If you have never watched Battlestar Galactica because it is a space show and space shows aren't "your thing" or you have just never gotten around to it, I am here to convince you why you should drop everything and start it right now. I myself am in that club and have never really been in love with shows or movies about space. I am not sure why, but it has never been a genre that really grabbed me. Because of that, every time I heard about the show Battlestar Galactica and how good it was, I just thought to myself, "yeah, that might be good, but it's not for me. I don't like science fiction". And then, one day I finally watched and realized how very wrong I was for ignoring such an incredible show for such a long time. I am two episodes away from finishing my second marathon of the series and I loved it just as much the second time, if not more. Although it takes place in space and rarely (with the exception of several episodes) spends time on solid ground, it explores themes that are relevant to all of us, and not just ones that are limited to its location. It is a show about religion, about politics, about love and more than anything, it's a show about survival.
Now, don't get confused, I am not talking about the original Glen A. Larson's 1970s show, but rather the re-boot that first aired on Sci Fi (as it was called then) in 2004 and was created by Ron Moore and David Eick. While the basic plot is similar, that is about where the similarity in the two shows end. The recent version is much darker and more dramatic, and the original was a very campy show. While they didn't have as much technolgy available during the first, the production value was also, well, a little cheesy. However, the visual effects and production of this series is beyond stellar and (much like in Game of Thrones), you wonder how they were able to accomplish that with such limited time and resources as each episode truly does look like a feature film.
The show revolves around a fictional planetary civilization that contains a dozen tribes that form the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. At some point during their history, a race of sentient robots known as Cylons, are created to make the humans lives easier. However, at some point the Cylons get smart and they rebel and then the entire race of toasters (as they are often called) disappear without a trace. After forty years of silence humans have mostly forgotten their existent, and then in one surprising moment they come back and come back with a vengeance. Almost all of the twelve colonies are obliterated and the remaining citizens are forced to board vessels and live up in space in an attempt to survive. Consequently, the series mostly revolves around the survivors that are now living on the Battlestar Galactica (that is controlled and led by Admiral Bill Adama) and their quests to maintain a normal life, and find a place they can call home.
With the use of carefully woven stories, the show is a true masterpiece as it examines multiple dramatic themes throughout the four seasons. That fact that the show is set in space is really just a back-drop as (through the battles with the Cylons and within the human race) the stories explore concepts of religion, faith, politics, terrorism, genocide, hope, salvation, love, insanity, death and probably most of all, the human instinct for survival against all odds. For those who have yet to watch, I don't want to reveal much more about plot and characters as one of the most brilliant and appealing aspects of the show is the way it is able to provide twists, turns and surprises throughout the whole series.
Within the great writing, the writers created one of my favorite devices in television history…the use of the word frak. With strict guidelines from the FCC, television shows are banned from using curse words with the threat of steep fines that shows cannot afford to incur. So what did they do? That's right, they replaced the word fuck with frak and thus the show with possibly the most cursing in television history was born. It does not take you long to learn the context of the word as it is used specifically and often. And, it also doesn't take long to adopt the use of the term yourself as I oftentimes find myself using it in my normal and every day life. Good thing, that much like in the show you can use the word frak and get away with swearing much more often than normal, which is kind of awesome.
Now, I don't think one can write or speak about Battlestar Galactica without addressing the acting. The cast was so well put together that I believe it should be considered one of the best ensemble casts of all time. Whether you love or hate any character, there is never a moment that you question their sincerity or total immersion in the role. In fact, I don't know that I can point out any actor in the series that is anything less than great. Leading the pack are the two centers of the show, played by Edward James Olmos (Bill Adama) and Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin). Olmos plays the character in such a powerful way that even after the difficult decisions he makes, even though you may hate it, you know that he has done the right thing. He is the strict father that everyone is trying to please, but mostly because everyone so desperately wants his love and respect. He is a flawed character and sometimes he is a little too tough on people and loves his ship so much that it can prejudice his decisions, but it is these flaws that also make you realize how powerful of a man and character he is. If you have seen the series, let us reflect on my favorite speech from Admiral Adama (spoiler alert) here.
Mary McDonnell plays the character of Laura Roslin who was the Secretary of Education on Caprica, and then becomes the President of the fleet after she is the highest ranking official to survive the Cylon attack. She is vastly un-prepared for the job, and sometimes makes some questionable decisions, but you also love her completely along the way. Gaius Baltar is a bit of a strange and quirky character, but his conversations with Six, are some of my favorite interactions. And, if you couldn't tell from my avatar, Six is quite possibly my favorite character of the series, but then again so is, Starbuck, or Lee Adama or Athena, oh nevermind, it is just way to hard to choose.
When starting the show, I found it a bit difficult to get in to at first and it wasn't until the fifth or sixth episode of the first season that I was really hooked. The mini-series is great, but in the beginning of season one, the stories are much more contained than the latter episodes that really become serialized and connected together. I say this because if you are having any trouble getting in to it, stay with it for a few episodes before making your final decision.
In the end, if you decide to stick with it, I don't think you will be sorry. More than anything, I hope you love the journey of Battlestar Galactica as much as I do. "So say we all."