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New Battlestar Galactica Premieres Monday 483

Posted by michael
from the starbuck-gets-a-sex-change dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In several news articles, 'Battlestar Galactica' returns in a new four hour mini-series on the Sci-Fi channel this Monday. However, there has been fan furor over some changes to the story. Aluminum Cylon enemies look more like humans, complete with feelings, including one with rabid sexual desires, and the quest is not for a mythical Earth, as it no longer exists. More information at the BattlestarGalactica.com website, and the Sci-Fi channel."
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New Battlestar Galactica Premieres Monday

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  • Bad omens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Squideye (37826) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:11PM (#7629152) Homepage Journal
    A preview on aintitcool.com [aintitcool.com] is not optimistic.

    Looks sex-addled, low-action, and pretty scanty on the mythology. "Cylon Fembots" is all we need to know.

    The mythology was pretty much all that made it distinctive, such as it was, in the original case.
  • by Tebriel (192168) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:12PM (#7629173)
    You know, if they wanted to do a different story, that's fine. Great. Good stuff. They shouldn't, however, have called it Battlestar Galactica. They should have slapped on a different name for the Cylons, different ships, and different character names. Not that hard to do, but it would probably draw more people to watch it than tacking on a known name and then having it blow up in their faces.

    Which I think they deserve.
  • by Ubergrendle (531719) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:12PM (#7629177) Journal
    Battle Star Galactica got its genesis from some TV execs who wanted to emulate the success of Star Wars on the small screen. I'm not overly familiar with the back story, but BSG has always struck me as a hodge podge of space opera concepts, strung together long enough to maintain a TV series. Where shows like Dr Who and Star Trek at least had a conceptual basis and tried to do something original, BSG was an attempt to fill a 1 hour timeslot once per week. I don't think BSG deserves to be considered alongside other shows in the great SF series pantheon, even though the Cylons looked cool.
  • by QuackQuack (550293) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:13PM (#7629180) Journal
    I always saw BG as a cheap Star Wars rip-off. Is it really that popular? It never seemed to have much of a following, like Star Trek and other SF shows.
  • by luckytroll (68214) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:15PM (#7629210) Homepage
    I really miss the old shows like Dr. Who that had really alien aliens - crazy blobs, and lethal rocks, and robots without faces. Now every alien has to have a humanoid form and a face so that the actor can "act" and the audience can empathise. When did the universe become so darned human?
  • by JonathanF (532591) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:22PM (#7629287)
    I can't imagine someone being in a furor over changes to the storyline in the remake of a short-lived and not always universally-liked series like Battlestar Galactica. It would be like complaining that they changed the dolphin in SeaQuest DSV to an Orca!
  • by ianscot (591483) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:24PM (#7629307)
    Battlestar Galactica was hardly an original series even when it was the original series. This will be like a CGI rendition of a photocopy of a carbon copy of Star Wars.

    And yes, I saw the movie release of the original -- in SENSAROUND! Which meant, back then, bass speakers less impressive than those playing in the "Love Boat" revamp I saw last weekend, "Love Actually." (That movie took the high road, though, and did not call the loser who traveled to Wisconsin "Gopher.")

  • by looie (9995) <michael@trollope.org> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:24PM (#7629309) Homepage
    why would i want to watch an "updated" version of the original? what does that mean, exactly, "updated"?

    i've watched a couple of the originals on sci-fi this week. c'mon people, it was a lame show with low-res special effects and horse-opera plots. it was "wagon train" in outer space! some of it was so badly done, it was "cover-your-eyes" embarrassing.

    how do you update that? apparently, the complainers want the producers to give them the same tired plots with the same tired characters but in different uniforms with "hi-res" special effects. how boring.

    i don't know if the new version is any good, of course, as i haven't yet seen it. but it's for sure that it should be allowed to stand or fall on its own merits. "is it a good movie?" is the only question that needs answering. it is not the original -- thank goodness. we already know that one was a clunker.

    mp

  • by hchaos (683337) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:32PM (#7629403)
    They can't just make Starbuck a woman :cry:
    Sure they can, as long as they make Starbuck a hard drinking, hard gambling, sexually agressive woman. Otherwise there'd be no reason to keep the name "Starbuck".
  • by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:33PM (#7629411)
    For sure, I remember watching the episode where I believe it was starbuck crashed and was stranded on a planet that was a copy of the Wild West and the local tough guy had gotten his hands on a damaged Cylon and reprogrammed it to be his gunfighter enforcer. Starbuck was taken in by a Widow with child who nursed him back to life. He has to eventually go into town and have a Western Style shootout.. then leave.. halfway through I stood up and shouted "Shane"... About the only reason I watched it was to see what plot they had stolen and how thinly they had applied the Sci Fi paint to it.

