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 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

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