No More BSG, Please

Nico Cortez as Young Adama in "Razor"

It’s official: Syfy has greenlit a backdoor pilot for a second prequel to Battlestar Galactica, called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. At what point will someone at the network realize that enough is enough?

Here’s the thing about Battlestar Galactica: It didn’t need a prequel. Not in the slightest: We got all the backstory we needed within the series itself (especially in the final season, when the introduction of the Final Five made things more than a little bit exposition-happy, in my opinion), and at the end, the only questions left unanswered were more about the larger mythology than anything that happened to any of the characters before the show had started. Even the creation of the Cylons themselves was explained as much as was needed.

Of course, business-wise, a spin-off was a great idea: BSG might not have been a ratings winner in the same way that Warehouse 13, say, is, but it did wonders for the Syfy brand in terms of positive reviews, PR and audience identification (You don’t see Ghost Hunters being invited to speak at the UN, after all). Doing something to keep that alive is a great idea, from a marketing standpoint, and given the fairly definitive ending of the show — Does anyone besides Edward James Olmos really want to see Ol’ Man Adama, Grumpy Hunter Of The New Frontier? — going back was the only way to go; the fact that it offered the chance to frame the series as the origins/continuation of the religious and spiritual themes that drew so much praise to BSG was merely a plus.

The problem is, though, Caprica is an artistic mess. Uneven in tone and awkward in pacing — I can’t be the only person who feels that the show reinvents itself on an irregular basis, as if it can’t quite decide what it wants to be — the series is less an investigation into the roots of BSG and its core themes and more, it feels as the series continues, a slow unraveling of the parent series’ credibility. Caprica introduces new ideas and new backstory that contradicts and confuses what Galactica had established, but doesn’t really add anything in return. Business-related concerns about extending a brand aside, there’s nothing to say that Caprica gains from being a BSG spin-off; the connection closes off dramatic tension by setting up end-points for not only the characters, but also the setting and mythology. We know that all of these people, from the terrorists to the corrupt businessmen to the tortured mob figures, and all of their legacies will end when the entire race is eradicated, so their troubles now seem … pointless, to an extent? Weightless, at least.

(I genuinely believe that Caprica would be a much better show if it weren’t weighed down not only by BSG mythology but also BSG expectations; what I find interesting about the show feels only barely connected to that world.)

Blood & Chrome, the newly announced spin-off, suffers even more from that weight of what we already know and preconception: Centered around a young version of Bill Adama in the middle of the Cylon War — which we already know the ending of — it’s a space-set show that pits humans against Cylons. On the one hand, I’m sure that’s more along the lines of meeting the expectations of most people who want more BSG than Caprica‘s uncertain social commentary, but on the other, it’s entirely setting the show up for comparisons to the much-beloved original (Well, reboot of the original. You know what I mean), which just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

It’s tough; on the one hand, I understand the need on a business level to keep BSG alive in some form, and also the creative (or, at least, non-business) desire to keep going back to a well that’s been so well loved in the past. But the network’s inability to leave the show alone, and let it stand alone without going back to “add to” the story, mythology and franchise potential, feels more and more like the Star Wars prequels: Attempts to recapture a former glory that only sour the taste of the original in the process. Can’t we just have some new series, instead?

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Comments

  • Benel Germosen

    ” I can’t be the only person who feels that the show reinvents itself on an irregular basis, as if it can’t quite decide what it wants to be. ”

    Nope. It really is just you.

  • Adam

    How about new Farscape?

  • DaVeO

    To this article I would say it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Sure we know the outcome but does make the trials and tribulations getting to the war any less interesting? Should the Hobbit not be made? We already know the fate of the One Ring.
    I agree that Caprica does seems to reinvent itself somewhat though not as often as you say, but I’m not any less engaged, mainly because I find the characters so interesting and flawed.

