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Miniseries, Analysis

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For articles on the Miniseries story see Miniseries, Night 1 and Miniseries, Night 2


Miniseries
"Miniseries"
An episode of the Re-imagined Series
Special Episode (discuss)
Writer(s) Ronald D. Moore
Christopher Eric James
Story by Glen A. Larson
Director Michael Rymer
Assistant Director
Special guest(s) See list on Page 1.
Production No. Pilot
Nielsen Rating 3.2 (night one); 3.8 (night two)
US airdate USA 8 December 2003
CAN airdate CAN {{{CAN airdate}}}
UK airdate UK 17 February 2004
DVD release 28 December 2004 US
1 March 2004 UK
Population survivors
Extended Info {{{extra}}}
Episode Chronology
Previous Next
None Miniseries 33
Related Information
[[IMDB:tt{{{imdb}}}|IMDb entry]]
Listing of props for this episode
[[frakr:{{{frakr}}}|Satirical view of this episode on WikiFrakr]]
Promotional Materials
Watch this episode's promo (on-wiki)
Online Purchasing
Amazon: Standard Definition | High Definition
iTunes: [{{{itunes}}} USA]


Contents

Notes

  • The Miniseries was initially broadcast in 2 two-hour segments. During re-broadcast (such as with the UK's Sky One channel), the two halves were combined into a single 3-hour 56-minute "film".
  • Initially, there were 12 battlestars, one representing each colony. Galactica represented Caprica. These were built with antiquated technologies, as were their fighter craft, to avoid the Cylon's tactical advantage of disrupting complex electrical and computer equipment.
  • Networked computers were susceptible to Cylon infiltration, forcing the Colonials to react by reducing their dependence on technology.
  • The Colonial Fleet has been greatly expanded since then, with as many as 120 battlestars. Practically all other battlestars were more advanced than Galactica.
  • As the Colonials became more confident of their security, integrated systems were re-introduced to their civilian and military craft.
  • The Cylons believe monothestically, in God, whereas the Colonials believe in a pantheon of gods mirroring the twelve Olympian gods of Greek mythology.
  • Cylons are also called "toasters", mainly for their original appearance (a nod to the Original Series).
  • All pilots have call signs.
  • Commander Nash was Galactica's first Commanding Officer.
  • The scene in which Cami awaits her death on the Botanical Cruiser visually echoes the infamous "Daisy" television advertisement from Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 campaign against Barry Goldwater.
  • At the time Roslin's convoy is discovered by Cylon Raiders, it consists of about 60 ships in total, but only about 40 are able to make the jump to Ragnar Anchorage.
  • The role of the doctor who offered Roslin the diagnosis of breast cancer was offered to Richard Hatch as a cameo; Hatch declined the role, later to take the role of Tom Zarek.
  • Original drafts of the Miniseries referenced Kobol as the current homeworld of the humans. This was revised to the Twelve Colonies in keeping with the original concept.
  • The woman portraying Ellen in the picture Tigh burns with a cigar is executive producer David Eick's wife, Jennifer. (Ellen Tigh would later appear in the episode, "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down", played by actress Kate Vernon.)
  • The last said line of the Miniseries, "By your command," was not added until the final draft, after a friend of Ronald D. Moore commented that it wouldn't be Battlestar Galactica without it being said somewhere.

