Monday, April 2, 2012

A to Z: Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica.
It is too good to continue with a sentence. It deserved to stand alone, at least for a moment.
Now that the pause of respect has been observed I can continue.

Battlestar Galactica is my favorite science fiction universe that has been explored in moving pictures.
There have been so many, and so many of those that are good, that it isn't an easy statement to make, but I think I'll stand by it.  It wasn't always the case.  When I was a kid I watched the original series on T.V. and loved it.  But Star Wars was my far and away favorite. I wanted to be a jedi.  But one with a wookie sidekick.
Best of both worlds. And while I still love Star Wars, it must be said that now I think BSG edges it out.

What makes Battlestar Galactica so good? 
It started many decades ago as a decent concept: the last of humanity in exodus, hunted by a mechanical alien race intent on their annihilation. A road trip. It was very much a product of it's time: the late 70's, early 80's, with hints of ancient aliens influencing Earth's ancient civilizations, the strength of women's liberation with female viper pilots and of course, feathered hair for both genders. But it wasn't truly great: the characters where characterizations, good & evil were strictly defined, and the kid was annoying.
But the ships were cool enough to make up for most of that.



Then it got it's re-boot.  I admit I was hesitant. Hell, I was apprehensive.  Would they destroy my childhood memories? They made some changes. A lot of changes. But they were overwhelmingly for the good.
Here's a run down of some of the things that make the new BSG a titanic success:

1. Music.  The opening credits, when the score began it grabbed me, held me, and told me I was about to experience something profound.  It could have been a lie, with great music dressing up a dog, but it wasn't.

This is probably the best music in any TV series I can think of.

2. Visuals.  The CGI is gorgeous.  The ships are beautiful, and they even kept some of my beloved old Viper Mk.II's. The cylons are also much more deadly looking than the old costumes.

3. Characters.  Gone are characterizations. The characters are complex and flawed.  I'm still sure Starbuck was a coke-head. Best re-imagining in my opinion is Baltar.  In the original he was a greedy power-hungry traitor, pure and simple. The new Baltar is far more interesting.  The loss the characters experience and what they must go through just isn't equaled by any other sci-fi series or movie. 
The characters in this re-imagining have much more realism and are more believable than the characters in the latest Star Wars movies. 

4.  History.  The new series has a much greater depth for it to draw on.  I found myself enjoying trying to piece together the history of humanity from the facts, hints and myths dropped in the show.

5. Big Issue Questions.  
The philosophical, social, anthropological, however you want to term it, the "Big Questions" brought up by the show are profound.  Star Wars can't compete in this arena, and while Star Trek does, their treatment of the issues feels more obvious, as well as sugared in an 'after school special' sort of way. 
BSG addresses issues like:
1.  What is the nature of humanity?
2.  Is personhood limited to humans or can mechanical beings have it too? 
3.  Does our nature doom us to destroy ourselves or do we have hope to avoid it? Does the nature of our DNA program us to a predetermined future as much as writing software would? 
4.  What makes you, you? Are you your memories? Are you who you think you are and what if who you think you are now is not who you were before?  Not since Bladerunner has this been so well done. 

Admittedly the series wasn't without it's flaws.  I'm still not 100% sold on the ending (no real spoilers in case someone hasn't seen it) especially where Starbuck is concerned.  But it's well worth watching, even for those who aren't typically fans of science fiction. Battlestar Galactica is my favorite sci-fi series of all time and on my short list of 3 or so of any TV series of any genre. 

Oh, and let's not forget eye-candy.  I'm assured by the portion of the population who are partial to males that there is much to enjoy and can vouch for those of us who appreciate the other half that you can't go wrong.  Despite most of that attention going to Seven, I'm more partial to Starbuck or Boomer.  It's a cubit toss for priority, I really can't decide.  But yet another reason the reboot is an improvement: those characters were males before: yes, definitely an improvement.

And for other visual enjoyment BSG has the best star-fighter dogfights ever seen on film.
Note: I've included this video before, but it's fun enough for a second-go:


For the Gamers:
There are a lot of good BSG minis out there.  Ravenstar makes some excellent ones that have tempted me to pick them up.  But what I'd like to see even more is a fighter level spaceship minis game.  The real thrill in BSG is the dogfights.  A reason why BSG will always be better than Star Trek for me.  I want to have a real 3-D tabletop minis game of Vipers vrs Raiders.  Now that would be fun. 

If you haven't seen the series, do yourself a favor and see it!

And a bit of fun... enjoy!


______________________________________________________________________
This has been an A-Z Challenge post. 
For the month of April there will be an update for each letter within the theme of: Things that influence and inspire me, or the converse: things which I find distressing or make me want to rail at the world.
Some of these will pertain to the miniatures hobby, but many will venture off to atypical territory for the duration of the challenge, then it will be back to normal with mostly minis and an occasional blithering.
You can find out more about the A-Z challenge my clicking the logo at the top left of the page. 

