It should be noted that while I watch a large range of movie and television show genres, I have never been a fan of true Sci-Fi. My dad was a Star Wars and Star Trek fan, but I've never seen any of the movies (save small bits and pieces), and I've never watched even one episode of any of the Stark Trek series.
I dislike Sci Fi. Spaceships and aliens and jargon that is completely made up by a group of men who spent an extraordinary amount of time masturbating. You don't think so? Go look at the outfits they put the space chicks in. Oh, please.
So, on the surface, I have absolutely zero reason to watch Battlestar Galactica. A few things that had me lingering on the title at the library:
1) Joss Whedon loves the show.
2) A large group of my seemingly intelligent friends find it good. This is not necessarily a winning argument, as they also like The Office.
3) Tahmoh Penikett, who played Paul Ballard on Dollhouse, played Helo on BSG. He's not a top 20 Whedonverse actor, but I do love his face, and I do stick by my alumni. So I knew the day would eventually come.
4) Jamie Berber was in the Season 2 premiere of Dollhouse, as Eliza's husband. Mind you, I do not remember him at all. But it's yet one more motivator.
The main catalyst, however, was Jane Espenson. Jane is one of my favorite Whedonverse writers. She has serious talent, and really makes you feel what the characters are feeling. She's one of those I love following. So when word got out that she was helming a new show, Caprica, I was immediately on board. Then immediately horrified to discover I couldn't understand ANYTHING about episode 1, because I had not seen anything of BSG.
So I picked up Season 1 at the library, and sat down with my knitting. I figured if I didn't like this show, I was going to either lose all respect for my friends, or any ounce of geek street cred I had going for me.
I still have my cred. And a newfound respect for my friends' opinions. Well, some of their opinions.
This show will probably never be an "OMG YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS SHOW IT IS AMAAAAAAAAAAZING!" for me. It's so very heavily Science Fiction. But it is a must see because of the characters, and the plot lines. This isn't a show about a flying spaceship fighting off evil humanesque robots, with a few subplots about love interests and father/son relationships. It's a show about a group of people forced to deal with each other in heady times. The subplots are about evil humanesque robots.
I immediately loved almost all of the characters. I was tweeting up a storm during viewing, and I couldn't stop raving about each character as I got to know them more and more. It's not at all difficult to bond with these characters. They are all so relatable in different ways, and you find yourself bouncing from person to person, siding with them in fights and crying out when they get hurt.
The first character you pay attention to, in the miniseries, is obviously Number Six. It's hard to let your eye wander past Tricia Helfer. I'm inclined to say it is impossible. The funny thing is, Tricia Helfer is not the type of woman I immediately sit up and notice. She's extremely thin, and very very blonde, with an angular face that's a bit too long. But there's something about her features that just makes her the epitome of sex bomb. She walks into a scene and takes the air out of the room. You cannot pay attention to anyone else in the scene when she's there.
And her voice. When she says Gaius' name, it comes from the back of her throat, and you hear the G catch and there's something very very tingly about the entire experience. It helps that the two of them are a gorgeous pairing.
It drives me nuts, because after two or three episodes, I really start to realize she's not someone I find conventionally beautiful, yet I can't stop looking at her. I cannot figure out what it is that makes me stand up and pay attention, but it's there most definitely. Apparently she had done little if any acting before getting this role. She is a seriously fast learner.
The scenes where she shows her anger and her rage are genuinely scary, especially when they do the close up on her eyes as she screams at Gaius. The amount of nightmares caused by that scene with the beautiful supermodel will be very confusing. She has so few scenes of vulnerability, so when one comes up, it is wonderfully shocking, and really wakes you up to wonder what these Cylons are really about.
On the other hand of the spectrum you have Sharon, aka Boomer. She's the complete opposite of Six, and not just in appearance. While Six is extremely strong, oozing confidence and taking respect rather than commanding it, Sharon is a damn doormat. Doesn't matter which version she's playing, she's a simpering, weak knee'ed excuse for a toaster. Her descent into madness was nice to watch, but irritating because I figure she'd been on the ship quite some time before the Holocaust, and she's only JUST NOW realizing she's a Cylon within a handful of episodes? Even one season in I can fanwank this out of my brain, but it's still irksome that I need to.
I will say I got the hell shocked out of me at the Sharon reveal. I was so busy focusing on the fact that the "scapegoat" actually was a Cylon, I was still thinking that when she walked on camera. I knew there would be a shocker coming, but I did not see that coming at all. I love good shocks like that.
The heart of this show is Laura Roslin, who I refer to as Lady President. Long before I ever even considered watching the show, I'd read a couple of magazine articles about it. Luckily (or not?), I don't remember any details, such as who the rest of the damn Cylons are. But I recognized Mary McDonell from the movies Independence Day and Donnie Darko, and found it interesting that she played the president on a Sci Fi show. So when I saw her in the miniseries, I knew that's where she was heading. But I didn't realize the softness she would bring to the role. Then, when she later became a damn BAD ASS, I was so shocked. When she sent the Cylon out of the air lock after promising to let him go in exchange for information, I was absolutely gob smacked. I should've seen it coming, but I didn't. She could give Adelle Dewitt a run for her money as greatest HBiC.
