A new "Battlestar Galactica" spinoff will hit YouTube on Friday.
By the gods, what took so frakking long?
On the one hand, I'm glad that "Blood & Chrome" is finally seeing the light of day (the first of 10 installments of "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome," will debut on Machinima's Youtube channel Friday; the entire thing will later air on Syfy at an undetermined date and have a DVD release as well).
On the other hand, is this any way to treat one of the great dramas of our time?
It concerns me that this project is finally debuting on a relatively obscure online channel with almost no advance notice. We waited more than two years for this? "Battlestar Galactica" was by far Syfy's most acclaimed series, and the drama was near and dear to my heart and to the hearts of its many fans. I wrote about it more than any other show ever (want proof? There are pages and pages of proof here.)
The long delays that plagued "Blood & Chrome" and the hasty nature of its arrival on the Web -- on a Web channel I've never heard of -- well, it doesn't really warm the depths of my Saul Tigh-loving heart. The show had a lot of special effects, I get that. But that doesn't fully explain why this spinoff sat on a shelf for two years.
The existence of the "Blood & Chrome" project, which follows young William Adama's experiences in the first Cylon war, first came to light way back in July 2010. In "Blood & Chrome," which was written by "BSG" writer Michael Taylor from a story by Taylor and "BSG" writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, an eager young William Adama (Luke Pasqualino) goes on a mission with a war-weary officer named Coker (Ben Cotton).
"It's a story that will take us to new corners of the 'Battlestar' world (or worlds), and yet it aims to be a very contemporary war movie in a lot of ways. I would say I'm thinking as much of Afghanistan and Iraq -- the reality of 'The Hurt Locker,' Sebastian Junger's 'Restrepo,' and similar movies -- as I am about about the largely implied past of 'Battlestar,'" Taylor told me in an interview in 2010. The movie is about "a young man's initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media."
That sounded pretty exciting, and the network appeared to be high on the project as well. In the fall of 2010, Syfy said that "Blood & Chrome" had been upgraded, in a manner of speaking: It would function as "a backdoor pilot" to a possible Young Adama series on Syfy. Then a year went by, and I learned in 2011 Syfy executives had seen a rough cut, but still hadn't decided whether it would be released as a Web series or air as a pilot.
And then another year went by -- more than that, actually. Whatever momentum the project had -- if it ever had any -- has more than dried up during the last two years of vacillation.
I'm just speculating here, but if Syfy was well and truly enthused about "Blood & Chrome" and its future, would it have handed the project over to another entity for its debut? (And that Web channel, Syfy's press release is at pains to tell us twice, is "male-centric," which seems a little odd given the huge number of female "BSG" fans. I know that "Blood & Chrome" is very action-oriented fare, but come on. Ladies love to see robots fighting as much as guys do.)
Perhaps it was my fault for expecting more. After all, scripted drama seems to be something of an afterthought -- or at best, an unfavored sibling -- on Syfy these days. Hardly a week seems to go by without the debut or the greenlight of yet another reality series about collectors, makeup, ghosts, set decoration or whatever.
I'm not hating on reality TV, I'm just sad that almost none of the network's resources and attention appear to be focused on ambitious drama. I like "Alphas," but it's not in "BSG's" realm, and is the channel's lighter scripted fare is even more remote from the glory days of Adama, Roslin and Starbuck.
Not every drama is going to be "BSG": I get that. But Syfy appears less interested in the most robust and interesting aspects of science fiction and fantasy every year. At this point, I'm more excited about the new military sci-fi series from "Spartacus" creator Steven DeKnight than I am about anything in Syfy's pipeline.
Still, I guess I had more faith than I thought that the network would treat this franchise well. As it stands, I can't quite believe that after all that anticipation and all that waiting, "Blood & Chrome's" debut has this hasty air. And if there's talk of a possible TV series or any other kind of future, I certainly haven't heard it.
The Old Man -- or the young man, as it happens -- deserves better. So say we all.
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