It shouldn’t work. It has no right to work. It’s only a ‘reimagining’ of a terminally uncool, horrendously camp 1980s sci-fi show. It has no god damn right to be the best, most relevant, most challenging, most thrilling hands down no holds barred sheer brilliant most awesome drama in TV history. But by the gods, Battlestar Galactica, somehow, is all of those things and more. And it’s finally back on our screens again for its fourth and final season.
I don’t even count myself a sci-fi fan. There are films from the sci-fi realm that I’ll watch and even love, but I draw the line at long-running sci-fi TV series. I have a mental and emotional block with any drama that features actors in alien costume with funny shaped heads. I’m sure Deep Space 9, Babylon 5 and Farscape are all brilliantly written and everything, but sorry, I’m too busy running the other way.
Which is why I caught on to Galactica late. The third season had already begun when I borrowed my mate’s DVD box sets and sat down to give it a try. I had to. Everyone was raving about it. The New York Times had declared it the best drama on TV, in anygenre. The Guardian had proclaimed it the only TV series to deal effectively with the War On Terror.
Really? Battlestar Galactica? The remake of that thing from the 80s that had Lorne Greene in it? Has the whole 13th Colony gone crazy?
So I watched the three-hour pilot/miniseriesand was blown away. It had me within the first few minutes if I’m honest, but as it played out and introduced its array of characters one by one, I knew I was in the presence of writers who really cared about their craft.
I consumed Season 1 and Season 2 like a junkie till I was up to speed and could start downloading the season 3 episodes as they were aired. With each new season, you think they’re going to level off and become rubbish, but no, they top their personal best repeatedly.
Season 3 opened with brutal occupation, routine torture and suicide bombings, developed to drugged up threesomes and climaxed with jaw-dropping references to Bob Dylan and the stunning revelation of some very unexpected sleeper agents.
Then followed an unbearable 11-month hiatus, punctuated only by the one-off special Razor, which took it to even darker places. And believe me, Galactica is verydark.
And now it’s back for its fourth and final season, and if the opening episode is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.
It’s shows like Battlestar Galactica that restore my faith in TV drama: so bewilderingly complex, yet full of characters I care about. A real head and heart show that totally transcends its genre. It’s good to have it back.
If you’ve missed out on it so far, you owe it to yourself as a human being to stop fracking about and see one of the greatest TV drama series of all time, so just go and buy the damned box set. It’s the best fifty quid you’ll ever spend.
(If you’re a tightwad you could just watch this amusing Season 1-3 high speed recap instead. But it would mean you are less of a human being. Probably a Cylon.)
As a writer, one of the little extras I love about the show is its podcast support. Commentary tracks are released soon after each episode airs which are usually great, but they also release recordings of their writers’ meetings. I don’t know of any other drama series that lets you sit in on their writers’ room while they break a story, so it’s a great opportunity to get an insight into the collaborative writing process.