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Reeling: Battlestar Galactica “The Plan”

October 28, 2009


Robots. Sexy women. Explosions in space. Clones of those sexy women.

How could anyone not love Battlestar Galactica?

Since 2003, when writers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore first rebooted the sci-fi franchise with an epic 3-hour pilot, BSG (as fans affectionately refer to the show) has garnered critical and commercial success.

To date, the BSG pilot remains the first and only known case of a TV movie actually not being horrible. Seriously, name one other good made for TV movie. Take a minute. I can wait.

Perhaps it’s only fitting then that six years later; after four seasons, numerous Emmy’s, one Peabody award and regular “show-of-the-year” coronations, one of the best serialized television dramas of all time should be wrapped up with a two-hour TV special.

Originally slated to air immediately following BSG’s series finale, The Plan bookends the space epic by retelling most of the four season story from the perspective of the antagonistic Cylons. Sadly, there is a reason it is releasing straight to video.

Fans expecting the rich, contextual tapestry of the show to be more fully applied to the Toasters should prepare for some disappointment – The Plan is not a denouement as much as it’s simply an appendix.

Spoilers ahead about the series. Don’t read this if you plan on ever watching it start to finish.

Despite being called The Plan, this glorified clip-show cum movie actually deals very little in Cylon strategizing. Rather, it recaps the whole series in somewhat disorienting manner using flashbacks and soft-filter lenses. In short, you need to have watched the entire show to make any sense of The Plan, and you’d better be well versed in BSG backstory if you hope to have any real insight into each scene.

Focusing almost exclusively on the few skinjobs embedded in the surviving human colony, much time is spent explaining every mysterious happening that occurs on the Galactica during the show. If you were dying to know the truth behind the suspicious water tank bombing, how Boomer failed to kill Adama at John Wilkes Booth range, the disappearing tattle tale 6 or how Leoben became so obsessed with Starbuck, than this movie is right up your alley.

For anyone expecting narrative or the inner workings of the Cylon politicos, sorry — you’re out of luck.

This is not to say however that a few of these little diversions aren’t quite rewarding. Several scenes (mostly involving the Final Five) satisfy by lingering on the gravitas and emotional repercussions of key plot events. Giving characters a chance to stretch out, seeing and hearing how events in the show affect them as people (as far as they know) is rewarding for anyone who followed the series and has grown attached to the nuance and idiosyncrasies of each player.

“Boomer had better aim…” muses Chief Tyrell during one quiet conversation about her failed regicide. “It’s almost like she fracked up on purpose because she knew there would be guards there to blow her away — as if she knew doing this was her only way out.”

“Can you imagine?” replies a new character who has just learned her husband was actually a cylon (model 4) that chose suicide instead of blowing up his colonial ship and family, “…maybe they’re heroes.”

On top of these poignant character moments, the first 15 minutes that retell the Nuclear Holocaust from the attacking perspective are classic gritty BSG space porn. Incredible CGI plays out on screen like a live action Gundam movie while we get a true sense of the apocalyptic fate that previously had been conveyed via only telegrams and military communications.

As for all the not-interesting parts? I’ll just summarize it and save you some time:

  • Cavil is evil
  • Cylons have feelings too
  • Humans are imperfect but love conquers any software

Ultimately, philosophical banter and moral ambiguity have always been the icing holding BSGs plot Oreo together.

It’s just too bad eating a giant bowl of icing by itself is so damn gross.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2009 5:02 pm

    I can’t read this because I only just started season 4. But I’ll be back, Simon. So say we all.

  2. November 3, 2009 6:12 pm

    Well, the wife and I will pick this up regardless because we are still jonesing for more BSG. At this stage I think the show is beyond criticism, or at least effectively immune to it. OK, critique away, have fun with it, I can buy how this movie is pretty much dispensable without having seen it. Still gonna watch it, if only to see EJ Olmos be the man again. Also, I hope that we get to hear Tigh’s dirty old man laugh a bit more, those were the finest bits of the last few episodes.

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