Monday, June 16, 2014

Battlestar Galactica 1.4: “Lost Planet of the Gods Part 1”

Airdate: 9/24/78

The crew of the Galactica, especially Commander Adama, warmly celebrates Apollo and Serina’s impending nuptials, although Starbuck seems a bit on the sad side to see his ol’ buddy leaving his bachelorhood behind. But a bigger concern comes up when a Cylon probe discovers two Vipers on a remote asteroid, and when those Viper pilots return, their appear to have contracted some debilitating virus that necessitates their immediate quarantine. Frantic, Adama orders the training of more Viper pilots to fill the void – women (all hotties, pretty conveniently). And speaking of void, Starbuck and Apollo discover a huge magnetic one, one which appears to be shrouded in complete blackness, and so the logical thing to do is go into it!  Well, in fairness, they can’t go back to the asteroid and risk detection (even though they send Vipers back there to get “the source of the infection”), but the main impetus seems to be Adama’s curiosity about the whole thing, and in the mythological planet of Kobol in particular. So here’s to throwing caution to the wind, and anyone who bets that new fighter pilot and newlywed Serina won’t be killed is a fool.

Beginning of the series proper lets its hair down a bit, despite the continuation of draggy scenes with taking heads droning on, peppering their dialogue with “futuristic” words here and there. The prep for Apollo’s bachelor party is fun, with Ed Begley, Jr. nearly getting nailed for swiping booze from the officer’s club. Video game scenes of outer space dogfights is in abundant supply, just as it was in the pilot, but for a twist it’s mostly female pilots, doubtlessly giving it the feminist endorsement. A marked improvement, to be sure, but still lacking dramatic bite.

This show continues the role of Baltar, a human traitor now working for the Cylons, who calls the shots that a Cylon named Lucifer follows. (He was introduced in the pilot; his life was spared by a Cylon who realizes his strategic potential.)

An added observation that I didn’t get to in my longer than expected review of the pilot: one reason for the show’s feeling of inconsequence may be the lack of a strong villain. Of course, in Star Wars we get the looming overlord of abject evil – Darth Vader (again, a Star Wars comparison), and the good guys had something to do besides play chess and warn each other ominously. Here, the Cylons amount to just a lot of clanky hardware, with synthesized voices straight out of an early-80s rap song. 

Rating:  **1/2

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