And ye shall play it on your DVD players, yea, even unto the seventh generation

Battlestar Galactica.

The original series appeared in the late 70s, and appeared to be cashing in on the Star Wars phenomenon. It was cheap sci-fi with library shots for a lot of the action scenes and tinny voices for the cylons. The story was that on the eve of signing a peace treaty with the cylons, the sneaky robots launch a surprise attack, Only the Galactica survives to lead a fleet of ships to the Promised Land. Sorry, Earth. It was one of those interminable American quest series which, you knew, would never reach its destination unless the studio cancelled it.

I resisted checking out the new version of Galactica for some time and now that I’ve seen the first three series, I wish I’d resisted some more. The original series was overlaid with a thin veneer of religion, but it was never that intrusive. In 21st century America, the religious elements of Galatica have come to the fore to such a degree that there ought to be warnings advising atheists to steer clear of it. It’s a little confusing in one way, because the good guys are polytheists and the bad guys are monotheists. On the basis of the original series, I’m going to guess that if we ever meet the god of the cylons, he, she or it is going to turn out to be a thoroughly nasty piece of work.

The characters have a bit more depth to them than they did in the original Galactica, and the fleet is now playing a part. I don’t remember the fleet getting much mention at all in the original series. There’s also a political dimension in the form of a president played by some woman who’s obviously cornered the market in looking smug and superior, which is her entire acting range. Starbuck is now a woman who, like the president, looks smug and superior, but at least has an extra dimension – she’s a troubled girl. You’ll be pleased to know that she gets killed near the end of the third series, but unhappy to hear that she reappears in the final episode. Colonel Tigh is now a bald, white alcoholic with a cheap, slutty, shrewish wife who, under normal circumstances, wouldn’t be allowed to do the job he has. And he turns out to be a cylon, one of the final five. Gaius Balthar is no longer some fat sweaty guy, but a slightly deranged Lothario who thinks he let the cylons fly in under the radar and is, therefore, responsible for the slaughter of humanity.

Overall, Galactica still sucks balls. The prominence of religion made me cringe. It was annoying that the one avowed atheist at the start of the series, Balthar, quickly becomes a believer, but only because he was endangered.

‘God and the doctor, men alike adore,
When on the brink of danger, not before;
The danger past, they are alike requited,
God is forgotten and the doctor slighted.’

The series seemed to be filled with story lines about petty squabbling between characters; characters deciding to take matters into their own hands; and general distractions, all of which made you wish the cylons would eradicate the lot of them.

Come back, Star Trek; all is forgiven. (Apart from Enterprise. There’s no excuse for that.)


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