Jun 13 2011 1:56pm

Battlestar Galactica: A Shipping Genesis

Six and Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica

MEGAN FRAMPTON (AKA THE BSG NEWBIE): This past weekend saw the debut of BBC America’s showing of Battlestar Galactica—and the debut of my watching it. (For more of our coverage leading up to the premiere, check out the For the Love of...Battlestar Galactica and BBC America Meets Battlestar Galactica...and Jamie Bamber’s American Accent!)

My first impressions of the series are...confusing. I like stories where you’re flung into the action without a ton of backstory, but that results in some necessary confusion. So I spent most of my viewing time watching with a puzzled look on my face as I tried to figure out what was going on.

Two-thirds of the staffers (in other words, everyone but me) are HUGE BSG fans, so I know I could ask what is going on, and what is happening, and they would tell me. But I’m too stubborn to ask, and I want to judge the series on its own merits, not on others’ interpretations of it. So here are my first impressions:

—Wow, that blond woman has an incredible body and a lethal stride. And even without seeing her destroy things you can tell she’s dangerous. I envied her purple furry sparkly coat later on in the episode, but my son hated it. Plus: Black patent leather bra and undies? Hell, wow.

—Why was the ship being taken out of commission? Did that mean everybody was about to lose their jobs? If so, why were they all so happy? Plus he coulda been the greatest guy in the world, no way were ALL of his underlings that thrilled to be working for him. Nobody is that good. I bet Mother Teresa even had a few grumblers on her staff.

—Kara Thrace is the epitome of a kick-ass heroine. Although I can’t say I’d like to have her as my friend, she’d be great in a fight. As she proved.

—There was a lot of smooching going on. My eleven year-old was watching with me, and for a few consecutive scenes there was much sucking face. Plus cylon chick got naked crazy fast. Other than that, the son liked the show.

—Redline_ asked me who I thought would hook up during the course of the series; I’d have to say Starbuck and Apollo, and Commander Adama and the new president lady. Not so many hookup opps other than that, as far as I could see.

—Speaking of Starbuck and Apollo, what’s with the nicknames? It’s hard enough to be confronted with an ensemble cast, then to add nicknames to names I already don’t know? CONFUSING.

—I’m in for next epi. And now I know how my husband feels watching Game of Thrones without having benefit of reading the books. Confused and confusing.

Apollo and Starbuck (Lee and Kara) in Battlestar GalacticaHEATHER WATERS (AKA REDLINE_, AKA THE DEVOUT BSG FANGIRL): It’s always so nice when someone new starts the series, because it brings me back to the first time I saw the miniseries in 2007. I remember that I almost turned it off when Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer) snapped that infant’s neck, thinking, WTF?! How awful is this really? What on Earth did (my friend) Mike think I would find appealing about this?! But because it had come so highly recommended to me, I decided to give it a few more minutes.

And a few minutes later, of course, I met Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) and then shortly after that, Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber). I’d like to say I fell in love with them at first sight and that the rest is history, but that’d be a lie.

No, I thought Starbuck seemed like an egotistical bully (mocking Tigh’s relationship with his wife like that at the card table for no good reason that I could see) and that Lee was a prissy bitch (self-explanatory—although, now that first time we see him climb out of his viper is one of my favorite moments in the mini!). The friend I mentioned, Mike, had told me that I would love Starbuck, but in that first scene I recall thinking that I just didn’t see that happening (though even when I didn’t like her, I found her compelling, and the same was true of Lee, so I kept watching.)

The funny thing is that I wasn’t too far off the mark! Starbuck is totally a hotshot and has been known to bully (though it’s usually out of love). Lee can be SUCH a snob. But I say that with fondness now, as they can be those things, but also so much more. Which I started to discover, actually, by the end of the mini—if not during their first scene together, then definitely by their last. I was hooked on them by that point, and that’s what led me to marathon the first three seasons. True story.

