The road to Blood and Chrome, the Battlestar Galactica prequel (and technically Caprica sequel), has been a long one for fans and the series itself. Originally pitched as a full series to run on Syfy, it wavered in limbo for awhile until the network decided to run it as an online series broken up into ten, 7-12 minute episodes to be released starting today on Machinima Prime’s YouTube channel (though it will also air as a movie on Syfy in 2013).
The idea that Syfy, the channel that brought you Sharktopus and Ice Spiders would turn down a series, and not just any series but a prequel to its frak’n most successful and critically-acclaimed series of all time, makes one truly stop and wonder: is Blood and Chrome even worth watching? Most purist fans agree that the original series’ follow-up film The Plan as well as the prequel series Caprica can be filed under “take it or leave it” category, yet we Battlestar fans are also pretty much suckers for anything BSG-related. Hit the jump for the synopsis and first two webisodes of Blood and Chrome, as well as my review. So say we all …
Blood and Chrome takes place during the first Cylon War and focuses on a young William Adama (played by Luke Pasqualino, from the UK series Skins), who goes by the call sign “Husker” (laughs for days). Adam is assigned to the Galactica, where he meets a surly, drunk co-pilot, Office Coker (Ben Cotton) and a breasty software engineer Dr. Beka Kelly (Lili Bordain).
I hate to already start comparing Blood and Chrome‘s characters to BSG, but Coker immediately gives off Colonel Tigh vibes, whereas young Adama feels in many ways like Starbuck (an arrogant but naturally gifted Viper jockey). Dr. Kelly may be a kind of Gaius Baltar of sorts, but she in no way seems able to fill his shoes. In fact, that lack of Gaius (an overwhelmingly magnetic, sometimes polarizing, personality that also plays as comic relief) is keenly felt.
The other issue is the time frame: whereas Caprica covered the origins of the creation of Cylons, Blood and Chrome starts 10 years into the Cylon War. It strips away some of the more complex narrative elements that the original series had (about politics, religion, survival), and because at this point the Cylons are just “toasters” and not “skinjobs,” it lacks the core themes of paranoia, race, loyalty and betrayal.
It’s here where I can start to see why Syfy would hesitate to turn Blood and Chrome into a full series, but how, as a one-off movie that fills in part of the canon, it could work. The problem with breaking down a pilot episode (a 2-hr pilot at that) into webisodes is that pilots are typically a low-point in any series, since characters stick to cliches and a sundry of plots are all thrown into to convince us there are plenty of places for the show to go. There are exceptions — Showtime’s Homeland, for one — but so far Blood and Chrome doesn’t seem to be one of them.
But Blood and Chrome does feel familiar — it’s produced by BSG veterans David Eick and Michael Taylor, who also collaborated on the script, and has a soundtrack by Bear McCreary, who also scored the original series. The sets are also digital reconstructions of the scanned original BSG sets (before they were dismantled), but hiding that fact means an awful lot of lens flares (I’m talking a ridiculous amount of lens flares) and blurred backgrounds. Still, the BSG franchise has always primarily been about story, right?
Having only seen the first two webisodes, it’s difficult to know how much better the series will get, but the focus just on battle-weary pilots and action sequences feels more like Razor than any other specific part of the BSG world. Pasqualino does a fine job as a young pilot ready for battle, even though it’s hard to reconcile him with the eventual Edward J. Olmos version of the character (he’s also yet another Brit to play an American-accented character in the series, like Jamie Bamber).
Perhaps it would have been better to have just focused on making Blood and Chrome a movie that would have had more of a 3-act arc than a pilot that expects to build its world later on, but for now, it is what it is: another piece of the BSG canon and, frak it, worthy of a watch. But if you really want to immerse yourself in the mythology of the BSG universe, you’re still better off re-watching the original.
Ensign William Adama (Luke Pasqualino), barely in his 20′s and a recent Academy graduate, finds himself assigned to the newest battlestar in the colonial fleet: The Galactica. He quickly clashes with his co-pilot, Coker Fasjovik (Ben Cotton), a war-weary officer with just 47 days left on his tour of duty. In pursuit of the intense action that the Cylon war promises, Adama can’t wait to enter the fray.
Adama and Coker’s supply mission features a surprise: their cargo is the beautiful and enigmatic scientist Dr Becca Kelly (Lili Bordan). The routine mission quickly becomes deadly as the small crew pilots their Raptor into Cylon territory.
This highly anticipated chapter in the Battlestar Galactica saga takes place in the midst of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, the sentient robotic Cylons, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, gifted fighter pilot, William Adama (Luke Pasqualino, The Borgias), finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful battlestars in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. Full of ambition and hungry for action, Adama quickly finds himself at odds with his co-pilot, the battle-weary officer Coker (Ben Cotton, Alcatraz). With only 47 days left in his tour of duty, Coker desires an end to battle as much as Adama craves its onset. Lili Bordán (Silent Witness) also stars.