An Unabashed Plug

About ten weeks ago, I waxed enthusiastic here about the new “Battlestar Galactica” series that’s running on the Sci-Fi Channel. The first season of “BSG” is wrapping up with a two-parter, and Part I airs tonight.

If you’ve been watching the show all along, you probably don’t need me to tell you not to miss this one. I’ve already seen both episodes, and together they make up the best movie that I’ve seen in at least a year, give or take “The Incredibles.” Not the best TV show, mind you–although “BSG” is, in my opinion, the best thing on television–the best movie.

For those of you who haven’t been watching, you’re missing out on the most intelligent dramatic series that’s running today. If you want a comparison, “Battlestar Galactica” is for televised science fiction what “Hill Street Blues” was for cop shows. It redefines the entire genre for a grown-up audience. Even better, Sci-Fi is going way beyond the call of duty with additional content at their web site, including deleted scenes , making-of features, and even full-episode podcast audio commentaries from series creator Ronald Moore–the kind of stuff you’d normally have to wait for (and pay for) in a DVD set.

If you haven’t been tuning in, Sci-Fi will be re-running the entire first season starting on April 8th. If you’re sick of bad TV, but haven’t tuned in to “BSG” because you remember the ultra-cheesy 1979 series, do yourself a favor and warm up your TiVo/ReplayTV/VCR to catch the repeats.

Season Two premeires in July, and that won’t be a moment too soon–you’ll see why I say that after Part II of the season finale airs next Friday night.


53 Responses to “An Unabashed Plug”

  1. Sarah Rolph Says:

    I have watched a few episodes of this show, partly because you said it was great and partly because my husband loves sci-fi, and I don’t understand why you like it so well. I find it boring and confusing.

    I think Stargate SG-1 is much better written. (Stargate Atlantis, however, sucks canal water…)

  2. Django Bliss Says:

    I’ve been watching Galactica all season and have loved it.

    SG-1 has become rehashed drivel. It lost my interest years ago, Stargate Atlantis however I find to be very good compared to the current SG-1 content. It also makes for a good warm up hour to BSG.

  3. Brian J. Says:

    Hey, some of us haven’t tuned in because we remember the original series.

    What, am I the last original Battlestar Galactica partisan left? Aside from Richard Hatch, I mean?

  4. Winston Smith Says:

    Hey, Richard Hatch is a character on the new series. So even Apollo has gotten behind this new project.

    It’s worth a watch, but coming in on it this late will make it difficult for you, because the entire season has been one long story arc, like Deep Space Nine.

    It’s politically interesting as well, because it problematizes both ends of the spectrum. Though I’d say that since Adama has been right about most things and the liberal President has often been proven wrong, we’re getting a thinly-veiled “tough on terrorism” allegory here.

    But, knowing Moore, we may back away from that.

  5. Captain Mojo Says:

    Brian, even Hatch sold out dude. He plays a quasi-bad guy in the new series.

    SG-1 is really bad, but somehow watchable. Atlantis is just really bad, and proof that, outside of comedy, too many Canadians on a show is a bad thing indeed.

    They killed Farscape for this? Feh.

  6. doug quarnstrom Says:

    Yep, the new Galactica is absolutely fantastic. The effects are top notch and the little cinema verte tricks add a lot to my enjoyment of those. The story has been very complex and engaging. The real test is whther they can keep the interesting stories coming in the context of a presmise whose restrictions may result it tedium sooner rather than later. I hope not, because I really like it.

  7. CSM Thomas A. Teel (USA Retired) Says:

    You people have too much time on your hands. Get real lives and do real things. I heard from a very reliable source that the United States Army just raised the maximum enlistment age to 39. No excuses now. Go get dirty. Now. Tell Steve to do pushups.

  8. Brett Says:

    If you want a comparison, “Battlestar Galactica” is for televised science fiction what “Hill Street Blues” was for cop shows. It redefines the entire genre for a grown-up audience.

    Been there, done that, bought the Firefly boxed set, waiting for the Serenity theatrical release in September.