12 comments:

Spacejacker said...

Great Post!

I wasn't allowed a lot of TV when I was a kid so I didn't see much of the original series, though I did get to watch the pilot "movie" once or twice. I loved the reboot, but was pretty disappointed with the ending. My girlfriend hasn't seen it though and we have run out of quality TV, so it might to time to go back through the BSG... Thanks for the reminder!

Kobold said...

Lorne Greene is still Adama to me, I'm afraid. I did like the Cylons in what little of the reboot I saw - the Cylon ships made more sense as AI controlled ships than flying saucers with three tin men inside - LOL.

And, thanks to you Monsieur le Ferret, I'm doing the A to Z challenge as well! Good luck!

Paul of the Man Cave said...

I can only heartily concur with every comment you have made. I loved the original series as a kid (and enjoyed it again recently) and loved the new gritty version even more. I also thought it was a great primer on Leadership and Command.

PS Whenever I see one of the 'skinjob' actors in another movie I cant help but yell out "Don't you know he/she is a Cylon??!!!!'

Ray Rousell said...

As the others have said, I saw the original back when I was a lad, I wasn't looking forward to the re-boot, thinking "What the hell are they gonna do with my show", but hell it knocked ten bells of crap out of the original and then some. THE best Sci-Fi series I've seen!!!

Michael Awdry said...

The original was always a favourite, but I've not managed to catch much of the new show. I've got to admit that the episodes that I have seen have been truly awesome, but Star Wars will always come first! Still a great post though.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Everything. Everything about Battlestar makes it so good. It's an AMAZING show. And I seriously love the robot/cylon evolution picture.
Happy A-Z blogging.

Anne said...

Wow, you are writing some serious posts for this challenge and very thought provoking.

I see science fiction writers in some ways as the philosophers of the modern era. You've posed some interesting questions. Our DNA however is encoded for survival, not destruction. The primary function of any species is to survive long enough to reproduce offspring. Richard Dawkins refers to it as the "selfish gene". Now humans are hardly the most successful species on the planet. E.O. Wilson chose the bacteria as the most successful organism in the history of the planet. But they lack the higher brain function that seems to cause we humans so much trouble. It's the humans' medial prefrontal cortex that get's us into trouble.

Laughing Ferret said...

Nice to see so many BSG fans :) I know not everyone will agree with the degree to which I hold this show, but I think it's worth a try for anyone.

Spacejacker: My girlfriend hasn't seen it either, I'm really looking forward to rewatching the series with her too.

Kobold: yes, I completely agree. It makes much more sense for the ships to be thinking beings than have machines that fly other machines :)

Paul: haha, I do the same thing. Wasn't long ago I saw one of them in something and said 'well you can't trust him, he's a cylon!'

Ray: Yeah I was sure they were going to ruin it. When I heard that humans had made cylons I was against it, but soon enough I saw how much better a story that made.

Laughing Ferret said...

Michael: Give the series a try from the beginning, from the 2 hour pilot, then first season, in order. so worth it :)

Thanks SL! I like that picture too.. great that it starts with a toaster.

Thanks Anne :) I find a lot of the most interesting collective soul searching in sci-fi. Strange that the genre itself is enough for a large portion of the population to discount it out of hand.

I understand that about DNA, and you're right that it's written to promote survival, but one of the interesting bits about it I've always thought of is how 'short sighted' it is. (not that it really sees or thinks, but you probably know what I mean). It's only drive in design is for replication, with drift and mutations becoming 'selected' when those create more favorable success rates. But the side-effects it creates can be destructive. Huamns are probably the most naturally violent and destructive to their own species of any on the planet. Can see other examples of it in other species but not to the degree we exhibit. Obviously not enough to curb our population since with the creation of civilization we've gone from a world population of about 10million to 7billion. But we also have the capability now of destroying all life on the planet: not the best thing for the dna's survival, and our impulse for short term survival and prosperity is poisoning our own environment and long term resources making long term survival more questionable: again, dna only drives for the immediate, it's a very hand to mouth approach to survival of a species. Not all species make it, sometimes the dna is unable to adapt to changes and I wonder if ours will be such, unable to adapt to the changes that the root cause of are the changes we ourselves have made, because of the impulses created by our own dna. That creative mind of ours is our most successful adaptation, but it may end up being our destruction too. We're a strange species. I'm hoping for our success though of course ;)

Lobo said...

Love galactica! :)

Ola Jaggers said...

I never knew much about Battlestar Galactica. Thank you for educating us that are clueless!!!

~Ola (a to z visitor)
iluvtosave.net

Joy said...

I too loved the original Battlestar Galactica and I remember watching it when the sci fi channel first came out (it alternated with Buck Rogers). I have the DVD set somewhere.

I was originally very skeptical about the new series. Initially, I hated it and I refused to watch it. Then, for some reason I started watching it and I was hooked. Wasn't impressed by Caprica though.

Love the pictures though.

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