whatever. The SciFi Channel debuted its new series version of Battlestar Galactica on Friday. Although it has gotten good reviews elsewhere, to me it was a severe disappointment. Since I didn't expect anything better (after the mini-series), it wasn't too big a let-down.

I call the original series (not the abortion Galactica 1980) the Robert Anson Heinlein Memorial Lecture Series on Peace Through Superior Firepower. The recurring theme in the shows was that espoused by Vegetius in the fifth century: "If you would have peace, prepare for war". Appeasement and weakness only result in a much higher cost later in blood.

Some of the issues I have with the new series include:
  • The Cylons were now created by man: While I have no problem believing that humans can be dumb enough to create something that will wipe them out, the original scheme of their having been created by another species who they did wipe out is too good a horrible example to relinquish.
  • The occupation of Caprica: Why do the Cylons want to occupy a human planet(s)? Complete with humans? The original theme was "The final annihilation of the life-form known as Man."
  • The new Cylon fighters: In a species of robots, having self-guided (aware?) ships is quite reasonable. But the stupid helmet heads are just dumb.
  • Casting: Full equality for women in the military is fine. But what is the value add to feminizing two of the lead characters? Especially Starbuck, who was designed as a rake and a libertine. The new Starbuck is just dippy. The actor playing Colonel Tigh is also a loser. Having an alcoholic, brawler, and gambler in a senior post just denigrates the Colonial military. And the character of Baltar as played is just too spineless to be a decent villain. The computer chip in his head is just as dumb as it was in Farscape.
  • Clocks: One of the mechanisms used in the first series to inject "alienness" was the use of an entirely invented time scale. Yarns, centons, microns, and so on. You never saw a clock. Now they not only revert to minutes, days, and hours, there are clocks everywhere.
  • Americanisms: The new series is rife with Americanisms. Colonial 1. G-4 explosives (C4). Viper tail numbers using American aircraft formats. The characters even have last names now, to go with their (mostly) American first names (Lee, Sharon, etc.)
  • Religion: Having a Cylon telling Baltar to repent and embrace God is inane.
  • Warship staffing: Warships are notoriously overstaffed, in part to cover combat losses, but also to provide round-the-clock coverage. The Galactica has a crew of some 2,000. Of whom only 40 are pilots. I can understand why the pilots run short on sleep in the first episode, but why has everyone else been up for days?
  • Cosmology: They create a crisis where they run short of water, and go looking for it on planets. Why would an interstellar spacecraft want to go to a planet for water? By some estimates, up to 90% of all water is in comets. Just grab a big chunk of ice. No inconvenient gravity-well to navigate.
Lot's more, but this ought to do for a start.


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