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Can 17 Precincts Make Up For One Flawed Battlestar?

Am I the only one who got the strangest feeling of deja vu when I read that 17th Precinct, the new NBC pilot created by Battlestar Galactica‘s Ron Moore, will star Battlestar Galactica‘s Jamie Bamber, Tricia “Battlestar Galactica” Helfer, and James Callis of … Battlestar Galactica? Is history repeating for anyone else, and if it is, is that a good thing or not?

The news that Callis — who’s only really popped up in Eureka for an arc since the end of BSG back in 2009, where he proved that he could do an accent, just not keep one up for any appreciable length of time — and Helfer (who has spent a ridiculous amount of time popping up as a guest star in shows where all she has to do is look beautiful and occasionally act tough) have joined Moore’s fantasy crime procedural (Precinct follows the cops assigned to a town where magic exists and is stronger than science) was greeted with a lot of fan excitement when it broke on Thursday, and in a sense, it’s easy to understand why: Callis’ Baltar was one of the undeniable high points of Moore’s BSG and the two seemed to share a strong off-screen friendship that led to a stronger character on-screen, and Helfer’s Six was easily the most complicated and rewarding character she’s had a chance to portray to date, so the idea of the two re-teaming with Moore definitely has a certain excitement to it.

The only problem is, with Bamber already attached to the project, Helfer and Callis’ participation suddenly makes it seem like a BSG revival in the making, raising expectations both for the show itself — And, please, let’s remember that Moore can do and has done other types of show with varying degrees of success; anyone else remember his interesting-yet-supremely-flawed Fox pilot Virtuality? Or his short-lived HBO show Carnivale? — and also for even more faces familiar from Galactica to show up (What’s the guy who played Tyrol doing? Can we rescue the guy who played Gaeta from Smallville and give his career some meaning again?), and that just seems … cruel, perhaps? Or maybe just unnecessary, and unhelpful.

Thing is, now that I’ve written that, I’m suddenly not sure who it’s unhelpful for; not the show, which suddenly gets more excitement just by dint of the familiarity of those working on it as much as it gets the raised expectations of being another Galactica, redefining and crossing over from its chosen genre. The fans, then? Their hopes are the ones they’re allowing to get raised without having seen anything from the show itself. Again, maybe I’m wrong — maybe they’re just excited to see those people get work again.

Perhaps my problem with the casting isn’t so much what anyone else is bringing to it as much as what I am; maybe I’m the one who still isn’t over Battlestar Galactica (and Caprica, in an entirely different way), and this is my way of coming to terms with it. I really did get a sense of deja vu when I read the news — And writing that, I thought “Well, that makes sense: All of this has happened before, remember?” — but maybe anything beyond that is just me, worrying that the finale of this show, seven years down the line, will be as disappointing as BSG‘s, and perhaps that’s the most unfair thing of all.

Although, really: That opera house thing really was a stretch. They’d better not pull any of that this time around.


  • Anonymous

    “Rescue” the guy who played Gaeta from Smallville and give his career meaning again? Really? A slam at Smallville, which is having a more satisfying final year than BSG could have dream of having? absolutely flawed — hugely in certain previous seasons — but let’s not pretend his career had “meaning” as Gaeta.

  • Michael Sacal

    I do agree with you that the opera house was a stretch. Had the show gone on for one more season, I’m sure things would have turned out quite different.

    As for this show, I don’t have a problem with reuniting the cast from Galactica. They should bring in more… they should bring in ALL of them. It might be fun to see them all together again playing different characters. It be something rarely seen on TV.

  • Mark

    The thing that makes me scratch my head about this is how close it sounds to Powers. Even weirder if the rumours of Katee Sacoff eating cast as Deena are true.

  • Michael Sacal

    This show sounds to me like a cross between Top Ten and Dresden Files, with a precinct in a world that is not like our own.

  • Ollywood

    is it really an issue? it happens in movies all the time; how many times has de niro or dicaprio worked with scorsese, or bale and caine with nolan? don’t even get me started on burton and depp.

    why should it be different with tv? everything, since the advent of the internet, is about how much hype you can build. that’s why trailers and photos get released at comic cons, to generate ‘buzz’ and fan excitement. if it gets fans talking, texting, posting, tweeting and updating then it spreads the word in a way that advertising doesn’t, and ‘genre fans’ are the most vocal on the net.

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    No, not really. Many creators, directors, writers like to work with people they like. Burton-Depp. Whedon-Dushku. Nolan-Bale. The list goes on and on and on. Why is this any different? Certainly not article worthy.

  • Joegiammati

    Forgive me if I’m being hyper-critical, but sometimes I have to wonder whether or not Graeme is specifically trying to be a troll to provoke responses or if he really believes some of the garbage that he keeps writing about. I’m not intent on attacking him personally, and I apologize if that tone comes out, but this negative speculation based on unsubstantiated fears is completely asinine and seriously needs to be edited. Not only is this piece a complete unsubstantiated attack on a show that hasn’t even seen production, but it’s also poorly written and badly fact-checked.

