A Galaxy of Planets but no Home
I finished watching season 3 of Battlestar Galactica last week. It was a pretty strong finish as it sets things up for the fourth and final season of the smartly written, fast-paced series.
I’m not normally a big fan of scifi. I’d watched Firefly (and the film Serenity) because Joss Whedon had his creative hand over it (and of course, since he’d created my favourtie series Buffy I couldn’t turn away from it). That was probably the first time I really loved a full on scifi show. I’d liked The XFiles too but though it is classified scifi it wasn’t quite as full-blown as Star Trek and scifi series set in space.
I had no intention of watching BSG but all these different friends of mine kept recommending it or talking excitedly about it. And when I say “different friends” I mean different kinds of people friends. Those who watch every bit of scifi they can, those who don’t watch any, those who like fun flighty television, and those who prefer sophisticated exploration of timeless and relevantly timely themes. (Also, Joss Whedon has given it his five-by-five review). So I figured I’d at least try it out and watched the miniseries (which kicks off the whole thing). Pretty good viewing, not mind-blowing. However it was good enough for me to continue watching and by the time I was halfway through season 1 I decided this was the best series currently on the box.
The premise is, to a degree, unique enough (given this is a remake). Essentially the history of the show is that war was waged between humans and robots (called Cylons) they’d created to help the colonies of humankind with their lives on 12 Earth-like planets, in a galaxy far far away (presumably). There was a settlement between human and cylon and the cylons left to find something more for themselves. Many years later they return to upset the peaceful conditions the humans are living in (and, well, eliminate them). And now the cylons can look “and feel” human (a concept that pays off unendingly, and which the original series’ creators didn’t think to incorporate).
What keeps me watching though is the strong writing that emerges after the miniseries, the character development, and the numerous directions each development in the show take us in. On top of that this is perhaps the most politicially relevant series screening at the moment. The writers don’t pigeonhole the leaders that come in to power over the course of the three seasons. Each of them reveal dark sides, but they also prove their strengths. The conflict between controversially elected President Roslin and warship Battlestar Galactica’s Commanding Officer Adama allows for the writers to really nut out the complexities behind political leaders.
I won’t give away what’s happened by the end of season 3 but looking back it’s amazing to see how far it’s come in so few seasons. Although season 4 will be its last it’s sure to take the series in yet more surprising places.
I haven’t gotten as into the music on BSG as some have. But I quite liked the piano song that was played in an episode called “Valley of Darkness” where Starbuck puts on a recording of what is supposedly her father’s work.
It is actually a Philip Glass song (which explains why I like it). But it’s also nice to see moments where the characters’ pasts are brought up. They’re not often discussed because the slate has been wiped clean, so to speak. But when we learn something about someone’s past it usually explains a LOT.