08 December 2013

FWS Topics: Ten Years Ago...Looking Back At The BSG Miniseries

Where does the frakking time go? It has been ten year since the Sci-Fi Channel aired the first part of the Ronald D. Moore/David Eick Battlestar Galactica miniseries. Ten years. Given the importance of BSG in the realm of military science fiction, I thought we would look back on one of the greatest events for TV science fiction as a whole. Prior to the 2003 miniseries, BSG was a bad state of affairs. FOX and USA were going to continue the story of the original 1978 series, by picking up years after the original run of the series, and the dogshit Galactica:1980 was going to be ignored...thankfully. All of this was going to headed up by director Bryan Singer. Around the same time, Richard Hatch was shopping around his own proposed series trailer that he funded himself, called Galactica: the Second Coming. The attempted Bryan Singer BSG project was delayed after September 11th, and Singer had to drop out per prior commitments, and the studio ignored Hatch's proposal. It seemed that the attempt to bring this old property back to life was dead. It seemed that USA/NBC moved quickly when Moore and Eick proposed their spin on the old themes and events of BSG.

Fear of Change

Galacticia fans were a small, but diehard legion that kept hope alive that one sweet day, the gods of television would see the errors of their ways, and put BSG back on the air...and not more shit like Galactica: 1980. After that dogshit series failed, the property went into hibernation. While you could still catch BSG repeating on the old Sci-Fi Channel, the series began to look more and more cheesy as time went on, especially when Space: Above and Beyond hit the airwaves in 1995. Fans of the old series were relieved when Bryan Singer decided to continue to the original Larson concept, much to the rejoice of the series fans. But that project died, and once again, fans were left with nothing. When Moore and Eick got the green-light, there were waves of concern among the community of old-school BSG fans due to the amount of changes that were undertaken and with the ties that RDM had with Trek. Starbuck being a woman created a major stir, along with the hard-edge, more realistic tone. I can remember rumors of Cylons being built by humans, and there would be no more laser blasters and somehow BLADE RUNNER was going to be added to the mix. It was also worrisome to fans that Moore and Eick had been quoted as saying that they were going to strip away the 1970's and Star Wars veneer.
The majority of fans of the original series were put off by these changes, and most of them wanted a return to the concept and feel of that 1970's sci-fi failure. For some of us that do not remember the original 1970's Battlestar Galactica, we should talk about that as well. Back in the late 1970's, Star Wars was the juggernaut of the box-office, and had changed science fiction as well as society, and everyone wanted to make some money off of this trend. BSG was sold to ABC by Glen A. Larson as a series of TV movies, and would capitalize on the trends of Star Wars, Chariots of the Gods, and fears over greater computerization. The series would die after one season mainly to the expense of the show and wandering focus of the show, and stiff competition in their time slot. To me, the original series never lived up to the promise of the story and the sets. While some of the acting was good, and there was a kernel of good science fiction there, most of the series was half-baked and a product of its time.

Tapping into American History...

Rewatching the 2003 miniseries, and being a history major, you notice that Moore and Eick tapped into certain events in American history that allow for those in-tune to see the connection. For those not in-tune, that is still a power image of nuclear mushroom clouds, people running away from the danger, the president being sworn in on a plane, leaving people behind. For me, the miniseries brought up feelings of September 11th, and made the situation with the colonies more realistic and current that an event that happened 150,000 years ago. This was one of the beauties of the miniseries, raw emotional punch that so lacking from the Saga of a Star World.

