Compare and contrast reviews are always difficult because there are often so many similarities as well as so many differences that unless you plan to write an encyclopedia you don’t think you can get them all in.
So we will start with a summary of common characters, their differences from old to new:
Richard Hatch (actor) in the original series played Captain Apollo a/k/a Lee Adama, son of Commander Adama, and one of the lead characters and head pilot; in BSG 2, season 1, Hatch is in several episodes (Hand of God, Colonial Day and others) appearing as Tom Zarak, a reformed terrorist, or as many from his home planet believe, a liberator-revolutionary. It does not take much to see its him, Hatch filled out as all people do when they get older but it was very clever of the new BSG to bring him in for a part.
Zach Adama, in the 1970’s series, is killed on his first mission but not much more said about his death as the series progresses; in BSG 2 his death is caused by his lover, Starbuck (now a cigar smoking woman and great pilot), because she passed him through basic flight school even though he was totally unqualified. However, Zach’s death weighs on both Adamas and Starbuck throughout the series and is something they never really come to terms with and is really a blind spot for all three (as in the Starbuck rescue episode in which the President bitches about the massive resources expended for the rescue effort for one pilot).
Boomer, in the original 1978 series, Boomer was an African-American Viper pilot; in BSG 2, Boomer is an Asian-American woman Raptor pilot (a Raptor is accompanies Vipers and provides targeting information and electronic counter measures) In BSG 2 Boomer also happens to be a Cylon—model number 8—though she is programmed to be human. Clips Boomer (17 min Se.1 Ep 8) “Could you help settle a bet? Why do they call you Boomer?” (29 min she is determined to be a Cylon but lied to by Baltar because he is afraid that her Cylon programming will be activated and kill him (Cylon programing appears when she shoots Commander Adama).
The new Boomer is one of my favorite characters by far. Because she is a sleeper agent, Boomer has multiple personalities. At first she believes she is human but begins to have her doubts after she discovers numerous detonators missing and several in her possession shortly before they explode on Galactica. Other clues that she is a Cylon arise, for instance, when she is piloting her raptor looking for water and when her instruments show large deposits, she can hardly mention it to her co-pilot because her programing is preventing her from saying anything.
Gaius Baltar, in the early pilot, he s a turncoat who sells out the entire fleet by cutting a deal with the Cylons to eradicate everyone but his colony that he would rule as a dictator. However, karma is a real bitch since he is betrayed by the Cylons and beheaded—not much more is said about him after that in the original series. In BSG 2, Baltar is remade into a leading scientific genius duped into assisting the Cylons with their surprise attack by the hot looking Cylon model number 6. His lapse in judgment almost wipes out the entire human race. Gaius consistently suffers from visions of Cylon model number 6 who is constantly tormenting him, while occasionally providing some comfort as he lives in fear every day that he will be exposed for what he did (or didn’t do) and the catastrophic consequences it had on the human race.
Starbuck, in the original series, was played by Dirk Benedict, a gambling cigar smoker who is also a gifted pilot. Benedict later played Face Man on the very popular show The A-Team. Note both The A-Team and the 1978 BSG series were produced by Glen A Larson & Co. In BSG 2, Starbuck is a woman who is a gifted pilot, and a cigar smoking gambler, like her predecessor. Needless to say when I first laid eyes on Starbuck I was more than a little surprised to see a blond cigar smoking woman instead of Dirk Benedict.
Colonel Ty is the executive office to Commander Adama in both series. He is an African American in 1978; but in BSG 2 is portrayed as an aging white guy with numerous self-destructive behaviors including an alcohol problem and a personal vendetta against Starbuck. His role in BSG 2 is much more substantive than in the original series. There are several episodes in BSG 2 where TY is forced to take over Galactica as its leader because Adama was shot and incapacitated for several episodes. Ty really screwed things up while he was in charge, but for some reason Adama is very loyal to him no matter what he does.
Commander Adama. In both series he is the leader of the Galactica, played by Lorne Green in the 1970s and Edward J. Olmos in BSG 2. In the original series Adama is more of a philosopher than a military commander giving general orders and discussing questions with his executive officer but is never really hands on. This is in complete contrast to Adama played by Olmos who is a hands on commander giving orders, planning missions disciplining his crew and letting the civilian government go only as far as he thinks they should. Olmos does a very nice job as Adama playing an ideal leader who has trust in his subordinates while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on his soldiers. One wonders how such a good commander was (prior to the Cylon attack) assigned to a Battlestar that was going to be decommissioned and retired (presumably like he was going to be). He is also one of my favorite characters in the BSG2 series; Olmos has that always serious voice that just seems to grab your attention. He had the same presence while he played police Lieutenant Martin Castillo in the television series Miami Vice from 1984 to 1989—his biggest role up to that date.
Apollo a/k/a Lee Adama. As stated above originally played by Richard Hatch in the original series portraying Apollo as a flawless person almost laughable in fact. In BSG 2 we get a more real portrait of a son living in his father’s shadow will all the flaws and insecurities that accompany such a role. He loves Starbuck from afar but the memory of his dead brother always seems to be looking over his shoulder. Adama considers her family so that may be another factor in Apollo not going after Starbuck kind of the brother-sister thing.
The Cylons. In the original series the Cylons looked like guys walking around in shiny tin suits with the since red roving eye and machine like voice. By your command was their trademark saying. In BSG 2 the Cylons take on a whole new dimension. There are 12 models that look like humans but there are many “copies.” The Cylons enforcers are still fully mechanical still have the one red roving eye and are frankly quite formidable. Their fighter ships are also Cylons; part organic part mechanical but are not nearly as scary as their land based counterparts which pursue humans without mercy.
“Frak” is a fictional censored version of “fuck” first used in the 1978 Battlestar Galactica series (with the spelling “frack”). In BSG 2, and subsequently in Caprica, it appears with greater frequency and with the revised spelling “frak”, as the producers wanted to make it a four-letter word. In that framework it seems to function as a substitute for “fuck” in several different forms.
Next we will go to our theory here at JPFmovies that the new creators of BSG 2 took the original as a starting or jumping off point but really made a new original series out of it that took the story into much more depth and in a much more detailed and different direction. While at the same time the original series was, in my opinion, more revolutionary for its day as it was produced on the heels of Star Wars and, though its special effects seem dated, to say the least, by today’s standards, they were cutting-edge in the late 1970s.
More to come.