Saturday, May 5

BSG No. 2 in poll on EW Sci Fi countdown

Developed by Ronald D. Moore

You remember the show, right? Lorne Greene in a shiny cape leading a band of well-coiffed thirtysomethings as they flee from extras in shiny suits? Glen A. Larson's original '70s Battlestar Galactica: not the worst by-product of the Star Wars juggernaut, but close. So one could view the unmitigated brilliance that is Sci Fi Channel's reimagined Battlestar Galactica series two ways: (1) They had no place to go but up or (2) it's amazing they did so much with so little.

The core of the Galactica plot — the last human survivors of a catastrophic genocide are on the run from their attackers, the Cylons — carried a new resonance in the wake of 9/11. And in keeping with science fiction's grandest tradition, BSG tapped into the power of allegory to enrich its outer-space dogfights and military pomp with the gravity of issues like abortion, terrorism, stem-cell research, racism, even the war in Iraq. The dysfunctionally awesome cast gives it all the ring of authenticity: from Edward James Olmos' crusty warhorse Admiral Adama and Mary McDonnell's tender-as-nails President Roslin to Katee Sackhoff's bedeviled pilot Kara Thrace and Tricia Helfer's glacially threatening Cylon known only as Number Six. But the real MVPs of the ensemble are Michael Hogan, who plays Adama's boozy right-hand man Saul Tigh, and James Callis, who makes you feel for Gaius Baltar, the best, most conflicted villain on TV.

POP CULTURE LEGACY The damned thing won a Peabody award for its second season. It's proving what sci-fi fans have known for decades: Science fiction is as legitimate a vehicle for human drama as any other genre.

THE BEST BIT While any given episode of Galacticais better than 90 percent of what's on the air, the thrill of discovery makes the first season (including the miniseries) the way to go. —Marc Bernardin

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Newshound: Bop One

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