    For instance, producers and directors working with a similar group of actors has been common since theatre groups were formed back in at least Ancient Greece, so to suggest something insidious based on recasting a group of actors from a series that worked and by most instances well-liked one another is an inherently flawed premise. Second, grammatical construction is atrocious, especially for a heavily trafficked site. There are many instances of poor writing, but the most glaring comes with the second paragraph’s labyrinthine syntax.

    With regard to poor fact-checking, positing that HBO’s Carnivale was Ron Moore’s is outright fallacious. Moore wrote something like three episodes for the series, but the show was created and show-run by Daniel Knauf. It’s this kind of error that keeps cropping up in Graeme’s writing, and just continues to make this portion of CBR seem like a two-bit operation.

  • Openighighway

    These posts from Graeme McMillian are better for a message board. They’re just awful. How hard is it to look up credits after finishing an article (re: Carnivale)?

  • kalorama

    No forgiveness required, Joe. You hit the target dead center.

  • Jamminjer25

    Anyone that thinks the finale of Battlestar Galactica was “disappointing” is freaking nuts. It was the finest three hours of television produced by any TV show in a long time. It’s not Moore’s fault the show didn’t transform into the exact opposite of itself and become hard sci-fi in it’s last three hours. Yes, there was a divine spirit guiding their destinies. Were you not paying attention to the show you watched for six years? Just how many times did that point need to be stressed in order for you to get it?

    Yes, Kara’s resurrection was simply a miracle. Just like when Baltar chose a spot at random at Six’s recommendation in Hand of God for Lee to blow up, and it worked. Just like all the other miracles on the show that everyone accepted until they–like all groups of fandom–began to resent that the show wasn’t turning into the personal daydream they’d been cooking up for years.

  • Bear

    Mouthoff, erm, Spinoff is one of the trolliest columns I’ve tried to follow and I won’t be doing so from here on out.

    First of all: Plenty of people were content with how BSG ended. Secondly, what does this column ever say that’s even remotely close to positive? It repeatedly leads with some of the most snide and cynical ideas just to provokes a click and then prattles on with unjustified opinions (on actors’ past work) or half-cooked assumptions about an end product where few details are even available to develop speculation over.

    I would venture to guess most people visit CBR because they want to hear about new and exciting things happening the comic-sphere of entertainment, not to read people continually poo-poo everything.

  • The Hudda Budda

    I for one, hope they try to pull all the stunts they tried in Battlestar. I still consider that show one of the greatest I’ve ever seen, and as far as the ending? I have no complaints, especially in light of Lost or even Sopranos.

  • The Atom

    “Can we rescue the guy who played Gaeta from Smallville and give his career some meaning again?”

    Sorry, but unlike BSG 2, Smallville has actually gotten better as it progressed, as opposed to sinking into preachy heavy-handed politics, spiritual mumbo jumbo, overwrought self-importance and a ridiculous finale.

    Thanks, but I think I’ve had all of Ronald D. Moore’s smugness that I can palate.

  • Anonymous

    I loved the run of BSG including the last ep. I reviewed the whole series in a blog post here:

  • Mikerboarts

    BSG’s final episode was brilliant, and a perfect end for the series. I don’t understand why people seem to dislike it so much. How else could the show have ended?

  • Stewart

    The BSG finale wasn’t disappointing if you’re the type of viewer that doesn’t need things explained to you in boring Whedonesque banter.

  • Stephengustin

    I sure hope you weren’t paid for this. What exactly is your point here? You’re weren’t happy with BSG’s finale? Ok whatever. It has nothing to do with 17th Precinct.

  • Steve Giannotti

    There was nothing wrong with the BSG finale! Sure, they could have handled Starbuck bettery, but it’s absurd that people are still crying over final 5 minutes (pun intended), when the three hour long finale was Kick. Ass.

  • Mikerboarts

    Still, what is wrong with the “final five minutes”? Hera as our Earth’s mitochondrial Eve is a damn interesting plot point and really drove home her importance as hinted at for 4 seasons. Do people really not get Starbuck’s vanishing as her destiny fulfilled? Just because grey areas and ambiguity make us think, doesn’t have anything to do with bad and disappointing television.

  • Myexplodingflyhead

    Comment first, snark second. Re BSG: I was one of those people disappointed with the finale. Yes, it was always a spiritual show, but in those last minutes in suddenly seemed really obvious and heavy handed. I thought it lost all the shades of gray the show used to have and went for quick platitudes. It was also too big of a stretch that they abandoned technology and became our ancestors. I just thought that was dumb; why did it need any connection to us?

    Second, is Spinoff a real website? Is Graeme the only one who writes anything? I don’t mean to sound, well, mean, but it’s like some minor blog got picked up by CBR for bizarre reasons beyond anyone’s knowing. Are Graeme and Jonah related? As disappointed as I was in the BSG finale, it’s not like it was the end of the world. It didn’t even ruin the rest of the series, I just stop watching before they land on earth and all that. I can’t believe it’s still being talked about…

  • Lord of the Guests

    Stop. Just stop. If you’re that blinded by fandom that you can’t appreciate all the GOOD that BSG brought to television, just stop writing. So sorry you were turned off by the finale. Oh well. Gain some perspective–compared to most of the cruft that populates the television universe these days, BSG — on its WORST day — still ran circles around most everything else out there. A reunion of any portion of their cast — particularly under the helm of Moore — would be a real treat.