Tagged: Battlestar Galactica

Mindy Newell: Outlander, The Scot, The Sassenach                 

July 9, 2016.

Droughtlander begins with the airing of the Season 2 finale, “Dragonfly in Amber.” Somehow millions of fans around the world must satisfy their continuing hunger for the Starz adaptation of author Diana Gabaldon’s book series that started with Outlander, first published way back in 1991.

Centering on the love story between 20th century Royal Army nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) and 18th century Scottish Highlander James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, it encompassed the lead-up and beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising which climaxed in the final defeat of the Stewart claim to the British throne at Culloden Moor and the end of the Highland clan culture.

Interjection: Prime Minister David Cameron delayed the premiere of Outlander before the referendum on Scottish independence, so worried was he over its influence.

The millions of fans – and I am one of them – had to slate their hunger for more, more, more! through rereading the books (up to eight now, not counting the “sideways” shorter novels, novellas, and short stories, with Ms. Gabaldon hard at work on the ninth), rewatching Seasons 1 and 2 ad infinitum, relistening to podcasts (there are so many, but 31 are recommended here), and endless discussions on message boards and chat rooms.

Outlander had a built-in audience when it premiered on Starz on August 9, 2014, but, like me, I think many, many tuned in because of the involvement of Ronald D. Moore, who had ultra-successfully rebooted Battlestar Galactica for the Sci-Fi channel (now horribly called, im-not-so-ho, SyFy) and who had “made his bones” writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation (first episode: Season 3’s “The Bonding”), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (writer and co-executive producer), and Star Trek: Voyager. He was also a consultant on the HBO series Carnivale, where he met Terry Dresbach, the costume designer. Here’s a great article about the couple from the New York Times.

Neither Ron nor Terry have disappointed.

The final episode of Season 2, the aforementioned “Dragonfly in Amber,” ended with the Battle of Culloden about to start. Jamie, believing that he will die in that battle, forced Claire, who is pregnant, to return to the 20th century (in one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever seen) for the sake of their unborn child, whom Claire will raise with her 20th-century husband, Frank. It also jumped ahead to 1968; Frank has died, and Claire and her child, now a 20 year-old young woman named Brianna, have returned to Scotland, where Brianna (named after Jamie’s father) discovers the truth of her heritage…

And Claire discovers that Jamie did not die that day on the moor.

Will she go back?

September 10, 2017.

Season 3 of Outlander premiered.

Droughtlander is over.

And last night, September 17, the story continued.

•     •     •     •     •

Next weekend, September 22 – 24, is the Baltimore Comic-Con. ComicMixers Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman, Joe Corallo, Evelyn Kriete and Emily Whitten. And I’ll be there as well!

But because I’m not sure if I’m working on Friday – yes, I’m back at work, though I’m wearing an ankle brace – if you’re looking for me, I may not be at the until Saturday. With my niece Isabel – OMG, she’s 17!?? How did that happen!? – who has discovered the joys of comic conventioneering and cosplay. I am so excited to be able to share my love of the medium with Izzy!

mine-logo-150x84-4025142•     •     •     •     •

A giant and heartfelt thank you to everybody who contributed and made Mine!: A Celebration of Freedom & Liberty Benefitting Planned Parenthood possible.

You did it!!!!

The Point Radio: Tricia Helfer Purrs Into POWERS

Way before we met ORPHAN BLACK, Tricia Helfer was wowing us in a “multi-clone” role on BATTLESTAR:GALACTICA. Now she is joining the cast of POWERS in a characters fans of the series will surely recognize. Plus you will surely recognize one of Brandon Stacey’s more famous roles (STAR TREK THE NEW VOYAGES) but wait until you see his other great acting experiences.

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The Point Radio: THE COLONY Takes Over

Carlton Cuse has another new project, and this time he is bringing his former LOST co-star, Josh Holloway, along. This week, COLONY debuts on the USA Network and Carlton and Josh give us a preview. Plus WWE Divas champion Charlotte is part of one of sports entertainment’s greatest legacies and she talks about growing up so close to the business.