Watching Both Miniseries Today
For this blogpost, I decided to watch Saga of a Star World and 2003 miniseries The new BSG became a sea change to science fiction, especially military sci-fi. It was frequent called the "best show on TV", and the ending is still discussed today. I was continuly impressed by the 2003 miniseries, the complexity, the historical references, the levels of emotion, and the care of design and story. Then I watched the 1978 TV movie and....well....While it is true that any work is a product of their time, the original BSG suffers greatly from this. The attack on the colonies is lame and underwhelming. The entire focus of the story if completely off, and while the acting is good, there is nothing for them to do. While the 2003 miniseries is most superior in every way to the 1978 variation, I did miss the Colonial Warriors concept and the badass original score. Also, because I've seen the entire series now twice, I had to admit that the fourth season of BSG was weak, especially the whole Baltar-being-a-messiah thing, I like the end of the series. I know that some people have an issue with the disappearance of Starbuck, or that the remains of the 12 Colonies of Kobol bend with us, to form an hybrid species. In some ways, despite all of formal training in history and that I am godless, I would like the end of BSG to true.
That some part of all of our DNA comes from people from the 12 Colonies, and they gave us some noble and true. After all, wouldn't it be interesting if portions of the foundation of our civilization was from our there? Could have there been brothers and sisters of man, battling to survive among the stars, thousands of years before the foundations of cities, the taming of fire, and religion? Could we be them? Wouldn't that be cool?


  1. Has it been ten years already....wow. What appealed to me about the first
    series was the Chariots of the Gods angle, and the vaguely Atlantis/Egyptian
    take of human history, being a historian myself it was and is a pleasant
    diversion from the hard reality of classes. Humanity does need it's myths...)

    The later version's appeal was do to my military service, it felt right! The
    interaction with soldiers and command as well as the mind set was spot on.
    Also The political skullduggery was depressingly accurate and all too human.
    The idea that humanity created it's adversaries was an interesting take as well.

    I have to say I like both versions equally but see them as completely different
    stand alone entities, as you said both were unique products of their time.

  2. That is the same thing that attracted me to the series, and I enjoyed that Moore and Eick made the new BSG more realistic, replacing the warriors with pilots, and giving more of the crew their own story. It amazes me that it has been 10 years....we need another MSF TV show like Galactica.

  3. I feel the same way, we really do need a new MSF TV show, I miss Galactica, Stargate, DS9,
    and Babylon 5. I was deeply saddened that the Babylon 5 spin off Crusade didn't take off as
    it had so much potential (I do of course own the box set) although not strictly speaking entirely
    military it had enough for me. They could always remake Buck Rogers I guess, lol. Although
    I'd love to see Fred Saberhagen's BERSERKERS made into a show or at the very least a mini series, with today's technology it could be done and if done right would be freaking awesome!

  4. I've read several times that HALO is going to be a TV series on the Xbox One, but that is the only incoming MSF series I've heard about. The storyline of Crusade remains of Space Cruiser Yamato, that series disappeared before I could see it. Beautiful ship, though. I keep hoping one day, someone will put Space:Above and Beyond back on the air.

  5. I had issues with Space:Above and Beyond, you don't use pilots as line infantry but,aside from that it was a gripping show. An other possibility for a good show would be the BOLO books, and I think
    it would not be that difficult to do technically. It would be interesting as the tank it's self would the
    main character and personality behind the story. Some great scope for writers at the very least.

  6. Yeah...when you think about it logically, you would not use pilots as groundpounders. When FWS discussed SAAB, I bought this up as one of the element that could be fixed if SAAB gets rebooted. BSG does some of the pilots-as-space-marines sin as well.
    BOLO or even ORGE could be a possibility...hey, a live-action Wing Commander could be good.

  7. While BSG did have some pilots-as-space-marines, I think it was mostly because, they were the only ones who had any training in any ground warfare, and were officers. If I remember correctly, there were something like only 2-3 Marine Officers in the whole series, that survived the Fall of the Colonies.

  8. I am rewatching the entire BSG series, and you are correct. There were few if any marine officers in the fleet, even after the Pegasus arrived. The Colonial pilots seen in BSG are an interesting breed

  9. You made some solid points, I just prefer the older one to the new one after seeing two seasons of the new version.

    For me the "Everyone is a Cylon" part of the show gets a little...tired? Like I'm tired of random people being Cylons...

  10. NuGalactica was emboematic of all that has gone wrong with modern science fiction. There is no ADVENTURE, no FUN, no HEROES.

    Instead it's all woe and sorrows, angst, humanity is doomed, humanity is evil, humanity deserves to fall and fail, and on and on and on.

    A lot of us are flat out SICK of that.