(SPOILER ALERT) I'll try and not give away major plot points here, but shouldn't you have watched the series so far, prepare to get mildly spoiled.
The re-imaged Battlestar Galactica series (sometimes referred to as Battlestar Galactica 2003) is a new, dystopian take on the story told in the late seventies (I tend to ignore the dreadful Battlestar Galactica 1980) about the remains of the twelve human colonies after their destruction by the Cylons (you know, the one with Bonanza's Ben Cartwright wearing blue robes and The A-Team's Faceman smoking cigars) and their search for the thirteenth colony, Earth.
This re-imaging is way darker and grittier than the original, dealing with the topic of genocide on a whole different level and touching other disturbing topics along the way. It's also way more part of the military science-fiction genre than the original.
Major changes to the original series include: Starbuck and Boomer are chicks, Tigh is a white dude, Baltar is more crazy but less evil and the Cylons do look like us now. The latter meaning that apart from the robotic 'Centurions' there are also twelve Cylon models that appear human, and for most of which (as it's known so far) there are many copies (the rumor about them having a plan is widely considered debunked now).
This is where Callum comes into play. He portrays one of the 'skinjobs', model number two, Leoben Conoy. He is a highly religious, prophetic model that's obsessed with Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace (doesn't have to be a bad thing) and her special destiny. While his character was introduced early in the show (Miniseries) and got basically his very own episode in the first season (Episode 8, Flesh and Bone), it took him to the finale of season two to become a truly regular, recurring character.
The IMDB pages: Miniseries (2003), Battlestar Galactica (2004-???)
As a full blown TV-series in its fourth season, there is of course quite a load of producers, writers and directors involved. The fathers of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica of course are the executive producers Ron D. Moore (Star Trek TNG, DS9) and David Eick (Hercules, Bionic Woman), both also with writing credits.
Writers also include Bradley Thompson and David Weddle (both ST:DS9), Mark Verheiden of Smallville fame (and writer of the Timecop comic series which later should lead to a movie starring Callum), Michael Taylor (DS9, VOY, starting to see a pattern here?) and Jane Espenson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer).
Concerning the directors the probably most notable person in this context is Brad Turner, who not only directed the Leoben-centric BSG episode 'Flesh And Bone' but also the 1994 Canadian TV movie Paris or Somewhere with it's male lead Callum Keith Rennie (Turner also directed episodes of Lonesome Dove, La Femme Nikita and Mutant X, but not the ones with Callum). Other notable directors include Michael Nankin (Picket Fences, Chicago Hope), Rod Hardy (The X-Files, JAG) and Edward James Olmos (Miami Vice).
Cast / Characters:
Edward James Olmos
Callum Keith Rennie
William 'Husker' Adama
Leland 'Apollo' Adama
Sharon 'Boomer' Valerii/Sharon 'Athena' Agathon
Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace
Karl 'Helo' Agathon
Year: 2003 (Miniseries), 2004-??? (Season 1-4)
Runtime: 44 minutes per episode (Miniseries: 180 minutes)
Country: USA, UK
IMDB rating: 9.1 (19,427 votes) (Miniseries: 8.1, 11,796 votes )
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
Keywords (excerpt): Alcohol, Profanity, Moral Ambiguity, Breast Cancer, Post Apocalyptic, Iraq War, Genocide, Human Android Relationship, Torture, Menage A Trois, Paranoia (seriously, they are adding like five new keywords a week now)
2007: Outstanding Actor - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie - Edward James Olmos
2004: Best Television Presentation - Miniseries
2006: Best Supporting Actor on Television - James Callis
2006: Best Supporting Actress on Television - Katee Sackhoff
2006: Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series
2007: Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series
2007: Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series - Episode Exodus Part 2
2008: Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series - Episode He That Believeth In Me
2008: Outstanding Special Class - Short-format Live-action Entertainment Programs - Razor Featurette #4
2005: Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form - Episode 33
2006: Best Lead Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series - Tricia Helfer
2006: Peabody Award
Visual Effects Society Awards
2004: Outstanding Visual Effects in a Television Miniseries, Movie or a Special - Miniseries
2006: Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial, or Music Video - Cylon Centurion in Episode Fragged
2007: Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Broadcast Program - Episode Resurrection Ship Part 2
2007: Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series - Episode Exodus
+ 36 nominations
433+ user comments listed on IMDB
The people that categorize Battlestar Galactica as a mediocre, or even bad Sci-Fi Series have probably seen one too many episodes of Star Trek. BSG is different in a whole set of ways from all the rest Sci-Fi movies and series, and many people don't get it.