    Other great examples but done better. "The Magnificent 7" (Seven Samari). Many of the Clint Eastwood Dollar films (Tashira Mafune Ronin character). "Master Gunfigher" (Goyokin) (that was the best worst direct copy. And the Rudger Haurer Blind Swordsman film copying the Zato Ichi (Shintaro Katsu as Zato Ichi character).

    Plagerism + Royalties + Proper Attribution = productivity
  • by ScottCanto (705723) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:36PM (#7629448)
    As the new series premieres, those of us who loved the old one will lament the modernized, politically correct show geared towards the typical American audience.
  • Typical Corruption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:37PM (#7629465) Homepage Journal
    Its pretty typical these days, to take a 'known show', pervert it to fit todays standards.. toss in a bunch of sex and big explosions to raise market share....

    What ever happend to REAL sci-fi that required the viewer/reader to actualy THINK....
  • by SoVi3t (633947) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:40PM (#7629490)
    ....remember when Star Trek decided that Klingons should have funny looking forheads, instead of just being played by african americans? That's pretty much the same deal here. Times change people. What was once done 10-20 years ago can't still be done now. Or else we'd still be boogying to disco, wearing tie dyed shirts, and listening to Zeppelin. I never really watched much of the original, but dammit, I'm still gonna give the new one a chance. Cuz if anything, the stuff on tv right now just plain SUCKS (aside from Simpsons)
  • by mblase (200735) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:41PM (#7629498)
    When did the universe become so darned human?

    Always has been. Sci-fi literature did it first, but the original "Star Trek" was probably definitive in using humans with makeup and funny clothes as aliens. The simple and obvious reason is that it's much easier for studios to produce human actors as aliens, and easier for viewers to relate to them.

    When you have an alien that's a blob or a rock or a robot, you have to work ten times harder to find the pathos. "Dr. Who" used them as identityless villains without much in the way of personality.
  • by Dinosaur Neil (86204) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:46PM (#7629546)

    I watched the original series when it first aired and there was nothing else like it on TV at the time. Those were the lean years; no Star Trek except reruns of the original series, no other big budgeted SF TV shows (Space:1999 had been canned the year before BSG started), and no cable channels to fill the void. There were three networks (that's right, pre-FOX, pre-UPN) and cable was a rare thing involving bulky switch boxes... Whoa, this is turning into a "when I was your age" type rant.

    In its day, BSG was fairly sophisticated and thoughtful. In its day, the SFX were the best you could see on TV (those vector graphics displays they used were, for the time, amazing). Re-making the show now with deacades of new Star Trek series and Farscape and SG1 and such to compare it to pretty much requires the details to be rebuilt from the ground up... The underlying theme of conflict and hope should hold up no matter who's gender changed.

  • by yiantsbro (550957) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @12:46PM (#7629558)
    ..."they're different series, and I'll judge them on their own merits"...

    This is perhaps the most reasonable and fair statement I have heard regarding the new show from either side.

    I am a huge fan of the original series and look forward to continued efforts and new content based upon it. However it IS a different vision so it should be allowed to be judged on its own. Hey--it still has Vipers and the Galactica.
  • by ReallyQuietGuy (683431) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @01:02PM (#7629726)

    they're different series, and I'll judge them on their own merits

    but the point is they went and used the name of the old one. why is that? they want to borrow some of the "goodwill" of the old show. if they really wanted it to be all different they should have chosen a different name

  • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @01:28PM (#7630034) Journal

    Its an entirely different animal, it is in fact so different that I suspect that the only reason its title is BSG is to get the built in audience ...

    You hit the nail right on the head there. See, it's risky for a movie or TV studio to put up the cash for a brand new show. They don't know if anyone is going to watch it or not. Doesn't matter how good it is. It's much easier to simply co-opt an existing brand name and slap it on your product. That way, you're guaranteed that some people are going to watch the first couple of episodes of your show, regardless of whether it's any good or not.

