Friday, October 29, 2010

New "Galactica" pilot: About Frakin' Time

The whimsically spelled SyFy Channel has ordered a pilot for a new Battlestar Galactica series, subtitled "Blood and Chrome." This one will be set about 25 years before the original and will feature the young fighter pilot William Adama against the backdrop of the first Cylon War.

About time! I don't know how long I can hold on with "Caprica," the BSG prequel which SyFy is currently producing. This series is set 40-odd years before BSG, and William Adama is in it too, but just a background character, a grade schooler from a gangster family.

"Caprica" is a good-looking series, but story-wise it is seriously land-locked: It consists of a tangled series of dramatic arcs, for the most part taking place in and around greater Caprica City (that is, greater Vancouver). So the plot twists and turns never take it anywhere near a spaceship. And as for Cylons, there's only one of them (the creation of the Cylon race is the overarching narrative) and at least in this half of the season it's busted and in pieces in a shipping crate. There are, however, plenty of terrorists, angsty teenagers, virtual reality and the aforementioned gangsters, so in its current form "Caprica" is sort of a Matrix-"Gossip Girl"-"Sopranos" mash-up.

According to The Hollywood Reporter "Caprica" is on the bubble, so it may or may not come back after its season concludes in a few weeks. IMO, there is nothing wrong with "Caprica" that can't be fixed by accelerating the action and paring down a story arc or two. And SyFy can definitely handle two series in the same fictional universe: I think there are seventeen "Stargate" series going right now.

What's weird about "Caprica" is a strange free-floating fatalism, a sense of foreboding that pervades everything about it. This is because the pilot of the 2004 BSG* (and the first first one from 1978) kicks off with the Cylons destroying Caprica and pretty much everything else. So all the characters, their passions and anguishes, their fine houses and sports facilities, are all gone in 40 short years. "Caprica" isn't a Cabaret-like pre-war reverie: it's a lot more like a teen drama set in the World Trade Center in 2000.

And I'm sure "BSG: Blood and Chrome" will be even more foreboding, but at least it will have lots of cool spaceships and legions of fully functioning Cylons to shoot at.

*Just so I can say it again: the BSG mini-series is still one of the finest things I have ever seen on television. incredible characters, amazing art direction and effects, and superb storytelling.

1 comment:

  1. This is FRACKEN great news!!!