As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve started using Netflix to go back and watch some shows that I didn’t watch when they originally aired. This time, I’ve watched the first season of Battlestar Galactica. I’m not talking about the original Battlestar Galactica (although I did watch it when it originally aired), but the grim and gritty reboot by Ron Moore. For whatever reason, I just never started watching the series when it first aired in 2005. I’d heard both good and bad things about the show along the way, but decided that I should check it out. Let’s see what happens with season one.
The season actually starts as a two-part miniseries in late 2003. These 90 minute episodes start 40 years after a truce between humans and Cylons. Famed scientist (and all around dirtbag) Gaius Baltar(James Callis) finds out that the woman he had been sleeping with(Number 6 played by Tricia Helfer) recently is actually a humanoid Cylon (robots disguised as a human) and had used him to steal access codes. With these codes, the Cylons launched an attack on the Twelve Colonies (the human worlds) and destroyed almost all of humanity. All that survives are a few ships and one low-level Cabinet member (Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin) who is now the new President. Lead among the ships is the Battleship Galactica, an older ship on the verge of retirement (so it didn’t have the updated codes which took out the other ships) led by Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos). Assisted by Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) and his lead pilots (Adama’s son Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber) and maverick fighter Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff)), Adama tries to make the best of a horrible situation while dealing with a President he feels is too inexperienced to respect.
The first season involves the remaining humans trying to come to grips with what has happened and trying to recover and find a place for the human race to rebuild. They have to make sure they have food, water and other supplies. In addition, the humans have Cylon troubles as they are pursued across the galaxy as the Cylons try to exterminate the remaining humans. Along the way we get political intrigue, personal intrigue, a lot of fighting and hidden Cylons (humanoid Cylons who don’t know that they are Cylons). The season as a whole is dour and dark. The entire season is extremely dark with very, very few lighter moments within them. One of the lighter moments (a celebration of a pilot’s 1000th landing) ends with 13 pilots killed by an accidental release of a drone on the flight deck. While I understood the reason there were few lighter moments, I felt that it hurt the season as a whole. Instead of looking forward to episodes, I almost felt like I was subjecting myself to more pain to watch more, as I knew that things would only get worse from wherever we were.
Overall, it was a great season of TV. The storylines were compelling and the performances were outstanding. Ron Moore learned from his previous experiences in the Star Trek universe and never setup situations that were technobabble and rarely if ever let the technology control the situation. BSG was about the people and what they needed to do when confronted with a situation where it was literally them fighting for their lives. There were numerous great performances from all the main characters and it was an exciting (but dreary) season of TV. I look forward to future seasons. Recommended.