Battlestar Galactica

After having been burnt badly by Lost, we were skeptical about starting another science fiction mega series. But I've always heard that Battlestar Galactica was different. I remembered the intense hysteria (albeit at a much smaller scale than LOST) as it was drawing to a close. And it was rated 5 stars on Netflix and 9/10 on IMDB. So, well, we took the plunge.

The series kicks off with a 3-hour miniseries. Based on the 1979 original, the mega pilot sets the stage of the renewed conflict between humans and their runaway creations, Cylons. As the 40-year old armistice between these adversaries is broken in a violently savage attack, leading human race to the brink of complete annihilation. The only thing standing between a complete Cylon victory is the lone aging decommission-ready spaceship - Battlestar Galactica, and the last few civilian ships that were able to escape the nuclear holocaust.

There is a reason one is able to refer to events in this fictional universe as fact - the world created by the series is that immersive. Pulling together a mix of the familiar and the completely alien, BSG is able to create a believable universe with a deft touch of novelty. There is a new religion, and new Gods. Amen is replaced with "So Say We All". The military is just as regimented, the hangars just as rowdy. Fighter planes are called Vipers and they still engage in dogfights. But then the spaceships all have regular gravity, and rounds shot into space go ping ping ping; hits go boom (in case you did not get that last bit, space has no air and therefore no way for sound to travel). The sets are detailed, the special effects are elaborate yet believable.

And the best part about BSG are the characters the push the science firmly into the background. There is the old dog veteran Admiral (Admiral William Adama), his estranged son (Captain Lee 'Apollo' Adama), the cocky yet talented pilot (Captain Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace), the reluctant politician president (President Laura Roslin), the schizophrenic genius with a deadly secret (Dr. Gaius Baltar), and the embedded Cylons. Faced by an unbelievable catastrophy and an uncertain future, the characters grow, adapt and learn to live with each other.

The series channels a certain metallic, gritty feel of life in space. Camera work has a hand-held feel to it, with abrupt zooming especially during action scenes. Lighting swings between the darkness of confined space and blown out over exposure of alien suns. Some scenes carry a predominant blue cast. The scenes and camera work are as much a part of the narrative as the dialogues and characters.

Battlestar Galactica is a engaging drama above all else. It is a story of human survival, faced with an unrelenting enemy. It is a story of camaraderie, fortitude, selfishness and betrayal. And it is a robot alien story that is worth investing a few weeks in. So Say We All.

November 20, 2010

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