What is different, and also brilliant about it, is that it does not focus, as most Sci-Fies do, on the fantasy world it usually creates, on action, special effects or dramatic high-tech space battles. It focuses on human emotion and psychology when faced with an Apocalypse of sorts, brought on by their own selves. It shows you the different sides of themselves that people have and the inner conflict they sometimes have.
BSG also has a unique atmosphere, dark and dramatic, realistically showing us what a future in which man kind is fighting for it's very survival, against terrible odds, would look like. You will not see hopeless situations where in the last second, a heroic act or a brilliant idea of the main character saves the day, the bad guys die and everyone is happy. Instead, you will see sacrifices, drama and many times, not so happy endings.
Also, the nemesis of the human race, the Cylons, should not be seen as a tin can that is programmed to destroy man kind. They should be seen, as the show presents them, "The Children of the human race" , man's own monsters.
It should have us all thinking about what we do in our years on this planet.
You can find all the comments here.
Callum Quotient: Pure episode count would give us some 26% here. In a weighted average, taking into account storylines and the long Leoben-hiatus during season two, I also would give it a strong 25% with room for improvement in the rest of season 4 and upcoming TV movies.
And I know I'm gonna get airlocked for this, but Disco Stu Leoben is just too good to pass:
Screencaps courtesy of Jenni Lou and stormymouse.
- Tyrol: There's a war on. Give me your weapon.
Leoben: You think I'm stupid or something, is that it? You think I'm stupid? You expect me to believe that? I WANT PASSAGE OUTTA HERE! ON A SAFE TRANSPORT SHIP! WITH AN UNTRACABLE... jump-system. Ok? NOW!
- Adama: What's in there?
- Leoben: What is it about this place, what's it doing to me?
Adama: Must be your allergies.
Leoben: I don't have allergies.
- Kara: Sleeping?
Kara: I don't think the Gods answer the prayers of toasters.
Leoben: God answers everyone's prayers.
- Leoben: What is the most basic article of faith? This is not all that we are. See, the difference between you and me is, I know what that means and you don't. I know that I'm more than this body, more than this consciousness. A part of me swims in the stream but in truth I stand on the shore. The current never takes me downstream.
- Leoben: Do you realize I could kill you before they came back in the room? I could get to my feet, rip your skull from your spinal column, crash through that door and kill the guard in less time that it's taken me to describe it to you.
Kara: Then why don't you?
Leoben: This is not the time.
- Kara: It was a set-up. SAY IT!
Leoben: Hit me. Hit me again.
Kara: You used me to get close to this ship.
Leoben: How many times did you kill me on New Caprica? Don't stop now. Go on, do it. I won't come back this time, I promise. Resurrection Ship is well out of range, Go on, do it. DO IT! Doesn't help, does it?
- Leoben: What is the most basic article of faith? That this is not all that we are. *laughs* C-Bucs rule.
Anders: What did you just say?
Leoben: Forward guard, right? I saw a couple of games, you were good at it. Yet after all the celebrity and acclaim, what were you? Just another face selling magazines, another piece of scoreboard trivia. You always knew you were destined for more. You were just waiting for your singular moment of clarity.
- Commander Adama has a shaving mirror in his cabin. This mirror is made by IKEA, and is a model called "Fräck" (spelling according to IKEA Web site). This word is similar to "frak" (spelling according to the subtitles with an "a" and without a "c"), which is the primary vulgarity in the Battlestar Galactica universe. "Fräck" is Swedish and can actually mean insolent or shameless but the meaning IKEA is most likely after is striking, which is another interpretation of the word. (This is a long shot, because the pronunciation of the Swedish word "fräck" is not that similar to "frak", the letter "ä" has a much shorter sound in that word then the a in "frak".)
- Sci-Fi Channel ordered six scripts for a second season of the show before the first episode even aired in the United States. It ordered a 20-episode second season a month after it began to air in the United States.
- The first season was aired in the United Kingdom on SkyOne months before it aired in North America. This resulted in an increase in North Americans downloading episodes on the Internet that were made freely available by British viewers of the show. Fearing that this widespread "previewing" of the series would diminish the show's ratings once it aired in North America, executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick made a written plea to fans to stop downloading episodes and wait for them to air in the United States and Canada.
- Paper in the series have corners cut off. It is said that director 'Michael Rymer (I)' did this during the miniseries as a reference to how he had to "cut corners" financially to make the miniseries work on a limited budget.
- The phrase "so say we all", which is used as a ceremonial affirmation in the series, was ad-libbed by Edward James Olmos in a speech given by Commander Adama in the mini-series.
- Doc Cottle is named after Michael Rymer's childhood pediatrician, who was actually a very nice person unlike his fictional counterpart.
- Callum Keith Rennie never auditioned for a part in Battlestar Galactica. He has been directly approached to play the role of Leoben.
