What's in Store for the New-New Battlestar Galactica?
Back in 2003, before social media really even existed, old-school geeks raged over the formation of a new version of the very beige, very beloved 1979 show, Battlestar Galatica. This remake would trade clunky robots for humanoid svelte ones, give main characters crazy things like first names, and most controversial of all, they recast hotshot, rule-breaking starpilot Starbuck as a woman! Blasphemy! What were they thinking! Even classic BSG actor Richard Hatch got in on some boycott action for a little while until convinced by showrunners Ronald D. Moore and David Eick to join their cause. And what ended up happening? The “reimagined” or “rebooted” Battlestar Galactica quickly not only won everyone over, snagged a Peabody Award and ended up with some of its stars and creators addressing the general assembly of the United Nations. Though it’s not without its flaws, the “new” Battlestar Galactica became the only Battlestar Galactica.
And now, roughly six years after BSG ended, once again, we’re being told the whole thing is going to change again. Could this be terrible? Will it even happen? Well, in the age of brand recognition, it’s actually much more likely for a studio to put funding behind a name people have maybe heard of before. This means, in some way or another, there will be a a new-new Battlestar Galactica. So, how is this going to go down?
A lot a folks have pointed out that original (1979) series creator Glen A. Larson is listed as a producer on the new project, which is often cited to be a “good” thing, but really is it? Though Larson was also a creative consultant on the more popular, contemporary Battlestar Galactica, he certainly wasn’t in charge of the darker, straight-up hardcore elements of the show. The differences between his BSG and the reimagining is like the differences between the 1960’s Batman TV show and The Dark Knight. Which, if you think about it for one second, is probably a good indication of what is really going to happen with this remake.
A mainstream Hollywood movie isn't going to go near as dark as the SciFi channel show. Back then, we had scenes of torture by water-boarding, suspected spies being randomly jettisoned out of airlocks, and conspiracy to murder people in charge of flying big spaceships. And that was only what the “good” guys were up to! Even Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies aren't as thematically rough and morality-bending as the “real” Battlestar Galactica. A school-teacher gets suddenly promoted to president-of-the-galaxy and ends up being a ruthless, shrewd politicians how takes down her enemies effectively and swiftly. The best thing though, about Mary McDonnell’s President Laura Roslin, is that she was also, technically, a hero.
This kind of thing isn't going to fly in a big budget tentpole movie. The new Battlestar Galactica movie, by simple virtue of being a big mainstream movie that’s part of a “franchise” will almost certainly be a nicer, less hardcore version of the excellent remaigined TV show of our previous decade. But, the people marketing this movie are going to be smart about it. They’re totally going to pay homage to the more recent TV show, somehow. And depending on what kind of rights they finagle, we may end up seeing new versions or at least derivations of a variety of characters who are indigenous only to the newer TV show, like Roslin or Number 6. BECAUSE, outside of Adama, Starbuck, Baltar, Col Tigh, Boomer, Apollo and maybe like two other people, literally EVERY character you like, belongs to the newer BSG. If this new film is more of a direct remake of the 1979 TV show, a female Starbuck or a version of Laura Roslin is almost an impossibility.
The screenwriter of the new BSG is Jack Paglen, who has written the forthcoming Jonny Depp-turns-into-a Cylon, ooops, computer, movie, Transcendence. The idea that technology rises up and takes over seems to be in this guys writing already, which is great. But, the brilliance of BOTH Battlestars is the notion of artificial intelligence turning on humanity is only the beginning of the story. Battlestar is not the Terminator franchise. If Paglen and his bosses are smart, they’ll remember that. And if they’re really smart, they will open negotiations with Ronald D. Moore and David Eick right now for the rights to use some of the great ideas(and characters) in that reimiagined Battlestar Galactica.
Remakes and reboot thingies are inevitable, and as President Roslin and various others told us in the last BSG," this has all happened before and it will all happen again." Let’s just hope that when BSG does happen again—even if it’s a watered down version—that it will still be entertaining as frak.
Which Battlestar show is your favorite?