    This is the first I’ve heard of Blood & Chrome and I couldn’t be more happier as this was the project I was hoping to be made. Am I interested in seeing a young Adama and Tigh in the first Cylon War? Hell, who wouldn’t be?
    I think comparing this to the Star Wars prequels is wrong, Lucas attempted to make these new movies for kids, yeah, I know. Let’s not go comparing Lucas to the writers of BSG, there is no comparison in my mind. The BSG properties are written for adults with better scripts, acting, sfx, and just about everything else. The SW prequels were written for merchandising.

    I say let Caprica finish it’s season, maybe a half a season more then bring on Blood & Chrome, I know I’m not ready to see this franchise go away yet.

  • Bastard

    Fuck you Caprica is awesome.

  • ingenuus

    the articles on this site keep getting more and more off base =/

  • K.M.B.

    But you wouldn’t be seeing Tigh in the War, as those were implanted memories.

  • http://khiaao.blogspot.com Khiaao

    Interesting,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • yoink

    how dumb of an idea did a battlestar galactica remake seem when you first heard about it?

    Caprica is a fine show. If it stumbles at times its due to swaying between too many interesting concepts and characters. Really I have a hard time condemning a show for being too literate and ambitious.

    I am as far as a cylon war series. its what fans have always wanted. artistically it might not meet the high bar of bsg but then again it might.

  • redvector

    This is the same network that’s picking the last bits of flesh from the rotting corpse of SG1 with the boring, poorly acted SGU.

  • Missingtime2000

    the same can be sais about star wars the clone wars i mean we all know whats going to happen….

  • Spur

    Whatever, man. Those Razor Flashbacks were awesome. The actor above who played Husker was awesome. Getting a 2 hour movie about that same stuff is the best news I’ve heard!!

  • Carl

    I like “Caprica” – a lot. It’s a very interesting way of doing a Sci-Fi-Show. And about “Blood&Chrome”: we never saw what an actual fight between a half dozen Basestars and a handful of Battlestar really looks like, so I think that’s really gonna be interesting and cool. And I’m really interested in knowing how Adama and how he came to be the man he is in BSG. And characterwise both shows “BSG” and “Caprica” are really quite intrigueing.

  • Anonymous

    The Human race has an end point also. Does that mean that all our stories are pointless too?That’s the one point I disagree with Graeme with on this issue.

  • Ed

    I’ve been enjoying Caprica so far, though I hardly expect it to be up to BSG standards. As a different kind of show, it’s still doing fine in my eyes. I’m not as obsessively versed in BSG continuity as I am with some other pieces of fiction, but what exactly does Caprica contradict that had been established in BSG? I haven’t noticed anything that can’t easily be explained away, and this season I found myself recalling the “angels” when Zoe sees her “creator self” in the holoband world talking to her and approving/disapproving of her actions. I also thought the idea of Zoe drawing Cylons as a child is a reference to the established continuity that there WERE Cylons in “humanity’s” past (they’re living on the 13th colony, Earth, I presume, but had once shared a planet with what we know of as humans on Caprica and in BSG) and pop up as a sort of “racial memory.” I don’t doubt that there can be some details that are “wrong” but I’d like to see them pointed out and see if they’re legitimate or come from the kind of silliness that had people claiming that the Terminator TV series got things wrong somehow, even though everything there was easily explained without needing much creativity on the part of the viewer, unless they really WANTED something to be “wrong.”

  • Ed

    Were they canonically established as implanted memories? I don’t recall that ever being decisively determined. Besides, Adama also has memories of a long service and friendship with Tigh, so where’s the cutoff point? I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just want to know what information this is based on so I can see whether it can be explained or not. I always assumed that the implanted memories were things like upbringing and childhood, not adult service in the war.