Analysis

Noted Changes from the Original

  • The basic story is still present: robotic Cylons surprisingly attack the Colonies resulting in a holocaust, thus forcing a "rag-tag, fugitive fleet" to coalesce around the last surviving battlestar, Galactica, to seek a mythical Thirteenth Colony where refugees hope to find shelter from the Cylons. However, many of the fine details are changed, such as:
    • The Cylons were created by Humanity, not by a reptilian race (also called Cylons) who hated Humanity.
    • Battlestar Galactica is a 50-year-old relic on the verge of decommission.
    • The names of "Apollo", "Boomer", and "Starbuck" are changed to call signs. Most characters have standard first and last names; some first names were not given until later in the series, such as Felix Gaeta's or Anastasia Dualla's.
    • The futuristic (and often confusing) terminology used to denote distances, measuring, and time in the original series has been replaced with understandable terminology. For instance, "year" was replaced with "yahren" in the original.
    • The ship designs, save for some revisions to the Mk. II Viper and Galactica and a few noteworthy background ships (such as the Gemenon Traveler and the Botanical Cruiser), have been redone.
    • The Quorum of Twelve is not mentioned in the miniseries, and is apparently supplemented by a government body similar to the United States executive branch. There is a president, vice president, and secretaries. The Quorum does not make an appearance until episode 1.11 (Colonial Day).
    • Instead of the other-worldly, Egyptian-esque clothing and city designs (i.e. pyramids) seen in the original, the clothing and cities are more contemporary in design and function.
  • The relationships and characters from the original have been changed as well.
    • Boomer, who was played as a male character by Herb Jefferson Jr. in the original, is now the call-sign of a female Lieutenant Sharon Valerii (Grace Park).
    • Starbuck, who was played as a male character by Dirk Benedict in the original, is now the call-sign of a female Lieutenant Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff)
    • "Adama", "Tigh", and "Baltar" are now surnames.
    • The character of Adama, potrayed by Lorne Greene in the original, now is known as William "Husker" Adama (Edward James Olmos). He is a man about to retire, is estranged from his son Lee. Adama's beliefs are far more secular than his TOS counterpart.
    • Apollo, portrayed by Original Series star and continuation activist Richard Hatch, is the call sign of Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber). He is a flawed character who is estranged from his father, believing him to be ultimately responsible for the death of Zak Adama, and is questioning his life's choices.
    • Baltar, who was willingly complicit in the destruction of the Colonies due to his thirst for power, is now a scientific genius named Gaius Baltar. Unlike the imposing, methodical and mischievous Baltar (portrayed by the late John Colicos), Gaius (James Callis) is a cowardly, narcissistic, egotistical man whose womanizing is his Achilles' heel. His betrayal of the human race was due mostly to his lust, or perhaps love, for a woman who turns out to be (unknowingly to him) a Cylon agent, whom he allowed unfettered access to the Colonial Defense Mainframe prior to the attacks. In the last minutes of last episode of the reimagined series, Daybreak, Part II, it was learned that he deliberately gave access to the Defense Mainframe to the Six agent knowing that she was working for "Employers", who he took to be of a corporate nature therefore being at least a willing participant in corporate espionage. Prior to this it was implied and/or inferred that he did it for the egotistic desire to demonstrate his trusted position in the Colonial defense establishment to his lover.
    • The character of Colonel Tigh, portrayed by Terry Carter, is now separated from his wife and seeing out the rest of his career from inside a bottle in the form of Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) who hasn't seen military action in a long while.
  • The show has taken a more realistic turn. Realistic science, which was painfully absent in the original series, is applied in this series.
  • Certain models of Cylons appear human, right down to the blood -- it takes complex tests just to screen for these humanoid Cylons. This generates some very disturbing questions. For one, the Cylons have now managed to merge in with human society, making it easier to manipulate from within. This mirrors terrorist methods of infiltration and delivering destructive results to heavy population centers (à la suicide bombers). It also brings up interesting questions regarding cross-species mating: Can the human-form Cylons mate with their human creators? (Answer)

Plot and Character Analyses

Since plot and character are so intertwined, both will be covered here.

Armistice Station

The Armistice Station serves to understand the conflict between the Cylons and humanity. It also introduces the viewer to the new Cylons and breaks away from conventions set in science fiction. Instead of storming the station, the Cylons use a copy of Number Six and sexually assault the Armistice Officer. The question is, why is the Armistice Officer assaulted sexually instead of physically? The answer is three fold:

  1. This defies those who would make the claim that Battlestar Galactica is a "rip-off" of Star Wars; the same claim that was made against the Original Series.
  2. It shows that the Cylons understand the devastating effect of sexual molestation. A human would not expect a Cylon to attack humanity in this way.
  3. There is a drive within the Cylons to understand and experience the sensations of being truly alive.

The station is soon destroyed by a Cylon basestar. Though this is a dramatic blow, it does seem rather unnecessary from a logical point of view. The Cylons present are more than enough to subdue the Armistice Officer and be able to keep the station for future purposes. The action may be symbolic, the end of the armistice.

