by Rob Boylan
It seems like we go through the "why?" phase every few weeks these days. "Why would you remake that?" Ninja Turtles are mutants, not aliens. Jeez. Charlie don't surf and Peter Parker sure as hell don't skateboard. C'mon. Battlestar... a movie? Hmm.
The answer to that question is pretty simple, of course: to get money from the people who aren't already fans (and also squeeze some money out of fans who are naive or just want the right to complain).
It's not really about being creatively bankrupt, it's just about money.
Though I only ran through the whole reimagined Battlestar Galactica series for the first time on Netflix last summer, it was so engaging that I ended up plowing through all four seasons and the webisodes in two weeks. I started throwing around "frakking" and "Gods" like an idiot. Looking at my Netflix history, there were more than a few days where I watched eight episodes in a single go. I'm not sure why I didn't pay attention to it while it was still airing. It was a mistake in one way, but I'm also a really impatient person so I'm glad I got to watch it on my terms.
When the series was reimagined by Ron Moore for the Sci-Fi Channel in 2003, the internet was younger and not nearly as interwoven with social media. Facebook wasn't open to the public yet; Twitter, Tumblr, Imgur and Reddit didn't even exist. There were blogs and message boards and IRC, but no real apparatus for sharing moral disgust socially on a wide, searchable scale. More importantly, fans -- especially genre fans -- hadn't yet been so burned by countless terrible do overs yet. I don't remember any kind of backlash against the show, I only remember friends, male and female alike, turning into goo over Katee Sackhoff's Starbuck.
Admiral Adama reacts to the remake news.
The very fact that we're talking about Battlestar Galactica, and that most Battlestar fans tend to be fans of the Ron Moore version, presents a conundrum. How do you hold the moral high ground in your disapproval of a reimagining of a reimagining? Even if Moore's Battlestar is the exception instead of the rule, it still proves that all reimaginings aren't Tim Burton Planet of the Apes level bad (and honestly, the reimagined reimagined Rise of the Planet of the Apes wasn't so bad either).
In this case, the sour taste in the mouth is really more of form. Even a generous running time of 2 1/2 hours, the idea of squeezing anything but the plot into a Battlestar movie rankles. Moore's Battlestar started off as a four hour, two part miniseries (3 hours without commercials). Even in that span, there was barely enough time to start unearthing what was special about the series. Starbuck was clearly special right from her first scenes, while General Adama, Boomer, Gaius Baltar and Six came along by the end of the miniseries. It would take hours of careful plotting to slowly pull back the curtain on characters like Tigh, Chief, Helo, Roslin, the Cylons -- and especially Gaeta, who eventually became my favorite character (who really wasn't fully explored until the webseries).
The richness of exploring those characters in the situation they were stuck in was the juice of the series for me. The plot was something to muddle through to get to the good stuff. In almost every way, I'm a fan of film more than I am a fan of TV, but film often has to rely on shorthand and user experience to fully flesh out a character, while television can stretch out and meander when the characters are worth exploring. For me, that leaves this news as a conundrum on top of a conundrum. Whether I turn out to be naive here or just want the right to complain, Universal can probably have my $14.50 even though I don't like it right now. I might like it when I leave the theater.