Progress Report provides ongoing impressions of serials I view them.
While I have been enjoying Battlestar Galactica, I found that the third season was a bit uneven when all was done and said. This tempered my enthusiasm for the fourth season, but I was still looking forward to watching it. Interestingly enough, between the third and fourth seasons, a made-for-TV movie, Battlestar Galactica: Razor, was aired. After watching it, I have to level some of the same criticisms I had towards the third season at Razor.
Razor, rather than really being a stand-alone feature, is more of a super-extended episode. A super-extended flashback episode that centers on two timelines; first as the command of the Battlestar Pegasus is transferred to Lee "Apollo" Adama (Jamie Bamber) and secondly back during the first Cylon onslaught where the Battlestar Pegasus escapes under the command of Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes). These two stories are linked together by Captain Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Jacobson), who served as Cain's assistant and is called upon by Apollo to serve as his executive officer.
The greatest strength of Razor also ends up being the effort's weakness as well. Kendra Shaw actually has a lot of the makings of an interesting character and actually works in tying the two different time periods together. However, due to the requirements of getting all the other major characters involved, Razor frequently fails to center the story on her, resulting in the whole affair lacking focus. And, if the whole affair is supposed to be a stand-alone affair, it would've benefited the story to spend less time with the other BSG characters, many of whom contribute very little to Razor but eat up screen time anymore. On the other hand, if this were supposed to be more of a super-sized BSG episode, Razor is highly inconsequential, being an episode that's all backstory that, with the exception of one tiny revelation at the end, actually adds nothing to the mythos of BSG nor really develops any characters, including Admiral Cain, who is sort of a second highlight in this film--but we either needed more or less of her, because what we see in Razor is rather unsatisfying and, well, cliché.
Razor is shot much like other BSG episodes, although it does have some rather cheesy impressionistic moments. One thing that probably will get a lot of pleasant reactions from long-time BSG fans is the presence of the old-school Cylon centurions and raiders (done up a little via CGI). The regular BSG cast performs expectedly well. Jacobson is all right as Kendra Shaw, neither exceptional nor underperforming. Forbes pulls off the hard-nosed angry Admiral well, but I think she played the character a little too single-dimensionally, which resulted in some of her more vulnerable scenes being stiff. The CGI was at times a little obvious, but befits the production values of a TV feature.
Overall, I think that Razor reflects some of the lesser traits of the third season of BSG. One of its problems in telling backstory is that it really doesn't push the existing characters at all and there really aren't any meaningful revelations for any of them, nor revelations that will really push them forward and that's a problem we saw in most of the flashback episodes in the third season. The other big problem is that Razor really couldn't decide on whether this was going to really be a stand-alone sort of event or just another episode and that lack of decisiveness really reflected in the story, which introduces a potentially interesting character, but never fully commits to her and consequently doesn't live up to its storytelling potential. In the end, that means I have to say that Razor is not notably better than some of the other less significant episodes of the third season. This isn't to say that it's awful as it is still as watchable as any episode of this series, but it is rather unimpressive, especially in how it squanders its potential to tell a much greater story in its time frame. 6/10.