Tuesday, October 27, 2009

'Battlestar Galactica: The Plan' DVD review - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan," which comes out on DVD today (and will allegedly air on Syfy sometime next year). Short version is that, like "Razor" (which I also didn't love), it feels more like a DVD bonus feature than an actual thing itself, despite the predictably kick-ass lead performance by Dean Stockwell. Your mileage may vary. Since it's on sale today and won't be airing on TV for months, it's cool for people to openly discuss the content of it in the comments, so read at your own risk.


Mrglass said...

I saw it; it felt more like a clip episode of the best moments of 'Galactica' than a real movie at times. I'm not sure: were there even new scenes involving Starbuck, Apollo and Tigh or were there all "repeats"?

And it doesn't seem like the Cylons had a better plan than: kill everybody; so the title is a bit misleading. One thing I didn't understand: what were those Final Five bodies/clones for, at the beginning? Did the Cylons think they would kill them as well, so the fact that they all survived is in fact another miracle?

Still, it was nice to go back to the 'Galactica' one last time, and 'The Plan', although it must be nearly incomprehensible to someone who hasn't watched every episode of the series, is a perfect gift for true fans.

OldDarth said...

The Plan proves the adage that some things are better left to the imagination. The Cylons were even bigger bumblers than imagined.

I remember folks joking about the Cylons not having a plan during the series run despite the, 'They have a plan,' tagline because it was never told in the show. Sadly, it turns out that was no joke. They WERE making it up as they went along.

Mark me down as finding this disappointing and worse, dull.

Some of the CGI is pretty dodgy too.

Brandy said...

Think you are missing the word review in the first line.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Not anymore, I'm not. :) Thanks, Brandy.

JT said...

Ugh. Hard to believe anyone would care about anything BSG after that awful last season and the even worse, idiotic series finale. Cn we PLEASE get LOST back on the air early?

Graeme said...

I'm honestly not sure what to make of it. I suppose when I was told there would be a Cylon POV story I thought it would be more like the opening scenes: scenes aboard the basestar, putting up with the nuisance of the Hybrid babbling and talk between all of the factions as they pursue humanity. What we got instead was a bit unexpected: model airplane gluing season 3 and 4 revelations onto season 1 and 2 continuity.

As such, I'm of two minds. Did I really need to have all this work to explain how the Shelley Godfrey Six disappeared in "Six Degrees of Separation" or how Boomer's sleeper state actually works?

And yet, I can't help but appreciate the Occam's razor solution-- the plan is Cavil's which is kill the humans and Cylons can evolve to a state unencumbered by humanity and, as a result, Cavil has his fingers on everything prior to his appearance. And all that seeds his (and the Cylon hardliners') downfall later on.

And yet... it feels like an exercise in continuity porn. Did I really need to see the curtain pulled back on seasons 1 and 2 that way? I would have rather have seen the politics within the Cylon camp that led to them deciding (or claiming to decide) they would not pursue humanity in "Lay Down Your Burdens" rather than showing how Cavil ends up being the representative who tells the decision to Adama.

And yet... it has Dean Stockwell giving an incredible performance. The scenes with the Galactica Cavil and the child were chilling in the same way that the Caprica Cavil's scenes with Anders were nuanced and compelling. And the final scene with the two together was wonderful.

All in all, I don't know. I think there's great bits and did-they-really-need-to-do-that bits. All I know is that I liked it a whole lot more than Razor.

Jeff L said...

Graeme, you just saved me $19.95, so thank you.

I really don't need to see Moore et al retcon the last couple of cluster....err.....episodes into the joy that was Season 1 & 2. Much rather keep those memories clean.

Oh well, maybe Caprica won't suck.

Michael Hickerson said...

I saw it and thought it was a great filling in of some brush strokes to the first couple of seasons. It made me want to go back and rewatch my DVDS of the first two seasons again....

Jeff said...

I was beyond disappointed with this - it just felt like a waste of time. The acting and writing was really bad, and I kind of hope Edward James Olmos never directs anything again.

Meagan said...

I'm of the same mind as Graeme on this one. The Cavil bits were awesome, the piecing together of old and new was ehh, and I wished for more basestar/voting scenes. Interesting, but not great.

Tyroc said...

I went to a midnight screening of this in L.A. a few weeks back, and while it had the bonus of having Adama himself there to introduce it (and Richard Hatch in attendance and some others too) the movie itself never got beyond more than a "Meh."

And sadly I had forgotten a lot of the continuity details of the series by this point so the "big" revelations were not so moving.

Edward James Olmos did say afterward in a Q&A that he felt the movie showed that the cylons were undone at every step by the last thing they expected -- feeling love.

For example, Boomer couldn't go through with killing Adama even at point blank range (she shot him but not as well as she could have) because she felt love for the old man. And other examples abound. But if that was the message of the film, I thought it was lost in all the "continuity porn" (as Graeme put it.)