Commander William Adama

With Galactica's future being a museum piece with gift shops, Commander Adama is ready to retire, albeit reluctantly. Adama heads to retirement with trepidation, unsure of what he would do with the remainder of his life. His crew will ultimately be disbanded and good-byes abound. There is a sense of a ship seeing its last days, despite some of the joy that some of the crew members have in continuing their military careers. Adama is presented with his reconditioned Viper, found rusting in a junkyard on Sagittaron, as well as a picture of himself and his two sons when he was younger. This is a touching moment, demonstrating the crew's affection for him as a person. It also establishes Adama's legitimacy as a war-hardened commander in the series.

At Ragnar Anchorage Adama very quickly deduces that Leoben Conoy is actually a Cylon, though this is supposedly a novelty for mankind. His apparent knowledge about silica pathways and the implication that the humans built the anchorage in the storm cloud on purpose because of its radiation, indicates that mankind knew something about the humanoid Cylons. Although this seems like a plot hole at that point, it is later explained to a certain extent. The "Razor" webisodes shows a young William Adama during the First Cylon War. He was shot down on the last day of the war and happens upon a facility where the Cylons experimented on humans, which then fell into Colonial hands. From this it seems likely Adama had some classified knowledge about Cylon evolution. Furthermore, Adama's family was involved in the creation of the first Cylons (see Caprica spin-off series).

Starbuck & Tigh's Card Fight

The "card fight" between Lieutenant Kara Thrace and Colonel Saul Tigh sparked a bit of controversy in the fan community before it aired. In the original draft, Starbuck got off free without being thrown in the brig. However, given the fan's astute observation of a disturbing lack of disciplinary action against Starbuck for striking a superior, the aftermath was changed. Interestingly, article 90 of the UCMJ may be read as justifying Starbuck's actions as self-defense as Tigh started the fight by tipping over a table.

The scene demonstrates Starbuck's mistrust of authority and the antagonistic relationship between Tigh and herself. The touch of classic Starbuck elements, i.e. the gambling and fumarello smoking, is a nice homage to the original that fits in nicely. Katee Sackhoff's portrayal tells viewers that this isn't the same mischievous Starbuck from the original, as she is clearly unbalanced. (Information on Thrace's past and family comes later in "Flesh and Bone" and "The Farm".)

Tigh himself comes off as a grouchy, inebriated old man who has seen his glory days, which hammers home the fact that the good ship Galactica is seeing its last days. When he puts Starbuck in the brig, she knows she's stepped over the line -- but so has he, given that he flipped over the table first, starting the fight. At this point, the viewer might wonder how this grouchy, drunken executive officer has avoided retirement.

It also nicely puts Starbuck in a confined place from a story standpoint, allowing other characters to be introduced.

Laura Roslin's Cancer Storyline

The cancer story line for the Secretary of Education Laura Roslin at first seemed a bit over-the-top, detracting from the main story. (Later Season 1 and early Season 2 episodes regarding the search for Earth's location and Roslin's role better define why her illness is significant.) Having the cancer story-line helps show that smaller tragedies don't cease simply because another one looms ahead. It also reveals Roslin's vulnerability and puts her character in a realistic ethical conundrum, where she is more concerned about her own well-being when billions of people have been victims of the Cylon genocide.

The Infanticide Debate

One of the more emotional and argued points in the whole Miniseries is not the sex changes of two main characters, and certainly not the major change in the Cylons, but the incident where Number Six kills an infant in the market place. The question during the debate focused on the immorality of the act and was purported by those against the Re-imagining as being an indicator that the source material wasn't being taken seriously.