- Callum Keith Rennie did all his stunts himself.
- S01E08 Flesh and Bone: The grounds for the Kara/Leoben relationship are laid and we get to see what Leoben is all about.
- S03E01 Occupation: The Kara/Leoben relationship is somewhat fleshed out.
- S03E02 Precipice: We get to know to what lengths Leoben will go in this relationship.
- S03E17 Maelstrom: We get to know a whole new Leoben. Plus: White paint.
- S04E05 The Road Less Traveled: Leoben and Kara are the key point to a greater storyarc that involves everyone.
- Miniseries, in which Leoben is introduced as a arms dealer, but his allergies give him away.
- Flesh and Bone (1x08): Kara and Leoben first meet. Over lunch and a nice chat, they discover this might be more than just a random encounter.
- CAVEAT: Downloaded (2x18): The Leobens that appear occasionally in the background in the Caprica scenes (Miniseries-shirt and vest) are portrayed by stand-in actors, since Callum wasn't available at the time.
- Lay Down Your Burdens: Part 2 (2x20): Leoben is looking for his long-lost love, Kara, on New Caprica.
- Occupation (3x01): Leoben and Kara become roomies and share a not so romantic dinner.
- Precipice (3x02): Leoben and Kara get a new roommate. Kara has trouble to adjust.
- Exodus: Part 1 (3x03): Kara and the new roommate finally start getting along, much to Leoben's relief.
- Exodus: Part 2 (3x04): Kara and Leoben have a fight. Kara's husband makes her move out of the appartment.
- Torn (3x06): After Kara's departure, Leoben starts hanging out with his old buddies again and promptly comes down with a bad case of the sniffles.
- A Measure of Salvation (3x07): Turns out, Leoben and his buddies caught a real bad case of the flu. (A Kara/Leoben scene has been cut from this episode)
- The Eye of Jupiter (3x11): Leoben and his buddies pick a fight with Kara's posse.
- Rapture (3x12): The fight between the gangs escalades. Kara remembers something Leoben once said to her.
- Maelstrom (3x17): Kara and Leoben go on a roadtrip to meet her mother.
- Six of One (4x02): There's trouble brewing in Leoben's gang and he has to pick a side.
- The Road Less Traveled (4x05): Leoben visits Kara and tells her about the troubles in his gang. He wants her to meet his friends.
- Faith (4x06): Kara gets to meet Leobens peers.
- Guess What's Coming to Dinner (4x07): In return, Kara introduces Leoben and his friends to her peers.
- CAVEAT: The Hub (4x09): Callum is credited for this episode, but sadly doesn't appear (it's a great episode nonetheless!).
- Revelations (4x10): Leoben meets a new girl. A field trip of both gangs doesn't go so well.
Do I want to show this to my parents / friends / co-workers?
So, is it any good? (Overall rating)
My Little Pony or Bloody Gorefest II? (Violence)
What are you laughing about? You think this is funny? (Humor)
Pr0n or bible class? (Sexual content)
They get it on with the really nasty stuff? (Sexual violence)
So, what about Leoben Conoy?
How many people does Leoben kill?
Just how crazy is Leoben?
Does Leoben make you all tingly?
How much of a little fairy is Leoben?
Does he die?
You really want to know? Are you sure? Really sure? Well, then. (highlight to read)
::Over and over again. So far he's gotten beaten to pulp, thrown out of an airlock, been stabbed about six times, died of the flu and asphyxiation and probably been blown to bits quite some times. He's still around though :)::
Callum Keith Rennie GALACTICA.TV interview (excerpt)
by Marcel Damen
Did you watch the original Battlestar Galactica series when broadcasted back in 1978?
Yes, I mean it was on the air. I wasn't a big fan and mostly didn't watch it. I didn't know what I watched back then.
So you've never seen the movie in the cinema?
But you've heard of the series, right?
The Original Series? Yes. But I've only seen it recently, in the last couple of years, because they've been replaying it here. I've seen it, but it has such a minimal reference point to, I think, the show that I work on.
That's true. So, you were with Battlestar Galactica right from the Mini-Series. How did you hear about this show, the new series?
Well, the new show really showed up as a... you know, they sent material, I read it, an offer came in to play that part and I agreed. There wasn't an audition, I was offered the part and I was excited to work with Edward [James Olmos] which was great, and great to meet him, and great to work with him on that pilot episode. I didn't know where it would go from there because there was nothing signed to continue or anything like that. So then they did start to slowly bring me back into the fold every now and then, and then last year I'd got to work on quite a few episodes, which was great. It's been a slow process.
So that's quite an honor to be asked for that part. You didn't even audition for other parts as well because a lot of the actors also auditioned for other parts.
