I’ve been subscribing to Jammer’s reviews for years. He’s a scifi otaku extraordinaire whose episode synopses and reviews have been so high quality that it’s almost sinful that they haven’t been published in book form yet; you can get them all for free at his website. He started out reviewing Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) and moved on to Deep Space Nine (ST:DS9), Voyager (ST:VOY), and Enterprise (ST:ENT). He also reviewed each of the Star Trek feature films. He’s got complete archives for every episode of every season of each of these shows, and is presently working on the original series (ST:TOS). I can’t recommend his reviews highly enough to anyone who is/was a fan of Star Trek.
Near the end of Enterprise’s run he decided to begin reviewing the new Galactica series. This was partly a decision borne of frustration with the Rick Berman era, especially the massive wasted opportunities of ST:VOY and ST:ENT. Galactica offered a fresh start of sorts and he has approached the series with the same attitude he always had for Star Trek – high expectations. And no pulling punches when the series failed to meet them. The basic philosophy of science fiction as a genre – not spaceships and aliens for their own sake, but rather exploration of human society and the human condition by alien (biological, or circumstantial) perspectives – is one he keeps front and center as he reviews an episode and renders judgement on a season or a series as a whole.
And thus far, Galactica seems to be dethroning ST:DSP in that regard. Jammer’s review of Downloaded just arrived in my inbox, and his insight into Baltar and Six’s relationship is both succinct and insightful:
The releases are going to be the 1995 Laserdisc masters and The Digital Bits confirmed today that they won’t even be anamorphic widescreen transfers, just the letterboxed transfers, which would mean we’re not getting the full theatrical experience. For sound junkies there is no option to listen to a digitally remastered THX soundtrack. We’ll get the two-channel stereo.
all the original STAR WARS films were released as 70mm experiences during their releases, which would mean they did have a 6-channel audio mix originally, so the 2-channel stereo only option on the DVD just became officially ridiculous.
In other words, these DVDs will look and sound like crappy laserdisc versions, with sound akin to a pair of headphones. Not even minimal surround sound or digitally remastered film!
As if to add insult to injury, the DVD covers will also suck, using stupid photoshop-level montages rather than the original stylized artwork of the 1970s-era posters. Quint has scans, so go take a look.
It’s clear that these are “bastard” releases that are intended to scoop up extra change from the hardcore. As Quint notes, it’s a real dilemma for a true-blue fan. Will these sucky DVDs be the only way we can ever get the original Star Wars? (My letterbox VHS tapes aren’t going to last much longer). Or should we hold out for a future release with the real remastering and full six channel sound?
Since I am budgetarily constrained, my answer is easy – wait, for what I really want rather than this half-assed effort which is really a step backwards IMHO from the VHS tapes I already own. Still, it’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow, that the very DVDs I’ve clamored for years to see are now not worth purchasing. I hope that Lucas follows through and does release “real” versions in the years to come. I’ll pay a lot more for those should they become available…
Is Baltar hallucinating his vision of Six after his escape from Caprica, or is she real, somehow? Watching the season 2 finale and now catching up on the mini-series has given me insights that I don’t know I’d have had, had I seen it in broadcast order. I will, however, approach the issue from within the standard chronology.
But it seems that the mere existence of my boycott threat – however short-lived – ultimately attained the desired goal. For behold, I claim total victory:
In response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means you’ll be able to enjoy Star Wars as it first appeared in 1977, Empire in 1980, and Jedi in 1983.
This release will only be available for a limited time: from September 12th to December 31st. International release will follow on or about the same day. Each original theatrical version will feature Dolby 2.0 Surround sound, close-captioning, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish for their U.S. release.
I grabbed a torrent of the series pilot and have finished about half. Even though some aspects of the plot are thoroughly spoiled for me, having been watching regularly since Pegasus in episode 2, it was gripping and fresh. I haven’t been this excited about television sci-fi since Deep Space Nine and Babylon-5 – and Galactica has already surpassed both.
