Sunday, 24 October 2010

All this has happened before...

It's been nice to get back into a system of work of late, especially as my work ethic when I'm at home is generally between dire and atrocious. However, this weekend I've managed to get both my opening submission and Sentencing seminar prepared.

On in the background, providing more than just pleasurable noise, has been Battlestar Galactica. Anyone who claims to know me knows how highly I rate the series. It hasn't been unknown for me to declare it the single greatest series ever made, above the likes of The West Wing. Some would say that's pushing it a little too far, but there's a case to be made.

This isn't the place where I'll make that case. Instead, I'm just going to eulogise over the series and bemoan the fact there's nothing to replace it, aside from the spin-off, Caprica, which is decent but not in the same class. Although a certain someone I know would like it just because James Marsters pops up in it.

So why do I love BSG so much? It's not easy to know where to start. Do I start with the story, the characters, the themes, the designs, the undercurrent of darkness, the underlying message, the fact that it isn't hamstrung like so many SF series by a lack of care being taken in the production, the quality of the writing...?

I could go on, but I won't.

I'll expand on a couple of those points. The story is a good place to start. The Twelve Colonies are destroyed by the Cylons and only 50,000 survivors manage to get away, starting an odyssey across space to find their new home, the legendary Earth. In that respect, the re-imagined series (the one I'm banging on about) isn't a million miles removed from the 1979 original. And even on its own, the story is a good 'un, especially when it's told with the bold elan that the writing brings to it. It would have been very watchable if it was just a remake of the old BSG.

But it wasn't a remake. It was a complete re-imagining. Starbuck is a girl (and yes is the answer to your question), as is Boomer (same again). And the changes don't stop there. There's complex politics, issues of race and warfare, and an undercurrent of darkness seldom seen in a TV series.

This is what marks BSG out from other SF series and other TV series as a whole. Where most aim for escapism, BSG brings the real world home. In this post-9/11 world, BSG goes further than any other series in examining those themes we see crop up more and more in day-to-day life. Don't be fooled by the conflict in the stars. This is a series about the enemy within, about tolerance and how we should live. Combine that with moments of unbridled awesome - like the Galactica itself leaping into atmosphere, dropping a load of Vipers and then jumping out again - and it ticks all my boxes.

This did turn into a 'gr8ist series EVAR' rant. Which is a shame.


  1. BSG was awesome. I remember I watched the pilot mini-series and was absolutely hooked. The dark, gritty realism and it's fearless willingness to tackle controversial issues (it's depiction as rape as a weapon/torture was harrowing, distressing, and ultimately perfectly executed) made it what we all wished Star Trek: Deep Space Nine could have been.

    I haven't seen much of Caprica myself. I watched the pilot, but didn't get a chance to follow the series. Does it match up at all to BSG? And there's talk of another BSG spin-off, following Adama in the first Cylon War. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but if they get the same guy who played him in the Razor flashbacks, then it could turn out pretty good.

    And as a side note, if you're looking for something else of a similar ilk to fixate on, I'd recommend Stargate Universe. It has the same gritty, realist feeling to it, and manages to take the Stargate franchise somewhere new and not entirely comfortable. Oh, and Robert Carlyle's acting is absolutely fantastic.

  2. And ironically, almost as soon as I mention Caprica, it gets cancelled.


    Do SyFy still do science-fiction any more?