  9. The WASP Says:

    If BSG = Hill Street Blues


    Galatica 80 = Cop Rock

    I really love the new BSG series and will be recording the finale so to watch them together and not have to wait a week..

  10. doug quarnstrom Says:

    My “real life” is taken up desinging the processors that people like our retired CSM use to tell us we don’t do “real things”. I have time on my hands because I chose not to spawn.


  11. The Shape of Days Says:

    The best five minutes of television ever aired

    Many of you know that I’ve become a pretty hard-core fan of “Battlestar Galactica.” I make no apologies for it. When I say that this show is the best scripted drama on television right now, I mean it. I’m not fooling around. It’s really exceptional….

  12. Django Bliss Says:

    FireFly was without a doubt, much better than BSG. I hope that Serenity can draw a crowd.

  13. Jeff Harrell Says:

    To all of y’all who either aren’t interested in or actively dislike “Battlestar Galactica,” please take the time to watch just the first five minutes of tonight’s episode, from 10:01:30 to 10:06:30, Eastern time.

    I’m not trying to convert you. It’s not that I think you’ll watch this tease and get hooked on the show. In fact, if you haven’t been watching all along, tonight’s tease isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense to you, narratively.

    I just think they’re five really fantastic minutes of television. I know this sounds pompous and melodramatic, but I described it to somebody earlier as being like listening to a kindergarten class play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on toilet-paper-and-comb kazoos all your life, then listening to a recording of Bach’s Orchestral Suite no. 3. It’s a moment that makes you sit back and go, “Oh, so that’s how it’s supposed to be done.”

  14. RobertJ Says:

    Phew, finally a good reason for having the odometer hit 40. BSG is the most intelligent show since Babylon 5. There are no easy answers, no reversing the polarity of the tachyon particle stream, everyone’s got a part of the answer but not the whole thing.

  15. A Recovering Liberal Says:

    I want Farscape back! Thatisall.

  16. Doug Says:

    The wife doesn’t understand why I’m a fan of this show……

  17. Joan Says:

    Everything I’ve read here and elsewhere reminds me so much of the early days of Farscape.

    Real Life has been tumultuous lately, but I’m setting the TiVO to catch the re-broadcast of S1. Do I harbor any residual bitterness towards Skiffy re:their treatment of Farscape vs the love-fest they’re holding for BSG? Nah. What’s the point? FS couldn’t hold on to, or grow, its ratings — not that I have a clue what BSG’s ratings are. For whatever reason, the timing wasn’t right.

    But there’s always syndication. Huzzah!

    In the meantime — BSG? Sure, why not?

  18. Mick Says:

    I have to agree-BSG is ground-breaking. I have a tendancy to multi-task, meaning that I hold conversations, while reading blogs and watching television. I can do this with virtually any Sci-Fi show on television, but I can’t do it with BSG–if you blink, you’ll miss something important, something subtle. This show has levels. I enjoy SG1, but its a characterization show–BSG is far closer to real Sci-Fi. My only critique would be that it looks too 20th century and the shots are too tight. I just don’t like the way this series is shot.

  19. nick Says:

    The Cylons in BSG have me completely freaked out. Their motives are completely different from those of the old series (destroy all humanity) and the theological elements of their story arc are incredible.

    I don’t know when the show will solve the mystery of Cylon motivation, but I have to say that it is more complex than anything I have seen on TV (and I watch a lot of TV!)

  20. RobertJ Says:

    I think the Cylons’ (at least some of them, there may be different motivations amongst them, which could lead to war among Cylons if some get what they want and others don’t) motivation is for acknowledgement & acceptance of them by the humans. Somewhat like the motivation of Frankenstein’s monster. And the humans will have to come to terms with what they’ve done by playing God.

