Friday, December 26, 2008

Is it really "The Best Frackin Show On Television"?

New Cylons (above and above right) versus Old Cylons (above left) - you be the judge!

Well, in my opinion, Battlestar Galactica, the "re-imagined" series which began in 2004, is at least one of the best shows ever to appear on television. We've come a long way from the campy, original Star Wars era Battlestar with Lorne Greene, Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch (who is the only one of the original series cast to make it to the new series in a very different role). I don't know if even my comic book expert fellow contributors will remember the Battlestar Galactica comic books Marvel put out in the late 1970's, but the otherwise unusual name/title Battlestar Galactica had enough promotional force behind it to have managed to resurrect itself almost thirty years later. And this is a resurrection worthy of creator Glenn Larson's Latter Day Saint's faith: a true comeback infinitely superior to its predecessor. During it's first season, the re-imagined Battlestar earned the praise from Rolling Stone magazine which I quote in the title above.

After eating up some holiday time avoiding family members I want nothing to do with, I went back and reviewed the first season of the revived series and I have to say for the most part I agree with Rolling Stone magazine's evaluation. This show is compelling on several levels, not the least of which is the entirely believable society which is created (and almost completely destroyed) for the show, the characters who inhabit this society and their frailty and their complexity. The space flight sequences are so far removed from campiness and so close to Newtonian physics believability it's easily the most realistic 'feeling' science fiction show I've ever watched. The deep, rich history and background given both to the many different 'human' cultures of the 'twelve colonies' and the mechanical/maniacal/trying-to-be-better-than human cylons is captivating. The sign of any good television show is how well it can draw you in to the world it creates, and Battlestar does that in spades.

I have a number of episode holes to fill in, which I hope to do while continuing to practice 'family avoidance' this holiday season, but from what I've observed this show deserves all the praise it has earned. I'm looking forward to the start of Battlestar's final season which is set to begin in January, and am curious how they are going to reconcile the strong individualism and skepticism depicted in the series with the hints of cyclical fatalism expressed by certain of the more 'mystical' characters. One other aspect I like about the 'mysticism' of Galactica is the possible scientific explanation for all of it, something I enjoyed about many of the versions of Star Trek. I'm looking forward to the very serious questions about identity posed at the end of the last season being resolved as well.

I recommend jumping into Battlestar Galactica if you haven't already. Especially if you have some 'down time' over this holiday end of the year break.


Landon Erp said...

I've never tried out the new series and have only basic memories of the old series. I don't remember the comic series published during the show's run but I remember when Image comics tried (and failed) to revive this franchise in the 90's under Rob Liefeld.

It is kind of interesting to note however how many great fantasy/sci fi series have been created over the past few years. Heroes, True Blood, and even older series like Smallville. It's like there's been a whole new level of quality in genre work over the last decade and I'm glad to have you around drawing attention to this fact.