Thursday, 8 April 2010

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan - space sickness!

For my money, the "reimagining" of Battlestar Galactica wasn't just one of the best SciFi shows in years, it was one of the best TV shows in any genre. It had intelligent story-telling, intense political drama, moral ambiguities and a great cast of characters forced to question not just who they were but whether they were anybody at all; whether they were even human.

The spin-off mini-series Razor may not have been able to live up to the glories of its parent show but it was entertaining enough for what it was (a fairly pedestrian expansion of a sub-plot already revealed during the main show), while the prequel that nearly never aired Caprica is so far proving that, at times, it can be every bit as thought-provoking as BSG itself.

So, with that kind of a pedigree, you could be forgiven for expecting the latest spin-off, the feature-length "movie" Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, to have something to offer. Sadly, you'd be wrong!

It's a strange animal. Supposedly telling the story of the attempted annihilation of the human race from the Cylon point of view, it has no coherent narrative of its own. Instead, it's little more than a series of largely unconnected and very fleeting glimpses of scenes which supposedly happened just before or just after events with which we are already familiar - Boomer agonising over her mission to plant a bomb; Starbuck promising to return for the Caprican resistance fighters; Six engaging with Baltar, etc etc. Sadly, none of these scenes are properly developed or given any kind of context. In short, watching this is like watching a series of out-takes. In a feeble attempt to convince us that this is actually new material, Dean Stockwell is brought back to provide a few words in between each sequence, slowly persuading each of his co-conspirators to do their bit and die for the Cylon cause. It's dreary, unconvincing stuff.

And, I should think, the producers must have known this. Why else would they have inserted a scene at a topless bar and a Starship Troopers style nude shower-room scene?

I have no problem with nudity on TV (I can't help but love True Blood!) but considering that, over five full-length seasons of BSG, there wasn't so much as a square inch of naked flesh, the producers must have made a very conscious decision to include it here. The fans wouldn't have been expecting it; I've never heard any internet forums call for it; and it added nothing either to the plot or to our understanding of the characters. The nudity was entirely gratuitous and can only have been included in the desperate hope that, in the absence of anything resembling plot or character development, a couple of naked bodies might just persuade a handful of viewers to watch to the end.

All in all, this is a dire movie, hardly worthy even of being consigned to a premature DVD release. It's not exactly unknown for desperate producers to try to milk a franchise for every last dollar but the crime for which The Plan can never be forgiven is that it is so dreadful that it even sours the memory of just how riveting BSG was. The sooner someone collects all copies of this movie and jettisons them from the nearerst airlock, the better.

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