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The gospel truth of Battlestar Galactica

more than just a reference to The Office

The “nerdy” show at its core is a full encompassing view of human nature.
Photo courtesy of Syfy

Battlestar Galactica—for most who hear the name (and recognize it), it comes in association with one of Dwight Schrute’s nerdy obsessions from The Office. To be clear, this is not the original released series in 1978, airing only one pitifully antiquated season. No—this is the 2004 remake, or rather the revived and revolutionized rendition, a four-season exploration of the full spectrum of human experience. From its rich script and acting to its fusion of Indian and Irish folk, Battlestar Galactica may in fact be one of the most underrated shows to date. 

The show was originally set to be a seven-part miniseries, but it was rapidly expanded into a full series before the first movie’s release. The final delivery ended up being a three-hour “pilot episode” setting up the premise:  

A polytheistic human race lives on the planet Caprica. The history of this race traces back to 12 colonies, clearly named in connection with astrological names—Aerilon, Picon, Sagittaron, and so forth. Along the way in this race’s history, the Cylons were created: a robotic species programmed to work in military operations, eventually becoming mechanized slaves for the humans. Then the Cylons rebelled.

After a long war with these machines, the Cylons vanish. The pilot episode/movie opens with the first contact with the Cylons in 40 years, but now—they have evolved. With Cylon models identical to human beings, they infiltrate the 12 colonies of humanity and wipe out billions. The last remaining 50,000 people—a small civilian fleet and one rickety Battlestar—end up drifting through space in search of a new home.

Like most shows of the genre, it’s set up for a dense plot. But Galactica is a show that manages to balance plot and character development brilliantly and create something cohesively gripping and substantial in its messages. Many Sifi shows are tethered tightly to the producer’s agenda—one that often sees each character through their monetary worth for the show. But against all odds, the show’s greenlighting in the early 2000s was as wondrous as the series itself.

Among many themes explored in depth throughout the well-crafted character, arcs are the balance of pragmatism and faith. Never are either one too viciously shoved down the viewer’s throat without a clear sense of awareness or irony. Like a song—Battlestar Galactica makes the audience happy and sad all at the same time. And to quote the show without spoilers: “The best ones do.”

Watch the series, and once its epic entirety has soaked in, sit down and revisit that Office scene when Jim gets under Dwight’s skin by recapping the show of Battlestar Galactica—Dwight’s white-knuckled attempt to stay calm may be slightly easier to view with some empathy this time around.  

This is a selection from the April 14 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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