  • DF

    I think Caprica is really good. Sure, BSG is better, but Caprica is very, very close. I disagree with the articles opinion that its “artistic mess. Uneven in tone and awkward in pacing — I can’t be the only person who feels that the show reinvents itself on an irregular basis, as if it can’t quite decide what it wants to be.” Caprica is not an artistic mess. The pacing is slower than BSG, but its more of a drama then BSG was. As for reinventing itself on a regular basis, Um, when? BSG & Caprica, unlike your many programs out there, MOVE forward with their storyline. Its not reinventing, its continuing forward.

    Oh and the article is also wrong, imo, about the legecy of the people in Caprica. Will Adama is in Caprica being raised by his father, oh and the Cylons here are the start of the Cylon war which leads to EVERYTHING in BSG. So their legecy is NOT pointless or weightless, because its showing us everything that lead the Cylons to go up against Man. As someone else said here, its the Journey man, not the outcome. Yes, we know the Outcome, but we don’t know How Or Why the Cylons turn against man and thats what this show is all about.

    As for Blood & Chrome, I’m very excited for it. There is a lot we don’t know about Adama & the Cylon war too, so that show has the potential to be VERY cool. Heck, maybe we’ll get to see what Tigh & the other Cylons were really doing during the Cylon war.

    I also agree with another poster, you can’t really compare this to the Star Wars prequels. Caprica is so much better written & acted & etc then the Star Wars prequels & I’m sure Blood & Chrome will be too. Ya, I’d like to see some new series too, in fact, we do get a lot of new series all the time. What’s wrong with continuing a “franchise” that a lot of people still like?

    (oh and as aside, I think Stargate Universe is awesome too. getting better & better imo).

  • Alex H

    I haven’t watched Caprica at all, and to some degree I don’t really feel much inclination to do so. It’s not because I’ve heard any bad reviews, but because of the way that universe is set up. BSG is set up in such a way that it is inherently the main hub point of anything that happens within that universe, and acts as a slate cleaning device for pretty much everything that came before. Compared to say, Star Wars, the originally trilogy there acts as just the current events within that particular universe, and history is implied in such a way that it leaves things open for stories at various points within thousands of years worth of history because the setting provides the key toys to use in stories eg Jedi, Sith, Republic etc.

    Battlestar in contrast has a 20-30 year timeframe of essentially all significant events, there are no big broad tools to play around with, and so really, as whatever you are going to create has to be set within that period or lose all points of reference . While Caprica, and indeed, this new pilot, might well have plenty of interesting ideas for storylines and characters, they would probably be stronger if used in their own new setting where there isn’t this big overshadowing event in the future. It also has the downside that rally, all the big motifs of the series only actually exist within the timeframe of BSG itself.

    If I was in charge of a BSG spin-off, I’d think that the most interesting option would be to set it parrallel to BSG looking at smaller stories, and even then, they’d be more suited to one off stories rather than a continuing series. Perhaps a short anthology series about various groups of survivors looking at various different takes on things, whether it be witchhunts, attempts at friendship or whatever.

  • Wharen Peace

    Just you mate, I think Caprica is a fairly decent sci fi series. My guess is you just want pew pew in your sci fi, maybe you should rather go play Halo.

  • Melvin Bankhead

    If they really wanted a good hit, they should do a new Firefly series, picking up a few years after the events of the film “Serenity.”

  • Turtletrekker

    You shouldn’t say “So say we all” when you are onbly speaking for yourself.

  • Kevin Street

    Eh, it’s space opera. I’ll take any of that that I can get. You never know about any series, with the right creators and cast it could be great. The premise is just a frame for telling stories.

  • Keya!

    Sorry fan boys, Caprica is train wreck. Prequels limit the author’s dramatic choices and the series tension. (you know who can’t die- you know how it must turn out). One of the great things about the early seasons of BSG was it felt like anything could happen and anybody could die. This new series could have worked… but they needed to free themselves from grounding it around Adama. He could have been a minor recurring character- but you can’t start a series “knowing” everything is gonna turn out for your main character.

