Battlestar Galactica Razor Review



Razor is an interesting item. In essence there was a long gap between Battlestar Galactica season 3 and season 4. The people in charge of Battlestar Galactica literally said "let us make some sort of instant-to-DVD movie we can get the fans to buy. Hey, you writers, what can you write for us to sell?" The writers tossed around the idea and realized that we had seen little of the Pegasus battlestar. That ship shows up in the series and then is demolished. The writers thought it would be perfect to tell more about the Pegasus and also to bring back Admiral Cain who was played incredibly well by Michelle Forbes. So this was a perfect way to get more Admiral Cain time, to get some back story fleshed out and to give Battlestar Galactica fans a fix while they eagerly awaited Season 4 to begin.

On one hand it's easy to be cynical about a company saying "how can we create more things for fans to buy." On the other hand, if right now Peter Jackson said "let me make a 2 hour movie in the Lord of the Rings universe for fans to buy" I honestly wouldn't care WHAT aspect of Middle Earth he chose to cover. If he was bringing in my favorite actors, in my favorite world, to tell ANY story I would buy it and watch it repeatedly. So in the same sense if Razor brings us more acting time and storyline in Battlestar Galactica's world that can be seen pretty much as a good thing.

Interestingly, the story is really all about Kendra Shaw - played well by Australian Stephanie Jacobsen. Kendra is one of the ONLY characters on this show to speak with a "non-American accent" and it helps her to stand out. Kendra is a fresh officer coming on to help Cain when the Pegasus is initially attacked. The rest of the story is really all from Kendra's point of view - how Cain handles the issues that come up, how Kendra changes over time based on what she goes through. Certainly she runs into Apollo and Starbuck and others, but she is always the focus.

A lot of what went on in Season 3 is now explained with Razor, i.e. you understand characters' motivations. That being said, I think they try a little TOO hard to "justify" decisions that people made which simply were not the right ones. They do show that certain characters had mixed feelings about what they did, but it would have been nice if they went into that more rather than just hinting at "oh person X had a tummy ache sometimes when they thought about having wreaked genocide down onto an entire planet". I've of course changed the situation for spoiler reasons :)

There are certain key issues I have with this episode but that would get into spoiler area, so I'll keep those all separate in my longer review. I know Amazon is very sensitive about spoilers anywhere in their site area.

It is definitely important to see the "long and short" version on this DVD as well as the commentary track. If you've only seen the broadcast short version you've missed out on a lot of the story. Even watching the long version still leaves some areas murky - areas that start to make sense when you hear the commentary track.

Definitely a must-watch before season 4 comes around since it informs what they are going to do in season 4.




SPOILER ALERT!!!!

I am female, so I always enjoy shows with strong female leads. However, it can also start to go overboard where everyone is female and you lose the balance of a well rounded cast. I honestly feel Razor goes overboard into female-land. The main character is Kendra. The secondary character is Cain, a tough-as-nails female. Cain is a lesbian sleeping with a female cylon. Even in the scene where they are raiding the Cylon ship, it is Starbuck running in, with a female at her side toting the bomb. The first person they see to rescue on the ship is a female.

Yes, you get a few flashbacks of Adama as a younger man, but those are secondary to the story and aren't even present in the base / shorter version of the story. Like I said, I enjoy having strong female characters. However I think they REALLY suffer if the only reason they are strong (or a main reason for it) is that you have wiped out all male presence on the show.

Also, up until now there have been NO bisexual or gay characters anywhere. Now suddenly there is a gay relationship between the close-to-evil Cain and the pretty-much-evil Cylon. Yes, I listened to the commentary track and yes I understand why they felt it "made sense". However, I could have come up with 10 other story lines that created the same level of antipathy in Cain that did not have to do this. I enjoy gay characters, I think we should have more of them. This felt very forced to me and uncomfortable that they were doing this as an "easy shorthand".

Speaking of "easy shorthand" the writers admit in the commentary here that they often use heavy drinking and smoking as a "shorthand" for their characters because these are "cool" things. It really bothers me a lot that a modern day writer would look on smoking as "cool" that he wants to embed into his storyline to pass along the point to others that something is "cool". To me that's like promoting meth addictions as "cool". I wonder if this writer has honestly never seen anybody with lung cancer or a hole in his throat. The idea of smoking being cool is like saying having poison ivy is cool. Maybe the writer is young and has never tried to quit smoking, or had someone they love in the hospital with the effects of smoking. I can only hope they get the wake-up call soon because research makes it very clear that many teens get into smoking because they see it on TV or film and think it's "cool". Very disturbing that that could be a legacy of BG.

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