Mon
Nov 12 2012 2:30pm

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Makes Me Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Makes Me Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills

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.

35 comments
Toodles the Barbarian
1. Toodles the Barbarian
It's worth noting that Ron Moore is not involved in B&C. The only glimmer of hope the first web clip has offered me is more Bear McCreary soundtrack goodness.
Toodles the Barbarian
2. a1ay
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?

Though I appreciate this probably won't help with the suck, I am pretty sure that bullets - firearms - would work in space. They don't need air to fire - explosives, like the propellant you find in a cartridge, are a mixture of fuel and oxidiser.

(Firefly got this wrong with the business about putting Vera inside a spare suit so that she would fire.)
Sky Thibedeau
3. SkylarkThibedeau
I now understand why the SyFy channel did not green light this for a new series and have gone with a Falling Skies rip off instead. It was like watching a maschina from a Saturday afternoon in the BSG-47 or Thirteen Colonies Role Playing Sims in SL. The actors were stunted and stilted like pixelared avatars (sharktopus had Emmy worthy performances in compairison) and the story thus far has been underwhelming. I thought I was watching a bad remake of Hot Shots Part Deux.

I can guess where the gratuitous nudity in the unrated Blue Ray will be. I guess it will sell a few videos. The story won't.

Lets have a B&C reimage! BSG and its fans deserve a do over.
Toodles the Barbarian
4. Gerry__Quinn
Firearms will work better in space than in air, with no air resistance to slow the bullets or gravity to bend their trajectory. Especially if they are fresh out of normal conditions so there are no issues with lubricants evaporating etc.

People won't last so long, but I imagine if you made sure to exhale fully during decompression you'd be functional for a little while. And your head and eyeballs don't explode.
Ryan Britt
5. ryancbritt
@everyone
Okay, so I guess I'm wrong about bullets in space. But still. It's a silly scene. And I don't think he could have pierced the hull of the Cylon ship. Oh gosh. I just hated it!
Toodles the Barbarian
6. berthok
I'm going to withhold my judgement until all the 'webisodes' are released. I hated Paul Atreides in the beginning of Dune too, but the character grew up as the story progressed. Give them the benefit of the doubt?
Alan Courchene
7. Majicou
Oy. A senior pilot tells Adama (in more words) that he's a walking cliche, and he responds in the affirmative. His "You've got me pegged" might be meant as sarcasm, but it reads as metacommentary. This doesn't remind me of BSG so much as it reminds me of the Wing Commander movie.

And did they forget that Adama was supposed to have been nicknamed "Husker" because of his voice, not because some jagoff decided against all logic that he was a farmboy? Then again, maybe they didn't forget exactly, but realized after they'd cast Ensign Generic Hotshot that the original explanation wouldn't make sense anymore.
Sky Thibedeau
8. SkylarkThibedeau
majicou--You're right. It does remind one of Wing Commander.
Christopher Bennett
9. ChristopherLBennett
The main problem with firearms in space, IIRC, is that the lubrication would sublimate away and they'd jam up.

And there were some voiceover warnings that by blowing the cockpit, he was exposing himself to lethal levels of radiation, or would've been if it hadn't been a simulation. That's actually a good touch, because radiation is a serious hazard in space and one that SFTV usually overlooks. However, it's hard to believe that the cockpit canopy alone, which is transparent and not very thick, is somehow effective at blocking all that radiation. It'd have to be some kind of super-advanced metamaterial or something, in which case it's unlikely it would've cracked like glass as shown.

But yeah, the simulation scene was ridiculously over-the-top, and Adama was relentlessly cliched along with most of the other characters. I always had my problems with BSG and Caprica, but it was Ron Moore's vision and characterization that made them worthwhile to the extent that they were. The only things that make this worth watching so far are the impressive visual effects (the whole thing is shot on virtual sets) and the callbacks to the original series (like the classic Cylon base star glimpsed in the opening montage).
Toodles the Barbarian
10. Phonos
So youtube is doing me a favour by blocking Australians from watching it?
Allegra Hawksmoor
11. Allegra
Urgh, I'm SO gutted to hear that this is a dog. Ever since they started announcing stuff about it, I was worried that it would be. I guess I was desperately hoping against hope to be proved wrong.

And Caprica wasn't so bad! The biggest problem it had was that it was an -incredibly- slow burner. As in: glacial. I still think Caprica had the potential to be even better than BSG (which I'm obsessed with). If the whole thing had been like the last three episodes, it probably would have been.