Anyway, Megan, my point is this: despair not! The mini throws a lot out there about the BSG universe and the characters’s backstories, so much so that it’s impossible to absorb it all. I recall being by turns freaked out (the baby neck-snapping), confused (what’s an FTL drive? what does CAG stand for? and why the hell are women being addressed as “sir”?!), and giddy (I have mentioned once or twice that I was swooning over Starbuck/Apollo by the end, right?) by those first few hours of the show. Afterwards I knew I wanted to watch more but wasn’t at all sure what I was getting myself into. But give it a few eps. I swear things’ll start making more sense and that it’ll be overall more enjoyable to watch (you know, as much as a show about the possible end of the human race can be enjoyable).

Now, about those callsigns: I can’t believe you don’t like ’em! I love them. They reveal a lot about the characters, whether they can always see/accept it or not. Also, with Kara and Lee you can tell they’re feeling chummy when they use callsigns (versus when they’re feeling vulnerable, which is when they use first names, and when they’re angry, which is when they use ranks!). WHAT? I can’t help it.

Anyway, moving on. I guess RDM (a.k.a. executive producer Ronald D. Moore) was pretty obvious in his plans for relationships! You’re right on the money with Baltar/Six (James Callis and Tricia Helfer), Roslin/Adama (Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos), and Starbuck/Apollo, and I’d be curious to hear what you think about their potential at this point and where you see them going. I’d also add that I feel like I sensed a Helo/Boomer/Chief/Cally situation a-brewin’ early, but maybe that was just wishful thinking? And Billy (Roslin’s right-hand man) was TOTALLY mooning over Dee from the moment she yelled at him in the head. Aww.

Roslin and Adama in Battlestar GalacticaMEGAN REPLIES: I didn’t say I didn’t like the callsigns, it’s just that they confused me. It’s a familiar device to show how the person speaking feels about who they’re speaking to (see: Ethan Sullivan calling Merit “Sentinel” vs. “Merit” in the Chicagoland Vampires series. SUCH a tell), and I like it, but within the context of a book, I’ve gotten a chance to know the characters before they start throwing other names around.

Oh, yeah, could totally see the Billy/Dee thing, but I immediately discounted that possibility, because she is so much hotter than he is, plus he seems like a milquetoast, so unless he were the last man on earth (oh, right, that might happen!), I couldn’t see her warming to him at all.

As for the others, I didn’t remember who they all were, so went and googled, and have ALREADY spoiled myself for future epis. Remind me not to do that ever again. In case of confusion, do not google; just ask redline_.

Starbuck/Kara/Blonde Chick Running Laps in the Ship/Whatever clearly has anger issues—I didn’t like she called out that older guy about his marriage in the middle of a poker game. Not cool, S/K/BCRLitS/W.

I liked that the series went there with the baby neck-snapping; these cylons are not messing around—they kill babies! I really appreciate it when television shows don’t pull their punches. That, as much as anything, made me want to keep watching.

As someone who used to manage folks in her day-job, I liked the emphasis on strong management when Commander Adama says to old guy (Tigh?):

“You’re either the XO, or you’re not.”

On the other ship, the Secretary Roslin takes charge like hella whoa!, which is pretty remarkable for what sounds like a minor position within the government. Making decisions is tough, and these characters own it. Like that a lot.

And my last comment: Do we really have to continue to deal with that slimy Gaius guy? Yuk! He’s just unpleasant, in all sorts of ways, and I was stoked when I thought he blew up. Glad he didn’t steal the old lady’s number, but wishing the lantern-jawed guy hadn’t given up his spot on the ship (but then I spoiled myself, although I kinda knew they wouldn’t give up on his all-around good-looking male self that quickly).

HEATHER AGAIN: Oh, but see, I’m glad they start off with the callsigns right away. Starbuck says a lot more about who Kara Thrace is at first, for instance. You don’t start to get to know who Kara REALLY is until, what, episode 4, I think: “Act of Contrition,” one of my favorite eps. No one calls Kara Kara except the Old Man (Adama), Lee, and sometimes Helo. (And, I mean, Helo is just Helo—he probably gets called by his given name, Karl, even less frequently.) But you’ll see!

Ha ha HA—Dee is way hotter than Billy, it’s true. But Billy’s a sweetheart, and you can’t help but root for him. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Not even gonna touch Starbuck’s anger issues. Lots o’ BSG peeps have ’em, and I gotta say that if anyone deserves them, it’s her. I WILL say that her affinity for punching superior assholes comes up again a few other memorable times. (<33333)

That’s true, murdering babies certainly sends a strong message! It’s like, If you can’t handle this, buddy, TURN BACK NOW! NO, REALLY!