And I was still left wondering why if there was a resistance movement on Caprica (that Starbuck returns to help later) why didn't the cylons just nuke Caprica again? Never got that.

Olmos did say in the Q&A how lucky he feels to have been a part of something so special. And that if it never happens again in his career he's okay with that, because he's lucky to have experienced it once.

Which was pretty awesome.

medrawt said...

I think it's funny and a little sad that one thing I continually pointed out, when people became (in my opinion inexplicably) upset at the series' "late" turn towards the spiritual/deistic, was the appearance and disappearance of Shelley Godfrey, which I took as a very early tip of the hat to the existence of a higher power in the Battlestar universe. So while I haven't seen the movie yet, I'm amused that apparently Shelley Godfrey, who didn't need explaining (she was just fine as a deus ex machina device, which is what I initially took her as, and one which retrospectively sets a precedent for Ghost!Starbuck), gets "explained".

Chuchundra said...

Well, I was never going to buy this either way, but I thank Alan for saving me the time I would have spent getting it on bittorrent.

This kind of thing shows us quite conclusively that it wasn't just the Cylons who didn't have a plan. Ronald Moore obviously didn't have one either.

It's pretty easy to hook people with an interesting and compelling show mythology in the early going. You give the viewer a hint here and a scrap of information there and let your audience's imagination do most of the work. But it's very rare that that there's ever any kind of worthwhile payoff at the end. Making that that stuff work out is hard.

Of course, it's almost impossible to do if you're just throwing random things into the mix because they sound/look cool and have absolutely no idea where things are going, which is obviously what Moore was doing with BSG.

Anonymous said...

If anything, at least it gave a really nice backstory to the previously mute cylon 'Simon' model. It'll never work as a standalone movie, but it was all right as additional material for the series.

I agree with the continuity porn mentioned earlier - they were trying way too hard to patch the story all up it seemed real silly.

The Bgt said...

I agree with Alan.
Still, I enjoyed it, it was nice going back to the BSG universe once again and as someone else already pointed here, made me wanna rewatch the series from the pilot.

And this alternative intro theme song heard during the end credits haunted me. Amazing version.

The Bgt said...

oh I forgot to add:

tad disappointed we never saw the story of the boxed cylon model, named "daniel" I think

Jim Hill said...

100 wasted minutes. Well, there was some fine nudity in the locker room scene, so call it 99:45 wasted minutes.

Craig Ranapia said...

I would have rather have seen the politics within the Cylon camp that led to them deciding (or claiming to decide) they would not pursue humanity in "Lay Down Your Burdens" rather than showing how Cavil ends up being the representative who tells the decision to Adama.

Up to a point, but wouldn't that be awfully like the bloody Council at Rivendell in The Lord of the Rings, which brought an already lethargic book to a grinding halt while everyone drones on at each other for page after interminable page. (And which Peter Jackson wisely took a chainsaw to.) There's also the small problem of the Threes having to lodge a proxy because Lucy Lawless was unavailable.

Much as I thought Dean, Grace and Rick Worthy did sterling work, I do wish Lucy Lawless could have worked out a deal to be around for 'The Plan'.

The Plan proves the adage that some things are better left to the imagination. The Cylons were even bigger bumblers than imagined.

But wasn't that the whole point, OldDarth? The Cylons are so damn sure of themselves, but the problem isn't that they don't have a plan. But that the human race isn't going to get with the agenda, lie down and drop dead. Cavil finds that his parents aren't going to come out of the goo bath and see the error of their ways, while the rest of the Seven gradually discover that everything they think they know about their origins, natures and ultimate purpose is just one lie after another.

Nevin ":-)" said...

For a species that allegedly had a plan to start with, why didn't they just wait a day for the Galactica to be decommissioned before blowing up the colonies?

Better if we let the plot holes fade into a distant memory...

Craig Ranapia said...

Nevin ":-)" :
For a species that allegedly had a plan to start with, why didn't they just wait a day for the Galactica to be decommissioned before blowing up the colonies?

Antique rust bucket with a skeleton crew and a gift shop in starboard flight deck converted into a floating museum not really seen as much of a threat? And there's the basic plot hole that if they blew up the Galactica we wouldn't actually have a show to nit-pick and bitch about. :)

Anonymous said...

The finale did not wear well with me. Basically, I decided that I would just forget about everything after Season 2. Now it seems "The Plan" was to use this silly DVD to rewrite everything in Seasons 1 & 2 so I can forget those as well. Best part of this DVD which I can recommend is the very odd discussion/dispute on the commentary track between Olmos and Jane Espewhatever over why they showed the "dainty bits" of a dude. The fact that they cared and spent time worrying about this "shot" speaks volumes about the drop in quality. Hey, Jane, nobody watching "Scifi" cared much whether you showed any nudity, male or female. We did perhaps wonder why the airmen/womyn in the locker area weren't a bit curious as to why this random woman and Cavil were suddenly wandering through their area (which you'd think might be a bit restricted). This misplaced kind of attention to detail is emblematic.