I don't care much for the subplot of her hallucinations involving Kobol. I can only refer to it as a subplot, because the spiritual vision quest is not something I can really take seriously. I find myself gagging a little everytime the priest starts talking about it. For all I understand, this is the start to the most pivotal part of the ongoing seasons. But really, I don't much care. My favorite scene was from the miniseries, her reacting to leaving the little girl behind to die.
Now, my favorite female character. That would be Starbuck. Oh dear god, how I love Starbuck. If I had to compare this show to BTVS (and you know I would), Starbuck is the Buffy, and Six is the Faith. I love Starbuck for her ass kicking and name taking, but not because I find her conventionally beautiful. That's why we have Six around. I'm not comparing Starbuck to Buffy in a show focus, ass kicker way. But she is a very strong, smart ass female lead who is SO much fun to see on screen. I pretty much fell in love from the miniseries, starting when she punched her superior officer. That was priceless.
My favorite person to see her paired with in a scene is Adama. Their dynamic is incredible. They're both so stoic about their relationship, but the underlying current of father/daughter affection is beautiful.
Every single part of Act of Contrition broke my heart and made me want to cry. And that is not to say I don't enjoy her scenes with Apollo, far from it. But we're heading for a romantic relationship with these two, which I don't want.
They are so much fun when they verbally spar and bat at each other, and the chemistry between them is just dynamite. I'm having a similar problem with them as I do with Brennan and Booth on Bones. They're beautiful people in heavy scenes with heavy sexual tension, but I JUST WANT THEM TO BE FRIENDS!!
Jamie Berber is a very very pretty man. He's got an amazing jawline
Adama is my favorite male on the series. Edward James Olmos has the beautiful ability to convey everything you need to know about a tense moment in his face, and that is my favorite sign of a good actor. He is so strong, and so stoic. He takes care of everyone, but still has the chance to be a little vulnerable and scared. I wish EJO was in every show I watched. That voice!
I think if Paul Ballard had a shaved head during the run of Dollhouse, I would've liked the character a whole lot more. What does it say when I like an actor on this show, but not when he was in Joss Whedon's hands? It should be the other way around. Helo is a fantastic character to watch on screen. His struggle for survival on Caprica was suspenseful and intense, and when Sharon made her appearance, my eyeballs came close to bugging out of their sockets. Their scenes together were irritating, but only because she played it so much as the vulnerable little girl. Correct me, wasn't she a Lieutenant? Silly me, I thought that required strength. Must be a Cylon thing, right?
But Helo's reaction to finding out she was a Cylon, then moments later that she was pregnant, was a punch in the gut to the audience. So angry, and so confused. Just amazing. His scene with Starbuck, where he has to explain it to her and she breaks down, was so intense and wonderful.
I don't really want to talk about Gaius. I just don’t. The character irks me quite a bit, mostly because I have a tiny bit of narcissist in me, and we don't play well with other club members. The actor is hilariously funny in the scenes where he has to address Six as well as visible cast members, and he gets some great moments, but overall, I kind of want to thump him in the forehead with a billy club and stuff him out an airlock.
This is a really really intense show. Wow. From the explosions and death in the miniseries to the crashdown on Kobol in the season finale, it keeps you hopping. I was blown away that on the "first" episode, they jumped in with such a heavy device as to blow up a ship possibly holding so many people, including children. I didn't see it coming at all. Has Joss Whedon taught me nothing about expectations? I think even Joss was shocked by that one, whether he would admit it or not.
I am very intrigued by the Cylon motivations. Even before I was spoiled by DVD commentary (dammit), I caught on that the Cylons (er, the women Cylons) were trying to get knocked up by the humans. My issue here is…they're Cylons. Originally made of metal, and evolved. You're telling me they evolved with ovaries? I'm having a difficult time buying this, and I'm REALLY hoping someone explains it. Speaking of which, I am completely freaked out by the metal toaster version of the Cylons. SO CREEPY. Including the ships.
The religious motivations also have me interested. These people are like homicidal Jehovah's Witnesses. "Have you found Jesus yet? No? Well, fine." ::boom!:: I asked on Twitter if this was BSG's way of saying members of organized religion are homicidal psychopathic robots, because I could see that. I've been informed it goes much deeper than this.
The visuals in this show are really stunning. They look so realistic, it's easy to believe this stuff is really happening. My favorite effect is when the ships jump, especially under Cylon attack. They disappear near silently, and then the Cylons go flying through where they were previously, and I don't know why I love it. I just do. It's neat.
I also love that the show is filmed documentary-style. It's subtle, but really amazing to watch. It changes the entire perspective, again adding a touch of realism. It makes for interesting viewing.
I wish more focus was paid to the background characters, such as Callie, Chief, D, and the nuggets. I didn't actually like the nuggets, but still. I appreciate getting to know the main players on the show, and I look forward to actually learning more about these background humans. Plus Crashdown looks like Henry Rollins. It's very distracting.
The very last, what, two minutes of Season 1? I screamed. I screamed, and tweeted about 10 times in a row. I wasn't even looking at the screen at that second! They were all congratulating each other, Adama's shaking hands. I had a new pet next to me, I looked down to check on him, and BOOM! My head snapped up, I saw Sharon holding the gun and Adama falling back, and what the holy fuck?
Well played, BSG. Well played indeed. You've definitely got me for Season 2.
Just for fun, a few of my favorite moments from Season 1 that deserve a little attention as well.
All screencaps stolen with deep appreciation from Frak-That.com.