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The Point Radio: THE EXPANSE Is Must See In 2016

Over the holidays, SyFy debuted the new series THE EXPANSE, based on he best-selling novel. The show is generating major buzz and just (today) got the green light for a second season. Star Cas Anvar talks about why you should be watching and how a love for comics helped him nab the role. Plus WWE Superstars Paige and The Miz talk about their latest movie role and what they would do if their careers ever ended.

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Emily S. Whitten: Caprica: Before the Fall

it-has-the-word-avatar-in-it-lets-throw-it-some-of-that-money-guysCaprica, the 2010 prequel show to the 2003 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, has been on my Netflix watch list for some time; but I blame Mindy Newell’s recent column for bumping it up to the top and getting me to actually start watching (I’m about five episodes in now). I love the modern Battlestar Galactica series, and thus would naturally have a desire to watch anything related to it; but BSG was such an entity unto itself that I was a little afraid of re-visiting it in this prequel format for fear it wouldn’t measure up. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to. It’s a different kind of show, and self-contained enough while still referencing BSG to be enjoyably tied to BSG without having to match it measure-for-measure.

For those who aren’t familiar with the prequel series, Caprica takes place “58 years before the Fall” of the Colonies that kicks off BSG, and focuses heavily on two families, the Greystones and the Adamas (yes, those Adamas) It’s the story of how the first AI robots, i.e. the Cylons, were created; and it’s a much richer story than I would have imagined, stemming from love and loss and grief, and the inability to let go coupled with society’s reckless and headlong quest towards building increasingly advanced technology. Injecting humanity into the robots’ point of view is what the creators of BSG and Caprica do so well; and Caprica‘s story starts with a human girl and computer genius, Zoe Greystone, being killed in a bombing after downloading her personality into a virtual world avatar formed of all documented computer data about her life. This avatar eventually ends up installed in what becomes the first Cylon.

Zoe is a compelling character, played arrestingly by Alessandra Torresani, who does a great job of switching between her roles as human Zoe, avatar Zoe, and eventually, Cylon Zoe (I love the shooting method which shows Cylon Zoe in action as the robot, and then switches perspectives to show her as the girl in the same scene, i.e. how the personality inside the robot would see herself). It’s interesting to think that while in BSG, at least at first, the Cylons were completely unsympathetic characters, in Caprica, thus far a Cylon is the character I’m most invested in. So far, Torresani as Zoe really holds the show together, although the acting overall is excellent. The pacing does feel a bit slow; but then, this show was not intended to be like BSG in action and pace.

It’s hard to watch Caprica without comparing it to BSG, despite it being a show that can stand on its own. But looking at the two together, Caprica tackles the big issues faced in BSG (the use of technology, the varying religious beliefs, etc.) from a different angle, and shows how a change in perspective can influence viewer feelings on the issues. It’s also interesting to observe that as seen in Caprica, life on the colonies wasn’t nearly the peaches and cream existence that BSG Colonial refugees might have nostalgically been longing to return to.

It’s also fun to see Intriguing little bits and pieces of information about the future characters of BSG. In particular, seeing the Adama family fifty-eight years in the past gives me a whole new perspective on Bill Adama in BSG, and makes me wonder how much little Bill Adama knew about his dad’s crime connections and his contribution to creating the Cylons. (Maybe I’ll find out?) And seeing the purposeful echo of Little Italy and mafioso culture in Little Tauron and Adama’s brother Sam’s life is an interesting approach to turning specific Earth culture traits into those distinguishing the Twelve Colonies.