  21. Mike Daley Says:

    hey all you “BSG” 2nd gen fans, get a freekin’ life.
    Same old crap, well if you’re a “farscape’, “firefly” or whatever fan, maybe this’ll seem like a step up.
    E.J. Olmos, reprising his ’80’s Miami Vice role for the unknown Century. Dr. Boltor and his constant wet dreams which always elicit the the question, “Dr.,are you OK?”
    How about the space fighters, what, Vipers?, performing in a vacuum in the same manner an F-16 or whatever performs in atmosphere.
    Or, how about the “human fleet” flying interstellar formation with 100 yards or less seperation between gazillion ton spaceships?
    The fact I watch this every week is only a comment on the lack of Japanese anime, vastly superior as to story, and, with the exception BSG’s Starbuck, acting.
    C’mon Steve, let’s get back to Cartoon Network’s great Dragonball series.
    All things considered, the Babylon series ended up being the best non-animated Scifi series in the last decade, and that only speaks to the drek that now runs. And no one will ever come up with a reason why SG Atlantis ever got on the air.
    Ah, what the hell do I know, I still think Destination Moon and Forbidden Planet are the best SciFi movies ever made and A.E. van Voght and Isaac Asimov are the best Scifi writers ever.

  22. Mark Jones Says:

    Yeah, the ships fly a hundred yards apart. Why? For the same reason that ships in Star Trek always have their battles at point blank range–if they were flying (or fighting) at realistic ranges, we’d only ever see ONE ship on the screen. It’s a convention I’m willing to overlook.

    Yeah, BSG is good. I still like Stargate SG-1, though I have to admit that it peaked years ago (but at its peak it was the best thing going). Stargate Atlantis? If you took everything that made SG-1 unique and interesting and sucked all that out of it so there was room for lots of Trek-style technobabble and stupidity…you’d have Stargate Atlantis.

  23. Jeff Harrell Says:

    How about the space fighters, what, Vipers?, performing in a vacuum in the same manner an F-16 or whatever performs in atmosphere.

    Thereby proving, with absolute certainty and beyond the barest shadow of a doubt, that you’ve never actually watched the show.

  24. Roger Fraley Says:

    It’s clear that the politics on the show favor conservatism. In the original series the bleeding heart president wouldn’t leave the solarsystem but insisted on searching for survivors. Nearly got everyone killed. After that she abandoned the orphan on the slow ship without looking back. Adama is no nonsense, get the job done type, but he is willing to risk the entire fleet ot find the missing Starbuck (Culture of life?) The terrorist/politician played by Hatch preaches a collective sort of radicalism but he’s as corrupt as any mafia don.

    The stuff I hate, and I hate it about almost all TV science fiction is artifical gravity (A necessary result of not being able to film in space) ships whooshing by in space and in this series the little ships (Vipers) with 3 great big engines in the back going full out coming to a quick stop with little bitty puffs of retro rockets out the front. That’s right the laws of physics have been rescinded here.

    Still I watch it. And I do like the Cylons wrestling with the concepts of love, God and death. Near genius.

  25. Russell Wardlow Says:

    Hey, can someone who knows (if anyone does), what’s the whole deal with the time-line/history involved in BSG?

    When I watched the first one, I assumed that this was merely a standard sci-fi depiction of the future, but then came that speech at the end of the pilot about the “mythical place” called Earth that they were going to find.

    So these people are, what, in the extreme past? The extreme future? Is this one of the series’ secrets or something or am I supposed to know this?

  26. Qwinn Says:

    Russell – it’s apparently a series secret at this point. We have no idea. However, I have a feeling that they’re never going to find Earth (this was hinted at in a couple “behind the scenes” specials), so that’s one secret we may never learn the answer to.

    I think you’re all a bit excessively tough on Stargate Atlantis. I thought tonight’s episode was pretty good, for instance. I think it’s one of those shows that’s going to need a year or two to really get kicking, but will eventually be excellent.

    SG1 is also still quite good, even if tonight’s episode was somewhat disappointing. They really need to stick to a consistent philosophy on time-travel paradoxes. They’re trying to have it all ways – sometimes, travelling in the past just fulfills history that already happened (like the 1960’s episode from 1st season), other times it radically changes, and even totally breaks, causality. These are actually pretty much mutually exclusive ways to look at time travel. Pick one and go with it, or at least explain why it happens one way sometimes and another totally different way other times.

    BSG is definetly doing quite well for a 1st season sci-fi show. My worry is they’re going to be too slow in developing some of these plot lines, though, and some (like Earth) may never get fully developed at all, just teasers to keep us interested but never satisfy.