Roslin’s pretty kick-ass, it’s true. I can’t even imagine what I’d do in a similar position. I’d like to think I’d handle myself with half as much grace and composure, but I rather doubt it. And it just gets harder for her from here, as I’m sure you can guess.

Oh, BALTAR. Yeah, good ol’ Gaius Baltar (James Callis) is a regular. He’s the one you love to hate (or, in some cases, I guess, love to love). Plus, he can be great comic relief, and the lords of Kobol know BSG needs a shot of that all the time sometimes.

redline_, aka Heather Waters, is the production associate. She lives in Astoria (Team Queens!), New York, and has been known to try to press friends into BSG fan service.


Megan Frampton is the Community Manager, Romance, for the HeroesandHeartbreakers site. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son, and wishes she had her own callsign.

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Susan in AZ
1. Susan in AZ
In that picture, Gaius (sp?) Baltar is wracked with guilt because he nuked his former girlfriend, the only woman who loved him. She is real only to Gaius.
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
@Susan in AZ -- Yes, I think that would be head!Six there in the picture. Though I gotta be honest and say I don't know that I agree he's wracked with guilt over Caprica Six's death. Gaius Baltar is all about Gaius Baltar and his own survival.
K.M. Jackson
3. kwanawrites
This from another newbie who likes to make things a quick obsession. After the BSG talk last week I'm now up to season 2( almost season 3) on Netflix. So fracking hooked! I love to hate and then love Gaius. He makes me scream and laugh. This show has me. Ugh!
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
@kwanawrites -- Squee! You're already that far into it? AWESOME. I remember I saw the first two seasons in a matter of days too. Had to force myself to slow down in Season 3 because I knew I had a loooong wait ahead of me for Season 4 and I wanted to savor it. That was easier said than done, but isn't it always. Anyway, SO GLAD you're enjoying the show! Yeah, Baltar's a narcissistic sleezeball, no question, but BSG wouldn't be the same without him (I heart you, James Callis!).

What's your favorite part of BSG right now? (In vague terms, if possible, so that we don't spoil Megan and other potential newbies!)
Liz Maverick
5. Liz Maverick
Wait a minute. She didn't snap the baby's neck on purpose. She just didn't know her own cylon strength. She's just misunderstood. Poor misunderstood baby-neck-snapping cylon.
Susan in AZ
6. mochabean
@Megan -- yes it does get less confusing, it really does. I am also laughing at the Merit/Sentinel point -- very apt! FYI some very violent stuff in the future -- some stuff I know my 11 year old son could not handle -- so maybe talk to redline about that as well. (trying not to spoil you). Obviously all kids are different, just wanted to give you a heads up that the making out/pleather bra and panties (which must get awfully hot, I'm just saying) is sort of the least of it. Hope I am not overstepping, but since you are pretty much unspoiled you may not be expecting some stuff that I myself found hard to watch.

@redline - one of the things I love about BSG is how characters I hated at the start I loved at the end, but I always loved Baltar in all his sleazeball glory. It has to be the Caddis factor...
Louise Partain
7. Louise321
I believe the call signs are leftovers from jet pilot days aka Maverick, Goose, Ice Man, Jester in Top Gun. And of course if you go back to original BSG, Starbuck and Adama were both male hot shot pilots who wore pharoah helmets, I kid you not. Boy am I showing my age. Were you guys born back then?

