Battlestar Galactica

I'll date myself if I admit that I was an ardent fan, as a little boy, of the original TV series Battlestar Galactica during the year that it was on prime-time network television. (I lost interest in the successor series Galactica 1980 after the first three or four episodes -- partially because it stunk, partially because I was very into the original configuration of the show and couldn't quite wrap my mind around Boxy as a viper pilot. I mean, Boxy had been this battle-scarred kid with the coolest robotic dog ever in Moffit, and now he was doing what Starbuck and Apollo had done in the old series? Um, no.)

Well, I was an ardent fan. Loved the cosmology of the series: twelve tribes of humans whose homeworlds had the same names as our zodiac, the idea that there were more humans in the galaxy someplace, and the tremendously cool ship designs and colonial military uniforms. It was basically space opera, but did explore some interesting issues about authority and legitimacy whenever Adama had to deal with the ruling political council, and the Cylons were a pretty well-done race of killer robots chasing after Our Heroes every week.

The newly re-imagined version of the series, showing on the Sci-Fi Channel on Friday nights, is a bit different. It's grittier, less space-operatic, and because it's a Sci-Fi Channel show there is more sex. The addition of human-looking Cylons is an interesting twist (although if memory serves there was a Galactica 1980 episode that also went here, so it's not that much of a radical departure), especially since Sharon ("Boomer," who used to be a fun-loving African-American guy and is now an Asian woman -- still not sure whether I like the fact that they changed almost all of the old character names to call-signs for people whose actual names are somewhat more ordinary-sounding, although I understand the logic of making the characters seem more like regular human beings to promote identification by the viewers), who we know to be a Cylon, seems to have two independent personalities that occasionally struggle with one another. That, together with the apparition that Gaius seems to keep seeing (is she real? a figment of his imagination? projection of his guilt at having unwittlingly made the Cylon destruction of the colonies possible in the first place?), opens a number of intriguing avenues that I hope the writers will explore in future episodes. The Cylons also appear to have a strong religious belief system of some kind, which would be a very interesting thing to hear more about. Given Sci-Fi Channel's past track record I am not optimistic (look what they did to Sliders, and I still haven't really forgiven them for canceling Farscape several years too early). But there's potential there, especially since the head writer is Ronald D. Moore, who cut his sci-fi chops on Star Trek and so presumably knows a thing or three about what good serial sci-fi should look like.

And the graphics are very impressive. The things one can do with CGI these days!

I'll give it another month or so, and in all likelihood will watch it for the rest of the season. We'll see by that point whether it's good enough to keep watching. All new shows should probably get a full season to hit their stride and find their audience; this goes double for complexly-plotted sci-fi shows. After all, it took ST:TNG at least that long to figure out what it was about, and the series didn't really get consistently good until season three.

[Posted with ecto]

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