Tuesday, October 24

'Battlestar Galactica' Launches the Iraqwar into Outer Space

Source: New York post

THE best show on television about Iraq takes place hundreds of light years away, with starships, alien worlds and robots that look like humans.

It's "Battlestar Galactica," which has managed through science fiction to do what no other drama does - provide a primetime allegory for terrorism, occupation and religious conflict.

In the opening episodes of the show's third season, the last survivors of humanity revolt against the Cylons, robots that hope to "tame" the polytheistic homo sapiens by teaching them about a one true God. The occupation turns ugly, people are tortured, and in the end, humans turn to suicide bombings as a method of resistance.

"It was really hard for a lot of people to understand," says Katee Sackhoff, who plays the tough, tomboyish military officer Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. "The show always takes on issues that aren't politically acceptable. It's a heavy weight to carry around sometimes."

It's also what makes "Battlestar" your atypical offering from the Sci-Fi Channel, which usually traffics in killer crocodiles and laser swords. Called "the next great cult hit" by Entertainment Weekly, the show has drawn critical acclaim and non-sci-fi fans for its excellent acting ensemble and shocking noir twists.

The 35,000 human survivors of a Cylon attack aren't consistently heroic - or even likeable - and the robots that chase them are conflicted about their motivations. Formerly enslaved by humans, the machines crave revenge, but fear for their morality (in one scene, a Cylon admits they worry how God will judge them).

"You never quite know who the good guys are," Sackhoff says.

Which is partly why Sackhoff campaigned hard for the role of Starbuck, a character played by a man in the shlocky '70s show on which "Battlestar" is based. Impressed by the writing, she insisted to producers she could take on the cigar-chomping fighter pilot, even if they thought she was "too young and too sweet."

"Someone asked the actors who they thought was the most different from their character, and they said me," Sackhoff says. "I show up to work in high heels and a skirt."

But to get the role, the 26-year-old worked out for four hours a day, chopped off her hair and bulked up until "I looked like someone who could kick a guy's ass."

And kick ass she did, especially in an early episode in which she tortured a Cylon prisoner. It was Sackhoff's first taste of the show's immediacy - and the problems it sometimes causes. "By the time it went through the network and rewrites, it was different," she says. "It was so close to [Abu Ghraib], they said, 'we can't have the hero character doing all these things.' "

Not that "Battlestar" backed down too much - in the end, the Cylon was killed, shot out an airlock into space.

And even though the humans have escaped Cylon confinement this season, Sackhoff says viewers shouldn't expect the allegories to end. "There's some stuff coming up that will ruffle some feathers."

One thing, for sure: Starbuck's hair. The writers originally wanted Sackhoff to shave her head at the end of last season, but relented because she was making the film "White Noise 2" during the hiatus. But it won't be long before Starbuck goes under the knife, literally.

"That was the deal," Sackhoff says. "At any point, they could do it to me."


Friday, 10 p.m., Scifi

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