Saturday, March 21, 2009

And so humanity will continue on

In 2004 a little show called Battlestar Galatica premiered on the SciFi network. While the network has now started calling itself SyFy for branding purposes, I hope it continues to be a bastion for innovative shows. We'll see what happens with new shows premiering this summer.

I have watched Battlestar Galatica since the very beginning. Unlike a legion of other fans, I knew the original only vaguely. Names, a general sense of plot, that's about it. So I was not outraged at the re-imaging of the series including the casting of a female (the horror!) Starbuck.
I liked the show and also disliked it for the same reason: it felt almost too real. I don't mean the technology or the space battles or even the plot itself. Instead what drew me and disturbed me the most was how humanity would react if we ever found itself in the situation of being on the brink of extinction. The show gave us the pettiness, the fear, the selfishness, the courage, the hope and the sheer human messiness of people's reaction to the potential destruction of humanity.
To give non-viewers some perspective here are some of the very cool ways that the creators have established humanity thousands of years in the future:
  • Democracy is alive and kicking and not always the perfect system it is needed to be
  • There is no cure for cancer
  • There is no one true religion
  • People still do stupid things like drink a lot and smoke cigarettes
  • Robots have become more than just hunks of tin
  • A military is still pervasive and necessary
  • Humanity's hope is still based on the next generation
There were times that I did not look forward to watching a new episode because the series is very dark. Hope was in short supply the first and second seasons of the series. But there was enough to keep me watching, even if I had to store up a few in a row on the DVR to watch in one sitting. The original plot was not very complicated: find Earth. It was compounded by politics and character driven situations and somehow became extremely complicated once the remaining humans and Cylons discovered that Earth may not be the paradise they needed. I think that having a final end date for the show both helped and hurt this last half season. It helped because an expiration date gives the creators and producers time to wrap up the series without rushing it. However, because there is only a half season, I felt as though there was almost too much plot in the last 10 or so episodes. But in a way, it is a nice contrast from some of the slower episodes in the middle part of the series.

I won't give away the ending for those who haven't seen the last episode yet or the series in general (here's a hint: there is a really big space battle in the finale. Shocking, I know!). But if you enjoy shows like Lost, I encourage you to watch Battlestar Galatica. Characters are very complex (albeit with some issues I have with the female characterizations) and while the show is in the Science Fiction genre it also transcends it.
Next I'll try out Stargate: Universe and Caprica. Any other promising Science Fiction shows coming out that I should be aware of?


Helen said...

I have learned that Stacey is always right (Project Runway, Veronica Mars, House, Bones) so I'll give it a shot on DVD- maybe when I'm on matenity leave:) or really probably over the summer!

Mommy, Esq. said...

I loved your bullet list - too true.