Sadly, I'm now vaguely afraid to even TRY and watch Blood & Chrome. Shall I suck it up and at least give it a go, or should I take this as an early warning, run a million miles and try to pretend it doesn't exist? Maybe with my head under a pillow that's had the corners cut off?
Christopher Bennett
12. ChristopherLBennett
I've seen some positive reactions to B&C on other sites. I guess it boils down to whether you're interested in something that's strictly Top Gun in space, just a military action show about fighter jocks in wartime -- or whether you're interested enough in seeing Gary Hutzel and Doug Drexler outdo themselves with the virtual sets and visual effects and listening to Bear McCreary's music that you can overlook the mediocre writing. Personally I plan to keep watching for the VFX and in hopes that there will be more nods to the original series. (I was never a huge fan of the original show, but it was a part of my childhood so there's a nostalgia factor, and I've gained a new appreciation for it in recent years. And I always loved its music, so hearing McCreary quote Stu Phillips's theme is always a cool moment for me.)
Toodles the Barbarian
13. SG
@Allegra

Give it a go! I liked it well enough :)

I think the criticisms of Adama are a little bit much, given it's so early in the series - right now I'm taking the view that his experiences in the first Cylon War are what shape him in to the Commander Adama that we know, I think some youthful cockiness is easily forgiven if the rest of the series delivers.
Toodles the Barbarian
14. Theo16
The web-series presentation was the original concept, but at some point it was converted into a TV movie/pilot. So this is essentially how it was supposed to be seen, not some attempt to salvage a crappy movie.

And it's possibly a little early to judge the depth and complexity of the characters when it's only about a halfway through the first act. Perhaps Adama' arc will actually show the evolution from this starting point to an end point somewhat closer to the familiar character. ...
Sky Thibedeau
15. SkylarkThibedeau
@9 Yes. it would be like the Germans in Russia in 1941. Their equiptment wouldn't work because the lubrication froze in the harsh Winter Freeze.

And yes this lacks the RDM character interaction we come to expect from the new BSG.
Christopher Bennett
16. ChristopherLBennett
@13 & 14: Yes, I expect Adama will go through an arc over the course of the miniseries/movie/whatever. But that doesn't mean he had to start out as such a caricature. There could've been a way to make him naive and cocky in a more distinctive way, or give him some personality that didn't feel like it was right out of the cliche book, or give him a copilot that didn't feel every bit as cliched as he is.

@15: Contrary to popular belief, cold isn't really a problem in space unless you're out there for a long time and are out of direct sunlight. Vacuum is actually a superb insulator -- as you've experienced yourself if you've ever owned a Thermos bottle or had vacuum-insulated windows in your home. With no conduction or convection to carry heat away, you lose heat far more slowly than you would in air or water -- and if you're in sunlight, the danger is from overheating. So I'm thinking more in terms of the lubrication evaporating in the near-zero pressure.
B. Dowdle
17. Lancer
How quickly we forget!! IN BSG PT2, ADAMA GOES TO THE COLONIAL INSTALLATION AND TELLS THE CHIEF TO, "GO GET ME SOME BULLETS CHIEF!!!!" When I first heard that I almost fell down from fainting because I didnt have my Laser Blasters!

And why all this H8? I mean what did you guys expect when it was denied from SYFY???

Look at this from an aesthetic view...The Galactica is Beautiful...I mean fully working launch bays w/ a full crew & a bridge that looks functional instead of wartorn...

Newer looking ships instead of museum pieces & hyper future looking vipers...

And a more modern streamlined take on the Old skool Toasters.

I enjoyed the 1st 2 installments of B&C and look fwd to the next to see where they go w/ this story and then will judge.

I judged the redux as Battlestar Sexica because of all the insane T&A in the story and on screen and didnt pay attn. to the story it was trying to tell...I will reserve judgement on this until it is done. (BTW I loved the Redux...Not as Good as B5 but not bad nonetheless)
Gregory Watters
18. Zorak
In fairness, I'm going to wait until I've seen the whole movie before I get all judgmental and start going all hater on it. Watching it in 10 minute segments stretched across weeks is not the best way to get into a show.