No. The casting here is very familiar with my work and just said: "Callum would be great for this." and Michael Rymer reviewed my tape and said "Ok, he's great so let's hire him". It's always nice, you know. Sometimes you have to go up there and earn the part and other times you get the job while you aren't after any part. So there are two different ways, auditioning and not auditioning.
So, you play Leoben Conoy, one of the 12 Cylons. Leoben says that he has deep religious convictions, but he isn't past lying or playing mind games to get what he wants. Would you agree with that assessment?
(laughs) I think in his form on how to enlighten someone maybe he has some... He's able to sort of spin the truth to get what he wants. Which may or may not be evil. Which may be something quite bad, I'm not exactly sure yet.
He seems to view God as in all beings. He told Starbuck that "We're all God". Does he believe that, or is it mind games?
I actually think that, for me it's, because there is that line in that episode where he says "God created robots, well... God created you and you created robots so God must be inside me". So why wouldn't he believe that? It's literal and it's kind of sweet... and strange! (both laughing)
It is! The first time we meet Leoben is at the Ragnar Station. Claiming to be an arms dealer, he and Adama are later separated and Adama discovers that he is a Cylon. First, what was is like working so closely with Edward James Olmos?
One thing I loved for many years and have always appreciated is always, you know? It's an honor to work with someone who worked a lot, and is very, very good at it, and is so solid. I had a great time, he's completely professional and fun and great to watch and really loose. I really get a kick out of it. I mean, that was really the pull into the show. I hadn't done a lot of science fiction before, and they said most of my scenes were going to be with Edward and I thought this was going to be fun, and it was fun. And you're always a bit anxious but it was, yeah, I thought it worked out well and we worked out well together.
Was it more difficult to work, because of all the physical aspects of the scenes, since you were trying to kill each other?
Eh, it was just the material, the style and the material I hadn't worked before, like space. Some of the dialogue, some of the language and the concepts were a little unfamiliar, but once I got going, it was fine.
During the Mini-Series, was there ever talk about doing a regular series?
I think they said, it may be picked up. Like you never know, many pilots and mini series are shot and then they don't go on with them, but I think that was their plan from the start, not that they did inform me with it. So I didn't know what was... Usually with most pilots or mini series that are planning to go on for a series will sign a certain amount of cast members to contracts, because that a guarantee that it's going to move in one direction which they didn't do with me so I wasn't sure what would happen, or that was the end of me or...
Because also, you didn't appear again until episode 8 of the First Season. Did they ask you to come back as soon as they decided that they were going to have a regular series?
Yeah, as soon as they did but they couldn't find a ...during that spring they were calling, checking availability, but they weren't really sure when they wanted to use me. They knew there was an episode somewhere in there, but yeah, it was kind of a waiting game of fitting me in at the right time on the show.
That was a great return, because in that episode, "Flesh and Bone", a copy of Leoben claims to have hidden a nuclear bomb on one of the ships. He is then brutally interrogated by Starbuck. And it looks brutal. Did you have any injuries, or worry about drowning with your head stuck in the bucket for so long?
No, I like that kind of thing. (both laughing) No, I mean it's ... I like the physical stuff. I like it when it's like that. I like that you know that the next day you're always going to have some bumps and bruises and things, that in the moment you don't notice it that it's happening. That is much like as in life, you hurt yourself when you're involved in something without paying attention. No, for those types of scenes we're trying to make it as real as possible, and it's not about taking care of yourself, and more sort of uncomfortable and the more physically weird it is the better.
So you did all the scenes yourself? No stunt doubles?
Leoben then makes predictions of the Kobol and the fleet to Roslin. Of course he also claims that Adama is a Cylon and is thrown out the airlock. Will we ever be able to figure out which are truths and which are lies with him?
I think that's what the writers can leave up in the air. Where they get different directions to go depending upon how they want the series to play out. I think it works as a great device as to changing the way things move or, you know... Creating questions where there were none. And I think, that's what his role is, within the Battlestar fleet system and kind of like on the show as well.
We don't see Leoben again until Season 2, episode 20, which is more of a cameo compared to the Cylon occupation in Season 3. Did you wonder if they forgot about you?
Ehm I didn't because it was like 8 episodes before they brought me back the first time and I didn't really know if they .. It's been one of those, like last year was the first time that it felt as though, because what they said was we'd like to use you for ten episodes for the next season, and then you are there and you know that they are committed to using you for that period of time. But until then you're just, if I were available and they checked and they... I just came in when they asked me to and I was happy to do it. I love working on the show so it was never... We just tried fitting it in to the schedule and everything worked out.
