As I said in a previous post, the original Battlestar Galactica series was a sad excuse not just for science fiction but for TV in general. It made the assumption that no matter how hokey the plot and characters were, science fiction fans would watch just to see the special effects and because it was something on TV in their favorite genre.
The SCIFI Channel’s Battlestar Galactica mini series (two two-hour episodes) had pretty much everything the original lacked. Dramatic development, characters who at times became something more than two dimensional, great special effects, real acting out of some of the actors (I particularly liked Adama’s son Lee). In case you can’t tell, I was really really impressed by this show and I hope they do more in the future. If that is how a cheese-ball show like Galactica can come back to life, it gives me real hope for how good the return of Dr. Who to the BBC may be.
Two things in particular stand out in my mind. One was the slightly cinema verite style of shooting they used for all the live action (hand held cameras, occassional incorrect framing quickly corrected) made it feel like it was more live and real and being captured as it happened without it being overly obtrusive. I’ve seen verite where they just bashed you over the head with it and they tried to make the whole thing look like it was shot in the middle of battle. It didn’t do that. They also carried the style over when they did the special effects shots so everything seemed to blend. When there was fast action and combat the “person” capturing it didn’t always have the perfect thing framed and focused. Action was followed imprecisely and it looked good.
The other thing that stood out was a minor thing, it was just a single scene that only took a few moments and you hardly noticed it in a way, but in another way it had great resonance. There was a scene where the Minister of Education is being sworn in as the President because everyone higher than her has been killed by the Cylon sneak attack. But the feel of the people clustered around her on the ship as she has to repeat the oath called to mind the swearing in of LBJ on the plane with Jacquelyn Kennedy standing beside him.