Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome: Season 1
When an entertainment franchise becomes exceptionally popular it is as natural as the sun rising in the morning for off shoots of the story to appear. Fans clamor to know what happened to their favorite characters after the conclusion of the epic and are eager to understand their lives before the events depicted in the main story. This typically results in sequels and their temporal siblings, prequels. One thing that is rare is for an offering to qualify in both of those categories.in the case of ‘Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome’ the creative team of Michael Taylor and David Eick have expanded upon the fertile universe crafted by Roger D. Moore which was itself a reimagining of the campy eighties cult classic originally created by Glenn A. Larson. Admittedly that is an unusually large number of names to cram into an acknowledgment but considering the unprecedented scope and potential of the Battlestar Galactica franchise each person listed made significant contributions to what is arguably one of the most enduring stories ever to rise up out of television, certainly ranked among the most robust and enduring. The offering under consideration here is a sequel to the short lived ‘Caprica’ and simultaneously a prequel to the RDM reimagined Battlestar Galactica. In the majority of instances I’m not a big advocate of what is commonly referred to as reimagining as it often more of a lack of imagination taken a popular cultural favorite and attempting to cloak it in the trappings of modern affectations. There are of course notable exceptions most notably the works of Shakespeare which as pieces of timelessly great literature deserves to be reinterpreted by each generation. When RDM took a Sci-Fi action comedy and transformed it into an exceptionally intense emotional and physiological drama. The frequently silly moments of the original were supplanted by gripping commentary on the interrelationship between the military, politics, press and population within our own society. The new Battlestar Galactica did more than entertain, it provided deep insight into the culture we live in. this latest installment expounded upon the effects on a society resulting from a prolonged war against an enemy foreign to our understanding.
The events of ‘Battle Star Galactica: Blood and Chrome’ takes place into the first war between humanity and their robotic creation, the Cylons. Originally they were created as the ultimate solider, never tiring, unstoppable and unaffected by emotions. This might have seemed like a good idea at first but as the Romans in our world discovered extreme military training when combined to a caste system with them at the bottom never works out well for the ones that created the new army; rebellion is almost certain and inevitably bloody for the ruling party. In this instance the robotics servants of humanity attacked their former master’s intent on their complete annulation. For ten years this conflict has been fought with no end in sight. The best hope for the Twelve Colonies of Man is their ultimate warships, the Battlestars. They were space fairing cities somewhat akin to our air craft carriers. They house a full assault contingent running the gamut from battle hardened marines to the fast and maneuverable vipers, able to take the fight directly to the enemy. The current series follows the career of a young Viper pilot just graduated from the flight academy, Ensign William Adama (Luke Pasqualino). Fans of the franchise are well aware of this character as a boy in ‘Caprica’ and as an admiral in the main RDM series but this is a unique opportunity for devotees to experience the time that links the two; the progression from that young boy into the battle weary leader of mankind he was destined to become. An ambitious and arrogant young man was at the top of his class, a distinction that earned him a spot on the most coveted assignment in the service, a position on a Battlestar. The vessel Adama drew was the cream of the crop, ‘Galactica’, newest and most powerful of the fleet. His attitude is deemed by his superiors as in need of adjustment so instead of the prestigious post as a combat pilot in a Viper Adama is given the controls of a Raptor, a small transport vehicle. His co-pilot Coker Fasjovik (Ben Cotton) is tired, looking forward to the end of his hitch and leaving military service behind in a matter of a couple of months. For them assignments of easy milk runs is vastly different. Coker just wants to avoid action and complete his obligation while Adama is anxious for battle, wanting to advance his career through the destruction of their enemy.
The format utilized to relay this segment of the BSG saga was the webisode, portions of the story dispensed in increments of ten minutes or so. I’ve sat by while young people proudly declare that this format is cutting edge, the vanguard of entertainment’s future. In these situations I have to actively repress the impolite smirk I find forming on my face. You see this methodology was already old in my long past young. When I was a kid Saturday afternoon meant a trip down to the local movie theater where for a modest sum you got to spend the whole afternoon. There was the main feature, ‘B’ flick, a newsreel, a few cartoons and some coming attractions. One of the highlights of this presentation was the action adventure serial. A movie suitable in duration as a feature was carved into installments; one of which was shown each week. In order to watch the entire movie you had to show up each week fir the latest episode. This concept of webisodes is nothing more than an internet oriented variation of the same format.
For those of us that can remember ‘Flash Gordon’ or ‘The Adventures of Rocket man’, the first thing you will notice are the special effects, they are spectacular. Modern effects are economically and technical within reach or web based productions and this series is concrete proof. Unfortunately the brevity of the series places the onus fir carrying it on the visual. There is insufficient time available for this series to achieve the BSG trademark intensity of psychological exploration of the characters. That requires time not possible here. The focuses on snippets of action tie this series closely to its serialized ancestors but naturally restrict developing the characters and circumstances. This will make it difficult for those not already involved with the BSG universe. However, longtime fans will be able to take away some interesting insight into William Adama. As a young man he rebelled from the verbal battles his lawyer father routinely engaged in. War had come to the Colonies and like many young men Adama is eager to prove himself. His cocky demeanor is distanced from the leader he would grow into. Admiral Adama retained some of the fire young Bill possessed but learned through experience to mitigate it with reflection, wisdom and necessity. The humbling assignment to a raptor rather than a sleek, deadly Viper was Adamas’ first lesson in humility and the start of his road to greatness.