Monday, February 21, 2005

Must see TV - Battlestar Galactica

In my book the SciFi Network has scored a big hit with its re-working of the old ABC-TV series Battlestar Galactica.

You remember the original series don't you? Sure you do. That's were some human colonies in some faraway galaxy are betrayed by one of their own to their enemy, the robotic Cylons. With the traitor's help, the Cylons unleash a devastating attack on these human colonies, wiping them out. However, a few thousand humans do survive and, with the Galactica as their lone guardian, go on an unknown voyage through space to find the legendary lost colony, living on a planet known as Earth.

The new series contains all those same elements. Only it does them better. Sure the new series adds some new twists and changes here and there. From where I sit these changes are an improvement over the old series.

For instance, in the old series the Cylons were a dying reptilian race that saved itself by becoming robots or cyborgs. In the new series, the Cylons are the robot creation of the humans. But there's more. For reasons that aren't clear, the Cylons rebelled against their human creators. And they were able to evolve. In the new series some of the Cylons can pass for humans. This change adds a whole new element to the story, as humanity's remnants have to worry and deal with Cylon saboteurs in their midst.

And what beautiful protagonists those human like Cylons make. First there is Number 6 played by the blonde stunner Tricia Helfer. In flashbacks we see how she seduced Dr. Baltar into betraying his fellow humans. If James Bond had had to face this alluring she-devil in her Majesty's service, he would have not survived his first movie. The other Cylon femme fatale is Lt. Sharon Valerii (callsign Boomer) played by the lovely Grace Park. Her character is much different from Number 6. The Number 6 character is always acting to advance Cylon goals whereas Lt. Valerii at times seems to not know that she is a Cylon, but she does things for the Cylons without remembering them, or so it seems so far.

While these new elements do add to the series appeal, the biggest improvement to me is just in the overall mood of the remaining humans. The sense of loss these remaining humans feel is palpable. The worlds they've known for generations are gone forever. There's less than 50,000 of them left. They face an enemy that wants not just victory over the humans, but wants the total destruction of the humans. They face food, water, medicine, munitions, and equipment shortages. They do have hope, a planet called Earth, but they don't know where it is or even if it exists. But without that hope the fleet would disintegrate and all would be lost, so they hang on to that hope.

Are there problems with the new series? Well there are some, but my quibbles are minor. In the new series the Starbuck and Boomer characters are now female (and Boomer is a now a deep cover Cylon agent to boot). The female officers on the Galactica are addressed as "Sir" instead of "Ma'am", which seems a bit silly to me. They say "frack" a lot, but since this is a substitute for the real f-bomb, I'll cut them some slack on it.

My one quibble that does rise above the others is the presence of a news media remaining in the fleet. It just doesn't ring true. Sure it is possible that on air reporters and journalists would be part of the survivors. But the networks and news organizations that they worked for would be gone. Their audiences are dead and gone, except for those survivors in the fleet. Given the situation, I think that any surviving journalists would have banded together to form a small network that worked closely with the remaining government authorities in getting important information out to the fleet. They could still be adversarial when needed, but given the dire straits all the survivors are in, it wouldn't happen very often. In the show however, Presidential annoucements are staged with a small group of reporters shouting questions at her, just like in Washington, DC, the only difference being that the number of reporters are smaller. As I said earlier, it just doesn't ring true.

These few quibbles aside, I heartily recommend you watch Battlestar Galactica. It's a gripping, gritty, and thought provoking science fiction drama. It does have some adult themes, so parents should watch it first to judge for themselves if it is suitable for their children. It's likely fine for children 14 years or older. Kudos to Executive Producer Rick Moore and his cast and crew for putting together this outstanding series. Click on Battlestar Galactica to learn more about the series. Happy viewing.


At 2:06 PM, Blogger wellreadwoman said...

I haven't watched this series yet, but I am intrigued that the new Starbuck is a woman. Great news for women everywhere!!


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