Back in 2007, while Battlestar fans were waiting for the 4th season, the prequel/flashback TV movie Razor served as a kind of snack to tide us over. Among various flashbacks, one story focused on the young version of Admiral William Adama, fighting as a young man in the first Cylon war. These sequences featured 1970’s old-school Cylons, cool action, and really helped to advance the show’s mythology. Also, Nico Cortez was thoroughly convincing as a young Edward James Olmos.
But now, inexplicably, another BSG prequel has arrived in the form of the webseries thingamabob Blood & Chrome; which is all about young William Adama fighting in the first Cylon war. Again. And it’s so inferior to the brief flashback sequences in Razor that I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
Briefly, Blood & Chrome was supposed to be a stand-alone TV movie that might have made way for a new TV show. For reasons that have seemingly just been made clear, this isn’t happening and the show is instead airing on the YouTube channel Machinima Prime, with an eventual unrated DVD release.
When Ronald D. Moore and company originally rebooted Battlestar Galactica, haters called it “Battlestar-in Name Only.” Blood & Chrome is so bad in comparison with BSG and Caprica that it actually deserves the in-name-only description. Watching it is like watching one of those direct-to-DVD Starship Troopers sequels.
Without getting into the “plot” too much, my initial problem with Blood & Chrome is that actor Luke Pasqualino is not William Adama, young or otherwise. Instead, he’s a generic stereotype of a hotshot young pilot, embodying every cliché imaginable. His voice is all wrong, and they really can’t seem to decide how blue his eyes should be. Razor made it really, really clear this guy was our Adama, only younger. It was shot in a way that convinced us of it. He looked like Olmos. In contrast, the voiceover from Pasqualino’s Adama at the start of Blood & Chrome is laughably not the voice of William Adama. They could have had Owen Wilson playing the voice of Adama and it would have been more convincing.
The deeper problem with Blood & Chrome is that it completely relies on the military jargon and structure that were established in the regular BSG. Characters throw around various pronouns like “bird,” “rook,” “Viper jock,” and “knuckle dragger” in an attempt to convince the viewer that this is indeed Battlestar Galatica. What Blood & Chrome forgets is that BSG subverted its military space-battle premise by having other kinds of characters; characters who weren’t in the military. There were civilians, Cylons, journalists, drunken wives, priests, doctors, and sports stars turned freedom fighters. Watching how these characters worked together was a study in contrasts. Blood & Chrome is just a war show.
In Adama’s infuriating monologue, he talks briefly about the Cylons and why they might hate humanity. I suppose this is supposed to echo real Adama’s speech in the first episode of real BSG. But the problem is the way he answers it here: “Does it really matter?” he asks, then answers, “Kill the enemy or be killed.”
And that, as far as I can tell is the premise of Blood & Chrome. This is not a thoughtful or interesting show about intelligent synthetic creatures fighting with humans over the moral fate of their shared destiny. Instead, it’s pew-pew-lasers fanboy garbage. Maddeningly, in a Viper-simulation scene, Adama’s cockpit gets blown off, causing him to use his sidearm to shoot bullets in space at a Cylon ship above him. Excuse me? I mean, I’m all for badass space-battle antics, but how do bullets work in space? Further, didn’t BSG make a big deal about people being exposed to space, even with helmets on?
After Adama blows up this Cylon ship in the simulator he says “deal with it, sucker!” I felt like he was talking to me. Just a few years ago BSG won a Peabody Award for excellence in television. Later, its cast members and writers addressed the U.N. General Assembly. Now, BSG is being represented by the “deal with it sucker” guy, who isn’t remotely the same character.
Blood & Chrome could be one of those sequel/prequels things that could be ruining my childhood if the real BSG and Caprica weren’t so recent. So, I guess Blood & Chrome is ruining my adulthood. I suppose that upon the conclusion of the webisodes there might be something redeeming and revelatory about Blood & Chrome, but so far the signs are not good.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’d love to watch the second season of Caprica right about now.
Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com. He wants real Adama to come back and lie to him about knowing the exact location of Earth.