  • http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/dimensionalcorpsonline/ GeneD5

    I agree with this article. I was already disappointed when the newer “Battlestar Galactica” ended with a pseudo-mystical ending similar to that of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Caprica” hasn’t engaged me in the same way that the best of either “BSG” or other space operas (even “Star Wars: Clone Wars”) have. I find myself looking forward more to “Sanctuary,” “Riese,” or “Warehouse 13″ than another dour hour of “Caprica,” “Blood & Chrome,” or “Stargate Universe.”

  • Mory Buckman

    Caprica is not Battlestar Galactica, and it’s not trying to be. It’s its own thing. I like the zaniness and audacity of Caprica for going in unexpected directions, and I can perfectly understand if others don’t like the show for the very same reasons. But what I can’t understand is the argument that it is somehow hurting BSG’s legacy. If anything, it’s strengthening BSG’s legacy by fleshing out things which were only hinted at and giving us a more intimate understanding of where these characters are coming from. It shows a truly depraved society, which adds weight to the Cylons’ grievances and to Adama’s ponderance “We never ask if we deserve to be saved.”. If you don’t personally like Caprica, that’s fine. But don’t get all righteous and fanboyish about it- it’s doing some great things.

  • Dragos

    I couldn’t put it any better! lol

  • Dragos

    Adama is in no way a main character in Caprica! He hasn’t even popped up this season, or half a season, yet. He is, so far, just a little easter egg tying in the new series to the old one. Bazinga!

  • Dragos

    Adama is like 13 in Caprica, and he was somewhere around 100 in BSG. Come correct with your math son!

  • FunkyGreenJerusalem

    “the fact that it offered the chance to frame the series as the origins/continuation of the religious and spiritual themes that drew so much praise to BSG was merely a plus.”

    Really?

    I thought most people’s love of the show went down as these religious/spiritual themes came to the fore, consider ‘god did it’ as the equivalent of the simpson’s ‘a wizard did it’, and that it was actually the moral dilemmas, and giving up one’s personal humanity for the species to survive, that garnered the praise.
    The moral dilemma perfectly suited the show as a look at what many felt was happening during the Iraq war – becoming the bad guys in the name of being the good guys.
    The religion taking over – after being forgotten quietly after the first part of the second season – felt more like a cop out from writers who didn’t actually have a plan for what the cyclons were doing.

  • Dragos

    Okay, so I just read the Wiki on the pilot and it states that Blood & Chrome is set during the tenth year of the first Cylon war. It also adds that Adama would be in his early 20′s. That would mean that the Cylon war would have to start in a year or two in the Caprica timeline. None of this is making sense with the info that is out there so far, my head hurts!

  • Alex H

    I kind of partially agree – I think it was fine up until the last episode, I’ve no problem with the spiritual bit, but they’d have been better off left ambiguous and left people to come up with their own theories in regards to Starbuck and head Baltar/Six, the resolutions to which were incredibly heavy handed. BSG was more interesting when people *thought* there were supernatural things going on, rather than them actually being overtly true.

  • Cforshaw67220

    How can Tigh fight in the Cylon War when the Final Five arriving brought that war to an end? Did he show up, get a little confused, fight the Cylons for a while, then go, ‘Frack me, they’re Cylons! Let me deal with this, Bill.’ Meanwhile, Bill Adama just conveniently forgot that Tigh vanished just as the Cylons mysteriously withdrew?

    Or were they implanted memories of him fighting in that war that absolutely no-one bothered to point out, ‘Hold on a minute, I was there, and that isn’t how it happened.’ I mean, for Cavil to have any record of all those events, the Cylons would have had to have been there, so wouldn’t it raise a few red flags that all his memories would be either unproveable nonesense that a security check, of the kind they do on high ranking military personnel, would bring up – keeping in mind they didn’t breach Colonial security until the actual start of the second war – or involving Cylons and generally from a Cylon perspective?