    I, like most others here, consider B5 to have been the best series of the 90’s, and Farscape deserved a better fate. I am looking forward to Ben Browder on SG1 next season though. Should be interesting, especially with Claudia Black thrown in once in a while.


  27. Will Collier Says:

    I will readily admit that the fighter combat in “BSG” is nonsense, although at least they did make the effort to show that the Vipers need maneuvering thrusters, retros, etc. The WWII mode of “close to the merge and use manually-pointed guns” is silly for anything resembling modern combat (take it from an old AMRAAM guy–missiles are a lot cheaper than fighters).

    I assume the reason they use it is, it looks good on television.

  28. azlibertarian Says:

    I confess I haven’t developed an interest in the current BSG, although my son has (big sci-fi fan).

    Am I the only one waiting for a new Jonny Quest?

  29. Brandon Says:

    I’ve found the new BSG extremly good. I love the writing in the Cylons describing love and believing in God, something machines shouldn’t be able to do. What I want to know is this, is the Cylon God different from the humans’ Gods(yes plural)? And I think the cinematography for BSG is great, the way the camera shakes at some points, and how they mix in wide shots with close ups is awesome.

  30. RobertJ Says:

    Regarding the timeline, it could be past or present or future. There were originally 13 tribes (same as the 13 tribes of Isreal), 12 of them were the 12 colonies in BSG, the 13th one is the mythical Earth one. No clue as to time in the 12 colonies vs. time on earth.

    Wouldn’t it be a kicker if tomorrow a battlestar did show up? We’re really not in a position to help fight Cylons. Maybe give ’em some pilots and nukes, but that’s about it.

  31. winefan Says:

    Re: BSG’s theologic elements, have to agree with Brandon and Nick. Making the Cylons monotheistic is an interesting twist. Overall, some of the best writing on TV.

    Azlibertarian, if you’re a Johnny Quest fan check out The Venture Brothers:

    Clever, and often hillarious, parody of JQ.

  32. HT Says:

    A big problem with televised science fiction is that it always seems to be written (or adapted) by people with little grasp of military (or any other type of) science, who descend into cliched convention at the first opportunity and get worse from there.

    Although I wanted this series to be good, I fear that it is not. The authors of BSG have already violated so many basic principles and written themselves into so many corners that it would take an act of God (Cylon God, Lords of Kobol, Cosmic Muffin, or Hairy Thunderer, take your pick) to get the humans out. That may yet happen, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be pretty.

    Give me Asimov, Clarke, Niven, Chandler, and Weber any day. And save me (and them) from adaptation for the screen, of which nothing good ever comes.

  33. Qwinn Says:

    “Give me Asimov, Clarke, Niven, Chandler, and Weber any day. And save me (and them) from adaptation for the screen, of which nothing good ever comes.”

    Amen to that. As an aside, I really do wonder what Niven thinks about the UN today, given that in the Known Space future history the UN does become the world government. He just never struck me as being capable of the continuous self-delusion required to be today’s brand of leftist, and I can’t see him being enamoured with the UN in it’s present form. I’d love to hear his take on the UN today. Anyone know if he’s written anything on that score?


  34. UML Guy Says:

    Hey, don’t pick on Cop Rock!


  35. Grisha Says:

    Wouldn’t it be a kicker if tomorrow a battlestar did show up?
    That was the premise behind the excrement known as Galactica 1980, which opened up with a scene of Cylon fighters laying waste to Hollywood. It was just so bad…I have to take a shower now just for mentioning it.

  36. Mike Daley Says:

    HT, & Quinn
    You, of course asked for the prime crop of SciFi greats, however, given your relative youth you may not have read any A.E. Van Vogt, whose novels, along with Asimov’s short stories in Amazing and others, both writers then writing in the late 40’s very early 50’s, led me into SciFi in the 4th grade, 1951.
    Van Vogt’s “Voyage of the Space Beagle” is an absolute must read.

