No show in recent memory has been as extensively picked apart or lauded as Ronald Moore’s “re-imagining” of Battlestar Galactica. The internet is packed with great pieces written about it (one of my favorites is Devin Faraci’s editorial concerning the series finale on Chud). Being cognoscente of this fact I will be brief and my rant will be relatively spoiler free.
To preface my examination I must first own up to my feelings on the series: I think Battlestar Galactica, taken as a whole, is the best series to ever grace basic cable airways. It isn’t just a landmark for science fiction, but for serial story telling in any genre or medium.
For the uninitiated the premise is such: the human race is all but wiped out in the first few minutes of the Mini-series. They are attacked by the Cylons: robots (that now have evolved to look like people) who rise up against humanity. The remnants of humanity are lead across space trying to find Earth (which in this universe is the mythical “13th Colony”) by the crew of the Battlestar Galactica, the last remaining military ship in the galaxy (think of it as a giant space aircraft carrier).
The events of September 11th changed the way in which we view every kind of media. Some Films and Television shows have tried to tackle the topic with various degrees of success. But I believe no work has explored, mirrored and commented on this dark period in American history better than Battlestar Galactica. The parallels are endless and deliberate, but they (almost) never feel forced. Tackling such weighty subjects as war, terrorism and military politics through a Science Fiction setting grants the events of the show a certain level of detachment. It is this detachment that I believe allows the show to be enjoyed from both an intellectual and a wholly entertainment standpoint: you can take away from Galactica what you bring to it.
Sounds like Saturday morning cheese right? Dead Wrong.
The show is played entirely straight and contains a heady mix of issues like domestic terrorism, terminal illness, human rights, patriotism, religion, and every conceivable element of politics all framed with alternating tones of dread and hope. The show so excelled in this arena that selected clips were recently screened for members of the United Nations, where the creators were on-hand to discuss the issues the show raises on a weekly basis.
Not limited to political and social commentary but also loaded with first rate special effects, production values, and a stellar ensemble cast ( Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, both multiple Oscar nominees) make this a must watch for anyone with even a passing interest in good TV. Don’t be scared away by the name or the genre: it’s good and that’s all there is to it.
So Say We All!