April 4, 2006
|Posted: Post subject: Cleaning out old emails and found this article. Pretty cool.
|McCollum: `Battlestar Galactica' transcends sci-fi genre
By Charlie McCollum
There's no question that ``Battlestar Galactica'' gives good escapism. The
writers can really spin a yarn, the battle scenes have a lot of kick, and
the individual episodes have the look of mini-feature films.
But while it could have settled for being a popcorn space thriller -- like
the late 1970s show it's based on -- ``Battlestar,'' which returns for its
third season Friday (10 p.m., SCI FI), has a depth to it that makes it one
of TV's most invigorating and intellectually stimulating series.
Perhaps the most prestigious awards in television are the Peabodys, given
out each year by a panel of critics, academics and broadcast executives to
the very best programs, whether news, documentary or entertainment. Last
April, the list included Martin Scorsese's ``No Direction Home -- Bob
Dylan,'' outstanding coverage of Hurricane Katrina -- and ``Battlestar
`` `Battlestar Galactica' is not just another apocalyptic vision of the
future but an intense drama that poses provocative questions regarding
religion, politics, S-- and what it truly means to be `human,' '' the judges
The panel certainly got it right.
Like the very best science fiction -- whether literature, film or television
-- ``Battlestar'' uses its vision of the future as an allegory for our
present. It creates challenging, post-Sept. 11 parables that reflect current
events, ranging from the roots and nature of terrorism to religious
extremism. It dabbles in the use (and misuse) of religion in politics,
torture and ethics in warfare and how much freedom people are willing to
sacrifice to be ``(removed) It has given more consideration to the war in Iraq
and its impact on the American way of life than any other TV series.
Of course, ``Battlestar'' never mentions Iraq and Afghanistan or America's
cultural schism. The references slide in with considerable subtlety, with
the show's writers making the startling assumption that their audience will
``get (removed) The religious references are most often oblique, and certainly
At times, this series boldly (and literally) goes where no sci-fi show has
That boldness extends to its storytelling, as well. During its first two
seasons, and a 2003 miniseries, the story has focused on the search by some
50,000 survivors of a devastating attack on their planet for a perhaps
mythical lost colony called Earth. All the while, they have had to elude
their enemies, the Cylons, who may be ``alien'' but look human.
But in last season's finale, the producers -- Ronald D. Moore and David Eick
-- threw viewers a curve by jump-shifting a year into the future with many
of the survivors clinging to life on New Caprica, a barren planet run in
name only by the humans and ruled in reality by the Cylons. A handful of the
top military leaders managed to escape aboard Galactica and another
starship, the Pegasus, and are now plotting a rescue from space.
That's where the series picks up Friday, and the first few episodes are just
as gripping as the show's past work, whether set aboard the spaceships or on
New Caprica, where the survivors are deciding between collaboration or
revolution. The major characters -- Adm. William Adama (Edward James Olmos),
President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), an array of Cylon leaders -- have
continued to evolve, adding even more shades of gray. On both sides, the
intriguing debates about tactics and strategies continue to rage.
No offense meant to Olmos and the other men on ``Battlestar'' --
particularly Dean Stockwell, who scene-steals as a sleazy, venal Cylon
leader -- but one of the best things about the series is the way the women
tend to dominate.
McDonnell has created a rich, complex portrait of a true civil servant
trying to do good -- and often failing tragically. The strongest hero may be
Sharon Valerii (Grace Park), a Cylon turned human supporter, and if it isn't
her, it's Kara ``Starbuck'' Thrace (Katee Sackhoff). As played by Tricia
Helfer, Number Six, one of the Cylon leaders, is a truly memorable (and very
sexy) sci-fi figure. And Lucy Lawless was a marvelous addition last season
as D'Anna, a muck-raking jou
alist who turned out to be Cylon.
The end product of all these splendid parts is a sci-fi series you can
appreciate and enjoy even if space operas aren't normally your first viewing
choice. ``Battlestar Galactica'' is provocative television that transcends
a.k.a. Fringey, The Fringe Element
"A life lived without passion is a life not lived.