Battlestar Galactica, or, Who’d You Rather?

We’re behind the times with television. We have one, but gave up cable three years ago because it isn’t worth the expense.

Battlestar Galactica was on from 2004 to 2009. We rented the discs and watched it all at once. Between the cliffhangers, the commercials, and the long waits between seasons, it’s the best way. I’m also a big fan of captions and the ability to rewind.

We became addicted immediately. As far as who I’d rather, well, any of them except Baltar or Tigh. The dialogue is lean, the people real. The Cylons, a race of machines who develop human form, destroy the human planet Caprica and its colonies just as Battlestar Galactica is about to be shelved as a museum. The people on Galactica, a few survivors that managed to flee onto ships, and some civilian ships were spared because they were in already space.

The 50,000 humans left alive are now at war with the Cylons and face extinction. As each key character’s personality is revealed, you begin to respect them as soldiers and officers, especially the ubersexy Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos), whose word is law.

BSG was gritty and raw, unlike any other science fiction show such as Star Trek. I expected a show about spaceships, but got a show about people facing death on a daily basis who happen to be on spaceships. It captured the best and worst of humanity. They smoked, drank, and swore constantly (“frak” was their substitute for “fuck”). They were unwashed, had meltdowns, made mistakes, but above all they were soldiers with hearts. As more humans were wiped out, the pressure to train new pilots and other personnel was critical, and those were my favorite seasons. Each episode brought gutsy drama, sex, death, murder, executions, suicides, and destruction.

Their mission was to find Earth, revealed to them in “prophecies” as their future new home, while dealing with infighting, shortages, and traitors. The suspense was delicious, and key personalities stayed in character.

As the show progressed it began to lose focus. Toward the last few seasons, it got too surreal and confusing. Just because a drama is sci-fi doesn’t mean it should become unbelievable. It became a jumble of visions, flashbacks, and unanswered mysteries. There was much evangelical talk of god among the Cylons in an inexplicable way that I still do not understand.

The ending of the series caused controversy among many fans. I did not like it, and watched the final episode with disappointment. I don’t like loose ends. They do find a habitable planet, but we didn’t need to see them arrive there, destroy their own remaining ships, decide not to build a new city, and become hunters and gatherers in what appeared to be early Africa. The mystery of Kara Thrace was never explained, she simply disappeared. The final scene is 150,000 years later as Baltar and his Cylon lover walk through the streets of a thriving city, mumbling disapproval of what it had become. It never explained who Baltar and his lover really were.

I think the series should have ended when they knew they’d found a new home, and everybody’s cheering. There was no need to add the superfluous final episode. But as a whole it was damn good.

16 responses to “Battlestar Galactica, or, Who’d You Rather?

  1. I am one who love the alien and the humanity shows, never understood it, the whole star trek thing. I am love family guy, I don’t know what I ‘ll do without cable? Although there is time there is nothing good to watch, I’d miss my shows like criminal minds, the soup and many others.

  2. I didn’t even know the show was on that “recently”! I remember the old Battlestar Galactica that came out in the late 70’s, I think, to cash in on the Star Wars craze. There were quite a few bad sci-fi shows out then!
    The funny thing is I’ve never been much of a sci-fi fan, but the stuff I’ve read and some of the better shows I’ve watched have always impressed me with how imaginative they are, and how good the writing is.

  3. Yes there were a couple of versions of BSG which I never watched. I never would have watched this one either if we weren’t bugged by some friends who sang its praises. Glad we did.

    I don’t like war stories but this was different. You don’t really think of it as a war story or sci-fi, just great writing. That’s what it’s all about, right?!

    TV is mostly awful! I do like my movies though, but even then, sometimes can’t finish watching them.

  4. I remember the original BSG, it was awful. I’ve heard other people say this version is “so worth watching” & thought about checking it out. After reading this I just might.

    As for bad sci-fi there is one series that has had various incarnations since the 80s and I really wish they would just let it go! “V” has got to be the worst show yet they keep trying to revive it. I think that show is a perfect example why television is so bad — the powers that be do not realize that good writing makes a show worth watching no matter what genre it is.

    • It’s all about the writing, why don’t they get that. The actors are just bodies to say the lines written by the real creator.

      I read reviews on Netflix all the time, and so many people complain about the “acting.” Who cares? The actors don’t have to be well-known, beautiful, or even that good. It’s the WRITING. A famous actor with a bad script (like most Hollywood movies) doesn’t save the movie. I hate chick flicks even though I like some of the actresses, but the movies are so stupid and so out of the realm of my own life I can’t bear them.

      I never saw V. I keep seeing it on Netflix though and have thought of watching it. Maybe I’ll just give it a pass!

  5. I’ll have to check this out. I’m so in the dark I’d never even heard of it. With so few good choices on TV it may provide a little entertainment. You write so well I feel as if I already know the show. Ever thought about doing reviews, critiques?

    • I recommend it for something very different, even with its flaws. When it was over I got all gloomy because I didn’t want it to end.

      I would love to write movie reviews—problem is they’d be mostly critical!

  6. Hmm.. More of a star wars fan myself, but thats not why im commenting. I am commenting, because I just posted my first bit of poetry, and I would be honored to have your feedback. I hope you know a few things about greek gods. 🙂

  7. I never did sit down and watch a single episode but your review makes me wish I had; I think ‘Lost’ if you’ll excuse the pun was much like BSG in that the final two seasons seemed to lose focus and ‘Lost’ — here it comes — lost its way. it still was a great show but would have been greater if they didn’t introduce so many more characters: that’s what happened to Doonesbury in the last decades: too many new characters

  8. Honestly J Leo, it’s better to watch them on DVD, crazy to follow a show on TV and constantly be interrupted. I have heard so much about Lost and it’s actually on my Netflix queue. Think I’ll get addicted after the first episode? I like that anticipation. There are a lot worse things to get addicted to!

  9. BSG…….I must have been in a coma during that period. Don’t even recall it. And don’t usually miss anything with sex and violence and all you listed. You have piqued my interest now. Hubba hubba!

  10. I’m even farther behind–I’ve never seen an episode of BSG!

    • It’s totally understandable, I would never have watched it though I had heard of it, only because pop culture is a guilty pleasure. But I had no clue what it was about. I know people say how great some TV shows are, but I don’t miss it one bit. I feel lucky to have found this show, and it’s only because of peer harassment!

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