Friday, April 27, 2012

Battlestar Galactica. Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Bill Adama.

Last weekend, I did it.  I finished watching Battlestar Galactica, the rebooted series based on the 1980s miniseries.  It took a lot of time and got really dark, but I'm so, so glad I watched it.  I think it was the best wedding gift I could have given JP, as he's described the show as the "greatest fictional plot arc in the history of the world."  With build-up like that, you better believe I had high expectations and it didn't let me down.
As I mentioned in a previous post, BSG is about the survival of humans as they eke out a living in the most hostile of environments: space.  In this reality, humans created cylons, robots that eventually rised up against humans and started the human-cylon war.  Cylons are banished from the human planet, but return after a few decades to decimate the human population.  Less than 50,000 people are left after cylons annihilate the planet, and left to try to survive in space on the ships used for luxury living, waste compacting, mining, and military protection.  The Battlestar Galactica is one of the oldest ships in the "fleet," having been used during the human-cylon war, and was scheduled to be retired on the day of the cylon attack.  The battlestar is used as the new military base, and most of the main plot points happen on this ship.
The show is four seasons long, and it's a brilliantly thought-out plot.  Yes, it's a sci-fi show, but everything is grounded in reality; no aliens or space beings pop up.  Cylons are made by humans, so it makes sense that their stories are intertwined.  There are surprises throughout the series starting with the second episode, so I won't go into too much detail into the actual plots of the show. 
I can tell you a bit about some of the main characters, though, who became huge topics of conversation for JP and I around the dinner table.  William Adama, captain of the Galactica, is a man who stands by his convictions; seriously, I would follow him anywhere.  Lee Adama, his strongheaded son, has followed in his father's miliary footsteps, though the two butts head frequently and he has a shaky relationship with Starbuck/Kara Thrace, another military member who is also connected to both Adamas.  The former Secretary of Education, Laura Roslin, takes over the presidency in the wake of the attack, and is battling breast cancer as well.  Then there's Gaius Baltar, a genius scientist who always puts himself first and contributed to the attack in the first place.  Along with these core human characters, there's a host of others intricate to the storyline: Saul Tighe (the Executive Officer of the Galactica), Tyrol (officer on Galactica), Six (a cylon)... the list goes on.
Obviously, the biggest plotline of the show is whether humans can/will survive in space.  Throughout the seasons, bigger social issues arise: what rights, if any, do non-humans have in society?  What makes a person/thing human?  Should abortions be allowed if the very survival of humanity at stake?  Can democracy thrive in such a concentrated space?  You'll watch some episodes and just be itching for discussion afterward.  In addition, there's the whole personal relationship aspect of the show; when there are less than 50k people left in your civilization, it's difficult to maintain the same relationship with mankind.  I read articles about this show being excellent for couples to watch together, as there's a lot of political and military intrigue, along with soap opera plots with married couples and families. 
For anyone still thinking this sounds like a huge waste of time unless you're a sci-fi nerd, I'll point out that the United flippin' Nations hosted a retrospective panel on the show upon its conclusion that discussed terrorism, human rights, and armed conflict.  This show tackles the heavy stuff in a poignant, realistic way that world leaders have respect for.  That's insane!  Consider my mind blown.
Let me just close with this: I don't regret any of the 40+ hours spent in front of the TV finishing this epic story.
So say we all.

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