25 March 2016

Crusade Review: War Zone & The Long Road

The new saga begins with the limited run of episodes that make up Crusade. The Interstellar Alliance's newest and coolest ship, the Excalibur is sent out to find a cure to the Drakh Plague before it wipes out all life on Earth with a new crew and new adventures ahead...

War Zone
Matthew Gideon and his crew arrive at Earth aboard their Explorer ship after the Drakh attack. The ship endures a minor mutiny before the jump and they are asked to report to Mars.

Meanwhile, an Earthforce destroyer has pursued a Drakh ship which was part of the attack fleet and forced it down at Ceti IV.

Gideon is given command of the Interstellar Alliance ship Excalibur with a new crew to explore the galaxy for a cure to the plague inflicted on Earth. He is told that he has 5 years before all life on Earth is wiped out. He meets Dr Sarah Chambers and Dureena on Mars, who go with him to the ship. He also insisted his previous first officer and telepath Lt Matheson, join them.

Their first mission is to head to Ceti IV. Upon arrival they find an IPX team at an archeological dig are near the Drakh crash site where the alien survivors have already proven hostile by shooting down one of the IPX shuttles.

Excalibur and her crew manage to arrive to rescue the expedition and locate a Drakh councilor who becomes a prisoner of war once they are able to take out a Drakh retrieval fleet. 

JMS has said that this episode was written at the request of the network and it re-covers events that we should already know from 'A Call to Arms'. While it's not a terrible episode by any means it certainly falls down to repeating itself and offering lots of talking and then lots of explosions in the climax. 

The new composer, Evan H. Chen makes his presence felt here - starting off well with the opening scenes but the music in the end battle still remains cringeworthy for me. 

Not a bad start, purely for the action. Looking forward to a bit more development in the characters though as we go along... 7/10.

The Long Road
An Earthforce operation that could provide leads for a cure is being disrupted by a rogue technomage  and his giant, golden dragon.

The Excalibur arrives at Regula IV to assist a mining operation that has had some trouble from the colonists and a technomage among them. Matthew and Gideon head down to the surface to investigate and meet the technomage, known to Galen and has sworn to protect the people in a small village near the mining operation. 

This episode is a bit of an extension from the main series episode 'The Geometry of Shadows', referencing Elric and the technomages leaving our galaxy. It also has some nice and light character moments for Gideon and Galen. It would be interesting to see how this episode would look with more modern effects.

While it is fun and a bit enjoyable, I've seen it enough times through to want a bit more so my rating is a 6.5/10.

12 March 2016

BSG Review: Take the Celestra & The Hand of God

The original series wraps-up with these final two episodes which show us some of the issues arising in other parts of the fleet and brings back the Cylons for what could be one last fight.

Take the Celestra
Kronus, Captain of the Celestra is honoured during a ceremony aboard the Galactica and Starbuck encounters long-lost love, Aurora.

Adama and the Council of Twelve give Kronus a Distinguished Service Medallion, as well as command of three industry ships for his achievement. Meanwhile, his crew has other ideas and under Aurora's leadership attempts a mutiny to take the Celestra. This does not quite go to plan for Aurora and her shipmates and they are out-maneuvered by Kronus' security team. 

Rounding up the mutineers for transport to the Galactica, Kronus' second-in-command, Charka takes control and gives the transport bogus information - ceasing an opportunity of his own. Aboard the transport shuttle, Aurora and the other crew members tell Kronus of Charka's oppression towards them and the reasons for their actions. Apollo and Starbuck, piloting the shuttle, soon realise they are lost from the fleet. 

With reconfigured sensors, the shuttle locates the Celestra and returns just as they run out of fuel. A firefight to take back control ensues and Kronus is lethally wounded. The second mutiny ends and Kronus is given a funeral aboard Galactica.

This episode has a lot going on and gets confusing quickly with the double mutiny aboard the Celestra. I found it difficult to sympathise with, or care for Kronus' character as a number of scenes paint him as a hard-lined, by the book commander that I doubt many people would want to serve under. His death, while not unexpected, certainly didn't make me feel sad either. There is some backstory in this episode and yet another of Starbuck's former love interests - who has at least moved on.

My rating: 5/10.

The Hand of God
While exploring a disused Celestial chamber, Apollo and others discover an ancient transmission on a gamma frequency which leads the fleet to a solar system guarded by a Cylon Basestar.

The signal includes some garbled video of 'ships' which Boomer attempts to clear up. Meanwhile, the crew realise the Basestar is protecting a star system in the path of their journey. A detour would take some time, so Adama decides it's time to go on the offensive and prepares Viper squadrons for attack. Apollo and Starbuck, with help from Baltar, head to the Basestar to sabotage the ship from within, assuring the Galactica of victory. Baltar's assistance comes after Adama agrees to free him if they are successful.

The attack takes place and Galactica sustains heavy damage, they successfully take out the Basestar.

Amidst celebrations, Apollo briefly retires to the Celestial chamber before Starbuck pulls him away. Of course, once they have left, a much clearer transmission from Earth's first moon landing comes through.

As the final episode for the season and, as it turns out, the original series, this was quite a good episode. The premise of being on the edge of contacting, or at least getting closer to finding Earth sets up an action oriented episode which we haven't really had for some time. Bringing the Cylons back probably helped the production team (with all the re-used footage) but it just felt properly Battlestar Galactica one last time.

It's also a bit of a shame the series never got to go beyond this point. What other adventures would have awaited? How long would their journey take them? Would they actually, eventually find Earth?

Some of that is answered by the fact there is a follow-up series called Galactica 1980 - which I haven't heard favourable reviews of. That will be next on the list for the Battlestar universe after a short break with some other sci-fi I think :)

My rating: 7.5/10.