Looking Back: new “Battlestar Galactica”

This month marks the opening of what should supposedly be the last season of “Battlestar Galactica” remake series. This makes for a fine excuse to do rather shallow and completely personal analysis of BSG’s virtues and flaws.

Watching “Galactica”, I immediately fell in love with it’s dark look, somber – almost fatalistic – tone and obvious inspirations with the War on Terrorism. But the funny thing I got about BSG is that – strictly speaking – it isn’t much of a hardcore SF story, innit?

Let’s ignore the FTL drive that obligatory plot device of any decent SF series today. But you also have the Cylons – androids who could have been easily replaced with any generic cultural group with unhealthy obsession with religion-approved carnage. And, although Twelve Colonies build spaceships and robots, their generic technology, weaponry and even clothes are almost laughably similar to our own.

This lack of interest into technological future is even more pronounced with the show’s firm focus on interpersonal, political and religious conflicts which have much more to do with the our world today then the potential future of mankind. Add in the mythical prophecies, messiahs and visions that get more frequent as the series goes on, and the viewer gets a feeling that SF elements in BSG are little more than a mere window dressing.

Realizing all that, I asked my self: so, is this a bad thing? No, not really.

“Battlestar Galactica” is space opera and is not particularly interested into technobabble of any kind. Its focus is on the story: the characters, the plot, the challenges and temptations. As such, it normal to see focus on drama instead of technology.

But what BSG does is create a much grittier feel than, say, “Star Wars”. In “Galactica””technology breaks, humans fail and argue and there are no cleancut definitions of good and evil. Even the look of the show mirrors that: it’s all claustrophobic corridors, grey walls and shadows.

And therein lies the genius of the whole show: by making us feel the darkness and imperfection of it’s world; by basing it firmly in our familiar world, “Battlestar Galactica” makes the whole space opera concept that much closer to the viewer. At the end of day, from the first moment new BSG was not about exotic future or possible ramifications of science and technology in the future: it was always about here and now.