You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Battlestar Lilektica

James Lileks nails the Larsonverse in two paragraphs:

[…] I watched the first episode of Battlestar Galactica’s new season. Not something I ever thought I would look forward to, given how much I loathed the original. I mean, if you were eight years old and watched it in your Underoos and have great love for it because it was part of your childhood, that’s fine. Sad, but fine. At the time we quasi-adults thought it was stupid, and an obvious ripoff of The Genius Of George Lucas. (In retrospect, they just showed us what Lucas probably would have done if he’d had to produce a weekly series.) I watched the two-hour special on Sci-Fi [cable channel] only because Ronald D Moore was connected to it. He could re-envision My Mother the Car and I’d watch it. (In his version, the “mother” would be some sort of holographically stored personality matrix based on the character’s dead mother, loaded into a GPS program to humanise the user interface; he buys a new car, hears his mother’s voice. As the season goes on the computer program based on his mother begins accessing emotions and memories the software writers did not intend to include, but were unintentionally added to the matrix due to the program’s cross-correcting synaptic relay duplication algorithms, or something like that. In Moore’s hands, it would be believable and touching.)

Anyway. The new series has not yet broadcast here in the states, but it’s coming. Bottom line: Yes. Yes, indeed. It’s very good. Even the Courtney-Love-as-Starbuck thing works. The slogan for the show: "The World is Over". And that’s exactly how it feels. The show has a pervasive ache to its tone and timbre, and I applaud all involved. I can only hope that the people behind the 80s version of Buck Rogers watch it and soil themselves in shame. If Twiki ever went up against Jar-Jar I’d root for the Binks. Which says a lot. To be exact, it says “bidi bidi bidi”. Meesa hate that. […]

My own two reasons for being pleased that Ronald Moore is the man behind this third-millennium re-imagining of Baa Baa Black Sheepon are --

(a) firstly, that Moore (and Berman, Piller and Braga) helped rescue Star Trek from its Roddenberryian self-indulgence to make it a real drama. (Gene himself, being the rational scientific humanist that he was, spat the dummy over the script for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country because it dared to depict Starfleet officers using "dirty tricks" and covert ops).

(b) secondly, that I predicted this as long ago as 1997. Before the dark times:

Projected highlights from the forthcoming TV spectacular Battlestar Galactica: The Next Generation

1. The narrator's introduction ("There are those who believe… that life down here… began out there… ") has been altered by replacing "brothers of man" with "brothers of one".

2. Colonial Warrior uniforms are no longer caramel-brown, but a fetching pastel blue, with 6-cm-high white skivvy collars and no pockets. Capes (now maroon) are attached with velcro instead of with Barry-White-strength gold chains. Furthermore, Fleet uniforms are now complete re-designed approximately every 2.3 yahrons in the hope that, by adapting, they can defeat the Cylons.

3. The Warbook computer screen in a Viper's cockpit has replaced green-screen DOS with Windowons '95.

4. John Colicos plays a smirking villain with a Ming the Merciless-style goatee.

5. The Fleet rediscovers its long-lost ship, the Pegasus.

6. Muffit is programmed to evolve itself into a real flesh-and-blood daggit. In sympathy, Dr Wilker activates its long-dormant tree-marking chip.

7. Citizens of the Twelve Colonies no longer devote their lives to the accumulation of cubits, but instead to seeking out new nouns ending in "-on".

8. Count Iblis is found living in a wrecked spaceship on a desolate planet populated by ear-dwelling, mind-controlling bugs.

9. Sidearms are no longer pistol-grip but, instead, resemble TV remote-control units.

10. Adama lives on as a holographic computer program who emerges, projected from his time-vault, at 25-year intervals to explain why the Fleet should have found Earth by now.

11. Cylons now have the ability to adapt in battle, and can no longer be slaughtered in waves using the same simple Viper manoeuvres.

12. Due to pressure from the Colonial Health Commission, Starbuck has abandoned his cigarons for a nicotinon patch.

13. The Ships of Light reappear, and a guy named "John" puts the Galactica's crew on trial for the crimes of humanity.

14. Colonial Warriors find late 20th-century Earth and, to save the planet, must rescue two whales in time to help thirteen teenagers win their baseball game.

15. Actual battle scenes are now limited to a maximum total of 59 seconds per season.

16. Cy (now the Galactica's security chief) lectures his unruly son, Cy-II, that "Cylons do not risk their honour by varying their vocoder tone."

17. Upon his promotion to Captain, Colonel Tigh shaves his head to get that mean-mutha/ Othello look.

18. The voice of the Galactica's shipboard computer sounds suspiciously like that of Glen A Larsen's wife.

19. Apollo makes a cameo return as a crusty old admiral.

20. Cassiopeia goes about in a figure-hugging red jumpsuit, and interrupts all her socialatorial sessions by asking at regular intervals: "The important thing is, how do you feel about this?"

21. Pyramid card games in the Warriors' quarters now include Stephen Hawking as banker, but are still interrupted by red-alert signals.

22. At least once per episode, at least one member of the Quorum of the Twelve reminisces about some wild stunt Adama pulled off while a young recruit at the Fleet Academy.

23. Starbuck has put on 40 kilos and grown a beard, but still manages to score the most nubile space maidens.

Mind you, 1997 was also the year when my response to the Hollywood sci-fi news teasers was "Great! Lucas is making another Star Wars film! That'll be excellent!" and "Uh-oh... They say some horror movie schlockmeister from Nizzillind wants to film Lord of the Rings... I can see it now: it's going to be awful, a cross between Legend and Once Were Warriors..."

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