Battlestar Galactica: Then
I suppose this is my “when I was a child . . .” posting where I rant and rave about these “darn kids” and how the new generation is messing everything up. It is isn’t really, but I do want to briefly talk about Battlestar Galactica (or BSG as it is referred to these days). I am lucky enough to have seen the original as a child and (some) of the newer series (more on that below) as an adult and one can see how media can shift over a generation. I love the idea of BSG. Yes, it was inspired in that wave of “knock-offs” where TV execs of the time wanted a “Star Wars“-like show to capitalize on the popularity of the movie. BSG was one of many such endeavors, but it stuck around because even though the stories are “hokey” by today’s standards, they still revealed a pathos and a sense of “fun” that was endemic in late 70s/early 80s TV. This was the Sci-Fi equivalent to The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Quincy M.E., Alice, and The Facts of Life to name a few. Even though it was on in the early 80s, it was just before the “New Wave” of 80s show exemplified by Magnum P.I., and Miami Vice, both of which, while having fun plots, had a much harder edge to them at the time. BSG‘s plots were mostly sci-fi in nature, but with a social tinge to them. However, they were mostly about family (Boomer & Boxie) being the main giveaways. They could go dark (I seem to remember a character died in the show), but for the most part they were fun stories that shows like Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda harkened back to.
Battlestar Galactic: Now
However, BSG’s new series was critically acclaimed and lauded as one of the best shows on TV. I watched the Mini-Series and was fairly impressed. I knew that they would update the themes and the like, so I wasn’t expecting a “saccharine” version of the original. I think the mini-series was very well done. I could have gone without the fascination behind Baltar’s sex life or the rumination on Religion and the “Sins of the Father” that they use as a theme for the show, but the science fictional story/set-up was great and the music was exceptional (still influencing sci-fi shows and games to this day). However, when the actual series started and season 1 began, it went downhill from there with me. The science fiction lessened and the social, political, and religious elements took forefront in the stories to such an extent that I was only able to last midway through the first season. I would periodically check in on the show by checking out various odd episodes, but I was never able to get back into the series. The science fiction, when they focused on that, was top-notch. Seeing the Galactica plummet in the atmosphere of a planet as it gives aid before jumping back out again is one of the strongest examples of sci-fi I have ever seen on TV and is seared into my mind. Yet, in many ways, it helped to usher in the whole GrimDark idea that shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones took and ran with as there were many times when I saw Bad Things Happen to Good People on the show and while others might argue that is “sophisticated” and “realistic,” I argue that it is exactly the opposite, “churlish,” and in “poor taste.”
I happened to watch the Mini-Series again on Amazon Prime and was reminded of the potential that the show had–potential to really focus on the greatness of humanity. While others will say that the potential was realized–to be fair, it has more Emmy wins than I even have publications–however, based on the way the original BSG fired my imagination as a child and helped to mold me into the reader/writer/lover of Sci-Fi that I am today, I can’t help but wonder it that is really true.