WARNING - MAJOR GEEK STUFF TO FOLLOW!
This last Friday I had the pleasure of drinking a pitcher of India Pale Ale while enjoying the next to last episode of Battlestar Galactica with 1000 other fans of the show and actress Katee Sakhoff who plays Starbuck.
I'm obviously a fan of the new Battlestar Galactica. It hasn't always fired on all cylinders but it has consistently been one of the best shows on television, better than 99% of the other tripe broadcast IMHO.
As a boy in the 70s I loved the original Battlestar Galactica. I loved the idea of an aircraft carrier in space. I thought Dirk Benedict as the original cigar smoking Starbuck was cooler than shit. I pined over the beautiful Jane Seymour in her short stint in the show. I loved the vipers and the Cylon raiders building models of both. Hell- I even loved Boxey and his robot Daggit.
But not every fan of the original has come along for Ron Moore's darker reimagining of the original series. Many fans of the original have turned a thumb's down to the new Battlestar. They don't like it's politics, including it's seeming turn towards a "24" pro-torture sentiment a couple of seasons ago. They think Ron Moore doesn't like the original show. Both of these criticisms leave me scratching my head.
If you look at the political sentiment expressed in the original Battlestar Galactica the prevailing theme seems much more reprehensible to me. Essentially the original Battlestar was arguing for that the best form of government was a benign military dictatorship. Again and again the democratically elected political leadership made decisions that threatened the future of humanity until a military leader - Commander Adama - had to step in and save their bacon.
The new BSG has always been a sort of counterpoint to post-9/11 America. The writers have tackled issues that were ignored by the mainstream media in asking questions about the dangers of paranoia, or the danger of allowing the military to control our society.
When it comes to torture they've done ticking time bomb torture scenes, but they've also aired Abu Ghraib scenes that show the cost of torture. In short- they've accomplished what the best science fiction is able to do - they make you THINK about issues in ways that are often uncomfortable.
But perhaps the strangest idea I'm confronted with by fans of the old show is that Ron Moore doesn't respect the original series. One of the many reasons I like this new show so much is that it regularly nods to the original series in big ways and small. From the genius move of casting Richard Hatch as a former terrorist to the sheer number of episodes built off of original episodes, of the series it's clear to me that Moore has a love of the original. The first part of the finale aired Friday began with that same shot of the nebula from the original BSG show. That scene wasn't put in there for fans of reimagined BSG.
As the new BSG rides off into the sunset this next Friday I'm looking at the loss of this series with genuine sadness (the Sci-Fi network will now be completely unwatchable.) Simple scenes like Doctor Cottell volunteering for the last one-way mission or Adama helping his frail love president Roslin cross the line still choke me up. Make no mistake about it- BSG is a jewel in a sea of American Idol on television. It's passing won't be a good thing.