While BSG is a show where humanity has been forced by circumstance to a militaristic culture and general simplicity, Caprica is rich with the diverse culture and prosperity that leads to much of the conflict sewn into the plot of BSG, as people try to hold onto their roots or what they think they are entitled to based on the old world. The setting is completely different; it’s rooted in scenes that feel technologically advanced but culturally familiar, as opposed to the epic space battles and antiseptic feel of BSG. BSG is rooted in a fear of technology; whereas Caprica is about the driving desire to create and improve on it. And while Caprica so far paints the monotheists of the plot’s religious conflict as terrorists, in BSG the “messengers” espousing the monotheistic religion are often portrayed as actually having some sort of divine or at least unique understanding of events that may happen (although even that is ambiguous, which is par for the course with BSG). 

The complexity and imperfections of the characters are akin to those in BSG, but in Caprica, it seems more like they are searching for meaning in the world they inhabit than for a way to build a system that best serves their needs. And in contrast with BSG, wherein both Commander Adama and President Roslin provide a theme of hope against all odds despite the monumental loss that begins the show and the desperate struggle that defines it, Caprica carries a sense of foreboding with it, subtly woven into the fabric of the show – although the feeling might also stem in part from my foreknowledge of the BSG storyline, or the general sense of wrongness felt when faced with the idea of humanity extending a life indefinitely by turning a machine into a “human.” And yet despite all contrasts, Caprica shares with BSG an intriguing moral complexity, and an epic feeling that makes even the opening credits give me a little chill, albeit a different, weirdly sadder chill than that I associate with the opening of Battlestar Galactica. So far, I find it worthy of continued watching, and of further thought.

That’s it from me, so until next time, Servo Lectio!

Mindy Newell: Chariots Of The Gods

“Space travelers in the gray mists of time? An inadmissible question to academic scientists. Anyone who asks questions like that ought to see a psychiatrist.” • Erich von Danniken

“It’s just one more thing to remember to charge throughout our busy days.” • Joseph Volpe of Engadget.com critiquing the Apple Watch

Well, I finished rewatching Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica.

The most popular question (dissatisfaction?) I remember floating around the message boards connected with the finale of BSG was: “What, or who, was the returned-from-the-dead Kara Thrace, a.k.a. Starbuck?” And I also remember that there was a lot of frustration and unhappy people who were really angry with Mr. Moore for not giving a black-and-white answer. I suppose these dissatisfied viewers wanted to see an extension of Kara’s final scene with Lee Adama in which, in their imagination, she would say – sort of a SPOILER AHEAD! –

“When my Viper crashed on Earth, there was a light, and as I walked towards it I saw my mother and my father and Kat and they told me that I wasn’t done yet, that I had to go back and complete my destiny. But my body was burned up so God created an avatar for my spirit, my soul, to inhabit so that my journey could be completed. Now I have. I have led you to Earth and humanity has its fresh start, but it’s time for me to leave for good, Lee. The lease on this body is up and I have to return it. Besides, Sam is waiting for me on the other side. So goodbye.”

Those of you who are BSG fans know that is not what Kara said to Lee – not in any overt way. But still, if you were paying attention, that is what she said, that is what happened to Kara Thrace. Im-not-so-ho, of course.

The other question that floated around the message boards, and one with which I agreed, was: Would the survivors of the twelve colonies really give up all their technology in their quest to start anew? I mean, not even a radio? That seemed a little “out there” to me. Wouldn’t it be important to stay in contact with the other colonists as they made “homesteads” around the globe? I mean, these were people who complained about the accommodations aboard the various ships on the fleet – were they really going to go without bathrooms?

Besides, if we are all descendents of the Cylon/Homo sapien hybrid named Hera, then an inherent need for technology is wired into our DNA – after all, anyone who is everyone is talking about that “godsdamned” Apple Watch and how they can’t wait to get it – oh, and by the way, Mike, you didn’t mention in your column that there is going to be an “upscale” model (read: diamonds and gold and sterling silver) costing around $17,000 or so, for those gazillionaires who want to play Dick Tracy.