Baltar in whatever incarnation has always been a sleazeball.
Megan Frampton
8. MFrampton
@mochabean--thanks for the heads up, not sure he'll handle so well. I will ask redline_ (I will NOT google!). He's got quite an imagination, and has had some freaked-outness from Dr. Who, so he might not be in for the long haul.
@Kwanawrites, you are a crazy woman! Obsession, much?
@Louise321 Liz mentioned Top Gun also when we were talking about it. And my husband--2 1/2 years younger than me--watched the original: "Lorne Greene played the commander the first time around. It was awful. I watched it."
Louise Partain
9. Louise321
Your husband is so-o-o-o right! So was he just a kid who had no choice? You know Universal used to devote a whole section of their studio ride at the L.A. studios to the old BSG. They even had staged lazar fights. So-o-o cheesy! LOL
Megan Frampton
10. MFrampton
@Louise321: He was a kid, and he loved SF/F and lasers and such, so yeah. He was also growing up in rural NJ, where there wasn't much entertainment, so he was also kinda desperate. That said, he seems to be liking this version way better already!
K.M. Jackson
11. kwanawrites
@MFrampton you know me when I'm in I'm all in. So yes I'm batty. @redline_ Hard to say my fav part and I don't want to give much away. I love the inter-relationships. That's so intriguing. It's great how they keep it all going with just the right sized cast. It would not work without Gaius. Like the father/son dynamic. Not crazy for the Pres at all. I'm dying to see who Lee ends up with. So hot. I love Dee too. So much there. Oh and Helo my Dollhouse crush is just delish. I'm done now. LOL.
Heather Waters
12. HeatherWaters
@lizmaverick -- I don't think I've ever said this to you because you have such good taste in ships, but on this one issue I have to ask: Were we watching the same thing?! Of COURSE Six knew what she was doing! In her mind she was sparing the baby from getting nuked a few hours later, but still. It's an odd kind of mercy.

@Megan -- @mochabean is quite right. I was going to say "from 2.5 on, the show is very dark," but honestly there's a lot of violence in the show and it's hard to say what different children are and aren't ready to see. My dad watched the whole series with my then-14-year-old brother, but I think parts of it freaked my 11-year-old brother (who is also a Doctor Who fan) out so he didn't watch it all.

@kwanawrites -- BSG's cast is SERIOUSLY hot! I've had the pleasure of meeting lots of them (including Tahmoh Penikett/Helo!) and they are even better looking in person. If I could just meet Katee and Jamie, I would be the happiest of fans. Oooh, you don't like the Prez?! That's so interesting! I wasn't very happy with her or Adama by the end, but at first I was very fond of them both.
Megan Frampton
13. MFrampton
@redline_ Oh, I didn't think she was being merciful! Just heartless because, you know, likely she doesn't have a heart and all. And I will have to find out what darkness is in store; my guy is intrigued, but is probably okay with stopping watching, giving all the smooching anyway.
Naz Keynejad
14. nazkey
OMG, I'm loving this post! How fun to see a newbie's reaction to the show!

I'm not going to spoil by giving anything away and my hats off to @redline_ for responding so well without being spoilery! I do have to say, Gaius is actually an incredibly amazing character and his arc is one of the most interesting ones in the show, in my opinion.

Starbuck & Apollo? Well, now THAT'S a whole other story! ;-)

PS @Lizmaverick: Preach on sista! Definitely misunderstood!
Saundra Peck
15. sk1336
I watched the episode live on Sat nite, and set the dvr so I could rewatch it thru the week in order to catch or understand everything I missed. I have watched this show sporadically with my daughter (who never trusts her dvd's to anyone for fear of loss or damage which could result in her own hospitalization). I love the intensity and the relationships, not to mention the cool scenes with the ships and the future ways of life mingled with the life we know. Can't wait for next week!!!
Susan in AZ
16. mochabean
@lizmaverick: "Poor misunderstood baby-neck-snapping cylon." You owe me a new keyboard, mine is covered with diet coke now.
Susan in AZ
17. Dru
I wasn't 100% sold on them individually at first, despite the fact that I liked them in their intro scenes. Even the scene in the brig had me thinking "ok, young male lead and young female lead are probably going to have UST at some point, ha ha, I'm so GenreSavvy!"

It wasn't until the second part of the miniseries (don't want to spoil anything here, if only Part 1 has aired) that I really went "oh holy frak, there's serious UST already there!" - first, when previously cool but slightly jerkassish Starbuck looks at a photo in her locker, and second (and more obviously), when she sees Apollo rather...unexpectedly in the hangar bay. The look on Katee Sackhoff's face in both scenes made me a total, complete pilots! shipper, right then and there - and chances are it might do the same for you too :).
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