“The Passage,” the penultimate episode of Battlestar Galactica’s2006 run, was both a throwback to the series’s more action-packed first season and an attempt at rehabilitating a character who was mostly invented to be a thorn in the side of the regulars. It succeeded at the former and almost succeeded at the latter, though it took a strong final monologue from Edward James Olmos’s Admiral Adama to rescue that plot point. All in all, a solid stand-alone, inching the show’s mythology forward a bit while returning to the feeling of imminent doom that was season one’s stock-in-trade.
The Passage (#1–10 of 2)
My introduction to the screen work of Malcolm McDowell came on a Halloween night in the late 1970s, the year I decided I was too grown-up for the childish maneuvers of trick-or-treating, and instead went to the mall and slipped into Time After Time. Although I may not have realized it then, the soul of the picture lies in the lunch date between McDowell’s H.G. Wells, who has traveled from London to America in his time machine, and Amy Robbins, a modern-day career woman faultlessly played by Mary Steenburgen. In a revolving restaurant atop the Hyatt Regency, the spires and blue mists of San Francisco swirl behind McDowell, as he and Steenburgen glow at each other like a couple of school kids. “We knew it had to be magical for the film to work,” McDowell told me on a recent October morning, nearly a full three decades later. And magical it is: Anyone who has listened to Time After Time’s DVD commentary track knows that McDowell told Steenburgen he loved her prior to shooting the scene. The fluster that she exudes isn’t acting; it’s real. H.G. Wells tries to impress Amy by telling her he’s just published a series of articles on “free love.” When she bursts his bubble (“I haven’t heard the term ’free love’ since eighth-grade”) his prowess turns momentarily to embarrassment. Hardly a few frames flicker past, however, and the McDowell/Wells goofy grin exultantly returns—he’s smitten (as was I).