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June 7, 2011 by musehick

Series reboots, remakes – they represent a shift in viewpoint;they come from a long tradition spawned from the need to reparse the wisdoms and ideas of our forebears and make them our own. It’s a totally natural thing – musicians do it all the time; artists copy the masters and study them before they create their own masterpieces; writers are told that they need to read in order to become great writers. Isn’t  it funny then that a lot of people get really ticked off when they stop for a second and perceive that the current cultural output is swamped by old stories retold?

I know I have voiced similar concerns, but then there are certain requirements for any remake to work. remakes have to tread a fine line between paying tribute to the old version whilst bringing something new to the table. Any creative work has to talk to the people watching it; it has to say something about the society it is released into. The remakes that don’t work? They are only aware of themselves as photocopies of what went before and all they serve to do is remind the audience of the original. So why would you want to bother with second hand information when you can go and check out that which came first? This is why a lot of those shows that they make to turn an English success into an American success and vice versa don’t work, because they only want to change the accents of the characters, and that seems  like such a pointless exercise. I worried  that ‘The Office’ represented this thinking, but I was thankfully wrong, and I don’t think it would have lasted as long as it did if this were not true.

What prompted this? Watching ‘Battlestar Galactica’. I really liked the original series and I feel that it stands the test of time and I was not thrilled when I read about a reboot, so I resisted watching it for the longest time. I finally succumbed when they put it on Netflix (something I am sure a lot of series people maybe felt lukewarm about  have benefitted from) and as with ‘The Office’ I was pleasantly surprised.

The whole style of the series has managed to imbue the story with much more gravity, which seems strange given that it is essentially in both versions the story about the extinction of the human race at the hands of the Cylons. The whole thing seems more convincing somehow, but why? Is it because the actors come across as less avuncular? That it is less shiny? Or is it that the Cylons in human form snuggling up nice and cosy with the humans strips away the hope much more efficiently than the overt attacks of the Cylons in the original? The enemy sat at the same table, looking exactly the same, how do you tell who the enemy is? It’s a very post 9/11 environment with all that paranoia floating around; intensify it by placing it on a ship in the middle of space and the whole thing is ripe for some drama.

Does the series work in its own right? Yes, I think it does. You don’t need to know anything about the forerunner, and that is ideally how it should be. I would honestly like to see a lot of original programming, but I am definitely revising my attitude towards remakes.

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