Monday, January 31, 2005

Battlestar Galactica: Kobols Last Gleaming

Galactica comes to the end of a fiery first season in style, in this dark two-part offering. As Galactica discovers the home of the 12 colonies ancestors, the fragile relationship between military and government finally collapses.

As the final episode of season 1 came to an end I was struck at just how deep and intelligent this show really is. If you compare this grand remake with the original show, the differences are mammoth. The original show suffered because Galactica was supposed to be a movie and as a result, didn't have a cohesive storyline planned out for the first season. Ron Moore, however, hasn't made the same mistake.

The complex relationships and backstory of every character are cleverly woven into each episode, while the slow buildup of the Cylons grand plan has been subtly concealed. As the final episode finished, the reasons for the Cylons not having destroyed the rag-tag fleet seem clear. The plan, while not original, is well scripted and smartly brings together the various characters.

Of course the show has its weak points; Predominately, the early season Baltar/Number Six relationship. Don't get me wrong, the concept of the Cylons selecting someone like Baltar for their plan is sensible, as has been the way in which they have slowly detached him from reality. Unfortunately, too much of the early relationship focused more on trying to appeal to the sex-starved fanboys, with Number Six appearing in more and more provocative visions. However, the last two or three eps have seen this take a back-seat as Baltar has begun to accept his role within the Cylons plan.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the show has been the ongoing religious undertones. The differences between the Cylons Monotheism and the Colonials Polytheism is a throwback to the real dilemma that faced our race many years ago. Also, the struggle between the 'true' believers and the pragmatists in the Colonial Fleet is superb and, in the final episode, the spark for all the tension.

The tension has, of course, been building since day one, and central to this has been Roslin, Adama, Apollo and Starbuck. The sides that these people have chosen will, I would assume, resonate throughout season 2. It is this tension that makes the show believable. Times of crisis do bring people together, but it is only temporary. That it only took a few weeks for the many different voices within the fleet to resume their arguments is testament to reality. No 'for the good of humanity' Starfleet bollocks here!

The two-parter finale is very well scripted and the performances of the actors is fantastic. There are some OTT fight scenes (one in particular which, while brutal, is a little too Die Hard), but these are just plot filler. The final twist, caught me completely by surprise and leaves me desperate to hear the news that season 2 has been greenlighted.

When I look at the modern Sci-Fi shows I've watched with eager anticipation, very few can claim to offer such a diverse first season as Battlestar Galactica. In the 20 years since the advent of modern Sci-Fi television, only Firefly has offered a first season of this kind of quality.

After all my misgivings, Ron Moore (alongside his partner-in-crime David Eick) has finally emerged from the shadow of his years on Star Trek to produce a show that deserves its place alongside the Deep Space Nines, Next Generations and Babylon Fives of this World.

At the time of writing, BSG had just launched in the US. Its ratings for the first two weeks not only gave the SciFi Channel some of its highest ratings in years, but also beat Rick Bermans Star Trek: Enterprise, despite being available in far fewer homes. For Ron Moore, that must be the sweetest news of all.

Kobols Last Gleaming: 9/10

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