Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Battlestar Galactica

by | December 3, 2014 | Comments

Remakes can be a tricky business. Often times, the original material casts a long shadow, and a lot of remakes never get a chance to establish their own identity. But every once in a while, you get that rarest of gems: a remake that almost completely eclipses its original inspiration. The “re-imagined” Battlestar Galactica was one of those rare gems.

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

What’s the premise? In a distant star system, the whole of humanity now numbers less than 50,000 after a genocidal attack by the robotic Cylons. The survivors have banded together, fleeing their home worlds in a mismatched collection of passenger liners, cargo ships, and an old, obsolete warship with a second-rate crew, named Galactica. These refugees need a new home, and they pin all their hopes on the finding a legendary lost world called Earth. But the Cylons are still out there, on the hunt. And some of them look just like humans.

What’s it like? Battlestar Galactica tells a long-ranging story full of twists and turns, similar to Lost or Game of Thrones. The original series was meant to capitalize on the hunger for anything that looked like Star Wars (at least from a network standpoint) and so that meant it was relatively kid-friendly. The updated show isn’t; there are a lot of adult themes here and we never see the kid and the robot-dog who were central to the old show. Instead we get the sexiest androids this side of Blade Runner. And, although this is a sci-fi show about spaceships and robots, it’s also deeply philosophical. At its best, sci-fi raises questions about society, religion, or what it means to be human, and the writers of Battlestar Galactica embraced those opportunities. The show isn’t afraid to tackle a lot of the complicated issues that came up in the US in the wake of the 9/11 attacks — most notably, the balance of security versus democracy.

Where can I see it? There are some pretty comprehensive DVD and Blu-ray box sets available, or you can purchase episodes on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu.

How long will it take? If you go all-in with the original mini-series and TV movies, you’re looking at almost 80 hours of viewing. So if you were to do nothing but watch TV all day, you could finish this in a week. To be clear, we don’t recommend this. Like most of us, you’ll have to balance annoyances like a job and a social life, so watching all of Battlestar Galactica will likely take a least a couple of months.

What do the critics think? The critics were very impressed with the introductory mini-series and the first two seasons of the show. In her review for the Los Angeles Times, Mary McNamara called it “not just a cult hit but a significant piece of television.” Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune praised the series for being “full of political allegories and fascinating, multifaceted characters.” But for some critics, the love didn’t last. Some said that the show started to lose its way in the third season. Charlie Jane Anders of io9.com wrote, “By the time the show ended, its mystique was somewhat tarnished, and its ending remains controversial to this day.”

Why should I watch this? Battlestar Galactica did something very unusual; Ronald D. Moore and his creative team took a cult favorite and made it better. The basic mythology from the original show is here, but it’s only a jumping-off point. If you know the old show, you’ll recognize some of the character names but the writers have their own spin. Sure, Apollo’s still the straight-arrow son of the Commander, and Starbuck is still the rowdy gambler, but recasting Starbuck as a female drastically changes the dynamic of their friendship. Adama, Tigh, Baltar, and Boomer all get updates, and frankly it makes the show a lot richer than the source material. The cast is anchored by veteran actors Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, with the rest of the cast rounded out mostly by relative newcomers. We’ve continued to see Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, and Grace Park in movies or TV shows, and BSG is what put them on the map. Battlestar Galactica was telling smarter stories and featured better developed characters than almost anything on TV at the time, and it was one of the few shows to take a frank (and almost real-time) look at how the War on Terror was playing out after 9/11. And though the later seasons of the show were disappointing, emotional investment in the characters kept many fans coming back to the very end.

What’s my next step? There’s a fair amount of material set in the BSG universe. After Battlestar Galactica wrapped, Moore created a prequel series called Caprica, set almost 60 years before the events of Galactica. In spite of critical acclaim, the show didn’t find enough of an audience to get a second season. But if you want some more back story in that universe, Caprica fits the bill. There is also a prequel movie called Blood & Chrome, which covers an early mission for a young William Adama. And of course there’s the original 1979 series (which holds up okay) and Galactica 1980 (which doesn’t hold up well at all). On the other hand, if you find you like Ron Moore’s writing, he’s currently involved with Helix on SyFy and Outlander on Starz. And you might consider giving his Star Trek work a try. As a writer, Moore cut his teeth on Star Trek: The Next Generation and had an increasing level of supervision over Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, starting in that show’s third season.

Are you ready to catch up on Battlestar Galactica? Tell us why!