During the occupation, Starbuck is locked into an apartment with Leoben, and he lies to her and says that Kacey was created from an egg from one of her ovaries. She kills him five times, but he keeps coming back. Does he really love her? Because you'd think that with a woman, who has tortured and repeatedly killed him, that he'd get the hint.
(big laugh) I don't think his mission was accomplished, because she at that point still wasn't believing anything that he was saying. So he had to continue on, filling her mind with what he needed to tell her, about herself and about what he knows. Through the episodes and though the writing, this is a very tiring thing to do. It's not the best thing to want to keep doing to yourself, because it's actually quite painful and it runs you down as a Cylon to continue to download and to come back but obviously he needed things to be said and things to be understood by her which have actually not played out yet.
Revelations from Leoben about Starbuck, plus things she is finding out for herself seem to point that maybe she is a Cylon herself, or perhaps has some religious connections. He also claims that their lives are entwined. What does that mean? Will we see more of this?
I'm not completely sure about that one, but they are, because I'm there and that's it. Even though, I watched the episodes last night. Like me being on the show has almost exclusively been with her. As the voice in her head, as this person beside her as this thing, whether it's a conscience or a destiny or some part is connected to her and I don't know where it goes.
We also see a similar thing between Baltar and Six. So, do you think there is a mental connection?
Yeah, but that's the thing about the show. I can't tell where the show is going most of the time for me. I read the script and go: "Okay" and I try to piece it together for myself. Where I think we are going and what is going to happen, but I don't know most of the time.
In the First Season, when Six has sex, we'd see her spine light up. How come the men in the series are left out?
(laughs) Seriously? Say that one again?!?
(question is repeated)
You mean, why we don't get our spines to light up?!?
Yeah, we see Cavil laying on his back with Helen, but how come Aaron and Leoben don't get some spine action?
I want spine action and I thought they were going to put that in, but I guess... maybe they don't want devilish.
But Cavil is pretty devilish.
(laughs) Yeah, no, I don't know why! I might have to find out that answer for a few of these. Sometimes I just don't know.
In the episodes "Torn" and "Measure of Salvation", a Cylon Baseship is infected with a deadly virus. Many of the Cylons die, and some are taken on board the Galactica. The plan is to wait until the Cylons are close enough for them to download and infect the other Cylons, but Helo cuts off the air to kill the prisoners before that happens. Was it tough to play that?
The sick part?
Pfff. Yeah, it was a bit tough. It was fun though. It's such a good group of people to work with, and that stuff in the moment maybe feels odd and sort of takes off and becomes its own thing. The sick stuff, you want it to be real, but you don't want it to be cheap. You know like "Flesh and Bone", the physical stuff which is actually happening to you while you're playing it than to conjure it up yourself.
And is it also tough when you are playing different versions of yourself in the same scene?
Well no, because you're there in your particular spot and then the other one is around you. It's a bit disconcerting when you are seeing yourself, that's all.
Is it difficult to get the timing down? Or do the directors help with that?
Yeah it's the director most of the time. They've been really, really good.
Because all the other Cylons also have to do the same thing, so you kind of mix. So it seems hard to figure out how everybody has to walk and everything.
Yeah, the big scenes are always a bit complex with the large group scenes and on the ship, but maybe that's why I like the one on one stuff with Katee [Sackhoff] so much because it's very personal. On the bigger scenes there are lots of people, lots of effects, lots and lots of copies of everyone and it's a lot of distraction.
If you stop and look back at your character, he's had it rough. Fighting and being bludgeoned to death by Adama, tortured and killed repeatedly by Starbuck, he died from a virus, and he's also dying when Helo is cutting off the air. Whew. Maybe he should go into a less stressful career.
He is the anti hero. He's the anti hero Cylon.
With his penchant of mixing lies and truths with mind games, maybe he could be a politician?
Exactly, maybe he is. He keeps on ticking. He takes a beating, but he keeps on coming
From here and of course also filed here.
LIFE ON THE COUCH: 'Battlestar Galactica' successfully recruits new member
by Christopher Lawrence
I'm never going to be trailed by paparazzi. Never going to jump the line at Pure. Never going to be the coolest person in the room -- unless that room happens to be my bathroom, and even that's iffy.
As I've said before, I'm a proud member of Nerd Nation. But even nerddom has its standards -- they're what separate us from the geeks and the dorks. That's why, rightly or wrongly, I've pretty much left science fiction to the pasty, basement-dwelling virgins.
"Star Wars" was great -- and then I turned 11. I never got the whole "Star Trek" thing. And you know who watches "Battlestar Galactica"? Dwight Schrute watches "Battlestar Galactica."
But a couple of months into the writers strike, I was bored, desperate, and on the verge of getting up and going for a walk when I came across an episode of "BSG," as the geeks call it. Now, 10 weeks and 57 episodes later, I'm all caught up and twitchy, waiting to see what happens next.
