Humanity is under attack from terrorism, suicide bombers, religious zealots, an unpopular war with no end in sight, an overstretched military implicated in the death and torture of prisoners, all under the watch of a clueless God-fearing president. Is this America circa 2007? No. I'm talking about Battlestar Galactica, the most brilliant and daring show on television today.
"Battlestar Galactica" is the absolute best show on television today - bar none. It's a dramatic and bold statement on our post-9/11 world....an edgy, hard-hitting drama..that just happens to be set in space. It's become a critical darling among television critics and sci-fi fans, but sadly it hasn't picked up as much attention from mainstream audiences. It has been all but ignored by the Emmys. And that's a shame because it's truly must-see TV (can you tell I'm a bit obsessed?)
The main reason I think it hasn't gone mainstream is because it's sci-fi, which sadly turns off a lot of people (i.e. women) who don't like the genre. Or people whose image of "Battlestar" was the 1970s show of the same name featuring cheezy robots chasing Lorne Greene. Today's Battlestar is the same in name only.
Yes, it's science fiction. Yes, it airs on the SciFi channel. But for those who might be turned off by sci-fi, space is just the setting. The subjects, themes, controversial topics tackled by Battlestar remind me of the 1960s-era "Star Trek", when Gene Roddenberry used sci-fi to address the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and other controversial topics of its day.
So what's it about? I'm not going to give away a lot of the plot. But in a nutshell: Humans in a distant galaxy are on the verge of extinction after a nuclear war launched by the Cylons, a race of intelligent robots originally created by the humans. They evolved and rebelled, as the show intro states. A rag-tag fleet carrying the last 43,000 humans are fleeing from the Cylons towards a safe haven prophesied in the Sacred Scrolls: Earth. They are led by a democratic government under President Laura Roslin, who was 43rd in line for the presidency (get it? Dubya? 43rd president?) and gained office by default, who believes she is on a mission from God to lead her people to salvation. They are chased relentlessly by the Cylons, who are hell-bent on killing the freedom-loving humans with the aim of conquering the universe under their own religious beliefs. Sound familiar?
"Battlestar Galactica" is a reflection of modern-day problems we are facing - a true "ripped from the headlines" saga. It's no surprise that the show's plots and politics are hotly debated and discussed in blogs, books and a few college thesis.
There are all sorts of side stories and deeper plots, but that's the gist of the show. As if the great screen writing by Ron Moore weren't enough, "Battlestar" is a wonderfully-produced show, with film-quality direction, cinematography, special effects and a hauntingly-beautiful score by composer virtuoso Bear McCreary.
Most of the show's stars are relatively unknown save for one. It stars the brilliant actor, filmmaker and Latino activist Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama, the military commander of the Battlestar Galactica fleet and voice of reason who is constantly butting heads with President Roslin (played by Oscar-nominated Mary McDonnell.) The show's other draw among every red-blooded male is the sexy Cylon called Number Six, played by Canadian actress and model Tricia Helfer (who incidentally, ahem, appears nude in the February 2007 issue of Playboy magazine).
After a long haitus, the second-half of the third season of "Battlestar Galactica" returns to television on Jan. 21 on Sci-Fi channel in the United States. Here in the UK, the second season just began airing this week. But we're already all caught up thanks to iTunes.com, which offers the episodes for download a few days after the U.S. air dates.
So Say We All...