Battlestar Galactica: The End
By Bert Ehrmann
April 4, 2008
It seems a bit odd writing about the upcoming final season of Battlestar Galactica (BSG), especially since the debut of the series was one of the first things I (almost) covered for The Fort Wayne Reader. Back in late 2003 I had been approached by the publishers of The Reader to become their entertainment columnist. I accepted their offer and was given a pre-air DVD screener of the then upcoming new BSG mini-series for review.
Unfortunately, it would be several more months after my initial meeting until The Reader would begin official publication. And by that time BSG would have already aired, making my review of the mini-series late and redundant at best. Rather than letting my big “scoop” go to waste, I decided to watch and review the mini-series for my Web site.
To be honest, I wasn’t much looking forward to BSG. I had seen commercials for the show, had read news about the series and wasn’t much impressed. Before BSG has even aired, the online community was already obsessing over the fact that series writer/co-creator Ronald D. Moore had changed the gender of the character Starbuck from male to female. Worst of all the real name of the new Starbuck was very a very feminine “Kara.” I figured, incorrectly, that Moore had changed Starbuck’s gender to “sex up” the series – that by adding a few more female cast members he might bring in a few more male viewers.
But after seeing the mini-series, I realized what I had thought to be true couldn’t have been more wrong. What Moore had done was to play with the audience’s preconceptions of what men and women were capable of. In the mini-series, Starbuck was not just a good pilot, but the BEST pilot in the whole fleet. She’s presented as a cigar chomping jock more at home risking her life on the frontlines of a galactic war than doing stereotypical, womanly things.
In reality, though, the mini-series was just a primer to what was to come over the subsequent years. Over three seasons, BSG tackled all sorts of taboo subjects as diverse as abortion, genocide, terminal cancer and religion. While the focus of most pre-BSG sci-fi series has been on shiny robots and aliens with bumpy foreheads, BSG went where no other series had gone before and was extremely relevant to our times.
In that way, BSG reminds me a bit of the original The Twilight Zone (1959). Here, too, all sorts of weird, wild, wonderful and timely subject matter were all explored through the guise of sci fi.
Back in ’03 I said, “They took the core of what was Battlestar Galactica and reinvented it for a new generation of viewers. In this case they really hit a home run. A+, four stars, thumbs up, and a must-see.” Five years later, I still stand by these words. In years to come, all sci-fi series will be judged against BSG.
Some of the best episodes of the series include; “33,” where the Cylons are able to find and attack the Galactica every 33 minutes for weeks on end causing some major sleep deprivation issues. “Scattered” and “Valley of Darkness,” where a separated fleet fights for survival and we learn just how truly dangerous the Cylons are. “Maelstrom,” where one of the main characters of the series is seemingly killed off for no reason until “Crossroads, Part 2” where we learn their true fate. “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2,” where the series jumps ahead a year, changing characters motivations and personalities. And my personal favorite “Scar,” where a fighter wing that continues to loose pilots is forced to go out and face the enemy day after day.
It seems a shame that the whole thing’s ending. Over the course of sixty (so-far) episodes, BSG has done what I didn’t think was possible in a sci fi series. To be relevant to modern times, not to be a clone of Star Trek or Star Wars and be darn good as well. BSG is the finest sci fi drama EVER and is one of the best dramas of all-time. Period.
The final two-arc season of Battlestar Galactica begins Friday, April 4 at 10:00 P.M. (EST) on the SCI FI Channel. The first three seasons of the series, along with the original mini-series and “Razor” made-for-TV movie are all available on DVD. Select episodes of the series are also available on Hulu.com.