The intent of the act was never questioned. It is simply assumed that Number Six kills the baby out of cold blood. The doubt of Number Six's intent, or possible lack thereof, still surrounds this scene. It is obvious that Number Six is puzzled by the frailty of the baby and questions as to how the neck could support the weight of the baby's head. Many items can be deduced from that scene, a few follow:

  1. It is a deliberate act. Cold and ruthless. Nothing more.
  2. Number Six has feelings and is rational. Due to her knowledge of the impending attack and the expectation that the entire human race could be eradicated, could the act be merciful?
  3. Could it be an act of spite? In "33", her mental image asks Gaius Baltar if he wants children. Which again brings up the question about human and Cylon compatibility regarding procreation.
  4. Could it be a simple lack of knowledge? If so, the infanticide is accidental, and Number Six has no way of knowing.
  5. She does demonstrate curiosity as to how much the neck could support. Could the death be an unethical experiment on her part?
  6. Knowing that the Cylon nuclear attack is near, she does not see any difference between killing an infant at that moment to satisfy her own curiosity as compared to waiting a short while for it to die by nuclear holocaust.

The most disturbing aspect of the whole debate lies in the assumption that a single act of infanticide is unacceptable, whereas the genocide of the entire human race (including born and unborn infants) by Cylon hands seems to be more palatable.

The "Glowing Spine" Scene

One of the major inconsistencies in the Miniseries is gleaned from this scene. The fact is established that humanoid Cylons are, for all intents and purposes, organic. Also established is, even with the most thorough of tests, it is initially almost impossible to screen human from Cylon (this changes with Baltar's working Cylon detector later in the series). What causes the spine to glow? It certainly isn't a human reaction to sex. Since the Cylons went to the very painstaking process of creating an undetectable humanoid Cylon model, it is conceivable that glowing spinal columns -- and more to the point the chemicals that would cause the aforementioned reaction -- would arouse undue suspicion and thwart Cylon plans. There are precedents in nature of bio luminescent creatures but what specific function a glowing spine would have outside of demonstrating sexual arousal is unknown.

One possible explanation for the glowing spine would be that it is the act of Number Six transferring some part of herself into Baltar, as evidenced later. However, this explanation is highly speculative. Furthermore, the Caprica copy of Boomer has a glowing spine when having sex with Helo in a later episode. It has since been determined after the series run that the Six was not transferring part of herself the Baltar. Nor did the Caprica copy of Boomer to Helo.

Considering Baltar seems to be the only person qualified to work on distinguishing Cylon from human, it may be that he is not smart enough to look in the right places (after all he has not found other Cylon hallmarks, such as a transponder -- if it exists) or, being influenced by Six, unwilling to look in the right places, knowledgeable of it (but unwilling to come forward with the information), or some combination of all three. It has now been established after the series run that there was no transponder inside any of the humanoid Cylons.

Note: Comments from members of the production crew have since suggested that the only reason the glowing spine was included was that it "looked cool" at the time, and in retrospect, may have been a mistake. According to the novelization, the spines glow in the infrared spectrum, which would mean it would require special optical equipment for it to become visual.

Nods

  • The Firefly-class ship Serenity from the sci-fi series Firefly makes a brief appearance. It can be seen flying above Laura Roslin when she is about to hear her prognosis of breast cancer on Caprica.
  • The fanfare just prior to Commander Adama's speech is taken from Stu Phillips's theme for the original Battlestar Galactica and is actually the Colonial anthem.
  • The pilot Jolly makes a brief (verbal) appearance, just prior to the Cylon's massacre of the squad led by Jackson Spencer, Galactica's previous CAG. It is not the same actor that played Jolly in the original.
  • The original Cylon Basestar and the original Cylon Centurion Model 0005 can be briefly seen in Galactica's museum.
  • A sword carried by the Centurions in the Original Series is one of the weapons in Commander Adama's collection.
  • President Laura Roslin makes a point of calling Lee Adama "Captain Apollo", saying that it has a nice ring to it.
  • During the attack, Colonial Heavy 798 assists Gemenon Liner Seventeen-oh-one (1701). This is a nod to Ron Moore's work on Star Trek.
  • The last lottery number chosen by Sharon Valerii and Helo to rescue a Caprican refugee is "47", another in-joke to the Star Trek series.
  • The original USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is seen in the final shot of the fleet at the end of the Miniseries. This is yet another Star Trek allusion.
  • Prior to Number Six's meeting with an unknown person in the park, the kids playing in the background wore masks of Cylon Centurions from the original series and were waving mock versions of the swords those same Centurions had.
  • The very last line of the Miniseries is the phrase "By your command"; the affirmation from the Original Series Cylons.

