The original Battlestar Galactica starred Lorne Green, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict. It was a low-budget sci-fi series created in the 1970s by Glen A Larson. Despite the cheap costumes and props, it’s still fondly remembered by fans.
The 2003 Battlestar Galactica series was developed by Ronald D Moore and executive produced by Moore and David Eick as a re-imagining of the 1978 television series.
The pilot for the series first aired as a three-hour miniseries (comprising four broadcast hours in two parts) in December 2003 on the Sci-Fi Channel, which was then followed by four regular seasons, ending its run in March 2009.
The Battlestar Galactica story
This gritty, post-apocalyptic series is set in the distant future and stars Edward James Olmos as Commander Bill Adama and Mary McDonnell as President Laura Roslin.
The story is set in a distant star system, where a civilisation of humans lives on a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies, named after zodiac signs. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with an android race of their own creation, known as the Cylons. The Cylons launch an unexpected attack on the colonies with the help of human scientist Gaius Baltar, killing billions of humans and making the planets uninhabitable.
Approximately 50,000 humans survive the attacks, most of whom were aboard civilian ships that avoided destruction. Of all the Colonial Fleet, only the Battlestar Galactica, an old but powerful warship survived. Adama and Roslin have to keep the remainder of humanity alive, they don’t know where they’re going or if there’s anything out there for them to find. But their search for a place to call home gives them hope and keeps them going.
How does the remake compare to the original?
Like Larson’s original series, the show portrayed events that take place during a seven-year interstellar war between humanity and the Cylons; however, Moore’s reimagined series was set in a different universe than Larson’s original concept.
The original series was quite campy. In the reboot, the character of Baltar gets a welcome makeover and is not the campy evil count from the original. In the 2003 version, there is more nuance to the character which leaves you feeling sorry for him on occasion.
The remake of Battlestar Galactica is actually better than the original in every way. Not only does it retain all of the drama, action, and suspense of its predecessor, but it also tackles more mature themes like politics, religion and race relations. The world-building is also well thought out. As the ragtag band of humans leave their solar system in search of a new home we come to learn more about where they originally came from.
Battlestar Galactica themes
Battlestar Galactica isn’t your typical space opera. It is one of the best sci-fi shows ever made because it engages with deep philosophical questions in a nuanced way and uses the post-apocalyptic setting to tell a story about humanity.
“All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”
These words are repeated by the cast of Battlestar Galactica in a sombre tone, as a warning that the events unfolding in the show’s narrative are a cyclical failure.
The show tells us that if we are not careful, our flaws will be the end of us. It raises questions about who we are and what we should be doing with our lives. And it’s so well made that it can draw you in even if you’re not interested in science fiction.
Although I will forever praise this show, it does have some flaws. During the writers’ strike, some deep cracks appeared in the writing and there were fears that the show would be cancelled. Many fans fault Galactica’s quasi-religious leanings for the downward spiral of the show. Admittedly, I despised the Baltar storyline in later seasons as rather than being thrown out of the airlock, he had a cult following and performed miracles without explanation.
The series ended after a 4-season run despite some of its overtly religious messaging in the later season, it did something some of my other favourite shows never managed to do: it went out on its own terms and finished telling the story it set out to tell. Although the series ended the themes it explored still remain relevant.
Despite its few flaws, the show featured powerful performances and some of the best writing on television in recent memory. It has so many things going for it that you really should give it a shot. It’s not just about spaceships blowing each other up; there’s plenty of politics and philosophy in the mix as well.
The show was so popular during its run, there was even talk of another reboot.
Have you watched Battlestar Galactica? If not, will you watch it now? Let me know in the comments.