I was five years old in 1978 when Battlestar Galactica first appeared. The pilot episode was released as a feature film in Europe, and I later saw the rest of the series on TV. I remember my Dad saying at the time that it was “not as good as Star Wars”, which I can understand, but I always thought that it was more than just a cheesy cash-in. The concept, not just of the war between two civilisations, but of the search of the remaining fragments of humanity for the lost, mythical planet of Earth had plenty of potential.  I even had a few of the action figures at the time, including Imperious Leader (best villain name ever), Daggit and an Ovion.

And then a few years ago up popped the remake.

We rented the mini-series on DVD, saw the first three full seasons on TV, and bought the boxsets of seasons four and five, and we just finished watching it during the last week of 2010. The remake is surprisingly faithful to the core concept, while unsurprisingly being a very different beast in terms of tone. Usually I’m irritated by films and TV shows which are “gritty” and “edgy” just for the sake of it, but here they also took the subject matter seriously, which justified the stylistic change. The early seasons were very post-9/11, as the storylines dealt with an invisible enemy infiltrating our community, fighting a guerilla war, the ethics of using torture to flush them out, and the moral grey areas explored as we discover that, Hey, Cylons are people too, and they’re not all bad.

Towards the end the religious themes become surprisingly strong, and this aspect of the show may not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly made it a more interesting and sometimes challenging drama. I think the final episode (don’t worry; no spoilers) did a pretty good job of bringing the story to a close, and while it didn’t answer all the questions to my satisfaction (as regards what happened to Starbuck, for example) it did a much better job of tying up a fairly complex piece of storytelling than certain other recent TV shows I could mention (*coughLOSTcough*). On the other hand it had the most over-extended, epilogue-heavy ending since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

It’s often recommended to people who say they don’t like science fiction, and I’d say that’s fair. It’s not a standard drama which happens to be set in space, but the human drama element is strong enough (Mary McDonnell’s character being my favourite) to keep you watching even if you have an aversion to spacechips and robots. Give it a try.


2 thoughts on “BSG

  1. J January 27, 2011 / 10:27 pm

    Yay! Another BSG convert! We’re crazy about it here, with my daughter being the most obsessed fan, then my husband, then me. I was slow to come around because I’m not really into sci-fi, and I used to like to nap while it was on. Also, we didn’t get the channel it was on, so we would watch it streamed on the computer, which is jumpy and gross.

    However, as soon as we started getting some DVDs, I came around, and really enjoyed the storyline and the characters. The drama and the writing is pretty amazing.

    Have you seen ‘The Plan’ or ‘Caprica’ yet? I’d say that they’re both worth seeing, but neither are really worth going out of your way for. If someone has one you can borrow, or you can get it from the library or you have a Netflix type service there, it’s nice to be back in that storyline and universe. But ‘The Plan’ didn’t really reveal much at all, and ‘Caprica’ was kind of boring. Still, better than a lot of other stuff that’s on TV! (That’s what we used to say about Buffy…a bad episode of Buffy is still better than anything else on TV…)


    • simon January 28, 2011 / 8:34 am

      I’ve heard that The Plan isn’t really worth bothering with. I’d watch Caprica if it showed up on TV over here, but I wouldn’t make a big effort to hunt it down. Presumably you know about the new prequel series, Blood and Chrome?

      In the meantime I’m going to treat my withdrawal symptoms by reading Ron Moore’s series bible, where he fills in all the background of the BSG universe.


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