Friday, April 18, 2014

Battlestar Galactica

A few weeks ago I finished watching Battlestar Galactica (the remake). I had a lot of thoughts on the series, but between PAX, catching up on Japan blog posts, and other priorities, I've been slow to review it.

Short version: It's a fun series, worth watching. I'd say a full half of the episodes are really good, with the rest being at least engaging, if not exciting.


A futuristic civilization of humans has colonies on 12 planets. They eventually created robots to do their bidding, but the robots eventually gained sentience and rebelled. The resulting war eventually ended with a treaty, and peace between Human and Cylon lasted for decades before, suddenly, the Cylons attacked again and completely overwhelmed the colonies.

One war ship, called a battlestar, survives the onslaught and escapes with a relatively small number of ships. With their home destroyed, the humans must search for a legendary 13th colony: a planet called Earth.


Battlestar Galactica at its best explores humanity through conflict and allegory, as these people remain trapped together in these ships for years. The exploration goes far beyond the obvious surface-level question of what it means to be human, a question never far from the forefront thanks to the human-looking cylons. It addresses the treatment of prisoners and enemies, an obvious analogy to terrorist prisoners. It shows both the dangers of being too easy on them, as well as the dangers of being too harsh. It accepts the complexity of difficult things: vengeance, love, loyalty, control, governance, and much more.

At its worst, though, the show drags on, taking us through awkward relationships, strange paranormal experiences, and boring, pointless side-plots. Those things are inevitable for a long series, though, and they're rare enough to be worth sitting through. Sometimes they even pay off!

There are some really fun characters in the show, and the setting feels very full--there are small details all over that suggest an almost obsessive attention to consistency. With a few exceptions, the computer generated graphics worked fairly well, though a lot of animations were obviously reused several times, presumably for budgetary reasons.

I got the impression sometimes that they were kind of making it up as they went along, as the story took turns that reminded me of my D&D campaigns (which are similarly often made up on the fly). this turned out to be the case, as the writers kind of wrote things as they went along, often surprising themselves with their connections later on! I was certainly surprised a few times by the direction the story would go.

As it is, I was pretty satisfied with the ending. There was a brief melancholy that goes along with any ending of a long series, but it was a series that deserved its rest.


If you have an interest in sci-fi series, I'd recommend it. It's no Firefly, but it's along a similar vein, so I'd recommend checking it out if you find yourself longing for a little more of the 'Verse. Adama and Reynolds are both excellent captains for different reasons.

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