The best thing about watching the pilot was how it underscored many of the relationships whose dynamics I’d inferred by the end of season 2. For example, father-son tension between Bill Adama and Lee Adama was always a subcurrent which I’d really only glimpsed – Bill mentions that trust was something of an “issue” between them in an offhand comment, or Apollo is genuinely gobsmacked at his promotion. You could read the love in Apollo’s eyes and hear the pride in Bill’s voice and you wonder, as I did coming in mid-season, what deep emotions are being tapped here? What events were they whose powerful closure I am witnessing here? It’s as if I stumbled onto something private and intimate, and regular viewers of the series were part of that intimacy.
It seems that there will be a prequel TV series to Battlestar Galactica. From what I’ve read of the premise, it doesn’t exactly look that enticing, set entirely on the planet Caprica and following the creation of the Cylons. The emphasis on “corporate intrigue” and “sexual politics” makes it seem less science fiction and more sitcom/drama wanna-be.
Only 50 years prior? Doesn’t that seem like a rather abbreviated timeline? Given that the Colonial society was built upon the Cylon’s labor, and then fought a long and bloody war after the Cylons sought freedom from enslavement, you’d imagine the time frame to be more like 100-200 years.
It’s worth noting that the last two minutes of the season 2 finale are available online – along with a very brief teaser for season 3. In it, the voiceover reveals that the Cylons intend to control humanity for our own good – to show us the Truth. The slave becomes the master. Given how easily the military could have simply taken over in the election between Roslin and Baltar, and Adama’s dedication (scroll down to last Q&A) to democratic ideals, there is a very stark contrast being drawn in ideologies.
I see that my favorite television show, Battlestar Galactica, recently won a Peabody award, a first for the Sci-Fi channel. It’s good to see such a fantastic show with such exceptional writing, acting, and directing getting noticed. Is it too much to hope for an emmy? There are several on the show who I think would be worthy, but in particular James Callis (Dr. Baltar) should be singled out. He’s been so absolutely and utterly brilliant. I’m not sure anything quite like his performance has ever appeared on television.
via Shamus, here’s the opening credits for Haibane Renmei on YouTube:
The momentary glimpses of each character really give you a sense of their styles and personalities, especially Reki. And the music accompaniment is enchanting – the theme stays with you. I am also very fond of the opener to Sugar now, though in contrast to HR it tells you almost nothing about the characters at all. Excepting Greta, that is. I did however cringe the first time I heard that doo wop chorus, though…
I have to disagree with Pixy that most live-action openers are focused on the characters, however, at least for science fiction. The opening creds for BattleStar Galactica are a good example of an OP that really establishes the visual style, and atmosphere. That’s not surprising given that Ron Moore, the producer, also did Deep Space Nine – a series whose opening credits were basically a visual ode to the space station itself, as the main character. Not since the scene from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where Kirk takes a visual inspection of the refitted Enterprise has such devotion been paid to a thing on screen rather than a person. I think that science fiction shares with anime the need to sell the setting and mood as much as the characters. In that respect, the opener to Galactica is very anime-esque.
Steven noted that the opener/closers may suck for good series, but has anyone observed a very well done opener and closer for a terrible series? Maybe the rule works only in reverse.
In a rare moment of weakness, I agreed to watch a Bollywood flick with my wife. (Understand that I am trying to build cred with her to get her to try Haibane Renmei)
The movie we watched was Mohabbatein, which turned out to be a lot of fun. What impressed me most was the way it actually juggled an ensemble cast and managed to actually give each of the nine (9!) major characters enough screen time to have actual depth. This is the director’s second film, after Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, which was a major box office hit worldwide and kind of validated Bollywood to non-Indian audiences (maybe I should actually watch that one, too… more wife cred?)
Of course Sharukh Khan steals the show. But watching him in action suggested a startling physical similarity to Jackie Chan. Judge for yourself: Khan and Chan via Google Images. Their alikeness triggered the observation that there are parallels between traditional Bollywood cinema and Hong Kong kung-fu movies. In one case, the stylized physical art form is dance, in another, martial arts, but in both cases the leads are heavily trained in exquisite choreography and have to have tremendous physical stamina. The plot structure is also fairly heavy on moral themes and love triangles and plenty of action – though I haven’t yet seen a kung fu flick break spontaneously into song, there certainly are plenty of other common dramatic tensions and lingering camera scenes of the wrought face of angst.
Some kind of fusion flick would be a sight to see.