Thursday, June 19, 2008

bsg: for the newcomers

With the mid-season finale of the final season of Battlestar Galactica airing last Friday, the hiatus has begun. I'm hopeful that we'll see the second half of the season next January, but the SciFi Channel has only stated that it wil air during the first quarter of 2009. Fortunately, they've promised at least one BSG television movie that will air during the season four hiatus. And we're sure to hearing plenty of rumors about the prequel series, Caprica, which is still in development and sounds like it has a lot of promise.

If you've never watched the show, this your best chance to jump on the BSG bandwagon. As much as I love marathoning this show, viewing the second half of the final season is going to be an event, and you're going to want to watch it as it airs. Catch up now, so that you can be a part of it next year.

For the uninitiated, BSG is the brainchild of Ron Moore (formerly of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). It's a remake of the 70's TV show of the same name, but don't let that dissuade you. This isn't Charlie's Angels with Cameron Diaz on wires. Moore took the premise of the original series and adapted it into a modern, relevant, post-apolcalyptic tale of human suffering. In the mini-series (Yes, there is a two-part mini-series before the first season. Do not skip it. You need the context.), Moore introduces us to the Twelve Colonies, a human settlement scattered across twelve planets. The humans created the cylons, a race of machines built to service mankind, whose self-awareness eventually spurred them to rebel, causing a great war. An armistice was eventually reached and decades passed with no word from the cylons. The mini-series tells the story of the cylons' return. They have evolved and now have twelve models that mimic human form, making it possible to infiltrate the Colonies' defense system and launch a nuclear strike.

They manage a nearly successful genocide, with the exception of a handful of surviving ships, including one warship, the Battlestar Galactica. This is the story of the human race, now a rag tag gang of less than 50,000, as they flee through space, struggling to survive and to find the mythical paradise from their scriptures called Earth. The series is a textbook example of how science fiction can often be the best genre to explore modern political and social themes, without feeling forced or obvious. BSG is a post-9/11 tale, weaving elements of politics, religion, military strategy, terrorism, and McCarthyism (if cylons look like humans, can you ever trust your neighbors?). Plus, shiny space battles and Academy Award-winner Edward James Olmos.

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