Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Battlestar Galactica—FanBoyWonder’s crash course for the newcomer

A funny thing happed at FanBoyWonder’s day job not too long ago. Our colleague Lesley—knowing our fanboy ways—asked us if by chance we remembered that television show in the ‘70s, Battlestar Galactica… and if we remembered the name of the robots.

Oh boy did we ever! When we helpfully provided “Cylons,” Lesley thanked us for satisfying that bit of nagging trivia and was content to move on back to her job. Not content to leave well enough alone, we asked Lesley if she had heard of the NEW Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi channel. Well, no she hadn’t.

After a brief explanation of the “re-imagined” series, we lent Lesley our DVD copy of the 2003 mini-series and she was favorably impressed—as is anyone else who gets past the name, the sci-fi genre or the memories of the cheesy original show.

For Lesley and for those of you who aren’t yet watching what Rolling Stone calls the “best show on television” and the recent recipient of the prestigious George Foster Peabody award, allow us to help you get up to speed in time for BSG’s Season Three premiere on Friday at 9 p.m. (E.S.T.—Check local listings).

The upshot: Battlestar Galactica takes place in a galaxy far, far away, the race of human-created Cylon androids (fear of robot overlords is an old science fiction chestnut) launch a devastating nuclear attack (think Pearl Harbor, and Sept. 11 with a dash of Hiroshima times 1,000) on the Twelve Colonies of man.

The remaining survivors of the Twelve Colonies (and of the human race) are numbered at just under 50,000 (think the entire population of Bowie, Maryland or Biloxi, Mississippi) in a rag-tag collection of ships, many with only the clothes on their back. The fleet is protected by The Galactica, the last remaining Battlestar (think aircraft carrier in space), as the fleet seeks the 13th “lost colony” called “Earth,” which is as mythical to them as Atlantis is to us.

There are so many reason why we like this show but it all comes down to is that Battlestar Galactica is a political drama set in space that is punctuated by action sequences.

The nice folks at the Sci-Fi Channel have provided newcomers a neat way to get the lowdown on the essentials of Seasons 1 and 2—watch Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far, a 44-minute recap on Sci-Fi at 7 p.m. (E.S.T) or check it out on line at

Also, something we discovered just as we were posting this blog entry thanks to the magic that is Google finder, Brian Blum, a writer for Israel Insider, Israel’s daily newsmagazine, has written a very cool summation of Battlestar Galactica. What intrigued FanBoyWonder and we think it will you too was his insightful comparisons between the fictional battle between Human and Cylon and the “troubles” that many of us safely on this side of the world refer to as the "Middle East Conflict. "

Update/Correction: We have since been informed by Brian that his BSG article was reprinted on a number of Isreal-oriented websites, but he actually publishes his own blog called This Normal Life

To find Brian’s very fine article on Battlestar Galactica and give his blog some hits, click here

Back to the subject at hand: The premise of the new Battlestar Galactica is not too far removed from the original ‘70s show—where it differs is the viewpoint. This is a dark drama about a civilization trying to rebuild itself from the ashes of nuclear holocaust while on the run for their lives.

With a decidedly dark post-9/11 slant, each and every character in this show is a flawed creature just trying to survive and not always making the “right” choices.

The starts of the show and BSG’s dramatic centers of gravity are Edward James Olmos as Commander (later Admiral) William Adama and Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin—the former Secretary of Education who became President of the Colonies after the 42 people in line before her was killed during the Cylon genocide.

Adama and Roslin are often at odds as they represent the push/pull of military vs. civilian controlled decision making. But in a surprising twist that defies the stereotype, Adama, the career military man, is often the voice to express civil liberties concerns. Roslin for her part has had to make many of her decisions based on the needs of the many over the liberties of the individual—such as banning abortions in order to promote new births and begin to repopulate the species.

FBW’s favorite Adama moment: In a moment of anger and feeling betrayed by Roslin, Adama affects a military coup, dissolves Roslin’s presidency and throws her in Galactica’s brig—despite his often noted distain for martial law. Immediately afterward, he is shot twice by a Cylon sleeper agent. The near-death experience (and the insurrection and near civil-war among the fleet) prompt Adama to reverse his action and make peace with Roslin.

FBW’s favorite Roslin moment: Knowing but unable to prove that Dr. Gaius Baltar (played by a brilliant James Callis), a favorite to defeat her bid for re-election, is a Cylon collaborator, Roslin attempts to rig the election. Adama discovers the plot and the agony of watching her confess to him her attempt to do the wrong thing for the right reason SHOULD have netted Mary McDonnell an Emmy nomination and it would have but for the name of the show and the name of the network where it airs.

For old fans, who have had to endure a 7-month wait, and for newcomers, check out the first few minutes of Season 3 here, then check out the rest on Friday. Don’t worry about what you’ve missed, this show has only just begun. Stay tuned.


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