Still, I loved the idea that the people of the colonies were the “gods” aboard the chariots of Erich von Danniken and the *ahem* Ancient Aliens of the History Channel. And it left me wanting more, more, more

So I watched The Plan and Razor and then put the sequel/prequel, Caprica, on my Amazon “watch list.” I watched the pilot episode Saturday.

Caprica did not feature huge space battles and interstellar travel so it never had the fan base of BSG; most of the audience did not have the patience for the acorn to take root and grow into a mighty oak tree, patience being a virtue that was apparently swallowed up into a black hole at the beginning of the 21st century, and thus it was prematurely cancelled by the Sci-Fi network.

(This, I think, was the beginning of the end of the Sci-Fi Channel, which once upon a time featured shows like Stargate Sg-1 and Farscape and BSG, and then changed its name to SyFy and now airs movies about mutant sharks caught in tornados and WWE exhibitions. Well, some of those wrestlers could be classified as aliens.)

It was an example of a – dare I use the phrase – thinking man’s exploration of science and God and the intersection between both. Yes, so was BSG, but Mr. Moore sneakily slipped that in between the (admittedly terrific) special effects of nukes exploding and Cylon raiders.

Mr. Moore said that Caprica is “about a society that’s running out of control with a wild-eyed glint in its eye… meant to explore ethical implications of advances in artificial intelligence and robotics.”

Too bad Mr. Moore never got a chance to complete the series.

I could have viewed it on my Apple Watch.


Mindy Newell: Said The Joker To The Thief

“There are many here among us / Who feel that life is but a joke / But you and I we’ve been through that / And this is not our fate.” • Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower, 1967

“What’s it all about, Alfie?” • Burt Bacharach and Hal David

I’m writing this while listening to the soundtrack of the revival of South Pacific, which played at Lincoln Center here in NYC in 2008 and won eight Tony awards. It starred Kelli O’Hara as Nellie Forbush, Paulo Szot as Emile de Beque, and Matthew Morrison (Will Schuster on Glee) as Lt. Joseph Cable. The show, written by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Joshua Logan, opened on Broadway in 1949, and is based on James Michener’s series of short stories about the Pacific theatre, Tales of the South Pacific, which was published in 1947, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948. It was only 4 years since the end of World War II, and audiences embraced the musical – many of the veterans had served in the South Pacific. (Michener served in the Navy, and the stories are based on both his own experiences, the people he met, and the “tales” other soldiers told him.)

The underlying theme in South Pacific is the battle against racism – the first musical to ever attack prejudice. It does so through the “A” and “B” stories, which run concurrently and intersect in the second act. In the “A” story, Nellie, a Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, falls in love with the French planter, Emile, who fled from his country because of a murder he committed while protecting a woman from being raped. Though Nellie forgives Emile for this, she rejects him when she learns Emile was married previously to a Polynesian woman, whom she calls “colored.” In the “B” story, Marine Lt. Joseph Cable, from Philadelphia, falls in love with the Tonkinese Bloody Mary’s daughter, Liat. (Tonkinese is an old nomenclature for Vietnamese – the Gulf of Tonkin, anyone?) But Cable refuses to marry her, despite Bloody Mary warning him that she will marry Liat to a French planter. He knows that his “Main Line” family will never accept Liat and the society into which he is expected to take his place after the war, and he cannot face the isolation and shunning that marriage to Liat will bring.

I guess I’m listening to the soundtrack because last week my mom became ill and was in the hospital for a few days. She’s now been transferred to the same nursing home facility in which my father lives – if you can call it living – these days. (When I went to see him last week, he didn’t know who I was at first…I had to tell him.) My mom has been living independently, but now we are wrestling with moving her into assisted living.

As frequent readers of this column know, my mom became a registered nurse through the Army Nurse Cadet program and my dad was a fighter pilot in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre – and when I went to see South Pacific with my mom seven years ago, she and I talked about what it was like when she and my dad went to see it on Broadway in 1949, in an audience made up of veterans and their husbands and wives, of how the story almost visibly reverberated in the theatre.

