This is a new section, which I hope will expand to include a variety of SF/F television reviews and/or commentaries. It was spawned by my interest in Battlestar Galactica, but certainly open to contributions. :)
To get started, is my initial impressions of Battlestar Galactica. I hope to go through the seasons and do up reviews/commentaries as time allows. Oh the shame and horror to go back and watch a brilliant SF show.
What the Frak?
A Commentary on Battlestar Galactica
By J. Lynn Stapleton
A little less than a year ago, I was home in Newfoundland on a visit and decided to pick up some DVDs as I was looking to get into a new fandom. At the time, Space [the Canadian SF/F station] was starting to re-air Battlestar Galactica [BSG] from the pilot episode onwards. I was at my aunt's house and caught the episode '33' and was immediately riveted to my seat.Yes, I know I'm a late-comer to the series. But at the time when episodes were originally airing, I wasn't in the frame of mind to get hooked into a new series. The advantage of this was that any spoilers I'd picked up by accident or what have you, I'd long since forgotten. So it was a new experience. And what an experience it has been! I bought the first and second season on DVD and marathoned the episodes over a short period. But as I've found with this series, the episodes require mutliple viewings to catch everything that's shown. There are so many layers that are missed on an initial viewing. I love sci-fi that makes you think and reconsider preconceptions.
I'd seen many of the original series shows over the years, including the mercifully brief Galactica 1980 series, but I wasn't so gung-ho that I minded the changes that had been made in the re-imagined series, brought about by former Star Trek alumni Ronald. D. Moore and David Eick. Those changes primarily being a female Starbuck and Boomer. The women of this series have some definitely strong (and not necessarily just physically strong) characters. Overall, the characters are flawed but that only brings a better realism to the series.
I think that has paid off in knocking down preconceptions. First off, when I started watching it was the level of darkness that had increased from the original's more aft camp nature. This reimagined series was also more geared towards a mature audience, though given the time delay since the original attitudes have by and large changed. The tone of the show is closer to Babylon 5 than Star Trek (the more recent incarnations) in the grittiness and realism.
There is also the dictomy of religion and culture within the series. Unlike the majority of the viewing populations where there is a more monotheistic belief systems, the majority of humans in Battlestar Galactica are polytheistic (worshipping the Lords of Kobol). In comparison, in BSG, it is the cylons that have a monotheistic belief structure (a one true God). The human race also derives its culture from the constellations of Earth. Each of the twelve worlds is named after a constellation: Caprica, Sagittaron, Picon, Aerilon, Tauron, Geminon, etc. There is plenty of symbolism that occurs throughout the series.
Of the cylons, when we start off in this new series, they have the ability to mimic humans in appearance and behaviour. The old models of cylons referred to by Gaius Baltar (and others) as walking chrome toasters are the centurions. There are twelve models of human-form Cylon, of which only seven are known (for the first three seasons) . There are multiple copies of these cylons. The human-appearing cylons are numbered models, though some actually go by names rather than their number.
This reimagined Battlestar has shown some brilliant writing that keeps you glued to your seat. From the destruction of the twelve colonies by the re-emergence of the cylons after a forty year armistice to the political and military steadfastness to not only survive but live. The cylons have nuked the twelve worlds, and only those in space ships had a potential to survive. But even that wasn't the case as the cylons hit many of the ships as well. The original Galactica was supposed to be retired into being a museum, and its commander, William Adama to retire as well. But things were not to be. Not only would the 'bucket' (as the Galactica was termed in the second season episode 'Pegasus') be forced back into active service, but so too was its leader.
One thing you will know as you follow the series is that there is an overwhelming arc to get them to the Thirteenth Colony – Earth. While it is episodic television, there's an arc that one needs to keep in mind, so it is difficult to come into the show part way. In that respect it is also like Babylon 5, rather than Star Trek which was overall standalone episodes, so it didn't matter necessarily if they were out of order. You would really notice that on Battlestar Galactica.
There's so much to say about this show, its characters and writing that to do so in one go would be a disservice to the brilliant work that has gone into reimaginging the series. I hope to get some more reviews done for the show. There is a plethora of websites (official, informative and fan sites out there for Battlestar Galactica, as well as books (novels, guides and the like).
There are lots of fan-based sites for the characters and pairings. You'll notice as I do reviews and commentaries that my favourite character is President Laura Roslin and favourite pairing being that of Laura Roslin and William Adama. Over the next while I'll look at some of my favourite episodes or ones that really caught my interest.