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“WAR is our imperative!” December 13, 2007

Posted by jackal in : TV , trackback

It’s a barren time for TV fans in general, with the Writers Guild of America strike now over a month old, no sign of fresh negotiations, let alone a deal, and hopes of salvaging anything resembling a full season for most shows fading fast. For Battlestar Galactica fans, the barren landscape is nothing new - we’re only in the middle of a looooong wait for the fourth, extended and final season of the insanely good drama. From last March’s season three cliffhanger we still have to wait until April of 2008 for episode 4.1 - and that’s assuming Sci-Fi don’t postpone the premiere due to the writers’ strike (only the first ten of the twenty episodes have so far been produced).

The Cylon surprise attack

There is a bright spot, however, and its name is Razor. Focusing on the Battlestar Pegasus, introduced in episode 2.11 “Pegasus”, the newly-produced TV movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor brings back Michelle Forbes as Admiral Cain, and fleshes out the journey of Pegasus during the missing ten months between the Cylon attack on the colonies and her eventual encounter with Galactica. We’re introduced to Lt. Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen), a young Pegasus bridge officer, who is witness to the brutal lengths Cain goes to in her quest to maintain a fighting force. Gradually Shaw herself becomes fashioned by Cain into a “razor” of war, as we watch events previously only described in passing on the show.

Starbuck and Apollo at his promotion to Pegasus Commander

Interspersed with the Pegasus backstory is the tale of Lee Adama’s first mission as Pegasus commander (ergo set after 2.17 “The Captain’s Hand”), the inclusion of which is justified by the Kendra Shaw’s presence, this time as Lee’s XO. In a deliberate bout of nostalgia, this thread of the story, as well as Admiral Adama’s flashbacks to events during the first Cylon war, feature the “old-style” Cylon raiders and Centurions - based, of course, on the models from the original 1970s Battlestar Galactica. There’s even a “By your command” in there, too. Very nice.

Old-style toasters!

Most of the BSG regulars get screen time, even if they’re just elbowed in for a scene or two. Featured most strongly are Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer, who gets to once again play Gina, the “Six” model who is captured aboard Pegasus. Best of all is seeing Michelle Forbes return to the role of Admiral Cain. Her guest spot in season two’s “Pegasus” and “Resurrection Ship: Parts 1 & 2″ ranks among the show’s strongest, and it’s truly a pleasure to see her embody the tough and uncompromising Helena Cain once more, introducing some complexity to the character’s emotional backstory. Like the tagline once declared: The Bitch Is Back.

Michelle Forbes as Admiral Cain

Razor was screened a couple of weeks ago on Sci-Fi in an 88-minute broadcast version, immediately followed by a DVD release of the 103-minute “Unrated Extended Edition”, which I viewed. I don’t know what was omitted for the TV version, but nothing here feels overlong or unnecessary, and there’s extra blood and gore if that’s your thing. Razor is not Galactica at its absolute peak: the jumping timeframes are occasionally jarring and the finale a touch corny, but it’s still compelling and thoroughly entertaining. The SFX work is also more extensive than the show’s normal budget allows: Pegasus’ nail-biting escape from spacedock during the devastating Cylon attacks is particularly well-realised. Finally, there’s just the sheer pleasure of seeing these characters in action again while we wait for season four. So say we all.

Kendra Shaw, the Razor of the title


1. mtanner - December 13, 2007

I agree; I did find some of the narrative a bit too muddled, like one scene was a flashback to a flashback and it just seemed confused. I enjoyed it but I don’t think it was all that much better than, say, a very good two-parter.

I really liked Cain, though, more than some of the BSG regulars. She was quite compelling. I like Tricia Helfer a lot too (well, naturally…!) and was pleased to see her turn up as Gina because I was intrigued by her brief appearance before. Would have liked a bit more of Baltar and Roslin but I understand they’re not really a part of this story and yes, the ending was a bit cheesy.

2. jackal - December 14, 2007

Yep, I think ‘very good two-parter’ sums it up nicely. I enjoyed it maybe more than most because I loved seeing Forbes back as Cain on the one hand, and the second storyline was heavy on Starbuck and Apollo - my favourite characters (especially when taken as a bickering pair). Funny thing about Tricia Helfer in this - I found her far more attractive as Gina than I ever did when she was all dolled up as Baltar’s ‘Six’.

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