Sunday, December 10

The Clicker Falls In Love With Battlestar Galactica

Source: TV Blend

or months my husband has been trying to get me to watch ‘Battlestar Galactica’ on the Sci-Fi channel and for months I told him maybe I’d get around to it but that sci-fi’s just not my thing. Killer robots from outer space threatening to destroy mankind? No thanks. My TV-watching schedule is usually pretty booked up but since most of the good shows have gone on hiatus for the holidays, I decided to give the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ mini-series a try. I figured if the intro to the series didn’t hook me, I wouldn’t bother watching the actual show. It’s three days later and I’m halfway through the second season. I am in love with this show.

People said it was a fantastic show. In fact, TV Blend has been doing recaps of all of the season three episodes and Matt Norris even dedicated a Clicker to the show back in January. The hype has been all around me and only now do I realize what it’s all about.

I should start out by making one thing clear. I’m a girl. I like ‘Desperate Housewives,’ ‘Veronica Mars,’ and swooning over all the McDoctors on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. That is not to say that I only watch girly shows. I’m also a huge fan of ‘Lost,’ ’24,’ and recently, ‘Heroes’ but in terms of Sci-Fi, my taste is rather limited. I guess I just find it difficult to be enticed by the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I refused to watch ‘Buffy’ until three years after the series ended and that turned out to be one of my favorite shows. Needless to say, I can be somewhat stubborn when it comes to certain types of shows but I’m beginning to learn that when people say a show is phenomenal, it often is.

What I’ve come to learn from the hours and hours of ‘Battlestar’ that I’ve watched over the last few days is that the show is about so much more than just a war in space. The story goes beyond a simple humans-vs.-robots adventure or even a good-vs.evil tale. When all is said and done, its really about people who are not only trying to survive, but who also have relationships and inner struggles to deal with. What makes the show so great is simple – good writing.

When I say “good writing” I mean to say that the writers don’t stick to a black and white format when it comes to the characters. The good guys aren’t perfect and the bad guys aren’t completely evil. They have managed to find a more realistic approach when creating these characters so that no one is entirely predictable. This is not to say that the behavior of the characters isn’t consistent, just that the writers seem to really know who these people are, both the good guys and the bad guys.

To break it down for the readers who haven’t watched the show: The series starts out with the Cylons, a race of man-made robots that haven’t been seen in decades, returning to the colonies (a series of planets) where the humans live and wiping out almost all of them in one swift attack. The Cylons were originally created by man to help us but they eventually became self-aware (as almost all robots do in Sci-Fi) and revolting. They disappeared for a long time and in that time, managed to create a new version of themselves. The new versions are humanoids that look and feel like regular people. There are only 12 models of them so there are many duplicates of the same model. The original versions, the Centurions, are the big clunky robots armed to the teeth. They’re still around but mainly serve as foot soldiers. It’s the humanoid versions that are running the show now.

So the Cylons wipe out almost all of mankind and the only Battlestar that survives is Galactica. Commander Adama, the captain of the ship, insisted on keeping Battlestar’s network local (offline) and it is this that inevitably saves the ship from being hacked by the Cylons and destroyed like all of the other ships. A number of passenger ships also manage to escape and join Galactica in fleeing from the Cylons. From there, their mission is to find Earth or some other inhabitable planet to settle.

The above description alone wouldn’t have been enough to get me to watch the show. There really is a lot more to it than that. As I said, it’s really the writing, and more specifically, the characters that make the show fantastic. As ‘Battlestar’ goes on, we get to learn more and more about the crew of Galactica, some of the surviving civilians and also the Cylons. While the Cylons may be a race of robots, they’re also plagued with many of the same conflicts humans have. Unlike regular robots, the humanoid Cylons can feel. This makes it harder (for me at least) to brand them as 100% evil. Sure, they could end up wiping out the human race but if they do, I don’t think we could chalk it up entirely to their programming.

Along with having emotions, the Cylons have faith. The ability to think and feel is something even animals have but faith is a human quality and the Cylons seem to possess this in great quantities. In fact, a huge part of their motivation seems to be based on their belief in carrying out God’s will. The Cylons’ do not share the same religious beliefs as the human characters in the show. While the humans worship multiple gods, which seem to be based loosely in Greek mythology, the Cylons worship only one god. I find the faith aspect of the show to be very interesting. Not all of the humans are overly religious though it does seem like most, if not all of the Cylons are extremely motivated by their beliefs. Whether the humans programmed them this way or they came to find their faith on their own is unknown. I hope I don’t sound too sympathetic towards the Cylons when describing them. Afterall, they did destroy a large portion of mankind and continue to take lives whenever the opportunity arises. There is no doubt for now that these guys are the bad guys. I just enjoy the fact that the writers have given them some depth instead of just making them the usual cut-and-dry killer robots.

As a woman, I find myself easily caught up in the relationship aspect of the shows I watch. In order for me to stay interested in a show, I need to care about the characters and their relationships with one another. If there’s one thing that could match the complexity of the characters in ‘Battlestar Galactica’, it’s the complexity of the relationships among them. Whether it be a family relationship like Adama and his son, Lee (who is also part of the crew of Galactica), a work-friend relationship like Adama and his right-hand man Tigh (an alcoholic), a will-they-wont-they romantic relationship like Starbuck and Lee (the brother of her deceased fiancé) or the extra-complicated relationships involving Cylons and humans like Number Six and Baltar or Sharon and Helo, there is simply no shortage of drama in this show. The writers manage to allow these relationships to change and evolve somewhat slowly though, which keeps their stories interesting but at the same time, not entirely predictable or over-the-top.

In addition to great writing, I should also credit some of the other well-done aspects of the series. The directing, the acting, the music, the special effects and everything else are all great.

When I decided to watch ‘Battlestar Galactica’, I thought I would sink into a pool of sci-fi confusion as I watched people on space ships bark orders at each other and shoot their laser-guns at robots. That might seem foolishly naïve to many sci-fi fans, as I’m sure the genre has come a long way since those corny B-movies. However, for someone like me, who mainly prefers to watch shows that involve real-world scenarios, regardless of how unrealistic some (ok, most) of the plots in those shows can be, I was genuinely surprised at how good ‘Galactica’ turned out to be. I’m totally hooked and will be sad when I finally get all caught up on the series and have to wait around for the next new episode like everyone else.

So even if you don’t consider yourself a “sci-fi” person, you might want to check out ‘Battlestar Galactica’ on the Sci-fi channel. It’s also available to download on iTunes.

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