Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cinescape's Review for Captain's Hand

Cinescape has finally posted up their review for The Captain's Hand:

Sledgehammer and Spanner

Reviewed Format: TV Show
Network: Sci-Fi Channel
Original Airdate: 17 February 2006
Cast: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park
Creator: Glen A. Larson
Developer: Ronald D. Moore
Writers: Jeff Vlaming
Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan

Before I get to the review proper, I'd like to take a moment to look at the title of this piece. A sledgehammer and spanner are the tools Commander Barry Garner uses to repair the damaged manifold that allows Major Lee Adama to save the Battlestar Pegasus. It's simple enough--two tools employed to perform a task. So often, in shows of this genre, the tools are advanced devices that glow and whir and apply hitherto unhypothesized energies to accomplish arcane aims that boggle the viewers mind with their complexity. Every time STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's Geordi LaForge whipped out the aforementioned array of technological trinkets, I'd often think, "What if he forgot to charge the battery on that handheld microphasic do-dad?" The short answer is that the warp core breach, or whatever it was, would blow up the Enterprise years before Counselor Troi's helmsmanship did the job. The quintessential difference between the series where writer Ronald D. Moore got his first gig and the one where he now labors rests in the realm of noise. What do I mean by noise? I mean anything that stands between the sender of the signal, Moore, and its recipient, the audience. For years, we've been told that science fiction requires nonsensical trappings to adhere to its tenets, but Moore has proven that philosophy dead wrong. The use of understandable tools to attain a conceivable result removes the noise to often overlapping the signal and allows the viewer to understand Garner with a speed and immediacy that brings the drama of the scene home. It's a human moment instead of a technological accomplishment. For this alone, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA deserves an ovation.
Sermons aside, "The Captain's Hand" could easily be played along to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" as yet another unfortunate Pegasus CO finds his command terminated by an untimely, and uniquely, non-violent death. Like Admiral Adama's attempt to replace then Captain Adama as Galactica's CAG, the decision to place the Pegasus's chief engineer in command, was an error in judgement. It is perhaps interesting to note that the elder Adama consistently misjudges the people he places in positions of power. In this error, he's not alone. Both Adama and President Laura Roslin have elevated Gaius Baltar to positions of authority that greatly expand the scope of the selfish man's misdeeds. While Adama's scar unknowingly testifies to that mistake, Roslin's likely to discover the depths of her error as the election moves forward.
Though the TV Guide logline would have us believe the story is that of missing Raptors, this episode is essentially about Scylla and Charybdis. Both Lee Adama and Roslin find themselves between the Greek's eloquently mythologized rocks and hard places. Both individuals take steps that place them in opposition to powerful forces that will alter their futures. At its heart, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is about these choices. It could be the right to abortion or the necessity to be fruitful and multiply. It could be adhering to the standard of technobabble or fighting convention by striving for dramatic clarity. It could be knowing when to pound a problem with a sledgehammer or twist it with a spanner. Either way, it's always hard and you have to give something up, but its worth it.

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