Cylons, Survivors, and Saviors: The Reimagining of Battlestar Galactica

Title card for Battlestar Galactica (2003).

If you grew up in the late Seventies, you might remember an old sci-fi TV show called Battlestar Galactica.  And if you’ve watched the Sci-Fi Channel during the last six years, you’ve probably heard about the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica by Ron Moore.

This franchise is a major staple of the modern sci-fi fandom.  While I’ve no doubt the original show has its merits, I’ve never actually seen it, so I’ll just talk about the premise of the 2004 reimagined series.

To sum it up, this is a science fiction story with the trappings of a fantasy. Human beings are traveling through space toward a mythical planet called Earth, while trying to survive an uprising from a race of sentient androids called the Cylons.  It’s typical sci-fi fare so far, but when you get into the story itself, all these spiritual and psychological elements keep popping up.  The human beings have a civilization called the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, the Cylons are fighting a war in the name of their One True God, and the whole journey through space is just one big Exodus narrative.

For all the ups and downs this show has taken, it does raise a lot of good issues like the concept of identity (given the Cylons who can impersonate human beings), the struggle to maintain one’s values in the face of annihilation (or to reject them and merely survive at any cost), and just what religion should be in a time of war (Fundamentalists v. Healthy Skeptics).

There are also a lot of memorable characters, thanks to the great cast in this show.  You’ll admire the leadership of Adama, you’ll despise but secretly root for the self-interested Gaius Baltar, and you’ll get whiplash in trying to figure out just how malevolent some Cylons truly are.  And despite what some may say about the series finale, I really think everyone who had a major storyline got a decent ending.

Battlestar Galactica is an excellent drama and adventure, with conflict that never lets up.  And if you’re interested in a more domestic but no less gripping drama, then I recommend you check out its prequel series, Caprica, which chronicles the rise of the Adama family and the Cylons.

Bibliography: Battlestar Galactica (TV series).  Created by Ronald D. Moore and Glen A. Larson.  Developed by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick.  Sci Fi Network.  October 18, 2004 – March 24, 2009.

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2 thoughts on “Cylons, Survivors, and Saviors: The Reimagining of Battlestar Galactica

  1. I really disliked the reimaging of Battlestar and that’s probably because I love the original. Not that I was alive when it came out but I grew up watching reruns of it and bought it on DVD as soon as it came out. The characters were so vibrant and had energy. Yes they were a little good-too-shoes at time (even Starbuck the supposed bad-boy pilot) but the show had a lot of heart. The cylons were the perfect television villain because they were quite clearly useless tin boxes that, in the grand tradition of television bad guys, couldn’t hit anything save the occasional minor character.
    The reimagining made these characters darker and broodier, for no apparent reason, and while it did add quite a few modern subtexts these didn’t really fill the void left by the warm characters of the original. That and the silent and more realistic space battles had nothing on the original Star Wars like effects where they would use the same explosion footage in episode after episode.
    I think the real problem here is that the two series use the same names and that’s about it. They have two very different takes on life in space and the connection between of humans running from an enemy could have simply been acknowledge and the new show should have been given a totally different name. I probably would have liked it better if it wasn’t Battlestar Galactica.
    Sorry for the rant.

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    1. Don’t worry. Just because it’s my blog doesn’t mean others can’t have a good rant, too.

      Like I said in the review, I haven’t actually seen the original BSG incarnation, just as I haven’t watched any of the old Doctor Who series featuring the First through Eighth Doctors. And it’s funny, but when you mentioned that the reimagining of Battlestar was “darker and broodier,” I thought that statement could easily apply to the new Doctor Who.

      Sign of the times, I guess. Well, stay tuned for Thursday’s post, which will be considerably lighter, given that it’s Kurt Vonnegut writing about the end of the world.

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