Tag Cloud

nfl royal family hist Dark Horse Comics Amazon Prime best game show classics History 21st Century Fox rotten movies we love razzies psychological thriller YouTube Premium justice league Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt scorecard feel good live action Spike franchise Sci-Fi slasher Musical crime thriller The CW Shondaland American Society of Cinematographers Classic Film critics Logo Sundance Martial Arts TCM TV movies First Reviews Infographic USA Network sag awards Kids & Family Nat Geo Drama mcc Marathons Emmy Nominations docuseries Ovation Neflix MTV stoner video on demand ABC Family 1990s Funimation The Purge quibi RT History 2015 Comedy Central medical drama mutant award winner GoT Pixar japan ratings 71st Emmy Awards crime drama Music Image Comics Countdown BBC deadpool BET Mindy Kaling VH1 science fiction Avengers TV Land Comic-Con@Home 2021 live event summer TV critic resources new star wars movies Tumblr VICE HFPA werewolf satire TNT animated disaster romance 2021 spanish language 20th Century Fox video pirates of the caribbean Star Trek what to watch blockbusters Comic Book Crackle Discovery Channel cars Lionsgate adventure Mary Poppins Returns Film Festival cooking Disney streaming service canceled TV shows Extras new york Mystery TV One FOX President sequels interviews Black Mirror Horror Netflix Christmas movies Film remakes Lifetime mob Box Office monster movies Calendar Exclusive Video LGBT james bond olympics Mary Tyler Moore anime scary movies ABC golden globe awards transformers cancelled 93rd Oscars 79th Golden Globes Awards Rocky ITV twilight movie vampires 2019 TCA Winter 2020 romantic comedy cartoon Fox Searchlight series based on movie festivals Star Wars comic book movie Britbox 73rd Emmy Awards Walt Disney Pictures slashers emmy awards black comedy Stephen King Ellie Kemper criterion South by Southwest Film Festival Biopics cancelled television screenings Sony Pictures crime Fantasy harry potter genre 2020 art house WGN hollywood television rt archives diversity Mary poppins Thanksgiving Pop TV dexter spanish festival Pacific Islander singing competition dreamworks Fox News Writers Guild of America Summer Sony a nightmare on elm street Comedy witnail comiccon strong female leads Toys child's play Trivia scene in color film series mission: impossible boxing Sundance Now TV renewals revenge summer preview italian DC Universe Instagram Live dceu The Academy Fargo asian-american free movies Quiz ID hispanic heritage month canceled Tubi cops PaleyFest doctor who true crime Super Bowl football Apple TV+ kong reviews Esquire OneApp 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards CW Seed Creative Arts Emmys action-comedy archives australia Binge Guide ESPN foreign zero dark thirty Pop The Walt Disney Company Arrowverse X-Men cats obi wan facebook MCU saw Rom-Com richard e. Grant Baby Yoda adenture Alien Trophy Talk NBC WarnerMedia Grammys Video Games Wes Anderson Tomatazos Shudder Pirates FX Universal Disney+ Disney Plus Indigenous Hallmark book spinoff war worst movies spider-man parents blaxploitation BBC One Cosplay 4/20 streamig wonder woman halloween tv Peacock Columbia Pictures streaming movies miniseries Holidays Turner Classic Movies hispanic comic books trophy TCA 2017 casting TLC Starz international RT21 comic Certified Fresh Family Showtime historical drama 99% japanese Hear Us Out 90s screen actors guild sopranos biopic basketball 007 Best and Worst trailers Interview Lucasfilm Best Actor talk show Cartoon Network streaming zombie Chilling Adventures of Sabrina APB Native Winter TV broadcast Netflix IFC Films Fall TV HBO Go renewed TV shows Christmas Rock YouTube Red Paramount Network See It Skip It DC streaming service cinemax superman Western SXSW 2022 kaiju movies young adult Adult Swim batman Best Actress Disney Channel CNN posters sports A24 Chernobyl Hollywood Foreign Press Association Sneak Peek target Disney heist movie spider-verse space San Diego Comic-Con comedies Trailer Lifetime Christmas movies sequel Emmys First Look spy thriller binge BAFTA french Superheroe TBS fresh NBA natural history Tags: Comedy Sundance TV Brie Larson Turner scary Country suspense Vudu toy story Teen Comics on TV book adaptation Awards dogs cancelled TV shows Best Picture TruTV Hallmark Christmas movies The Arrangement GLAAD stand-up comedy Captain marvel king kong universal monsters Television Academy news SXSW serial killer Women's History Month independent vs. nature HBO jamie lee curtis USA mockumentary Hulu composers E! MSNBC HBO Max NYCC political drama indie Marvel Television joker Endgame golden globes docudrama prank Television Critics Association debate breaking bad teaser Marvel adaptation Winners stop motion chucky gangster theme song Amazon Studios versus Holiday comic book movies Nominations Reality 94th Oscars marvel comics DGA Set visit E3 Freeform 2018 worst Polls and Games period drama cults El Rey Awards Tour black PlayStation Mudbound The Walking Dead tv talk Schedule Epix Pet Sematary jurassic park directors OWN dc Animation ABC Signature obituary Tarantino SDCC crossover Rocketman CBS south america Pride Month spain Focus Features National Geographic psycho thriller robots nbcuniversal biography know your critic popular telelvision Character Guide Nickelodeon AMC comics CMT target scene in color TIFF Best Director Star Wars Celebration venice social media scene in color series Geeked Week Amazon Broadway Heroines zombies Marvel Studios concert Food Network The Witch Amazon Prime Video Paramount Plus Masterpiece Song of Ice and Fire ghosts high school Oscars Syfy 2017 die hard 24 frames SundanceTV VOD Apple TV Plus TV Tokyo Olympics godzilla dramedy scene in color DC Comics new zealand laika kids politics Premiere Dates rotten dragons Anna Paquin Disney Plus Photos Travel Channel Elton John legend BBC America LGBTQ anthology Universal Pictures reboot toronto technology MGM 72 Emmy Awards AMC Plus police drama Paramount Pictures Prime Video sitcom 2016 Oscar lord of the rings IFC Action supernatural 45 Black History Month game of thrones YA Apple Spectrum Originals hidden camera elevated horror christmas movies TCA Awards A&E finale dark Crunchyroll TCA marvel cinematic universe summer TV preview Podcast Valentine's Day ViacomCBS YouTube all-time Musicals aliens FXX Election Ghostbusters Academy Awards aapi BET Awards films CBS All Access Watching Series Warner Bros. documentary travel unscripted halloween cancelled TV series New York Comic Con Cannes children's TV green book GIFs Bravo Legendary Red Carpet rt labs IMDb TV Opinion DirecTV Spring TV rom-coms Reality Competition PBS rt labs critics edition Year in Review FX on Hulu king arthur leaderboard Acorn TV name the review superhero fast and furious discovery Paramount Superheroes women indiana jones blockbuster documentaries latino boxoffice