  37. nick Says:

    Don’t overlook Stanislaw Lem, he is/was one of the greats and writes/wrote a very different style of science fiction than american writers of the same era.
    Just as Nevil Shute shouldn’t be judged by “On the Beach”, Lem shouldn’t be judged by “Solaris” (although it’s a great book), he has a wide range and an incredible sense of humor.

    As for other sci-fi shows, “Lexx” is still one of my faves in the humourous sci-fi subgenre.

  38. Robin Roberts Says:

    I’m greatly enjoying BSG myself. And while I’m a fan of SG-1, I think that Stargate Atlantis sucks.

    The reason that Stargate Atlantis is bad is because they made too mistakes in the creation phase in my opinion. The first was Joe Flanagan and his character. He can’t hack it and the character is a poor creation. The second reason is that they made the Wraith colorless. The SG-1 villains of Goauld were all individuals – boldly so.

    The series finale of SG-1 was bad. I hate all time travel TV SciFi – one of the reasons I stopped watching Enterprise long ago ( but not the only reason – they mucked up Vulcans too ).

    Interestingly, there was a brief ad in the last SG-1 episode that hinted at a new SG team for SG-1 and if my eyes were not lying to me Ben Browder is the new team leader. He would have been brilliant for Atlantis, it will be interesting to see what they do in SG-1.

  39. Stephen Kohls Says:

    I watch BSG when I can but sometimes struggle to ignore the gaping wide plot holes that seem to crop up often.

    to wit:

    A cylon’s spine glows red during sex – and her human lover doesn’t notice? Come on, didn’t they ever do it in a dark room, or ‘ahem’ in different positions?

    The cylons are damn near indistinguishable from humans-even to a doctor, but yet can instantly transfer their memories if they get killed. What is the mechanism than can transmit so much information but yet a simple x-ray or MRI can’t find?

    Anyway, I think the writing is okay and the drama good, but it’s still a challenge to watch without cringing.

    Also, is it just me or are the plot summaries on the UK version of the site waaayyy off base from the actual plot? Are these preliminary script summaries or what?


  40. teel again Says:

    I go away for a three day sky diving boogie and come back to find you people still all wound up about television shows concerning make believe (3rd grade) subjects. Come on now, like I said earlier, real lives, real things, real subjects. What kind of escape trip are you all leading in your mixed up world? And doug tells me he has a “real life” inventing processors. Thanks Doug. There really are not nearly enough people at this very moment in time designing, inventing, and marketing processors. i don’t think you would be missed that much. And the comment about choosing not to spawn. Spawning is “great”, you should try it. Big responsibility though. You might have to look out for someone elses life beside your own though. Maybe there is a small problem in your life you don’t want to admit. Something too “small” to use to spawn with. Girls are like that, they always make fun of small spawning equipment. Well, I thought I would check in and see what make believe life was doing today and sure enough its still rocking on. Sky diving boogie was great. Some real people, doing real things, don’t think Battle Star came up as a subject once in three whole days. One more time now, the United States Army has raised the maximum enlistment age to 39, so go find yourself a recruiter and don’t miss out on all of the fun. Tell the recruiter you want to go “Airborne” and spawning might just take on a whole new perspective. Tell Steve I said to do pushups…..CSM Teel United States Army (Retired)

  41. HT Says:

    Mike Daley: good point. There are many other excellent SF authors; I was just naming the ones that came to mind first to make my point. And even then I forgot Keith Laumer, damn my eyes. For that matter, most of Clarke, Asimov, Laumer, and Niven’s best work came early in their careers.

    The best author for dealing with space combat, however, is a relatively recent addition to the pantheon: David Weber.

    Not to belabor the point, but I don’t have to watch the credits to know that none of these guys (well, the ones that are still alive, anyway) are screenplay consultants on BSG or any of the current crop of TV SF.

  42. Jeff Harrell Says:

    “A cylon’s spine glows red during sex – and her human lover doesn’t notice?”

    You might enjoy listening to the writers’ commentary track on the DVD, Stephen. This element is specifically talked about. It’s just a visual thing. It has no literal meaning. It’s there simply as a stylistic element.

    “What is the mechanism than can transmit so much information but yet a simple x-ray or MRI can’t find?”