Official Statements

Edward James Olmos' (EJO) Statements Regarding the Miniseries

After the announcement of Edward James Olmos' involvement in the miniseries, portraying a role that was previously done by Canadian actor Lorne Greene, many fans contacted him. As is evidenced by the quotes before, Olmos demonstrates his honesty and reaction to the mail, most of which could be classified as fairly negative.

From his official website:

  • "I must say one thing and will say this very clearly. If you are a person who really has a strict belief in the original, I would not advise that you watch this program...We really don't stand true to the kind of characters that were built around the original. It definitely does break the mold. Some of the characters' names are the same, but the intent and the way that we are building the reality is completely not the reality that was built in the original." -- 7/03
  • "I'm going to be the first one to say it really clearly. Please tell your readers, do not watch this program...[P]eople get really, really angry. You've got to remember that this is a show that was only on . . . in the late '70s, and to this day has a very strong fan base. Tens of thousands of people who write to each other for 25 years over a program that is not on the air and is not even being rerun.
  • "They didn't want this at all, and I didn't know any of this. . . . All of a sudden, my e-mails went through the roof. Suddenly I was accused of teaming up with Ron Moore and creating just a slap in the face of all these people, and I didn't want to slap anybody."
  • "Trust me, don't watch it. If you are a real, real staunch 'Battlestar Galactica' person, don't watch it. . . . Just don't write to me, all right? I warned you. I was honest."
  • "I've gotten some really strong, strong mail. . . . They're really bitter. They're very angry. And I know the Sci Fi Channel wants to say that everybody's going to enjoy it. They're not."

Comments from David Eick

"The goals of the mini series were nothing short of reinventing the science fiction genre. We wanted to present people in a catastrophic situation, in the wake of a tragedy, responding as human beings actually would through the prism of the science fiction genre."

Regarding Miniseries Ratings

"I think going into it, we all wondered. you know, what the audience numbers were going to be, especially given all the internet, sort of, controversy and the general, sort of, [something] about what we were doing and people objecting. And was it going to be a failure or was it not.

"The first night's numbers were good, but not great. We were waiting to see what the drop-off would be, because there was always a drop off on the second night. And the ratings actually went up." -- Ron D. Moore [1]

Regarding Roslin's Refusal to Leave Her Nascent Fleet

From RDM's Sci-Fi Channel Blog

Someone recently asked:
"In the mini series, when the Cylon fighters are approaching Colonial One (just before Lee saves the day with the EM pulse), Roslin refuses to run and leave the other civilian ships to their doom... Yet she articulated no alternative plan. What was she hoping to do? It just seemed as though she planned to sit there and hope for the best, refusing to budge from the principle of not leaving defenseless people behind, even if that meant her own virtual suicide. It was an odd moment, she had been so decisive and clear headed up to then, and after that. (sic)
What were her motivations, did she even have a plan? I still find this moment a little jarring and hard to explain away. I guess it does serve as a contrast to her later decision to leave Cammy (sic) etc behind. Thanks for your insights into this issue."
RDM: Can we talk? Let's be honest here. The show is not perfect. There are compromises made all the time; some for budgetary reasons, some are for political reasons, some are for no reason at all except that the writer could not, or would not, make the changes necessary to resolve a story point.
Such is The Case of Laura Roslin and the Incoming Cylon.
The above writer's observation is absolutely correct. Laura, by all rights and all sensible reasoning, should not obstinately stay when it's known for a fact that a Cylon missile is incoming, probably has a nuclear warhead and oh, by the way, she has no armament aboard her ship that would allow her even the remote chance of a possible last-minute, brilliant tactical move which might theoretically prevent the destruction of her ship and her presidency. Her refusal to leave, to jump away from the impending, obvious threat can be interpreted as an irrational flaw in her character, a case of emotion trumping intellect, or it can be more correctly interpreted simply as a flaw in the script, an accepted error that the writer chooses to ignore in favor of other competing interests of character and plot which take priority in a given moment.
In this case, I felt that the dramatic moment required that Laura make a commitment to staying with her people, and to her nascent fleet, heedless of the consequence and resolute in her decision, even though it meant her certain doom. It was her instinctive response to the situation, her id's judgment, so to speak, that I was interested in, as well as the simpler plot device of having Lee swoop in and save them at the last moment just at the point you'd forgotten he was even there. Neither impulse is wrong, per se, but the error is in my choosing not to expand the moment and its aftermath in order to play out her realization of just how stupid a choice that was.
If, at some point following the resolution of the crisis, Laura realized that she let her emotional reaction to the situation lead her into making a bad decision which was only saved by the providential intervention of Lee, then the scene would've accomplished everything I had hoped for in the moment as well as providing Laura with a character-building scene where the new president's first major decision nearly got them all killed. It would've been a way to both emphasize her fallibility and the fact that she can't afford to lead with her heart any longer. Her subsequent decision to leave the sublight ships behind, abandoning them to their destruction by the Cylons, would've also been informed by this experience and had a richer, even more textured component to it.
In the end, it's not a fatal error in the script, and the moment passes by without comment for the most part, but it is something that nags at me whenever I see the sequence and which, frankly, bothered me at the time. So why didn't I fix it? A variety of answers present themselves, from time pressure to budgets, but the truth is, I knew that the emotional, dramatic moment would carry the audience through the scene and that people would be more invested in watching Lee take out the Cylon missile than in examining Laura's decision-making, so I opted to leave it alone rather than make the necessary page cuts and possible budget cuts needed to accommodate additional beats on this one point. It was probably the correct decision in the end, because the moment works and you move on as you're watching the show. However, being a television writer means not only having to make compromises and less than perfect decisions all the time, but as an additional penalty you get to always be reminded of the errors you've accepted when you watch the final product.
Good catch by an attentive member of the audience.
Damn you.