That little made-up profanity just may be my favorite thing about the series. Frak you. Motherfrakker. Go frak yourself. It adds real emotion to each episode, and there's absolutely nothing the FCC can do about it.
For the uninitiated, Sci Fi is airing "Battlestar Galactica: Revisited" (10 p.m. Friday), a 30-minute recap of everything new viewers need to know before the fourth and final season premieres April 4. (The special wasn't available for review, but it probably won't be nearly as entertaining as the eight-minute recap at www.scifi.com/battlestar.)
As the defining sci-fi series of our time, "BSG's" greatest strength is just how un-sci-fi it is. As much as the goofy, space-tunics-and-feathered-hair original was a response to the success of "Star Wars," the new version is a response to 9/11.
A horrifying series of attacks carried out by religious zealots who blended into the community. Suicide bombers. Sleeper cells. Controversial interrogation techniques. Haunting memorials that line the ship's walls. It's pretty deep stuff for a genre known for burying actors under pounds of latex and glued-on ears.
Granted, the enemy isn't al-Qaida but the Cylons -- thousands of robots that evolved, rebelled and nearly wiped out humanity by destroying the Twelve Colonies (don't ask) -- and the series is set in deep space. But those are pretty much the only concessions to the geek demographic. Well, those and the fact that the main Cylon is played by Maxim and Playboy model Tricia Helfer, and she's usually at least three-quarters naked.
Other than that, "BSG" is a pretty straightforward drama. The technology isn't all that advanced. Each character's wardrobe would blend in on most any street corner. And despite coming from 12 planets, everyone, including the Cylons, speaks perfect English -- although the Cylon played by Lucy Lawless does so with a New Zealand accent.
But enough with the rationalization.
When last we saw the roughly 40,000 survivors of the Cylon attacks, the presumed-dead Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), with her Julia Roberts cackle and Joker smile, returned with news that she'd been to Earth, the long-lost 13th colony, and could lead the fleet to the new home everyone was desperately trying to reach.
And four longtime characters -- executive officer Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), chief mechanic Gaelin Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), Starbuck's estranged husband Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) and presidential adviser Tory Foster (Rekha Sharma) -- learned they were Cylon sleeper agents, activated by lyrics to a song only they could hear: "There must be some kind of way out of here." "Said the joker to the thief." "There's too much confusion here." "I can't get no relief." (Wait a minute, that's "All Along the Watchtower"! Oh my God, Bob Dylan must be the final Cylon!)
As season four kicks off, Starbuck is under suspicion for having returned in an exact, but brand new, copy of her ship that exploded two months ago, and for having no idea she'd been gone more than a few hours.
Tigh, Tyrol, Anders and Foster are going about their business as usual, determined to fight their Cylon nature.
Apollo (Jamie Bamber) has left the military, seemingly for good.
And mad scientist Gaius Baltar (James Callis) is living with a cult of women who both worship and sexually satisfy him like he's some sort of horny messiah.
Sure, that last one's just pandering to the geeks again, but even that doesn't bother me anymore.
It's like I've become some sort of nerd-geek hybrid. Like a neek. Or maybe a gerd.
Starbuck: Lost in Castration
by Dirk Benedict
Once upon a time, in what used to be a far away land called Hollywood but is now a state of mind and everywhere, a young actor was handed a script and asked to bring to life a character called Starbuck. I am that actor. The script was called Battlestar Galactica.
Fortunately I was young, my imagination fertile and adrenal glands strong, because bringing Starbuck to life was over the dead imaginations of a lot of Network Executives. Every character trait I struggled to give him was met with vigourous resistance. A charming womaniser? The "Suits" (Network Executives) hated it. A cigar (fumerello) smoker? The Suits hated it. A reluctant hero who found humour in the bleakest of situations? The Suits hated it. All this negative feedback convinced me I was on the right track.
Starbuck was meant to be a loveable rogue. It was best for the show, best for the character and the best that I could do. The Suits didn't think so. "One more cigar and he's fired,"they told Glen Larson, the creator of the show. "We want Starbuck to appeal to the female audience for crying out loud!" You see, the Suits knew women were turned off by men who smoked cigars. Especially young men. (How they "knew" this was never revealed.) And they didn't stop there. "If Dirk doesn't quit playing every scene with a girl like he wants to get her in bed, he's fired!" This was, well, it was blatant heterosexuality. Treating women like "sex objects". I thought it was flirting. Never mind. They wouldn't have it.