They, and their peers, were part of The Greatest Generation.

But sometimes I wonder…

What it’s all really about?

Well, the weather this winter has really been lousy for most of us, hasn’t it? (No snide laughter from those of you living in those few parts of the States where white is not the prevailing color on the ground and where the temperature is above 0º.) So being stuck inside when not at work, I’ve been on a new binge the past few weeks – rewatching Ronald D. Moore’s reworking of Battlestar Galactica.

Rewatching BSG (and it really should be BG, since “Battlestar” is one word) is absolutely engrossing, perhaps even more so than when it originally appeared on the Sci-Fi channel beginning with the miniseries in 2003, and then continuing as an ongoing series in 2004 through 2009. Although Mr. Moore does not exactly state that he knew what the final denouement would be in the podcasts accompanying each episode, the overarching mystical theme of BSG – “All this has happened before, and will happen again” – is repeated many times by many different characters throughout the entire storyline.

Certainly the exploration of religion, morality, intolerance, and politics is there from the very beginning; but I think the biggest question Mr. Moore is asking is “what does it mean to be human and alive?”

In fact, that is exactly what Six (Tricia Helfer) asks the Colonial representative just before “neutral meeting ground” is blown to kingdom come – “Are you alive?” she asks him, before bending and kissing him as the walls come a-tumbling down.

BSG also asks the audience “Do we truly have free will, or are our fates already determined?” I just finished watching “Maelstrom,” the episode in which Kara Thrace, a.k.a. Starbuck, seems to answer that for us, conquering her fear of death and accepting her fate as her Viper spins out of control and is destroyed. It appears to all aboard the Galactica that she committed deliberate suicide – but is there more to Kara’s fate? Was her death only one step in her real journey? (Those of us who have already seen it know the answer.)

BSG also questions technology: yes, we are capable of creating technological wonders, but can we ultimately control them? The Cylons are the most obvious examples of that question, as “man created the Cylons,” as it says in the prelude. And “they rebelled.” On a more subtle level, the only reason the Galactica wasn’t destroyed when the Cylons launched their attack on humanity was because Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) did not connect the ship’s computers to the larger fleet network.

As the mysterious entities (angels?) that we know as Baltar and Six walk through a modern Times Square in New York City, BSG is asking us one final question before the credits roll:

“All of this has happened before. But the question remains, does all of this have to happen again?”

What’s it all really about?


The Point Radio: Reality Smackdown On WRESTLING WITH DEATH

We introduce you to The Latham Family. By day they run a successful mortuary business and by night they enter the squared circle of Mid South Championship Wrestling. This fascinating contrast is part of the new WGN AMERICA series, WRESTLING WITH DEATH and there are some great stories to tell here. Plus, HELIX returns tonight to SyFy with new secrets, new threats and a unique new way to tell the story. Stars Neil Napier and Billy Campbell explain it all.

On Monday, we welcome John C. McGinley who talks about the road from SCRUBS to GROUND FLOOR, plus Megan Boone from THE BLACKLIST previews the big episode that will air after the Super Bowl. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Alicia Witt’s Real Christmas Story

Since the age of nine, actress Alicia Witt has dazzled us with her work in JUSTIFIED, MR HOLLAND’S OPUS and CYBILL. Again this year, she has a holiday project with The Hallmark Channel but also a new Christmas(!) song that might be the most honest one yet. She explains how she really isn’t a Grinch all the time. Plus both Andrea Roth and Tricia Helfer reveal why you should be locked onto ASCENSION on SyFy all this week.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: OUTLANDER Is Coming – Soon!

For OUTLANDER fans, the wait is almost over. The mega big book series hits the Starz Network in just a couple of weeks (with a sneak preview on August 2nd). Producer Ronald Moore and author Diana Gabaldon talk about the road from book to camera. Plus actor Jay Hernandez, from the Fox summer hit GANG RELATED, talks about making good choices in acting roles and Marvel revives Tony Stark’s ego.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.