    Perhaps the most striking example of this in recent years was Hollywood's remake of Godzilla. The Japanese Godzilla that we all know and love was a real force of nature -- with a twist. It was an unpredictable and unstoppable as a hurricane but with the added sting of knowing that mankind was responsible for its creation. The Hollywood version turned the once-mighty creature into a powerless wimp who scampered away like a frightened kitten in the face of helicopter gunships. Thus, you never really felt like the world was in danger. Every time Godzilla popped up you could chase him away with helicopters or tanks. Of course you can't keep doing that forever but I think we can all agree that eventually they would have found where he was hiding and finished him off. So the writers tried to make him a threat by having him spontaneously produce offspring. So instead of having a large, scary, unstoppable force bearing down on you, this new Godzilla was little more than a glorified bacterium, reproducing rapidly. Not very scary and not at all faithful to the original. In fact, other than the fact that both monsters were created as a result of nuclear testing, there was nothing about this new monster which indicated that it was Godzilla. You could hear kids in the audience tugging on their parents sleves asking "Why is Godzilla running away?" It was clear that Devlin and Emmerich (the writer/producer/director team) had just made up their own monster and story and slapped the brand name of Godzilla on the front to move more product (be it movie tickets or associated toys).

    There's a balance that needs to be struck when doing a new version of a beloved classic. You don't want a shot-by-shot remake like Point of No Return (La Femme Nikita) or Gus Van Saint's Psycho. On the other hand, it does the original a disservice to completely throw everything out the window and start from scratch. I watched the "Behind the scenes" special on BG last night and Roland Moore came right out and said that the only thing they were planning on keeping from the original was the Viper shape. Stuff like making the cylons humanoid and the womanizing, but likeable, Starbuck into a bitchy woman is going way, way too far.

    Before someone flames me for calling the new Starbuck a bitch, I want to make it clear that I have nothing whatsoever against women as action heros. Quite frankly I think it's a long time in coming. But if you had seen the show last night, I think you would have to agree that this new actress is trying way, way too hard to be 'tough'. Jean-Luc Picard was tough and he didn't feel the need to mouth off to people constantly. He was respectable and everyone knew it. True strength simply radiates from people -- there's no need to constantly shout out your superiority to everyone. It just doesn't work.

    GMD

  • by letxa2000 (215841) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @01:44PM (#7630232)
    Giving me something scary, or disturbing. If I'm in the mood for porn, I'm not going to waste my time on basic cable.

    You got that right. The whole "sexy baby" thing is annoying, not just when they're the bad guys. Don't get me wrong, woman are beautiful. But like you said... if you want to see some hot chicks, you know where to go. Not EVERYTHING has to be about hot babes, and I'd like to be able to enjoy some fun science fiction without having to feel like I'm watching something that's really targetting some puberty-controlled teenage boy.

    There was a Battlestar Galactica marathon on SciFi about two months ago and I got to watch a few episodes. Of course, most of the commercials were for the new Galactica that they were going to release in December. One of the commercials actually was talking/showing a photoshoot from Maxim magazine where apparently one of the actresses came from (that ought to tell you something... their cast consists of models, not actors apparently).

    In other words, screw promoting the series based on its storyline (apparently no longer involving earth) or characters (which apparently have had sex changes and I get the impression that they even had to put a gay character in there, you know, to be PC and all)... rather just promote the blatant sexuality of the series. After all, with a sensual sex scene with a female Cylon, showing previous photoshoots of the actress^H^H^H^H^H model, and using the "Battlestar Galactica" goodwill, profit is guaranteed.

    I don't plan on watching. I hope to buy the original series DVD box set this month, maybe even by Monday, and I'll watch that instead. Sure, this new series is completely different and should be judged on its own merits. It might even be fun. But I don't want to contaminate my memory of Battlestar Galactica by even associating this new material with the name.

    I will be interested to see, though, how well the series does. They've basically alienated the real fan base that's been waiting for a new Battlestar Galactica for 25 years and I'm not convinced the new generation is really dying to see a remake. Who IS their market? Maybe it IS just the pubery-driven teenage boys.

  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @01:45PM (#7630236)
    For what it's worth, I've been watching my box set of the original series while stuck on a business trip. I'm hoping the new series will be good, but even if isn't, well... they're different series, and I'll judge them on their own merits, not how they relate to each other.

    Well, I will judge them based on how they relate to each other. The fact is both series are called "Battlestar Galactica" and if this new mini-series' producers wanted to do a different sort of story they could have called it something else. As it is, it seems they're just trying to cash in on a well-known name, and the series should be judged as such.

    When you use the title of a well-known series/movie/whatever, I expect either a remake or a continuation. I don't think that's unreasonable - these amount to brand names, and what SciFi is trying to do is equivalent to New Coke. I don't think anyone would have complained about New Coke either if it was called, I don't know, Wild Mountain Cola or Mister Smith's Fabulous Cola or something. I mean the public would not be comparing it to real Coke (except in a generic and non-specific "this is not my favorite cola" sort of way), because nobody's trying to pass it off as Coke.