Additional Comments

  • "Don't know if this has been addressed elsewhere already: Do Apollo and Helo already know each other at the start of the show? I recently reviewed the mini and noticed that in the Ready Room scene where Apollo is introduced and told he will fly Husker's Viper, when first introduced, Helo waves and Lee gives him one of those "oh, hey!" looks of familiarity, then when Lee isn't thrilled about flying his dad's Viper, Helo is the only one who *doesn't* look confused, he just smiles and turns back around."
I don't think they knew each other prior to the pilot. Lee probably had never set foot on the Galactica before then. I think the look was something improvised on the set. --

From RDM's Sci-Fi Channel Blog

Wikipedian's Note: It is likely Helo knew Apollo through Kara Thrace.
Galactica was designed to withstand a nuclear hit. Don’t forget that nuclear weapons in space have a different impact than they do in the atmosphere. There’s not really a shock wave in space, it’s more the immediate blast, heat and radiation effects. Galactica is shielded against radiation. However, I’ll tell you that we’re going to get into that as the series goes on. That nuclear hit will come back to haunt them later; there will be consequences to what happened to the ship structurally when it took that hit. We’re taking the approach conceptually on this show that we must live with things that have happened to us, and that there are consequences. [2] (boldface emphasis is by Joe Beaudoin)

Interviews

I was completely was (sic) into the story. Only once in a while did I pop out and think, "Oh, look at those effects, They're so good."
The destruction of Caprica felt so 911 -- the hopelessness of it. I remember back then watching the towers fall over and over, and I remember how odd it was that a non-organic object exploding and how painful it was. And then there I was watching this and I'm crying, and I had to remind myself this time there weren't really people dying. But it really took me back there. [3]
Yeah [I only tried out for Billy]. Yeah, I know there were a few actors that tried out for multiple parts but that was the only one I would have worked for. I’m certainly not a fighter pilot, and even though I could kick Tahmoh’s ass in a heart beat, I didn’t want to embarrass him, since he’s a friend of mine. And he wouldn’t have done very well playing Billy, because he is just too tall for Dualla. So, I actually didn’t even meet any producers or anybody, I just read for the casting director, and that was it. I really had no idea when they were casting it how far it would go. I thought it was just going to be a few days on this miniseries. I hadn’t been a fan of the original series. I was born in 1979, so I missed the boat. And I didn’t really understand what a cult following the original had had, and how much transfer there would probably be to the new show. So imagine my surprise when I found I was on this TV show that had been picked up.[4]


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