Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Battlestar Galactica: The Mini-Series (2003)

Battlestar Galactica: The Mini-Series is the remake of the original Battlestar Galactica series, and the launching pad for the four-season long science fiction saga Battlestar Galactica. Around three hours long, the Mini-Series stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell and Katee Sackhoff, directed by Michel Rymer and serves as a backdoor pilot for the 2004 television series.

40 years following a war between the Twelve Colonies and the human-created Cylons, the Battlestar-class spaceship known as Galactica is one of the last relics from the war that ended in an armistice. Now, on the verge of being decomissioned and its General Adama (Olmos) leading a series of celebrations that end the ship's years of active service and turn it into a museum. However, any plans to create a museum out of Galactica is cut short when the Cylons, humanity's children - return home, and launch a nuclear holocaust on the Twelve Colonies without the intention of accepting anything in return. It may sound like a simple plot but things are not as predictable as they at first appear.

Battlestar Galactica's mini-series is essential viewing before watching the main series, and anyone who has made that mistake will regret it as it takes a couple of episodes to adjust to the characters and work out just what is happening. At three hours long you'll find that the mini-series itself is dealt with well and there are little scenes that feel as a sudden jerk away from the tone, which is dark and gritty right the way through. The show may be labelled under the same category of shows like Stargate SG-1 and its spinoff, Stargate Atlantis, but Battlestar Galactica is a lot darker, and rather than being about exploration, it's main theme is survival. Taking the robot-invasion trope seriously, it delivers some great special effects in the course of its running time, and pulls off the special effects better than shows that are even newer than this mini-series.

Laura Roslin swears herself in as the new President of the Twelve Colonies. 
If you are used to the amount of characters in more modern dramas like House of Cards and Game of Thrones then you'll quickly adapt to the large cast that Battlestar Galactica brings to the table. However, if you prefer dramas with small amounts of characters to keep track of then Battlestar Galactica will most likely overwhelm you with the amount of characters that it introduces, but that can be ignored due to the fact that it handles them pretty well. The mini-series is full with notable characters that are memorable, well rounded and create a strong impression on the audience but there are three that stand out the most. Edward James Olmos (Miami Vice, Blade Runner) plays the role of General Adama, and delivers a great, complex and heavily nuanced character. He's well developed, and far from the cliched military general that you'd expect to see from a lesser show. Offering up the main role from the civilian aspect is Mary McDonnell (Independence Day, Dances with Wolves) who delivers a powerful performance as the Secretary of Education for the Twelve Colonies, Laura Roslin. Both these two actors deliver their roles very well and put in an incredibly strong performance.

The third standout of the mini-series is Katee Sackhoff's Kara Thrice, who goes by the callsign "Starbuck". She's a badass, well developed and likable female lead character who could easily have been a carbon copy of the likes of Han Solo and every other tough-guy character in the wrong hands (and if they'd had kept Starbuck as a  male character like the original series), but the gender switch is for the better as it allows for a great performance. There aren't any real misfires in the cast as they all deliver some good performances that really enhances the quality of the mini-series.

There are virtually no problems to be found with this particular mini-series. It's compelling, nuanced, brave and very engrossing, ending on a sort-of cliffhanger that will make viewers eager to jump into Season One as soon as they can. Forget the likes of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and anything else that TV drama has given us in recent years - because starting with this mini-series, Battlestar Galactica becomes arguably the greatest television series ever made.


A Few Notes: As of writing this review, I have only seen six episodes of Battlestar Galactica, and watched season 1 before starting the mini-series. However these six episodes, plus the mini-series that I have now seen, has convinced me that this tv series is currently the best show that I've ever seen. 

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