Galactica videomaker



In the sticky wetware dream of sci-fi fandom, nothing, not even a miniskirted "Star Trek" ensign, is more provocative than "Battlestar Galactica." Or, as the fans are apt to call it, "BstarG." Or, as it's known in my household, "Humans in bed with robots." Yes, that really happens. A lot. Threesomes even.

Despite this calculated allure, the Sci Fi Channel original series -- technically a remake of the 1970s television space opera but visually descended from "Barbarella" and "The Terminator" -- has also won critical acclaim as an allegory to the war on terror, complete with religious fundies (the robots), civil-liberties crackdowns (the humans) and even prisoner-torture scandals (humans and robots both). One part "Top Model" plus one part "The West Wing" equals sexy and accessible.

That accessibility got a boost recently in the form of the Battlestar Galactica Videomaker Toolkit, a minisite at that lets amateur auteurs incorporate official scenes and sound effects into their own "Galactica" film shorts. The fans are encouraged to download the media, upload their shorts and wait for executive producer David Eick to choose the best clip and feature it during a summer broadcast. Geeks: Those long accustomed to patching together fanfic in "MacGyver"-esque fashion, rejoice!

But viewers: Don't expect the uploaded vids to be "Battlestar Potemkin." Instead, think "Periscope Down." And so: An uploaded short called "Meet the Fleet Episode 26: Ben Sumar," a profile of the space fleet's toilet paper manager, in which we learn the truth behind the fleet's strategic movements. Or "Starbuck's Demise," a re-enactment of a recent episode that substitutes children in parked cars for pilots in spaceships. And "The Other Cylons," which imagines a conversation among three robots about dating their humanoid confederates. ("What's he got that I don't have? A pulse. Besides that? Uh, human genitalia.")

That's the comedy. But the earnest reimaginings? Barely watchable. It's amateur content like this -- "I can't get the image of that dead girl's eyes out of my head!" -- that makes one appreciate the character development, scripting, pacing and editing that goes into the actual show. The exception might be "Viper Pilot's Log," an upload from Melody Mooney, the author of an existing and popular vlog (at least by "Galactica" fanboy standards). Mooney has an eerie ability to mimic the dramatic script, shaky camera work and character development of the TV series. Give that woman a part in the real show.

Overall, the results are mixed, but with the contest the Sci-Fi Channel does well by its fans. Fanfic samizdat will always exist regardless of officially sanctioned media. You can't beat them. Join them.