I wouldn't have it any other way, or rather Starbuck wouldn't. So we persevered, Starbuck and I. The show, as the saying goes, went on and the rest is history – for, lo and behold, women from all over the world sent me boxes of cigars, phone numbers, dinner requests, marriage proposals... The Suits were not impressed. They would have there way, which is what Suits do best, and after one season of puffing and flirting and gambling, Starbuck, that loveable scoundrel, was indeed fired. Which is to say Battlestar Galactica was cancelled. Starbuck however, would not stay cancelled, but simply morphed into another flirting, cigar-smoking, blatant heterosexual called Faceman Another show, another set of Suits and, of course, if the A-Team movie rumours prove correct, another remake.
There was a time – I know I was there – when men were men, women were women and sometimes a cigar was just a good smoke. But 40 years of feminism have taken their toll. The war against masculinity has been won. Everything has turned into its opposite, so that what was once flirting and smoking is now sexual harassment and criminal. And everyone is more lonely and miserable as a result.
Witness the "re-imagined" Battlestar Galactica. It's bleak, miserable, despairing, angry and confused. Which is to say, it reflects, in microcosm, the complete change in the politics and mores of today's world as opposed to the world of yesterday. The world of Lorne Greene (Adama) and Fred Astaire (Starbuck's Poppa), and Dirk Benedict (Starbuck). I would guess Lorne is glad he's in that Big Bonanza in the sky and well out of it. Starbuck, alas, has not been so lucky. He's not been left to pass quietly into that trivial world of cancelled TV characters.
"Re-imagining", they call it. "un-imagining" is more accurate. To take what once was and twist it into what never was intended. So that a television show based on hope, spiritual faith, and family is unimagined and regurgitated as a show of despair, sexual violence and family dysfunction. To better reflect the times of ambiguous morality in which we live, one would assume. A show in which the aliens (Cylons) are justified in their desire to destroy our civilisation. One would assume. Indeed, let us not say who are he guys and who are the bad. That is being "judgemental". And that kind of (simplistic) thinking went out with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne and, well the original Battlestar Galactica.
In the bleak and miserable, "re-imagined" world of Battlestar Galactica, things are never that simple. Maybe the Cylons are not evil and alien but in fact enlightened and evolved? Let us not judge them so harshly. Maybe it is they who deserve to live and Adama, and his human ilk who deserves to die? And what a way to go! For the re- imagined terrorists (Cylons) are not mechanical robots void of soul, of sexuality, but rather humanoid six-foot-tall former lingerie models who f**k you to death. (Poor old Starbuck, you were imagined to early. Think of the fun you could have had `fighting' with these thong-clad aliens! In the spirit of such soft-core sci-fi porn I think a more re-imaginative title would have been F**cked by A Cylon. (Apologies to Touched by An Angel.)
One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of Battlestar Galactica everything is female driven. The male characters, from Adama on down, are confused, weak, and wracked with indecision while the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp) and not about to take it any more.
One can quickly surmise what a problem the original Starbuck created for the re-imaginators. Starbuck was all charm and humour and flirting without an angry bone in his womanising body. Yes, he was definitely `female driven', but not in the politically correct ways of Re-imagined Television. What to do, wondered the Re-imaginators? Keep him as he was, with a twinkle in his eye, a stogie in his mouth, a girl in every galaxy? This could not be. He would stick out like, well like a jock strap in a drawer of thongs. Starbuck refused to be re-imagined. It became the Great Dilemma. How to have your Starbuck and delete him too?
The best minds in the world of un-imagination doubled their intake of Double Soy Lattes as they gathered in their smoke-free offices to curse the day this chauvinistic Viper Pilot was allowed to be. But never under estimate the power of the un-imaginative mind when it encounters an obstacle (character) it subconsciously loathes. "Re-inspiration" struck. Starbuck would go the way of most men in today's society. Starbuck would become "Stardoe". What the Suits of yesteryear had been incapable of doing to Starbuck 25 years ago was accomplished quicker than you can say orchiectomy. Much quicker. As in, "Frak! Gonads Gone!" And the word went out to all the Suits in all the smoke-free offices throughout the land of Un-imagination, "Starbuck is dead. Long live Stardoe!"
I'm not sure if a cigar in the mouth of Stardoe resonates in the same way it did in the mouth of Starbuck. Perhaps. Perhaps it "resonates" more. Perhaps that's the point. I'm not sure. What I am sure of is this…
Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. Hamlet does not scan as Hamletta. Nor does Han Solo as Han Sally. Faceman is not the same as Facewoman. Nor does a Stardoe a Starbuck make. Men hand out cigars. Women `hand out' babies. And thus the world, for thousands of years, has gone round.
