Last July I wrote a review the Battlestar Galactica miniseries (which I actually watched in May 2008). The miniseries was a pretty decent production, though I couldn’t follow most of the “inside” lingo. In any event, after I watched the miniseries I began watching the first season. Unfortunately, I stopped watching the first season before the summer ended and I didn’t have a chance to finish the season until this past week.
My apologies for the boring introduction to the review!
Some History for the Series
The first season of Battlestar Galactica follows the survivors of a Cylon (robot) attack on the Twelve Colonies. The survivors are living in what is known as the “Fleet” – which is the logical name that they give to all of the spaceships that survived the attack and are carrying human passengers. The show stars Edward James Olmos as Commander Adama (and thus Commander of the Fleet) and Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin (President of the Colonies/Fleet). Jamie Bamber also stars as Olmos’ son, Captain Lee Adama (a fighter pilot) and Katie Sackhoff stars as Starbuck (another fighter pilot).
The first season follows right after the miniseries ends with the surviving humans (slightly less than 50,000) are on the search for a mythical place they know as Earth (yes, our Earth). The bulk of the series takes place on a ship called Battlestar Galactica which is an older type of warship that wasn’t affected by the robot attack due to its age. Commander Adama is prepping for retirement and getting his ship ready to become a museum.
Then the attacks hit and the series begins.
Now, lets get down to some business in terms of what I thought of the television series. I really enjoyed the first season. The best part of the first season was that when watching the episodes it seemed more like watching a prolonged movie and not your traditional television series. I like that. Of course you get all of the history talked about above in the first season, but you also get the progression of the main storyline – that the humans are running from the cylons and trying to find this mythical place called earth.
By the end of the season, the refugees haven’t found earth, but they have found a planet known as Kobol (or the place where humanity was said to have begun). It’s sort of an interesting twist on what one would expect as the payoff for the first season – look for earth, find a different planet, get attacked by the bad guys anyway.
The second season and third seasons become a little bit too episodic for my liking. I understand that this is a weird criticism for someone to report about a television series, but when one of the biggest draws of the first season is the feeling that you’re watching a prolonged movie, it’s a bit of a bummer when the following seasons begin to feel more like your traditional TV show. The other criticism that I have with the second and third seasons of the show is that many of the plots are retreads of earlier pieces of the series.
For example, how many times is there a mutiny (or mutiny-like event) declared where Admiral Adama has to retake control of the battlestar? Or how many times does Lee Adama have to reconcile with his father? Same deal with Starbuck and the Admiral. Then you have the constant battles for power in the colonial government where President Roslin is in charge, then unseated, then she becomes President again – I mean she even gets rid of her cancer before it comes back again! It began to wear on me as someone who was so impressed with the first season.
Then you have the occupation of the “New Caprica” planet first by the refugees and then by the cylons as invaders. I watched that part of the end of season two, the intervening webisodes, and the beginning of season three with a sort of “ehhh” attitude. I don’t know – it was just a bit tedious to watch when you consider that the first season was so well put together and that this is one of those traditional television series where the “good guys” are always going to win in the end (in fact, isn’t that the way with all TV shows?).
And although it began to make sense toward the end of the fourth season, I really didn’t like how the last five cylons wound up being such major players in the series (Col. Tigh? Really?). However, the fourth season really did a great job of tying up loose ends and the series finale was very well done.
If you get a chance to watch the miniseries or first few episodes of the first season, I would suggest giving it a shot. There’s probably not much value in watching a random episode in the second, third, or fourth seasons if you don’t really know anything about the series, but I reiterate that the series is definitely worth watching and the series finale is worth the time investment.
And for those of you who are a little down now that Battlestar Galactica is over, don’t worry. The spin-off series, Caprica, is coming soon!