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March 22, 2006

Filed under: movies»television»galactica

So Say We All

Near the end of the Galactica miniseries, Commander Adama gives a speech to rally the troops, since the loss of a couple thousand people more after all of interstellar civilization gets nuked tends to be depressing. It's a good effort by Ed Olmos, especially considering that he apparently improvised about half of it, but it comes across feeling a bit like a standard sci-fi series premiere. And that's what it basically is.

I'm noticing these things after picking up the season one DVDs and watching the miniseries again. What stands out is that it doesn't really feel like Galactica. The basics are there--complicated interpersonal relationships, byzantine power struggles, characters with tragic weaknesses--but at the same time they are toned down in favor of more standard plot elements. There's a lot of technobabble in the three hours, considering this is a show that consciously avoids that kind of thing. What struck me the most is how clean and young everyone looks. The grime and constant stress of the actual show isn't present yet.

So what we're left with is a miniseries that's not bad, certainly very good by Sci Fi Channel standards. It seems like it might turn into a good, but not great, post-Star Trek series. Then it's followed by "33," which was suddenly leaps and bounds above that level, ratcheting up the tension and the premise--and I don't think the quality ever dropped until season 2.5. I'm a little amazed that I actually stuck around after the premiere, frankly. But looking back, it's such a great metaphor for the story arc across seasons one and two--an optimistic, hopeful beginning that then drops its characters into the machine and observes the changes that result. Watching (as I did, since I started late) the entire two-season arc in only 4 months only accentuates the experience.

I'm glad that the box set comes with the miniseries. But if you haven't seen Galactica and you'd like to give it a shot, don't see it as mandatory to spend three hours on it. If the premiere doesn't get to you right away or you don't have the time for it, try the first episode instead. It's the best show on TV. I don't think you'll regret it.

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