2006.10.18 Battlerats...er...star

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

I’m kind of digging the new “Battlestar Galactica” craze.

That’s right—it’s a confirmed craze. Last night, I asked my friend Amanda what she thought of the series and she said she was officially tired of people talking about it. She’s a student worker in a Western Michigan University computer lab, one of the campus’ social hubs, so when she says she’s tired of people talking about something, that means it’s popular.

Because I don’t have cable or an antenna (and don’t want them), I usually have to rely on my brother Jamie for news on which TV series are good and which aren’t. Jamie is one of the few people I can trust to sniff out good cinema, or at least cinema that I think is good.

But, as of last weekend, Jamie had yet to watch an episode of the series, but acknowledged that his friends wouldn’t shut up about it. So, on Sunday afternoon, I accompanied him to a nearby Best Buy where he purchased the first season DVD.

For some background, the “Battlestar Galactica” I’m talking about isn’t the 1978 TV series starring Lorne Greene and Richard Hatch, which some readers may remember.

In 2003, the Sci-Fi Channel, in conjunction with a British station, provided backing funds for a project aimed at “re-imagining” the original series, which was cancelled after one season despite much protest from viewers and the suicide of a 15-year-old boy who had become obsessed with the show.

One would think a show cancelled after a single season was a stinker, but according to Wikipedia, the series was actually quite profitable, although ratings did decline as the show progressed. Some speculate that ABC bumped “Battlestar” to give “Mork and Mindy” a more popular time slot. If that’s the case, it was a bad move. “Mork and Mindy” ratings plummeted following the move.

Anyway, the re-imagined “Battlestar Galactica” began as a three-installment mini-series which, after much critical acclaim, was parlayed into a regular serial drama. The premier, titled “33,” has since been regarded as the show that broke commercial television.

How so? While “33” aired in the UK in October 2004, producers postponed the American debut until January because it’s a slow TV month. The delay backfired—sort of.

“Battlestar Galactica” is one of those shows that dorks obsess over. Another thing dorks obsess over is computers. If you take one part British dork, one part American dork, one part “Battlestar Galactica” and one part computer, throw them in a bowl and mix them all up, what do you get? Multimedia piracy on a huge scale.

Tens of thousands of Americans had seen the first three months of the series by the time “33” aired stateside, but contrary to what you’d think, it did nothing but good for the show’s ratings. As it turns out “33” and the ensuing episodes were so gnarly that the pirate dorks talked them up to everybody they knew, even those who aren’t techno-savvy enough to download the files on their own.

As a result, the American premier of “Battlestar Galactica” was the single highest rated show ever to air on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Which brings us back to the checkout counter at Best Buy, where Jamie had snagged the last copy of the first season DVD, and where the cashier tried to con us into a “free” eight-week subscription to Sports Illustrated or Entertainment Weekly. Jamie said he couldn’t read. I suggested Best Buy offer free subscriptions to—well, it’s better I don’t relay such a brazen proposal.

As for the series itself, I had only time enough to watch the first three episodes, but here’s a snippet of my notes on them:

“Planet. No wait, Universal logo. Edward James Olmos. Guy with a tie on. Some girl. Why do people wear pants in the future? I like the blonde in the red. She’s a bad guy. Death to her. That cocky English bloke is getting on my nerves. I want to punch him in the neck. Jamie says an English guy would beat me up. Edward James Olmos again. He hasn’t killed anyone yet, which is kind of irritating...oh wait, okay, he just killed some dude...”

Later  on, “My first child will be called Battlestar Galactica Pickell and he will be a giant spaceship and run on chocolate milk and I will drink the chocolate milk.”

 – Oct. 18, 2006

 

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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