Sunday, September 25, 2005

Serenity and Battlestar Galactica

I have a tenuous personal connection with the upcoming movie Serenity. The man who did the special effects is a guest instructor at the Dave School which my daughter just graduated from. Also, some graduates from the Dave School worked on the movie.

This is the official synopsis:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.
The TV show was treated poorly. It was given a bad time slot and the pilot was the last episode shown. It was probaby not what the TV executives expected. After Buffy and Angel, they were probably expecting another hip, stylish, action-packed show. Instead they got cowboys in space. The pacing was much slower than Buffy and the resolution did not revolve around winning a big fight. It was also an ensemble cast and each member had a backstory - some of them secret.

It made an unusual science fiction show, arguably the best since Babylon 5 and better than Battlestar Galactica.

While this may not have been what TV executives were looking for, it did inspire a dedicated fan following. Joss Whedon was able to get his hands on the movie rights - not surprising for a show that was cancelled quickly, but the DVD sales were big enough to justify a movie.

The movie is using a unique marketing campaign. They are inviting bloggers to an advance screening. Because of this blog, I get to see the movie Tuesday. I will be writing about it after that.

Battlestar Galactica spoiler.....

The 2nd season finale featured the Pegasus - a second battlestar. The original series had a two-hour special featuring the Pegasus which appeared long enough to attack the Cylons then vanished again, possibly destroyed.

That is the basis of this episode but there are lots of differences (of course). The Pegasus is more advanced and its commanding officer, Admiral Helena Cain, is Adama's superior. Cain quickly assumes command and decides to blend the crews. The people from the Pegasus are openly contemptuous of Galactica and its facilities (probably with reason).

We quickly find out that Cain is a bit over the top. The Pegasus also has a captive Cylon. The crew has been allowed to beat and rape her at will. When some of the Pegasus crew is transferred to the Galactica they decide to rape Galactica's captive Cylon. The Chief who had an affair with one of her copies pulls a crewman off of her, knocking his head against a bulkhead and killing him. Cain skips court-marshal and gives him a death sentence. As the episode ends, Adama orders an attack on the Pegasus to recover his crew members.

All of this captures the series as a whole. On the one hand, its characters act like real people. On the other hand, they are not very nice people. I'm not sure that there is an admirable character in the whole show. Adama comes close but he has made it plain that the whole civilian government exists at his pleasure. Plus he lied to the fleet from the beginning about Earth. The President is a mystic which is always bad in a science fiction movie. Adama's second n command is an incompetant drunk who should be relieved of command. It goes downhill from there.

Also, the show is slow-moving. If the writers have a destination they are slow about getting there. I'm not sure that the quest for Earth has started in earnest yet.

The crisics love it but I prefer a show where the characters are better than their faults.


Lone Ranger said...

I don't mind them taking their time finding Earth. As I recall, when the planet was found on the old series, the show went right down the pooper. I don't want to see any of these people riding flying motorcycles and raiding Haloween parties.

kevinbrinick64732316 said...
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The Truth According to Mark said...

Lone Ranger - They didn't find Earth in the original series. It happened in a cheap follow-up series that was done as a mid-season replacement. I think it was called Galactica 1980. I think I liked it at the time but, after seeing re-runs, I sure don't know why. It stank.