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06/21/2003 Archived Entry: "Remakes From Hell"
Posted by CKL @ 02:03 PM PST

Okay, so I've just watched all six teasers for the Sci-Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica remake, and I'm ready to be disappointed in December. The teasers were pretty much content-free, not surprisingly, but the production design alone disheartens me.

The new Galactica looks like pretty much any other space show on TV, which means it's already lost one of its big selling points. Sure, the original show tried to cash in on the Star Wars craze-- Colonial Vipers instead of Rebel X-Wings, Cylon Raiders instead of Imperial TIE Fighters-- but the look of the show was unique, in large part because the art department borrowed liberally from ancient Egyptian symbology.

Now, however, Stargate SG-1 has a lock on the whole Egyptian thing, and all the other Galactica 2003 downloads on confirm my teaser observations: it's going to look a lot like Space: Above and Beyond. Where the original Galactica wasn't afraid to make props plain or boxy, in true military fashion, Galactica 2003 appears to want everything to look sleeker and more streamlined-- including their actresses. (Yeah, Jane Seymour was in the original Galactica, but she usually wore a uniform.)

I shudder to imagine what they've done to Stu Phillips' theme music. Please, ghod, let it not be techno.

I also suspect some of the more exotic embellishments-- funny names ("Starbuck," "Cassiopeia"), non-standard units of measurement ("centon," "yahren"), G-rated profanity substitutes ("filter-carb")-- have disappeared, in an attempt to make the show more accessible to Joe Six-Pack. Doesn't anyone remember the Galactica 1980 spin-off and what a colossal failure that was? The point is not to make something that's like every other damn thing on the tube, the point is to make something new and interesting in a different way.

Maybe I'm wrong. And maybe the actual story will make up for all these shortcomings and more. But for a TV show, what the audience sees is a big part of the experience, and even if your story is Hamlet or Citizen Kane, if it looks like crap, well, I'm not going to taste it, too.

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