    These people, though, are trying to pass this off as Battlestar Galactica. As such, it should be judged as Battlestar Galactica, not some sort of standalone series, because it's not a standalone series, whatever the producers try to say to subdue the fans. I mean what's next, an Indiana Jones movie where Indy is a woman and the setting is 21st century Tokyo? Part of the criteria of any franchise entry is how well it adheres to the narrative that's already been established. And on that basis, without even having seen it but based on what we all already know, this alleged version of Battlestar Galactica obviously fails miserably. It will have to be absolutely amazing in every other way to redeem itself at all, but it will never be considered "great" simply because it is a poorly interpreted imitation of its own namesake.
  • by Golias (176380) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @02:01PM (#7630445)
    One of the commercials actually was talking/showing a photoshoot from Maxim magazine where apparently one of the actresses came from.

    I agree with most of your rant, but should point out that Maxim does not typically feature models. They feature celebrities (usually acresses and musicians) who model for them. Nobody "comes from" Maxim (yes, I know there's a funny pun there... leave it alone), in the way that Tyra Banks "came from" Victoria Secret, because the women Maxim photographs are already famous from elsewhere. In the case of the actress you are speaking of, she probably is doing the Maxim shoot because of ther role on Battlestar Galactica.

    (Maxim has actually become a common vehicle for promoting new shows and movies. Both X-Men movies were hyped by Maxim spreads of Famke Janssen, Halle Barry, and Rebecca Romjin-Stamos a month before each release.)

  • by John Harrison (223649) <johnharrison.gmail@com> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @02:15PM (#7630585) Homepage Journal
    The whole thing with the 12 colonies of man and the 'lost' 13th colony is exactly like the Mormon belief of 12 tribes of man with a lost 13th tribe and how reuniting with that 13th tribe would be their salvation or something along those lines.

    I am aware of no such doctorine. The idea of 12 tribes of Israel is straight from the Bible. Ten of those tribes were taken captive or "lost". There is nothing uniquely Mormon about that. There are LOTS of things about BSG that are references to the LDS faith and culture due to Glen A. Larson being a Mormon, but this is not one of them. There are plenty of websites with comprehensive lists of the similarities, so I won't try to out do them here. Google for Battlestar and Mormon and you'll get plenty of hits.

    Odd that BSG got all the Mormon references and Magnum PI, Knight Rider (notice how KITT's light and sound are very Cylon?), and the A-Team didn't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2003 @02:26PM (#7630724)
    They can't just make Starbuck a woman :cry:

    Actually, its probably a good thing that they made Starbuck a woman. The only other alternative, given current trends in TVland, would have been to make Starbuck and Apollo gay lovers.

  • by mpoort (729634) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @02:43PM (#7630946)
    Yes the original BG wasn't all that wonderful. It was a made-for-TV Star Wars rip-off, the plots were frequently lame or ripped-off from classics (The Gun on Ice Planet Navaronne?), the science was more fiction than fact, and there wasn't a whole lot of backstory. Yes it was a parable for the Conservative nightmares of the early Reagan era in the same way Star Trek: Undiscovered Country paralleled political events of the early 1990's. But for TV it wasn't that bad, for 1978-79 the effects were cutting edge (especially for TV), it had an actual musical score instead of some cheesy intro music hammered out by a Mike Post or Jan Hammer wannabe, and it had established characters who interacted in a consistent storyline. As a space opera TV show it was good enough to watch once a week every week for an hour. When I first heard that Sci-Fi Channel was remaking BG I was thrilled. I hoped that Richard Hatch had finally convinced someone to remake the original series with updated special effects, costuming and technology and a few nods to modern culture (I always thought it was logical and kinda cool that the original eventually included female Viper pilots and hoped the new cast would be updated as such). But then I found out that Starbuck was a woman, and Boomer was a woman, and Cylons weren't really Cylons (they're humanish androids), and the main Cylon is a Terminatrix rip-off from Gov. Arnie's latest movie, and there is no mythological "Lost 13th Tribe" or quest to find Earth etc etc etc and completely lost ALL interest in watching this show. If the previous sentence wasn't blatant enough: I will not watch the new Battlestar Galactica for any reason, period. It is obvious that the new Battlestar Galactica is NOT Battlestar Galactica, just a different show using the BG name. Some of you may wonder why I won't give it a chance. I have done so in the past, beginning years ago with that God-awful Robin Hood ripoff starring Kevin Costner that included new main characters that NEVER appeared in any of the legends and reinterpreted characters that were either far beneath the originals (Little John) or WAY over-the-top (Sheriff of Nottingham). I won't go into excessive detail about the string of film and TV "remakes" that have occurred since then, except to point out that remakes/reinterpretations have been common for the last 15+ years and almost ALL of them have been bad. Those who make them are almost always interested only in cashing in on name recognition (series title or author's name) to sell their product, because that's what these are...products. If you've studied marketing/business and communications at the collegiate level, one of the first things you learn is that the business model of media is: the "media" (show, film, magazine, etc) is "bait" (a term actually used) to lure the audience towards the advertising, from which those who present the media (producers, et al) derive their profit. Those presenting the media frequently don't care about the "artistic integrity" of the media as long as it attracts potential consumers to the advertising; if the crappiest show on TV gets stellar ratings it will remain in the line-up season after season until no one watches it anymore (or it becomes unprofitable for other reasons, ie. too expensive to produce). Thus, the only answer is to not watch the show at all and make it clear that you will not be watching. Nielsen (sp?) ratings are determined by even partial viewing...an hour-long show still gets points even if the viewer watches 10-15 minutes of it, thinks it sucks, and turns it off. It angers me that we "consumers" have been fed a steady diet of tripe and drivel for so long. But the only way to stop it is to not watch and make it clear that you aren't watching. Otherwise Star Trek will continue to be devalued by Voyager and Enterprise quality versions, Star Wars will become even more of a big screen non-interactive video game for 10 year olds, Matrix will spawn even lamer sequel/spin-offs than Reloaded and Revolutions, Anne Rice's Vampire chronicles will have more bad movies and Broadway musicals made in her name, and all your favorite classic books and movies will be raped by media producers in search of the next big buck. Just Say No, folks. :-)
  • by PierceLabs (549351) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @03:00PM (#7631171)
    If you want to make a show 'very different from the reality of the original,' then give it a name very different from the original.

