I got back from Thanksgiving to find the “Battlestar Galactica: Razor” movie waiting for me. On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d rate it radical. (For comparison, the episode where they get off of New Caprica rates a holy crap that was wicked awesome, and the one where Starbuck gets kidnapped on a farm rates a 3).
Really, it only earns a “radical” for showing the old-school Cylon Centurions, and for dropping a few bombs as to the overall storyline, with Starbuck’s “destiny” and the Cylons’ plot. But the rest of the movie suffered, because it did the stuff the series doesn’t usually do — show big set pieces and the details of “side” stories. There’s a sequence where a bunch of Cylons attack the Pegasus at a shipyard, and it is pretty impressive, but it mostly serves of a reminder of how well the series conveys an epic space battle without actually showing the space battle.
And it’s the same for the story. We already knew that Admiral Cain was a bitch, from when she was on the series. The movie just revealed that wait, no really, she was a total bitch. There’s a half-assed attempt by Adama at the end of Razor to say that “I’m not sure I would’ve done differently in her situation,” but that just seemed like a feeble attempt to add depth and moral ambiguity to a character that had neither. And in the end, it made the whole Pegasus story seem smaller and less interesting. The more they show of the spacefights, the more you realize how small and forgettable they are; the more they show of the characters, the more you realize how two-dimensional and unlikeable most of them are, and how all the plot threads are a little convoluted and flimsy.
I mentioned that when I first saw seasons 1 and 2, I saw most of the episodes out of order, and missed a couple. As a result, I had the sense that everything was much larger and deeper than it really is. The show excels at suggesting more depth and scope than is really there; when you watch everything in order, it starts to stretch the plausibility.
For instance, I know that there are only 12 Cylon models, so it makes sense to keep seeing the same ones over and over again. But how come there are over 40,000 humans, but there are still only 4 or 5 people in the military? We keep seeing and hearing other ones, but it still comes back to Apollo and Starbuck being called in as not just the best pilots in the fleet, but the only ones capable of acting as bouncers for a summit meeting, hostage negotiators, mining facility inspectors, secret raids on Cylon Base Stars, etc.
There was a scene in Razor where they assembled the entire good guy cast into one place to stare at a spaceship on green screen, and it was kind of comical. You could almost hear the actors’ cars in the parking lot, their engines still running. This set up a cool plot element for the final season, and it tied into the “web episodes” pretty well, but it still suffered from the syndrome of having about 4 people in the entire galaxy to which everything of any significance happens.
But it ultimately doesn’t matter, of course. I’m still going through the episodes on DVD in order, and I’m still enjoying the hell out of them. I’d feel a little better if we didn’t have to wait until March for the final season to start, but at the rate I’m going, it’ll probably take me that long to get caught up.