    You know, the more I think of it, the more Tigh’s situation alone makes me think that everyone in Galactica was completely inept. I mean, you’d have to think that Cavil had a fantastic understanding of humanity to be able to predict just how to ensure the Final Five’s cover wasn’t blown, which there is no evidence of during the series. Even saying that the humans didn’t know there were humanoid Cylons, there were terrorists like Tom Zerec, which would indicate the neccessity of proper screening of potential military assets…

  • zodberg

    “No more” is a personal decision, not something you should leave up to the studios.
    Their job is to please everybody who loves the brand enough that they want it to continue and get another chance.
    If you’re upset that more is happening, that makes it your responsibility to watch American Gladiators instead. Don’t watch it out of some morbid sense of obligation, that’s just being either a tool or a bitch.

    But more to the point: A new BSG series would retread the same points, for the third time, add some minor refinements and modernization to take advantage of the technology that wasn’t available… like six years ago?

    You don’t want a new show, that’s a waste, you don’t need a new continuity either, that’s amateur hour. If you want the best for the brand, then what you want is New Director. New Series Editor, New Writers.

  • Dswynne1

    Actually, the start of “Caprica” takes place 58 years before the start of “BSG”.

  • the Prowler

    Uh, end point? You know something the rest us of don’t?

  • the Prowler

    Whoa, lots of people jonesing for more more more! BSG. Hey, I love the series as much as any self-respecting sci-fi fan (though I agree with other commenters that the heavy-handed spirituality of the last season became a major drag, leading to a highly unsatisfying conclusion), but I’ve got to give Graeme his due on this one, ’cause he’s right on the money. Between the annihilation of the thirteen colonies at the start of the series and the destruction of the fleet/settlement on Earth at the end, the BSG universe is sealed shut in terms of telling any further meaningful/exciting stories featuring an all-new cast. Case in point: Caprica. Unfocused concept, unexciting execution, nigh unwatchable television. All Caprica and the upcoming Blood & Chrome spin-off achieve is further brand dilution, making it harder to recommend BSG as the self-contained, thought-provoking quality series it really is to people who haven’t watched it yet.

    Of course, SyFy has every right to milk their most popular franchise for all that it’s worth, but it betrays their simple mindedness. BSG’s success doesn’t mean that there is a permanent audience waiting to slavishly lap up anything involving human and Cylons, it means that there’s a large audience for well-written, realistic science-fiction that eschews some of the genre’s more juvenile excesses in favor of high-stakes storytelling, strong characters and powerful ideas. In other words, something new and different! Do a remake of some other much-maligned sci-fi show from yesteryear and make that concept sing for today’s audiences, or turn to the vast troves of great unfilmed sci-fi literature (there’s more than enough Philip K. Dick for two networks to exploit, for instance), but for Christ’s sake, do something different!

  • http://ianthal.blogspot.com Ian Thal

    I’m not bothered with the idea of a prequel if it is done well. I can attend a play by Shakespeare even if I’ve read the script or seen a previous production already. The “suspense” is only lost when the storytelling is weak.

    However, I’m not going to invest any time in any RDM-produced BSG spinoff because after the complete mishandling of the final season of Galactica I now know that Moore and his writing staff do not care about telling a coherent story where the ending flows logically from the beginning, through the middle, to the end.

    Perhaps the first few episodes of said spinoff are brilliant, but three years down the line, deii ex machina and characters behaving out of character will bring about some contrived and illogical ending.

  • percane

    no, it isn’t just him.

    i think the issue with caprica is, much moreso than BSG it tries to be just a dram that happens to be seated within a sci-fi universe. there’s very little mystery to it, which is usually what these shows thrive on.

    and the virtual world stuff is just awful

  • Anonymous

    I believe hgd is suggesting that the human race is unlikely to continue infinitely. I find that a reasonable assumption, though I don’t believe it is a particularly effective analogy, given that the BSG “end point” under discussion is known, whereas the end point of the human race is not. All stories end, and if that alone were enough to render the story pointless, all stories would be pointless. The question is whether the ending is known in advance.

