You may have heard of the original Battlestar Galactica (literally, the name for the space-faring warship as well as the show). It was plentifully populated with badly dressed space people and set in the faraway year 2010, where halls are quirkily triangular, rotary phones aren’t retro and Dirk Benedict is really, really sexy.* Astonishingly, it got cancelled. Enter Ronald D. Moore. In 2003 he brought Battlestar back, turned Starbuck into a woman, and made the Cylons rather sexy, inspiring this short but ridiculously catchy song:
Still feeling a little lost? Here’s your BSG fact sheet:
The morally ambiguous good guys are… humans! Thirteen tribes of them. Many moons ago, the thirteenth tribe left all the others and settled on a faraway planet known as ‘Earth’. The remaining twelve colonised elsewhere, and named themselves after star signs. There’s Caprica, which is full of politicians, artists and fighter pilots; Saggitaron, which is where the crazy religious types live; and… uh… other ones.
To make life easier (to help with folding undercrackers and crushing cars, for example) the twelve colonies invented robots called Cylons. Despite the laws of robotics, however (after all, having being invented on Earth, our heroes presumably weren’t aware of them), the Cylons turned against their creators and there was a big ass war, which ended with the robots leaving in a huff. ‘Reimagining’
In the new Battlestar Galactica the Cylons are back! They’d been gone for forty years, but now, with the help of dodgy scientist Dr Gaius Baltar (later to make Battlestar’s most cringeworthy scene as he attempts a Yorkshire accent), they decimate humanity with nukes. The survivors go on the run in various spaceships capable of faster-than-light jumps, protected by Battlestar Galactica. They’re led by Admiral Adama, President Laura Roslin and a host of other military and civilian characters. The Cylons aren’t what they used to be, however. Since Dirk pouted across our screens, they’ve evolved. While there are still metal ‘centurions’ with handy groinal sockets, the Cylons in charge look human now. There are twelve models (seriously, they’re mostly ridiculously good looking, except for Kevin Spacey’s midget brother), and then lots of clones of each model.
So far, eleven out of the twelve models have been revealed. Some are sleeper agents, hiding out amongst the human survivors totally unaware they’re a Cylon until they’re activated and do something bad, like shoot the Admiral. By the end of last season, eleven out of the twelve Cylons had been revealed, including four of the ‘final five’, who were all sleeper agents – the Executive Officer of Galactica, Colonel Tigh; the President’s Aide, Tori; Chief Petty Officer Tyrol; and Starbuck’s husband, Sam Anders. These four realised they were Cylons as they all heard snatches of the melody of Bob Dylan’s hit ‘All Along The Watchtower’. I kid you not. Is it being broadcast from Earth? It’s hard to say, but I’m glad it wasn’t Eurovision weekend, anyway.
The band of ships that make up humanity on the run are heading for ‘Earth’ to make a new life (seemingly totally unaware of the existence of Kerry Katona, Primark FM and Hot Pockets) but so are the Cylons… at the end of last season, the human fleet were racing the Cylons to various markers or ‘road signs’, apparently left by the thirteenth tribe. Starbuck, the ace viper pilot with an attitude problem (obviously) has already died, come back to life, and supposedly knows the way to ‘Earth’. Will she lead everyone there? When they get there, what will they find? How will they cope with rectangular shaped corridors and You Say We Pay? Only time will tell. Here’s the trailer for the fourth and final series:
Still not convinced?
If all that excitement hasn’t enticed you, perhaps YOU are a Cylon. Battlestar Galactica might sound a little too sci-fi, perhaps, or the story might seem too involved? Just give it a chance – underneath everything, Battlestar’s key is humanity. Its huge range of characters allow for a penetrating and sometimes uncomfortably realistic portrayal of people in wartime. It also asks deep and difficult questions about colonisation, genocide, religion and the problems we make for ourselves, that directly relate to past and present world events. And it’s funny. See:
Rachel George will one of our reviewers for the new series of Battlestar Galactica.
*May not be true, but it’s amusing, and isn’t that the real truth? The answer is no.