Has the Battlestar Galactica franchise run its course?

As spin-off series Caprica returns to US television, Ti asks, has the sun set on the once critically lauded Battlestar Galactica franchise?

Caprica

Last week saw Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica return to Syfy in the US. However, its absence from our screens has not made audiences grow fonder. Not only have viewing figures not risen, but it seems even the critics, who once adored Battlestar Galactica, now have the knives out.

Alan Sepinwall at HitFix said of the returning prequel series, “like the two BSG movies (Razor and The Plan), Caprica never feels essential. It’s a history lesson that only occasionally comes to life on its own. And those moments aren’t frequent or compelling enough to make me want to sit through the rest.” Even more damning was Rob Owen at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who pondered that “It may be time to throw in the towel on this one.”

It’s a fair observation. Like all prequels, Caprica suffers from the problem that we know what happens. The Cylons will rise up, there will be a war and the Cylons will go into hiding for 50 years. However, people, including myself, want to know how that happened.

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Why did the Twelve Colonies feel the need to build a machine army? Why did the Cylons rebel? Who created them in the first place? When Caprica was first announced, I hoped these questions would be addressed and answered, but thus far the series has walked the line between fascinating and frustrating.

Battlestar Galactica managed to address issues like religion, genocide and even insurgency in a grown up and thought provoking manner, but Caprica feels too heavy handed.

The series seems to primarily revolve around the monotheists and polytheists, the former of whom are essentially a cult and prone to terrorist activities. Now, we all know the Cylons believed in the ‘one, true God’, so we assume this plotline has a point, but thus far it’s been dragged out to such a degree that ten episodes in, I barely care any more. Even the very appealing Polly Walker (Rome) is struggling to hold my interest.

There is no explanation on why monotheists are such extremists, nor why they feel the need to bomb monorails. The Twelve Colonies seem politically and economically stable, so religious discord seems out of place. In fact, in the latest episode, when the action moves to Gemenon and you see the ‘headquarters’ of the monotheists, the impression that this is a cult is confirmed, with the leadership dressed in cloaks, talking by candlelight and prone to killing their own.

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Meanwhile, on Caprica, Cylon creator Graystone is facing business problems as well as personal ones. This is by far the most interesting aspect of the series, how the Cylons were created, how they were utilised by the military and so forth. But it seems constantly on the back burner, with Ronald D. Moore and the other writers focusing on more existential matters.

Now, I know this is what the Cylons become, religious and focused on the afterlife, as well as prone to downloading themselves into new bodies, but it’s become so drawn out on Caprica, with the creation of online worlds, finding a ‘cure’ for grief as well as alliances with Tauron crime families, that I’m finding it hard to care.

I was a big fan of Battlestar Galactica and it pains me that Caprica is struggling ratings-wise as well story-wise. Moore has all but confirmed that there will be a second season, but unless things start moving along with a little more pace, the show is going to lose even its most devoted fanbase.

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However, that hasn’t stopped plans for a second spin-off series. It’s easy to see Syfy’s reasons for doing this. Both the Star Trek and Stargate franchises have been incredibly popular, and with Battlestar‘s critical appeal, it makes sense that Syfy would want to keep milking the old cash cow.

It is rumoured that the series will, like the Resistance and Face Of The Enemy miniseries, be shown on the Internet, but instead of following on from the main series storylines, will feature a whole new conflict, the first Cylon War.

Called Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome (see what they did there?), the show will be written by show writer Michael Taylor and revolve around William ‘Husker’ Adama’s antics during the war.

The miniseries will be 10 episodes long, with each episode being between nine and ten minutes long. Rumours persist that, not only will Husker return to action à la Razor, but we may see other characters, such as his hot bunkmate seen in Razor‘s flashbacks.

Of course, this is speculation, as the show has not yet been greenlit, but it seems Battlestar Galactica is far from finished. The question is, is this a good thing?

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What say we all?