  • Anonymous

    Rather presumptuous of you to speak for the rest of us, Benel. Clearly, from the comments below, your statement is incorrect.

  • Ragudad

    I just want to point out that knowing the eventual outcome of the series does not make the events in the series irrelevent. We all know how WWII ended, but there have been sooooo many terrific stories about the men and women in the conflict and how their lifes affected and were affected by said outcome.

  • Cforshaw67220

    BSG is, by far, the most over-rated show that has ever been broadcast. I think there was maybe a handful of episodes or ideas that are deserving of the reputation it has received (for example, the superb story arc that saw Lee Adama near suicidal, the episode where a Six shows up and exposes Gaius as a traitor, the use of ‘All Along the Watchtower’, Romo Lapkin, and the reveal that Earth had been destroyed) whilst there was so much more that was just over-hyped. Spin-offs? They ran out ideas two years into the original show.

  • Ian

    I thought that the Final Five didn’t meet the ‘new’ cylons until after the first cylon war, where they then tought them the technology to make skinjobs and resurrection ships, then creating Cavill, who then implanted the memories in the final five and sent them away…

  • Ed

    That doesn’t sound wrong, but I think the show may have been a little fuzzy on the time periods – for instance, the “Final Five” set off for the colonies to try to prevent them from having their own Cylon war, but were “too late.” I know about the deal they made with their Cylons, but it seems possible that they still could have arrived some time before the widespread conflict, made promises to give them resurrection and the like, and still been “punished” by Cavil to live like humans with enough time for Tigh to still find himself in the military and become friends with Adama during the war. It’s kinda close, but I wouldn’t really scoff too much if that ends up being an explanation.

  • Tom

    Well, most of the events you’re referring to as being great occurred during season 3 and 4…

  • Wilson

    I am a little late to the ‘conversation’ but I really like Caprica and a new spinoff of BSG wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. I believe the point is well argued on both sides and I think it mirrors the state of COMICS and ‘CONTINUITY’ as sacred and inviolable. The assertion that the results of BSG ‘history’ preclude the relevance of anything that ostensibly, came before, is sad. The Human race on Earth apparently hit an evolutionary bottleneck of epic proportions some thousands of years ago but it could be argued that everything that Humans did before then, was crucial to our species’ survival at all, and important in the overall evolution of the planet as a whole. I think the value of Caprica, Razor and any other ‘prequels’ is PERSPECTIVE. What was revealed in BSG as history could be viewed as a conspiracy of perspectives. The Cylons, of course, would have their various views on what came before and the Humans would have other views (plural). The essence of history is perspective.
    I love that we consider these questions of value and merit in the art we enjoy – that’s what art should do.
    MUCH RESPECT TO YOU ALL
    KEEP DISCUSSING
    STAY CRITICAL
    BE KIND
    AND STAY OPEN-MINDED

  • DS

    What a load of nonsense, as usual. caprica is 100x better than most of the shit on tv and captures the feel of BSG perfectly. It doesnt affect BSG mythology. Just gives us new stories. What’s the point in stories set in ww2 when the cold war happens eh? *Rolls eyes* This is the usual kinda shit I expect from this website. Such bad writers…

  • http://twitter.com/modern_night Gregg N

    I think they’re more interested in reviving shows people actually watched.

  • Alex

    I think we’re missing the real issue here, people. When are they going to see another Tremors series?

    Or how about a reimagining of Automan or Manimal?

    :)

  • Guest

    Little Graemey McMillan can’t take a piece aimed against his credibility that disagrees with him. Surprise surprise.

  • Jason

    I liked the show. I didn’t have a hassle with it despite this oke sez he speaks for them and that oke speaks for those other okes. I get to enjoy a fraking Sci Fi show and once again it gets taken off. I see the same is for Star Gate Universe… Oh well. Guess I’ll be stuck watching stupid medical dramas, seeing that’s what’s shoved down my throat.