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288[BSG] Jammer's Review: "The Resistance" (webisodes)

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Oct 6, 2006
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      Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

      Battlestar Galactica: "The Resistance" (webisodes)

      In a series of 10 brief online episodes from SciFi.com, Tigh and Tyrol form
      the beginnings of a resistance movement against the Cylon occupation of New

      Release dates: 9/5/2006 through 10/5/2006
      Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
      Directed by Wayne Rose

      Rating out of 4: **

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

      For "Battlestar Galactica," the season begins before the season *really*
      begins with "The Resistance," 10 original "webisodes" released at SciFi.com
      as a promotional teaser for the third season's premiere on the Sci Fi

      The web series' plot goes something like this: Tigh and Tyrol are planning a
      resistance movement (still in its brewing stages) on Cylon-occupied New
      Caprica, and they're trying to recruit members while playing a shell game
      with the Cylons as to the whereabouts of their weapons cache. Former
      Galactica crew member Jammer (Dominic Zamprogna) attempts to feel out former
      pilot Duck (Christian Tessier) to see if he's interested in joining the
      resistance -- and perhaps also to see if Duck is a potential Cylon
      collaborator. In one of the webisodes, Duck's girlfriend is shot and killed
      while attending temple, because the Cylon Centurions open fire after
      learning that weapons are being illegally hidden there. In another
      installment, Jammer is scooped up by the Cylons and interrogated by Doral,
      who invites him to keep tabs on the resistance in order to avoid more
      unfortunate incidents like the temple massacre.

      The problem with each of these installments is essentially the same -- they
      are so short that they can't build any kind of narrative momentum. BSG
      executive producer Ronald D. Moore wrote in his blog at SciFi.com, "It's
      important to know that these Webisodes weren't done haphazardly or on the
      fly in between takes of the regular show. They had to be written, produced,
      shot and edited by a very specific group of people."

      That may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that "The Resistance,"
      above all things, feels like one of those subplots that gets excised from an
      overlong rough cut of an episode and ends up banished to the special
      features of a DVD set. Scenes can barely get off the ground before the
      screen goes black and we're invited to tune in for the next webisode and
      then given a preview of season three.

      The best scene in the web series is the one where Tigh goes on a savage rant
      about the ugliness of war and accuses Jammer of being a "crybaby." The most
      choppy narrative quirk is where Jammer is suddenly in a Cylon holding cell,
      making me think I'd missed an installment. The series does not flow like
      individual three-minute episodes, nor does it flow like a single episode if
      you were to string the scenes together.

      I apologize for what is now going to become a review of the format even more
      than the webisodes themselves, but the format is probably the most urgent
      topic of discussion on my mind in this case (since the truncated narrative
      is not).

      From a marketing standpoint, and as a forward-thinking and proactive use of
      "new media" (i.e., the Internet, as opposed to "old media," i.e., the
      television set and all its traditional revenue models), "The Resistance" is
      a clever approach to the teaser mentality. It gets exactly the audience it's
      targeting, which is to say the die-hard fans who are going to invest the
      time to go online and watch streaming video. I work in electronic media, and
      we're always talking about page views and revenue models and target
      audiences and so forth, and I have to admit that this webisodes model could
      be a successful one if the economic numbers for producing it are right,
      because it's exclusive and compelling online content that no doubt has
      generated interest. (I'd also better point out that it's hardly
      unprecedented. NBC attempted a similar web-exclusive episode format with
      "Homicide: Second Shift" nearly a full decade ago. Like with these BSG
      webisodes, those episodes also tied in with the main TV series but were
      separately produced.)

      Still, while these webisodes may be exclusive and compelling online content,
      that doesn't make them a compelling BSG experience. The problem with "The
      Resistance" is that it's so completely inconclusive as to be unsatisfying.
      Since it's expected that a large chunk -- and probably a majority -- of the
      regular BSG television audience will not see "The Resistance" online, it by
      definition must be inconsequential to the overall story. Of course, by this
      point, we're used to playing catch-up: The big leap forward in "Lay Down
      Your Burdens, Part 2" skips over an entire year of events, and the
      third-season premiere is said to take place still four months after *that*.
      If we can skip almost 16 months of what's going on, then what happens in
      "The Resistance" is by definition inconsequential, because it could just as
      easily be a part of everything else we've missed with the big time gaps.

      Naturally, the webisodes also suffer from the limitations of medium itself.
      I, for one, want the best theatrical presentation of my TV viewing: a big
      screen, stereo surround sound, video that doesn't drop frames, and sitting
      on a couch rather than at a desk. Online downloads are simply not up to my
      aesthetic standards yet, and until they are, I'm not going to understand why
      one would want to download episodes of TV shows from iTunes for 99 cents.
      Maybe that sounds like me being locked into my old-media ways, but I don't
      think it's about resistance to change. It's about the fact that new media is
      not ready for prime time; it's not the place yet for the one-hour dramatic
      form that television still rules.

      "The Resistance" is a nice effort for new media, but it's not an episode of
      "Battlestar Galactica." It's a piece of marketing that also provides some
      useful content. It is what it is, and it do what it do.

      Copyright 2006, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
      Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Jammer's Reviews - http://www.jammersreviews.com
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...