    Far too many brands get hijacked by morons who know that the only way they can get their crappy idea on TV is to bastardize a good brand and kill it with their crappy universe. Make your own! At least don't try to premise your work as a remake of the original. Call it Battlestar Galactica: Rise of the Cylon Pornbots or something.
  • What about COSMOS? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2003 @03:05PM (#7631248)
    Before FOX, UPN, etc., the "4th network"
    was PBS. And as much as you say that
    Battlestar Galacta was "good for its
    day" (faint praise indeed), PBS had a
    space themed show that kicked Galactica's
    ass: Carl Sagan's COSMOS. The spaceship
    on COSMOS was something even the most
    nitpickiest theoretical physicist could
    agree with, a "ship of the imagination".
    It explored the mysteries and wonder of
    space far better than Galactica did. There
    was even a hint of drama in COSMOS that
    Galactica couldn't approach. Week after
    week, the Galactica was chased by Cylons...
    oooo, killer robots! Yeah, it was cool
    when I was seven. But in COSMOS, there
    were hints that humanity wouldn't leave
    the cradle because we weren't wise enough
    to not destroy ourselves. I know that
    COSMOS was a documentary and that Sagan
    was practically a caricature in the '70s,
    but I still think it was better than
    Battlestar Galactica.
  • by letxa2000 (215841) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @03:25PM (#7631493)
    Nope, those shows relied solely on a strong story line, and never resorted to sex and violence to sell the show. Yep, that Cassiopea was all about adding to the story line ;-)

    I see your response is tounge-in-cheek, but there is a difference between having attractive woman on a show (nothing wrong) and running commercials showing a naked female Cylon (back view) apparently in the middle of having sex (blatant sexuality). Maybe the scene is even useful to the storyline, but the fact that they use it as a centerpiece of their advertising is telling.

    I can't believe my original post got modded flamebait. Drugged out, porn-addicted moderator I guess. :)

  • by shotfeel (235240) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @03:28PM (#7631536)
    From last night it seemed like pretty much every character is completely different now. Adama no longer has the entire respect of every single individual. Starbuck is no longer a lovable, joking womanizer, she's a woman with a huge chip on her shoulder. Apollo seems to be suffering from the death of his brother and blames dad. Baltar is not the evil person from the original, he's just a confused computer geek. Now there is a President that Adama has to answer to, etc. I'm not sure where you are getting this "minor changes" stuff from. Of course, you claim to have seen the first two episodes so maybe you're right.

    Wow. Amazing, isn't it. For those of us who have been around long enough, reading that paragraph may remind you of the changes that have occurred in our society since the time the original BSG aired..

    Seems to me, the remake may actually be a pretty good reflection of what the original BSG would have been had it been written today. Go ahead, reread the quoted paragraph with that in mind.
  • Re:Quick comments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schon (31600) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @04:20PM (#7632291)
    most Hollywood types are Mormons

    You have too many 'm's in that word. :o)

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