Five reasons why Battlestar Galactica is the coolest sci-fi show on TV
Back in 2003, executive producer Ronald D. Moore had a vision for an updated Galactica that ould be everything sci-fi classics such as Star Trek were not: Gritty. Explicit. Sexual. Flawed. And decidedly not about gadgets or technology.
For those of us used to Star Wars-style space opera, it hit like a robot’s shot to the solar plexus. (Read my first attempt to grapple with it in 2003 here.)
Moore’s grand experiment ends at 9 tonight on the SyFy with a two-hour movie, wrapping a three-hour finale that began last week. He leaves behind a series that has referenced everything from the occupation in Iraq to genocide in Africa -- all filtered through the struggle of a human race fighting to survive attempts by the robot race it created to erase them.
As this week’s finale unfolds, both humans and human-looking machines have realized their cycle of killing each other reaches back thousands of years. They reached Earth, only to find it was reduced to a nuked-out cinder 2,000 years ago, back when an earlier generation of humans created an earlier generation of Cylons and they eventually fought each other.
In tribute, here’s a list of the Five Biggest Reasons Battlestar Galactica is now the best science fiction series on television:
It’s not Star Trek – The Trek franchise was based on two notions – that humans are innately good and that technology can solve most any problem. But in Galactica’s world, technology is the enemy. There are no networked computers or cell phones because the Cylons could control that technology. So problems are solved with guns, guts and a lot of stumbling around.
The heroes are seriously flawed – At various times, our human heroes have perpetrated suicide bombings, removed Democratic choice through martial law, killed their spouses, hidden a half human-half Cylon child from her parents and carried out the execution of men who led a mutiny on Galactica. As the story winds down, Edward James Olmos’ Adm. William Adama spends more time drinking huge slugs of whiskey to cope with the creaking breakdown of his ship and slow cancer-fueled death of his love, Mary McDonnell’s President Laura Roslin. Let’s see Capt Kirk try something like that.
It’s about everything – Over this series’ course, characters have argued about religion (in a neat twist, the humans believe in multiple gods and the Cylons believe in just one), confronted the nature of humanity, shown a military leader willing to sacrifice civilians to survive, depicted an endless stream of broken romances, and even echoed the Iraq war with a storyline showing the Cylons’ brutal occupation of a human settlement and the insurgency that arose to defeat them.
The actors are amazing -- Shame on Hollywood for turning its back on longtime talents like Olmos and McDonnell, forcing them to climb into a huge space franchise to show they've still got the chops to rock a demanding series. They're flanked by some of the most underrated newcomers in the biz, including British hunk Jamie Bamber as Apollo, sultry Tricia Helfer as cylon Number Six and always riveting Katee Sackhoff as the new-school Starbuck, Kara Thrace.
It made up its own curse word – Barked in anger at tense moments, “frak” means about what you’d think it does. But once you get used to hearing a made-up word launched like a sailor’s mantra, it gets across the idea with surprising efficiency.