Almost a full two years after it went before cameras, Syfy's second attempt to launch a Battlestar Galactica prequel series, Blood & Chrome, finally premiered in November as a series of ten-part webisodes via Machinima.com. The final two episodes went live last Friday, December 7 (you can watch the entire series here) and will be followed by a full-length airing on Syfy in February as well as a standalone DVD edition. And, barring a last-minute reprieve, that will probably be the last we ever hear of Blood & Chrome, as the network has already made it clear that the BSG franchise won't be returning to its airwaves anytime soon and its future as an online property seems dubious at best. Having followed along with the series (and as major BSG fans from back in the day), we've got mixed feeling about its likely demise. Here are three reasons why we'd like Blood & Chrome to continue and three reasons why we're glad it won't.
Why We'd Like to See More Blood & Chrome
Because It's More Consistent Than Caprica
Watching the first BSG prequel series Caprica was a whiplash-inducing experience because one week, the show would be on fire with great storylines, intense drama and fascinating philosophical questions... and then the next week it was so boring and illogical it would put us to sleep. Granted, it can often take a series (particularly one in the genre realm) a full season to figure out what kind of show it is and recurring cast member Patton Oswalt, for one, believes that the aborted sophomore year would have kicked all sorts of ass. Even so, we understood why Syfy decided not to continue with a series that never found a consistent creative groove. Blood & Chrome, on the other hand, understands what it is from the jump: a full-throttle outer space adventure that takes place in the midst of the First Cylon War that was constant alluded to on the original show. The storyline followed a young Bill Adama (played by Luke Pasqualino), who goes directly from the Academy into the Colonial fleet and embarks on a classified mission of high import involving a mysterious doctor (Lili Bordám) carrying a special weapon designed to stop the Cylon enemy (or is she... ?). Scripted by BSG producer and writer Michael Taylor, the series is packed with action and well-timed (if not exactly surprising) plot twists. It's essentially the B-movie version of Ron Moore's Galactica series, one that prizes pure momentum over philosophical musings.
To save money, the old BSG were kept in deep storage and instead Blood & Chrome was largely filmed 300-style against a green screen, with digital recreations of familiar Galactica environments painted into the background during post production. (The various Viper dogfights are also, obviously, created entirely within the computer.) While the extensive green screen work is obvious at times, it's not as chintzy as we originally feared. In fact, the Viper sequences are really well-executed, even if they border on video game-ish at times. We do have one complaint about the visuals, though -- all the bloody lens flare. Memo to Syfy: just because J.J. Abrams did that in Star Trek doesn't mean it has to be the house style for all sci-fi spectacles. Because It's Fun to be Back in the BSG-verse again
We didn't realize how much we had missed Galactica (both the ship and the show) until Adama walked onto the titular battlestar for the first time in Blood & Chrome's premiere episode. No matter your feelings about the way BSG ended, it's still one of the most significant sci-fi shows -- and, arguably, TV shows in general -- of the past decade. Because Caprica sought to be so different from its predecessor, it never really fit into the franchise. In its best moments, Blood & Chrome absolutely feels like part of the BSG-verse.
Why We Wouldn't Like to See More Blood & Chrome
Because the Acting is Pretty Lousy
One of the reasons BSG soared was its terrific cast, which skillfully mixed up veteran performers like Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell with relative newcomers like Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer. Due to its limited budget, Blood & Chrome is made up entirely of unknowns and, sadly, none of them leave a Sackoff-sized impression, starting with Pasqualino. His competent, but entirely bland performance as the young Adama sets the tone for the rest of the ensemble. It's just as well that the series emphasized action over drama because we're not sure that any of these actors could have pulled off the drama portion. (A late-inning vocal cameo from Helfer only drives home how personality-free the Blood & Chrome cast is.)
Galactica's high-minded ideas were a source of both praise and ridicule during the show's run, particularly in its final season when Moore often put narrative logic aside in pursuit of grander thematic point. As cringe-inducing as his attempts at social and political commentary could sometimes be (anyone remember that awful "Black Market" episode?), they were also what made the series so fascinating and unpredictable. Whether at Syfy's request or his own initiative, Taylor keeps Blood & Chrome on the straight and narrow, largely avoiding any deeper thematic questions. With that crucial element removed, however, the series loses a lot of what made BSG unique. What we're left with instead is a decent, but frequently generic space opera. Because the Prequel Idea Just Won't Fly
Obviously, given the way BSG ended, a genuine sequel is next to impossible. But the prequel approach hasn't worked either; from that awful direct-to-DVD movie The Plan to the uneven Caprica and now Blood & Chrome, filling in what came before the original series has largely proven unnecessary at best, entirely pointless -- and contradictory -- at worst. Maybe it's just time to accept that BSG as Moore reimagined it can no longer serve as a viable franchise. So until someone else dares a full-on reboot of the reboot, let's close the hanger doors on Galactica and her crew and allow the show's four-season run to stand as its legacy.
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