I am also sure that Show Business has been morphing for many decades now and has finally become Biz Business. The creative artists have lost and the Suits have won. Suits. Administrators. Technocrats. Metro-sexual money-men (and women) who create formulas to guarantee profit margins. Because movies and television shows are not made to enlighten or even entertain but simply to make money. They will tell you it is (still) about story and character but all it is really about is efficiency. About The Formula. Because Harvard Business School Technocrats run Hollywood and what Technocrats know is what must be removed from all business is Risk. And I tell you life, real life, is all about risk. I tell you that without risk you have no creativity, no art. I tell you that without risk you have Remakes. You have Charlie's Angels, The Saint, Mission Impossible, The A-Team (coming soon) Battlestar Galactica. All risk-free brand names, franchises.
For you see, TV Shows (and movies) are made and sold according to the same business formula as hamburger franchises. So that it matters not if the `best' hamburger, what matters is that you `think' it is the best. And you do think it's the best, because you have been told to; because all of your favourite celebrities are seen munching it on TV. The big money is not spent on making the hamburger or the television show, but on the marketing of the hamburger/show. (One 60-second commercial can cost more than it does to film a one-hour episode.) It matters not to Suits if it is Starbuck or Stardoe, if the Cylons are robots or lingerie models, if the show is full of optimism and morality or pessimism and amorality. What matters is that it is marketed well, so that all you people out there in TV land know that you must see this show. And after you see it, you are told that you should like it. That it is new and bold and sleek and sexy and best of all… it is Re-imagined!
So grab a Coke from the fridge (not the Classic Coke, but the re-imagined kind with fewer calories) and send out for a McDonald's Hamburger (the re-imagined one with fewer carbs) and tune in to Stardoe and Cylon #6 (or was it #69?) and Enjoy The Show.
And if you don't enjoy the show, or the hamburger and coke, it's not the fault of those re-imaginative technocrats that brought them to you. It is your fault. You and your individual instincts, tastes, judgement. Your refusal to let go of the memory of the show that once
was. You just don't know what is good for you. But stay tuned. After another 13 episodes (and millions of dollar of marketing), you will see the light. You, your instincts, your judgement, are wrong. McDonald's is the best hamburger on the planet, Coca-Cola the best drink. Stardoe is the best Viper Pilot in the Galaxy. And Battlestar Galactica, contrary to what your memory tells you, never existed before the Re-imagination of 2003.
I disagree. But perhaps, you had to be there.
There are way too many web resources related to Battlestar Galactica to even try and start a halfway complete listing, but here's some stuff to get you started:
Here on LJ, the communities battlestar_blog, aarondouglas and bsgfans might be a good place to start.
Should you dare venture out of the sanctity of this realm, interesting places like Galactica Sitrep, Battlestar Wiki and of course the official site at SciFi await.
And for more Callum/Leoben goodness, make sure to pass by the Callum Keith Rennie 'Leoben' Appreciation Thread over at the SciFi Forums.
One other nice thing about Callum being on BSG is the fact that it brought him somewhat closer to the fans by finally attending a convention, namely the 2008 Galactica 4 Con in London. Part of the program there was some little improv along the lines of Whose line is it anyway? together with Luciana Carro (Kat) and Rick Worthy (Simon). And you can watch the hilarity here.
For the ones into fanfic, make sure to check out stuff by fahye_fic here, by alissabobissa here and green_grrl's compilation here. And of course mdbsgfan's story here. Not to forget the communities trial_by_water and karben of course. And should you be interested in BSG/DS crossovers, check Soul Surrender and it's remix in remixredux08 here.
Got anything to add? Fire away in the comments! :)
The Miniseries along with the Seasons 1-3 and the first half of Season 4 along with the TV movie Razor are all available from the usual suspects such as amazon or play.com. But mind you: Not all editions are the same in terms of specials like deleted scenes and such.
My 2 Cents
Battlestar Galactica in fact was the series that introduced me to Callum Keith Rennie in the first place (talk about late adopter!). I had seen his face before of course and even had some DVDs on my shelf starring him (boy, has that changed!), but only through BSG, and the circumstances under which I watched it, I became aware of the actor that is CKR. Why was that?
First and foremost, I might be seen to a certain extend as a member of the geek/nerd demographic. Just a little. And having this background, the re-imaged BSG appealed to me quite a lot as you can imagine. I love this series, probably more than I ever loved anything on TV before (Babylon 5 coming in a very close second). So there's that.
I kind of liked the Leoben Conoy character in the Miniseries, but ever since watching Flesh and Bone for the first time, I fell madly in (very manly) love with him and consecutively the actor behind it. It's roles like this, the shifty, shadowy cylon agent with unclear aims and not all too healthy obsessions, that separate the men from the
So four years after Due South, Callum not only scored a major TV-appearance but claimed a whole new demographic for himself. And that is always a good thing.