So far, there's really not enough it to have a strong opinion either way I may just wait for the Blu-ray and do it right. Nothing enhances the enjoyment of a movie better than the "Dinner theater" treatment by watching it on the 60" plasma TV with a good red wine and a big thick steak dinner!
Gregory Watters
19. Zorak
@ryancbritt
"Adama’s infuriating monologue"? This actually made you furious? Really? Furious? Don't you think that you may be just a little over dramatic here? You've only seen two ten-minute clips from a two-hour movie and you are all ready to destroy it completely.

I understand that you want to make a name for yourself as critic but come on! B&C so far does not deserve this over-the-top hate-fest. I'm sorry, but you are just coming across as some bad-mouth hater shock-jock wannabe. If I wanted this juvenile crap, I would go swim in IO9's kiddy pool.

I came to TOR because I thought that I could play with adults and it was above this whiny sensationalism.

Not cool!
Christopher Bennett
20. ChristopherLBennett
@18/19: Actually, according to the producers, we're seeing Blood & Chrome the way it was meant to be seen -- in 10-minute weekly installments online. It was originally developed as a webseries, then for a while it was going to air as a TV movie, but now they've gone back to the original intention. It's perfectly fair to want to wait until you've seen the whole thing to make your final judgment, but it's being presented to us in exactly the way it was designed for.
Toodles the Barbarian
21. John Smith1987
You are hating on a show that was originally intended to be a web series. It was never supposed to be a tv show, rather a tv movie that was actually good. I think Luke does a pretty good Adama, he is in his twenties in the show, come on of course he is going to be a hot shot. You people are getting butthurt about two 12 min segments and saying the acting is bad and the story sucks. Why dont you wait and watch the entire movie instead of judging it from the first 25 minutes of the film. Their are still civilians in the story, and they already mentioned reporters, so their is still time to show us stuff. This show is a prequel and is going to tell us why the cylons hate us and also the characteers will change throughout. This show is also intended to be military, not about civilians and other ships, the colonies are still intact and people go through their daily lives. This show is already a big step up from Caprica. We will also learn that the cylons are always evolving with this new model. Also they show in the clips a guardian basestar. They are still using Razor themes in this show. So all of you HATERS need to calm the F*** DOWN. Thank You =)
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
I'm not a "hater," I'm just reviewing the story that's being presented to us. And since it was meant to be an episodic webseries, it's not wrong to evaluate how effective the episodes are at holding our attention -- especially since we're now 40 percent of the way through it, which is certainly a reasonable sample size. (Episodes 3 & 4 went live this morning.)

And I'm still seeing nothing very interesting or fresh from a writing or character perspective. It's all action and spectacle, which is well-done, but what character writing we get is still fairly superficial and/or predictable. (Does anyone have any doubt that the guy who just learned he has a son is going to die before this is over?) At this point we're far enough into the work that I doubt that's going to change. And no, that's not hate. I'm not emotionally engaged enough by this to feel anything resembling hatred. It's just fairly uninteresting, except for the visual-effects achievements.

I like the nod to "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero," though.
Toodles the Barbarian
23. Blood and what?
@ChristopherLBennett I have to disagree with you regarding the visual effects achievements. Ron Moore's BSG looked like it was in space. B&C's space scenes look like it's under water, with overabundant use of saturated colors and so much lens flare it feels like you just got a flashbang grenade thrown in your face. RDM's BSG looked a lot better than this one. Not to mention the pointless retcons that make little sense: the new Mk3 vipers look like fattened, greebled up Mk2, having none of it's original graceful looks. The Galactica got changed without any real thought behind it except "moar gunz and armor lol", they had the Valkyrie in it (?!), the Osiris has reflective hull and engines that look like they'll snap off if you look at them the wrong way.. the list of wrong goes on in just the visual department. This doesn't feel like BSG at all. It feels like a (bad) fanfic that happens to use some vaguely BSG looking models but gets everything else wrong.