    It’s supposed to be a mystery. It’s a story element.

    Let me take a wild, stabbing guess: You’re one of those guys who scours TV shows and movies looking for errors in continuity. You do realize that this is a story, right? It’s not like you’re being asked to analyze the Zapruder film every Friday night at 10:00.

  43. richard mcenroe Says:

    Stephen Kohls

  44. Stephen Kohls Says:

    Jeff said:
    “Let me take a wild, stabbing guess: You’re one of those guys who scours TV shows and movies looking for errors in continuity. You do realize that this is a story, right? It’s not like you’re being asked to analyze the Zapruder film every Friday night at 10:00.”

    heh. Ad hominem comments aside, it just seemed like an obvious plot hole. I never even thought about what it *meant* – more like “how can the guy not notice that?!?”. My next thought was probably “can she fake the red glow?”

    If I had the time and interest, maybe I’d check out the writer’s commentary track.

    But, like you said, it’s just a show, and one that I like just enough to watch, but not enough to tape when I’m busy.


  45. doug quarnstrom Says:

    Our retired teel thinks sky diving is a real thing. Well, hell, I just got back from three weeks of antipodal perambulation and diving with sharks.

    He suggests I would not be missed if my contributions to processor design stopped. Likely this is true, but of course almost no thing regardless how “real” would be any different.

  46. John Stephens Says:

    I haven’t been watching this show because I clearly recall be advised not to – by one of the people who made it. Edward Olmos said in an interview that anyone who was still a fan of the original series shouldn’t watch the new one.

    Fine by me, I DO have other things to do besides watch TV.

  47. JSAllison Says:

    On a brighter note, still no robomutt.

    And while I’m a fan of Asimov, his stuff doesn’t translate to film real well. The producers don’t like filming lengthy conversations, Matrix aside. Fantastic Voyage wasn’t typical Asimov, thank the gods.

  48. Billy Says:

    Hey Jeff, I suppose you would notice the Cylon spine during sex, but I wouldn’t, as I’m married and my wife still won’t… let’s just say if she was a cylon, I wouldn’t know.

  49. Rob Says:

    It’s a great show, but the best on television? Sorry, no. Deadwood is much better. But I love BG and think it’s one of the few shows not to miss.

  50. Colin K. Says:

    I’m with Will- my TV-watching has taken a nose dive over the past few years but BSG is way above average. It is sci-fi, and some people are just allergic to that. Similarly, my father (mid 60s) sees cartoons as “kids’ shows” and has this dim awareness that a lot of adults are watching some show called The Simpsons, but he could care less.

    My personal suspicion is that this series is very close to peaking. I just don’t see how they can string the plot along for another dozen episodes without it getting ridiculous. The same thing happened to the last show I really gave a hoot about, the X-Files. Now that was some hot stuff for a while, but they folded it in on itself just a few too many times and I just gave up. Same thing happened with The Matrix. Big danger is for the writers to read too many discussions like this one here and start breathing their own exhaust. That was one thing Joss Whedon got right with Buffy–never lost his sense of humor and playfulness with the concept.


  51. Scott Says:

    >>”United States Army has raised the maximum enlistment age to 39, so go find yourself a recruiter…”

    Currently serving in the U.S. Air Force. 41 y.o., happily married with three kids, a dog and a mortgage.

    I’d like to think that I’m accomplishing something. And I still find time to glom onto BSG.

    (Wonder how long it’ll take for Army to comment that I’m not in the REAL military?)

  52. doug quarnstrom Says:

    Deadwood is an absolutely fantastic drama, but the dialogue is even more heavily affected this season than last. It is a bit like watching Shakepeare. Sometimes you can only generally grasp the sense of what has been said. I like it, but I sometimes wonder if they are overdoing it a bit.


  53. New World Man - fool enough to lose it Says:

    The Cylons were created by man.

    The Battlestar Galactica season finale is tonight. I see via Greg at Begging To Differ (the reportedly less musically tasteful half of his marriage) that BG, along with House, was profiled in TIME as one of the best dramas on television. I’ll go along …

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