Entry for November 13, 2007: BSG: Razor

Fellow genre entertainment fans, last night (Monday, 12 November 2007), I attended a free preview of the Battlestar Galactica: Razor telemovie at the AMC Framingham multiplex near my work. Although co-workers such as Stephanie F. and Tom L. weren't able to get tickets, I was surrounded by fans of the military space opera, most of whom were in their 30s. One couple was in uniforms from the SciFi Channel's "reimagined" series that they bought on eBay.

If you're not familiar with either the late 1970s or early 2000s incarnations of Battlestar Galactica, here's a quick summary: After peacefully settling on 12 planets (named after the traditional signs of the zodiac), humanity's colonies are nearly wiped out by the robotic Cylons. A few thousand survivors in a rag-tag fleet follow the lone Battlestar, Galactica, on a search for a lost home, called Earth…

The original series is known for its space battles influenced by Star Wars, a storyline derived from the Biblical Book of Exodus, and the velour uniforms of its cast (closer to the 1960s Star Trek in style). The revisionist take is much darker in tone, with fewer sympathetic characters but strong writing and better visual effects. Both have loyal followings.

After sitting through some Microsoft advertisements, we watched as the plot centered on a young soldier named Kendra Shaw (played by Stephanie Chavez-Jacobsen) who finds herself on the Battlestar Pegasus during the Cylon attack. Shaw becomes a trusted aide to the merciless Commander Cain (Michelle Forbes, also "Ensign Ro" on Star Trek: the Next Generation; the character was memorably played by Lloyd Bridges in the original series).

Going back to events that took place between the second and third seasons of "BSG," Shaw later works alongside crew members from sister ship Galactica while fighting personal demons in addition to Cylons. This is interspersed with scenes from a previous war, which are expanded in the Flashbacks "webisodes."

In the long wait between Seasons 3 and 4, this was mostly satisfying and well done, answering a few questions about both previous and upcoming story lines. I still believe that the infighting among the human survivors of the Cylon genocide, even if realistic, makes it harder to root for them. Yes, BSG shows loyalty and a fatalistic sense of honor, but does every single character need to be emotionally scarred? We'll see how the main series plays out next year. "Razor" will air on the SciFi Channel and be available on an extended DVD in the coming weeks.

I've mentioned the current genre television season enough in recent blog entries, but I do want to cite Heroes and Journeyman as two shows that have become more interesting lately. Smallville and Stargate: Atlantis are struggling to do so, but I still like Reaper and Pushing Daisies.

As I begin to compile holiday wish lists, I have a few recommendations: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Volume 1, has just been released on DVD. This underrated spin-off of George Lucas' cliffhanging movies takes a look at the archaeologist's adventures through history before World War II.

A Wish for Wings That Work is "Bloom County" creator Berkeley Breathed's whimsical Christmas special, which hasn't been available on video for years. Amid this past summer's blockbuster sequels, I liked Disney/Pixar's computer-animated Ratatouille and even Transformers best. In addition to the motion-capture Beowulf this coming weekend, I hope to screen the fantasy Golden Compass, which comes out on December 7. Still to come: comic book reviews!