Friday, March 6, 2009

Battlestar Galactica, aka I am a dork

If you want an actual review and episode by episode guide to the miniseries and first season, I once again implore you to check out The Daily Drew. And I am going to say right off the bat that some of what I have to say comes from Drew, but I totally wholeheartedly agree with it and couldnt say it better myself. And I figure most (if not all) of my readers have never seen the show and so an episode by episode recap and review is less helpful. My facts are probably not perfect. So shoot me. I will try not to include many spoilers, but I have to tell you some things to get you interested. But I will nto tell you anything you wouldnt already know by the end of the beginning of the miniseries.

Ok, so Battlestar Galactica is a drama set in the trappings of a sci-fi show. Much like Lost is a sci-fi show set in the trappings of a drama. I have pretty much decided that I am going to avoid discussing Lost because nothing I would say would make any sense to anyone who hasnt seen it and it wouldnt give it justice even if it did. Just suffice it to say that if you are willing to watch all 6 (once the final ones are shown) seasons of a show, I would highly highly highly recommend Lost. Expecially if you are at all interested in JJ Abrams-style conspiracy and analysis stuff. Because it is all over the internets. You could probably spend a lifetime analyzing it (and it seems like many have tried) and still not be happy or have all the answers. Mostly, in my opinion because not even the writers have (or will have) all the answers. But if you are just going to watch a few episodes here and there, dont watch Lost. It isnt worth it.

But that is totally off-topic! Ok, so Battlestar Galactica started as a miniseries based on the 1978 series of the same name. I havent seen the original, I will say that right off the bat. I originally decided to watch because my dad kept nagging at me and I was impressed that a "sci-fi" series had such a large audience base today. So I will admit I am a fan of both the original and Next Generation iterations of Star Trek (and the movies) and my favorite show as a kid was Dr. Who (I have not seen the new ones at all yet). Whenever I am looking for a book I inevitably pick up something written or edited by Asimov or Herbert or Heinlein or Card, when I am not reading Stephen King of course. I actually liked The Postman. The book, havent seen the movie. So that is where I was starting from. But this is not Star Trek. This really is a drama. The emotion and the impetus behind watching and interest in this series is the stories of the people. And they are real people. They are 3 dimensional. None of them are wholly good, or wholly evil. They make mistakes and they make them for the same reasons we make mistakes. They make rash judgements based on raw emotion or gut feelings and sometimes, they are wrong. The show uses the setting (in space) and the basic plot (fleeing from robots) to move things along and set up a backdrop to watch how these people deal with stress and personal relationships. And that is what makes the show so neat and cool.

So ok. The basics. There are a few "spoilers" here but nothing that you wouldnt have gleaned from the first part of the miniseries. Humans create robots (Cylons) to do their bidding. The Cylons revolt. There is a war which eventually leads to armistice and peace. 40 years later the Cylons come back. They have evolved. They look and feel like people. (I totally took that all from the show's intro) They attack the 12 colonies and kill off mostly everyone. There are a few survivors, mostly on ships that were in space at the time of the attack. That is pretty much the basis of the show. The attack happens in the first part of the miniseries and everything goes from there. The first season covers what happens to the survivors in the first 3ish months following the attack. There is suspense because, since the Cylons look like people now, they have infiltrated the human race. And so no one know who is a Cylon and who isnt. And not only that, but not even all the Cylons necessarily know that they are Cylons! Boom bom bom! There is religion, but not the Bible. Because, I forgot to mention. There aren't humans from Earth. They are from Kobol, where (supposedly) the gods and man lived together. Then something happened and lead to 12 (or 13) colonizations by the 12 (or 13) tribes of Kobol 2000 years before now. These colonies are names (loosely) after our zodiac figures (Aerilon, Aquarion, Caprica, Gemenon, Leonan, Libris, Picon, Sagittaron, Scorpia, Tauron, Virgon) and their gods (The Lords of Kobol) sound awfully familiar as well (Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemic, Athena, Aurora, Hera, Zeus, Isis, etc). Which brings be to this "13th colony," in the "myths" of their religion, there was a 13th colony which left before the other 12. And this colony was on . . . . dun dun dun . . . a planet called Earth. So, like us some people believe that Kobol and the gods and the prophecies are myths and stories and some believe they are true. And this is a major plot point (or maybe crutch) of this whole show. And there is also discussion, by the Cylons of all "people," of a God. See the capital G there? And one of the sayings or proverbs of the show is "All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again." Which of course leads to a question of when is this exactly? So there is a lot going on in the show. And don't forget, they are in space, fighting robots, some of whom look like people. So dont think that their aren't also awesome space fights and robot battles and such.

Ok, so main points -

This show is a drama set in space. It is enough sci-fi to keep sci-fi geeks happy (I think) but not too much to piss off the average viewer. There is enouch drama to keep the average viewer (I think) happy but not too much to piss off the sci-fi geek.

These are real characters with flaws. They make mistakes. They swear. A lot. Of course, since you can't swear that much on TV, they say frak as opposed to fuck. They have complicated relationships and emotional ties that make them do foolish and heroic things.

They have actual issues glossed over in many sci-fi and drama shows. For instance, they have to eat. They have to go to the bathroom. They have to have fuel. They have a government. It is a remnant (at least to start) of the colonial government, except that most of them died in the attack and so number 43(ish) on the totem pole, Secretary of Education, is now President. They also have a military, which as in most real life situations sees things very differently from the civilians.

So seriously. Check it out. I think you might like it. At least check out the miniseries. If you dont like that, dont keep watching. If you do, there are 4? seasons total, the final season is happening now-ish. It is a little hard to tell since there are a bunch of half seasons. We are on Season 2 right now. I will try not to talk too much about it from here on out since I have a feeling this is not my audience. But I had to at least try.

1 comment:

Beth Renner said...

I just caught part of the orig. Battlstar Galactica the other day. Was wondering if I should try to stick with it. I'm disappointed though because Netflix doesn't have the new series as watch instantly. Boo. Thanks for the review!