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|Written by Lauren Cheal|
|Thursday, 08 October 2009 00:00|
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The television series Battlestar Galactica was created in the late 1970s as a Star Wars rip-off, most noted for its hokey special effects. While hardly a smash hit by any means, the original series does sit on many a sci-fi enthusiast's shelf.
Despite the original series cult status, when creators/writers Ron Moore and David Eich decided to re-invent the series in 2005, they struggled for fan support. Actor Richard Hatch (who had appeared on the 1970s version of BSG) went so far as to lead a campaign to block production of the new series. When Moore and Eich battled through legal entanglements and a boycott by fans of the original series, Hatch pulled a 180 and went on to co-star in the new BSG as political activist Tom Zarek. Despite the early hurdles, the new series steadily gained fans and support from the sci-fi community, but also mainstream viewers and critics.The re-launched series maintained the original premise that all of humanity has been attacked by the robot race they created, the Cylons, but in the new incarnation the clunky robots have evolved so as to be indistinguishable from humans. The series follows a fleet spaceships consisting of the 40,000 people - all that is left of the human race after the Cylons execute a large-scale nuclear attack. The show takes its title from a military battleship, the Galactica, that must project the fleet from further attacks.
There is plenty action and sleek special effects abound, but it is in exploring the political struggles of the newly created nation-in-space that the show really excels. The fleet must deal with the political crises that arise when an old political system is applied to a significantly altered situation. For example, in one episode, the President, a liberal woman, chooses to enforce a strict anti-abortion policy, despite her personal beliefs, because the future of humanity is at stake. It is these kinds of complex issues and moral and political discussions that the show captured brilliantly episode after episode for over four seasons.
If you aren't convinced yet that you should give the series a try, here's ten more reasons you should watch Battlestar Galactica.
(Spoilers are limited to the first few episodes of the series.)
1. Mary McDonnell
McDonnell's acting alone should be enough to convince you to watch the series. As the unwilling President of the fleet, Laura Roslin functions as the political guardian of the remaining members of the human race, and McDonnell's performance manages to convey the gravity of the situation, her difficultly coping with the role of president, and her ongoing battle with illness all at the same time! She is a truly superb actress playing a character that is powerful and harsh (she throws Cylons out the airlock like there is no tomorrow), but also sweet and adorable (in her complex relationship with Admiral Adama, commander of the Galactica).
2. Admiral William Adama
Laura Roslin's military counterpart in the series, Admiral Adama is another great reason to watch. Bill and Laura play mother and father to what is left of the human race. As played by Edward James Olmos, Adama is the physical incarnation of the military strength. He is tough for the sake of the safety of the people who serve under him, but unbelievably loving towards them when they aren't looking. He understands war - he was a young viper pilot during previous wars with the Cylons (the series pick ups after a 50 year truce) - and his decisions reflect a belief in the ability of the military he commands. The tension between his approach to safeguarding the fleet (to fight with everything they have) and Roslin's approach (to run, seek shelter and a place to live without Cylon interference) is one of the central conflicts of the show. While she plays a protecting and nurturing role, his is a "You don't mess with my family," attitude, yet they both want the same thing: to protect their children.
3. BSG isn't "Sci-fi"
Okay. It is sci-fi, but not in any way similar to what you've seen before. There are no aliens, no people with weird ears, and none of the fantastical creatures that you have seen in Star Trek and Star Wars. This is a series about humans. It is our story. Humans created the Cylons. The enemy is ourselves, and our frightening ability to create technology that we lose control over. What BSG shares with good science fiction is its ability to investigate morality, philosophy, and politics. BSG does it in a way that welcomes new people to the genre. It is a gateway for those who have always wanted to try sci-fi, but have found the goofycreatures and out of this world scenarios too off-putting. BSG is simply great drama that happens to be set in space.
4. Viper Pilots are Cool
The military battle between Cylons and humans rages in space, so much of the action on the show comes from intense galactic battles. The Viper Squadron consists of the fighter pilots that defend the fleet alongside the mighty battlestar. The two main Viper Pilots are Starbuck and Apollo. Starbuck is the wild, cigar-puffing woman who lives on the edge and will do anything to protect the fleet and the ship. Apollo is the estranged son of the Commander Adama. He is Starbuck's calm and rational counterpart on the flight deck. Together, they prove that being a Viper Pilot is just damn cool. They do fancy flight tricks, shoot down eerie Cylon raiders, and are always the first to disobey an order for safety and procedure.
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