BSG to the extreme

In the week since I first posted about my newfound love for Battlestar Galactica, I have almost completed a bittorrent assisted, time-shifted catch up on the series so far. It was not until after I had watched the free RealPlayer stream of Episode 1 that I actually realised there was a mini-series before the current Series 1 episodes. So I had quite a lot of catching up to do.

The mini series was extremely good. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and ended beautifully. I’m struggling to think of a sci-fi TV experience that comes close to the drama and believability of this series. I particularly like the combination of old and new technologies, side by side with the duality of humans and machines (the cylons). There are moments that stick with me, like when a human-shaped cylon woman sees a baby for the first time and asks “Are you alive?” before killing it — apparently out of curiosity over its fragility, or just perhaps out of mercy because she knows that the world is about to be invaded and destroyed. Then in episode 5, the human character Starbuck asks a cylon being “Are you alive?” when she happens upon its crashed ship. She also ends its “life” — but can it be alive it it’s a machine? So there is this underlying battle between humans and the machines about which one is truly “alive”.

I really like the fact that the machines are given more and more interesting and human characteristics: questioning themselves and their motives, not knowing the full story themselves, and being vulnerable in some ways, just as humans are. A lot of time in the subplots is devoted to depicting human foibles. Mistakes, character flaws, addictions and indulgences are a very prominent feature. I feel all of this is asking us to consider whether humans really deserve to be a sort of “master race” of beings after all — but at the same time these are the characteristics that we associate with being “human”. All of these themes are very often dealt with in sci fi (how many times did we have to endure them in Star Trek?) but I’ve never seen them done in such a compelling way. They tackle the big issues, from the President who chides herself for having selfish thoughts when she finds out she has cancer to the brilliant scientist who is shamelessly susceptible to the sexual advances of what turns out to be a human-like cylon. It’s completely enthralling.

Battlestar Galactica

Last night I watched Battlestar Galactica for the first time. It was the first Battlestar Galactica experience for me. I haven’t even seen the original movie, although I did know of its existence. Odd, since I’m a sci fi fan from way back.

I really enjoyed most of the episode (105: You can’t go home again). I was put off a little by some of the camerawork, which reminded me of some of the worst of NYPD Blue’s indulgence in deliberate camera wiggling for no reason. Being a huge fan of Blade Runner I was fascinated seeing Edward James Omos in a sci fi role again. His performance was good. I liked Starbuck a lot. Celebrity crush ahoy. Apollo seemed a little nancy-boyish for my liking (sorry if that offends anyone, it’s just a feeling I had).

I think I’m going to be watching more often from now on — I might even try to track down the series on DVD because I think it’s moving to a 10.30pm timeslot which could get a little late.