As for the plot points though, I'm in complete agreement, there's really nothing interesting so far. Having young Adama evade giant plungers while flying a raptor felt like a 1990's video game and was a really cringeworthy moment.
Christopher Bennett
24. ChristopherLBennett
@23: I was referring more to the technical achievement of doing a whole production on virtual sets. Naturally people can have differing opinions on design, but from a production and logistical standpoint, this is something that's rarely been done before, except on Sanctuary, and I never found that show's use of virtual sets very convincing, since the actors never really seemed to be part of the environments they were greenscreened into.
Toodles the Barbarian
25. x3nCh0
I just watched the latest 4 episodes (3-6) and it's not looking well, IMO.
The word that comes to mind is "clumsy". Clumsy dialogue, timing, very clumsy editing...the overly dramatic acting and one-liners, are ultimately, clumsy.
I had really high hopes and honestly, I liked the first episode, and even the second one. Ignored this terrible choice for Adama, and sat here very happy to see these new episodes. But this feels like it's followiung a template.
Christopher Bennett
26. ChristopherLBennett
I found the latest two episodes to be mostly just sound and fury, jumping from one action set piece to another with little sense of direction or purpose or plot. I've decided that even the original 1978 Galactica had more substance and characterization than this does.
Toodles the Barbarian
27. Rogue Angyl
I have to admit it's nice to hear I'm not the only one having a hard time with this "series." I'm trying to sus[end my hate of web-plarform media, but the low production values just make it so hard to enjoy. For anyone who wondered what the Gqlactica looked like cleaned up, I suggest they rewatch the miniseries pilot. The new CIC looks like something between the overly flashy Trek-11 bridge and a flight control tower. More than anything the reuse of SyFy actors who were already in BSG, ad Caprica for that matter, bugs the hell out of me (even if seeing a butch Kavanaugh is hilarious enough).

Just as Trek 6 got a B+ on story and a C- on execution, this gets a C- on story and a D- on execution. For now. I have to remind myself I hated the new BSG at first, I think I am going to wait for the full dvd to come out so it's easier to see the bigger picture.
Toodles the Barbarian
28. as0894
Maybe I missed this in another post- but one of my biggest complaints (yes I am not expecting much from BC seeing it did not get picked up by Scyfy) is the reuse of actors/actresses form the original BSG. Anyone else notice this?
Christopher Bennett
29. ChristopherLBennett
@28: I noticed the reuse of Caprica's Brian Markinson and John Pyper-Ferguson as different characters. Checking the cast list, I see that returning actors include Mike Dopud, Carmen Moore, Adrian Holmes, Ty Olsson, Sebastian Spence, Jill Teed, and Leo Li Chiang.

Lots of TV series reuse actors in multiple roles -- Jeffrey Combs, Vaughn Armstrong, Carolyn Seymour, and others have played multiple Star Trek characters, for instance. It's particularly unsurprising for a Vancouver production like BSG, since Vancouver has a smaller talent pool than Hollywood. You tend to see the same actors cropping up in everything shot there. Mike Dopud is particularly ubiquitous these days.
Toodles the Barbarian
30. heatherirene
Watching B&C on syfy right now. Why does this show look so bad visually? It looks like all really poorly done cgi, like old, old, old blue screen. I had to turn it off. It was giving me a migraine.
Toodles the Barbarian
31. Boomer
Wish they would have finished caprica. They had a good storyline and lost their way somehow. BSG is amazing and I didn't think they could live up to it with blood and chrome but I was hoping. I did love the music and fights. It made me miss BSG. I want this to become a series. I think they could make it work.
Toodles the Barbarian
32. Fred.
Hey, Ryan, you remind me of those whiny sci-fi "fans", who love to bitch and moan just because they have an audience. Why can't people just be grateful that there's another incarnation os BSG out there to enjoy instead of picking it apart like vultures. B&C is a huge leap forward in film making. And the story was actually pretty good.

Somehow, people today think that, for the price of admission, they can judge and condemn something they often don't even understand how to accomplish themselves. Does your jealousy really make you think you know more than the creator of their art? How arrogant.
Toodles the Barbarian
33. Jared K
Blood & Chrome was a fantastic and bold approach to the BSG universe, and i enjoyed every minute of it. Was Adama truly Adama here? No, but i'm not going to complain and trash a good production. If they make more, then we would be able to see Adama become Adama
Toodles the Barbarian
34. LS650
Geez, I thought the webisode was actually not too bad, and would have made a good pilot for a weekly series.

Ah well, I guess that is not to be.
Toodles the Barbarian
35. Narco
I recently finished BSG series for a 1st time,i liked it so much so i watched Caprica and this. I have to say i liked this movie,I cannot say i like return of some actors in differend roles,but hey.I dont mind. Also,i would like alot if they make the "uprising" part. I really want to a time when they rised against humans. See "Caprica" actors running from their creation. Also,i would like to see the part when Bill crash on that planet and where he encounter 1st Skinjob(from BSG) And also,i would like to see part when Final Five stop the 1st war and create them(daniel ofc,i would like to know who the frak was he)

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