Daily Archives: 17 June 2011
Day 04 – Your favorite show ever
No surprise for any of my friends here. The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica is the apex of science fiction TV shows, in my opinion, and after watching the series through, I find myself holding other SF shows to the same standards. Most other SF shows fall short.
When Sci-Fi (before they became Syfy and devoted themselves to airing shitty wrestling) was developing the mini-series, they aired the original 1978 Galactica to build interest and fill up timeslots. I watched quite a lot, and while it’s not bad, it’s pretty dated, a very straightforward Star Wars clone with a few twists and a unique world (Greco-Roman and all that). I wasn’t sure how the new series would turn out until I saw the mini-series, and was hooked. I ended up moving in the middle of the first season (no TV all summer!), and didn’t have cable at college, but when I saw it again Reuben brought out the DVD box-set…
This is a very dark show; much like with the Song of Ice and Fire series (see yesterday’s post), the characters go through some of the roughest, grittiest hells in the history of television. The last Battlestar and the survivors of the human race are isolated in the depths of space, pursued by a powerful enemy, with the entire deck stacked against them. Galactica is not the show to watch if you can’t stand bad things happening to characters you like, but it makes their successes, however brief, all the more powerful. Even “happy” episodes are bittersweet lamentations of a fading human race.
That, of course, is why the show draws so much attention, why it’s so good: the characters have to deal with human frailties, internal division, psychological turmoil and the collapse of everything they knew, and yet they keep striving to survive. That right there is the root of the show: the basics of human nature, perseverance, the struggle to survive against overwhelming odds.
Galactica is one of the most complex science fiction shows ever made, and also one of the most “realistic” (barring the robots, explosions in space, etc.). It asks quite a number of deep questions, being equal parts political drama, religious debate, psychological thriller, and space opera; the questions it raises about human nature, helped along by the introduction of human-like Cylons, can be surprisingly profound.
And if that doesn’t hook you, Galactica is strong military science fiction with plenty of action, from brutal skirmishes between protagonists to epic solar dogfights between the last surviving humans and the Cylon fleets. The production values are incredibly high… higher, I should note, than most of Sci-Fi’s original movies.
There’s a reason the series was the critics’ darling when it appeared. I only hope that, sooner rather than later, we’ll see another strong, serious science fiction epic on the same par as Galactica.
Spoiler/Preview/Recap: Read the rest of this entry