Thursday, August 11, 2005

Holy Frack!

Last night I watched the Si Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica mini series with my four year old son. When I was a boy I loved the original show. The Cylons scared the crap out of me and Starbuck was my hero. My boy has seen a few episodes of the original series and he loved them. So, when I saw that the Si Fi Channel had reinvented BSG I logged onto Netflix and ordered it up.

It didn’t take long, however, for it to become apparent that the new BSG was NOT appropriate for four year olds. In the opening half hour an adorable baby gets cold-bloodedly murdered and a hot Cylon chick has sex with Gius Baltar (if you have only seen the original BSG you were probably not aware that hot Cylon chicks even exist). Also, there was a lot of cussing. If you’ll recall, the original BSG only contained made-up swearwords like “frack”; the new one went ahead and cut loose with “asshole” & Co.

Now, I knew I should probably turn it off, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. When the new BSG arrived in the mail yesterday my boy immediately opened the door to our house and shouted “THANK YOU MAILMAN!” He was stoked.

So, on the one hand, BSG was obviously not appropriate for a four year old, and on the other, he really wanted to see it. I decided to do the spineless thing and allow my son to see the mini-series in its entirety.

Still, I adopted a compromise policy of muting and fast forwarding. This policy was a failure. I am not as good a predictor of when a person is about to curse as I had assumed. Also, at one point I returned from the bathroom just in time to hear my son utter the phrase “let’s kick some Cylon ass.” I immediately corrected him “you shouldn’t say that son. You should say ‘let’s kick some Cylon butt.’”

Now, “butt” is not exactly on the list of words my wife has approved for my son’s use, but I had to fight fire with fire here! I just know at some point today he’s going to bring up the question of Cylon asses in my wife’s presence and I’m going to be in big trouble.

On the bright side, there weren’t as many baby murders and hot Cylon sex scenes in the last three quarters of the show as there were in the first. That was a relief!

And the new BSG? It was really good. The old BSG has aged poorly. In fact, it is impossible to watch. The acting is bad, the writing is bad and the special effects are bad. The basic premise, however, is still a good one. The ancient cousins of us earthlings are living in a distant solar system when their entire civilization destroyed by a pitiless race of robots called the Cylons. A small number survive and flee the Cylon terror. These survivors form a rag-tag fugitive fleet headed by the Galactica and they go in search of the planet Earth where they hope to find refuge.

The new BSG keeps the cool premise and improves the acting, writing and special effects. Edward James Olmos plays Adama, the captain of the Galactica, and he imbues the character with a terrific sense of gritty dignity. It was weird to have a strange sexual tension between Starbuck and Apollo, but Starbuck is a woman in this one so I don’t have to be confronted with my homophobia. The battle scenes are cool and the simple soundtrack of deep drums that accompanies them does a good job of ratcheting up the tension. If you liked the original Battle Star Galactica, you love the new one. But don’t let your four year old watch it!

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