I've been a fan of science fiction movies, tv shows and stories for as long as I've been able to see things and to read. When I was in primary and high school, I used to come home with a different book every night, sometimes more than one. And I'd read them in a day or two, and go onto the next. By the time I was 12 I'd read classic authors like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, E E 'Doc' Smith and Robert Heinlein. Smith wrote the classic Lensman and Foundation series, which I just couldn't get enough of. Science fiction movies weren't that good for me, as they never matched the depths of my imagination, while books allowed me to flesh out the details. Dr Who was an exception, as that was definitely quality sci-fi. And then there was Blakes 7, another British sci-fi show which was just fantastic. Around the same time was Battlestar Galactica, a show which even my parents loved to watch.
Today we have the new series of Battlestar Galactica, which has been just so awesome for me to watch, I decided I had to write about it.
I've just finished watching the cliffhanger ending of the first half of Season 2. Season 1 only came out earlier this year, and I voraciously downloaded and watched every episode I could get my hands on. Happily, they were released onto the internet around the same time as they were shown in America, which was a few months before they began to be shown here in NZ.
What did I like about it so much? Well, there's not a lot of modern sci-fi shows which capture my interest. Most of them are more in the soap operish style, or just plain crap. I never got into 4400 (if that's what it's called), nor did I get into Smallville, Roswell, etc. I stopped watching Star Trek: Enterprise halfway through the first season and never went back. I'm a Star Trek fan (only of the material since The Next Generation – I never got into the original series with Kirk) in a big way, but Enterprise just didn't grab me.
But back to Battlestar Galactica. Right from the beginning of the pilot, what I liked about it was its gritty realism. It was dark, it was visually spectacular, it had great acting and character development, so that you could get into the minds of some of the characters, and it was realistic. Unlike the original Galactica series, which had many funny moments and completely unrealistic attitudes towards the destruction of humanity, the new series treated the subject with respect.
Humanity was destroyed by the Cylons, with less than 50,000 people surviving and managing to escape from the Cylons in a 'ragtag fleet' protected by the only surviving Battlestar. The Minister of Education, just having found out that she has cancer, is thrust into the position of the new President of the Colonies, being the only surviving member of the government. Characters we come to know and love turn out to be, surprisingly, Cylons, who had developed models that simulate humans. Baltar, the evil human genius from the original series that purposefully helped the Cylons, is in this series a human who is deceived by the Cylons into helping them destroy humanity, and while his genius comes in handy for the Battlestar and the fleet, there's still a connection between him and the Cylons, albeit one that isn't that obvious or destructive.
The humour in the show, the humanity, the chaos and the fear – it's all part of what you would expect real people to do, and how you'd expect them to react under such situations. Every character becomes real, with their own lives, histories, goals and ideals – even the Cylons.
The Season One finale shocked the hell outta me! As a season finale, it came completely out of nowhere, completely unexpected. The event that closed the episode was surprising and shocking simply because it hadn't been predictable, and brought about such a scenario that you just hated the season ending on that note!
When Season Two began, I couldn't download the episodes fast enough. It just got better, with the characters developing even more interesting backgrounds, with the fleet getting closer to finding Earth, with things happening that basically reflect how we, as we know ourselves, would probably react in similar circumstances.
There are parallels to our current civilisation, with police states and the war on terror. It's real, it's exciting, and it's fantastic science fiction.
Season Two has just started a half season break, with yet another cliff-hanger that's just made me hate waiting for the next one! Apparently it starts again in January. Oh my… it's huge!
I can't recommend this series enough. It's a very gripping and rewarding sci-fi drama, and if you have the opportunity to watch it, start from the beginning.
It's not often I give a review of a tv show – and I think this is the first. Battlestar Galactica is worth it.
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