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Non-Review Review: Battlestar Galactica – The Plan

It’s a lie. For the first few years, Battlestar Galactica sold itself as a grand mythology. Every episode, in a narration repeated at the start of this film, we were reintroduced to the Cylons and reassured that “They have plan”. Except they didn’t. The show was written year-to-year, with no overarching scheme behind it all. This isn’t a criticism, but an observation. For most of its four year run, the show was the best thing on television. The series finale was a major disappointment but – for the most part – the design worked. So labelling this spin-off as Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is at best a little bit cheeky. At worst it’s a downright lie.

Relax, it's not the end of the world...

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Battlestar Galactica: Season 4

I don’t want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays, and I — I want to — I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can’t even express these things properly because I have to — I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid, limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws, and feel the solar wind of a supernova flowing over me! I’m a machine, and I could know much more, I could experience so much more, but I’m trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way!

– John Cavil, No Exit

We could feel a sense of time, as if each moment held its own significance. We began to realise that for our existence to have any value, it must end. To live meaningful lives, we must die and not return. The one human flaw that you spend your life times distressing over – your mortallity – is the one thing which makes you whole.

– Natalie Faust, Guess What’s Coming to Dinner

There’s a moment in the show which perhaps best symbolises the sense of trepidation that I felt in sitting down to watch the final episodes of the show. We had alread witnessed three phenomenal years, so wasn’t it worth getting worried about the endgame? Admiral William Adama sits in a chair beside the dying President Laura Rosalin, his favourite book in hand. He reveals that he’s never finished it. And yet it’s still his favourite book. Because finishing it would be to acknowledge that it was the end – there was nothing afterwards. You had experienced how good it had been, but that was in the past. There is another familiar sense of dread that must be acknowledged: What if the ending doesn’t live up to expectations? What if it disappoints? How can it not?

From the look of it, Giaus was about as confused as I was when he found out how this was going to end...

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Battlestar Galactica – Season 3

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.”

– The “Mysterious” Song, Crossroads, Part II

The series continues to be one of the most interesting television phenomenon of the last decade as it enters what is, technically at least, it’s penultimate season. This is the point where mythology-based shows typically come apart, crushed under their own weight – the point where they have to start answering at least some of their own questions, rather than simply posing them to the audience. The problem is, as many shows have found out, answering questions isn’t nearly as fun as posing them. Battlestar Galactica, seemingly afraid of the potential comfort that giving those answers would offer, instead opts to delve even deeper into the rabbit hole – picking answers to questions suggested by earlier events and then using that to move the show forward in a fascinating momentum. Because of this weird combination of answers and deeper questions, the show somehow manages to increase its complexity and its fascination year-after-year.

Full of nebulous concepts...

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Battlestar Galactica: Season 2

This isn’t about Sharon. It’s about something much bigger than that. It’s about the long term survival of the Fleet. It’s about the way we conduct ourselves in all of this.

Laura Roslin, Sacrifice

You know, when we fought the Cylons, we did it to save ourselves from extinction. But we never answered the question, why? Why are we as a people worth saving? We still commit murder because of greed, spite, jealousy. And we still visit all of our sins upon our children. We refuse to accept the responsibility for anything that we’ve done.

– Commander Bill Adama, Miniseries

This year, mankind is its own worst enemy. The remnants of humanity are driven to the bring of civil war not once, but twice. The series lands in its sophmore season running, though it seems to run into a bit of bother balancing itself over a full year. That isn’t to say that it isn’t still spectacular television – far from it – but that there are moments here when the series appears to lose focus (if only for an episode or two at a time). Still, it remains one of the most interesting and dynamic television dramas ever conceived.

bsgstorm

It's some kinda storm out there...

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Battlestar Galactica: Season I

All of this has happened before… and will happen again.

With that line articulated by the Cylon Leoben Conroy in the episode Flesh and Bone, the producers and writers lay their cards on the table. Time is cyclical. Maybe for the grand design of human history, but most definitely for storytelling. Battlestar Galactica is possibly the most wonderfully dense and layoured piece of popular culture which I have had the joy of savouring since first cracking open Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It’s magical, it’s mystical, and it’s wonderful. How Ronald D. Moore turned a kitsch footnote in television science fiction history into this, I will never know. I am just thankful.

battlestar

Time's Arrow is cyclical...

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Battlestar Galactica – The Miniseries

I recently picked up Battlestar Galactica on bluray, the complete series boxset, including every episode and special. I’d wandered in and out of the series over the years (mainly due to the fact that I was at college during its run) and when this package was released I decided that it might well be worth my time to pick up the whole kit and kaboodle on watch it through from beginning to end. So, for the first time, I watched the 2003 miniseries which had served as launching pad for the series. While I’m not entirely happy with the bluray itself, I am very satisfied with the programme.

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

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