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Battlestar Galactica (TRS)

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This article refers to the 2003 re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica. For information on the 1978 Original Series, see Battlestar Galactica (TOS).
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Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica
Created by Ronald D. Moore
Starring Edward James Olmos
Mary McDonnell
Katee Sackhoff
Jamie Bamber
James Callis
Tricia Helfer
Grace Park
Theme music by Bear McCreary
Statistics
Production company NBC Universal
Number of seasons 4
Number of episodes 74 (list)
Debut channel Sci Fi Channel and Sky One
US first-run airdates USA 2003-12-08
UK first-run airdates UK 2004-02-17
DVD release 2005-03-28
Production staff
Executive producer(s) Ronald D. Moore
David Eick
Producer(s)
Supervising producer(s)
Associate producer(s)
Co-producer(s) Jane Espenson
Toni Graphia
Story editor(s)
Online Purchasing
Available at iTunes – [ Purchase]

Contents

Summary

The 2003 Miniseries debut of Battlestar Galactica was a "re-imagining," or updated version of the Original Series made more suitable to the modern sensibilities of the 21st Century. Aiming to tackle issues of civil rights, survival, terrorism, and religion, Battlestar Galactica is an drama following the survivors of a race of humanity—which number under 50,000. The new Battlestar was spearheaded by former Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writer/producer Ron D. Moore and co-produced by David Eick.

A familiar but different battlestar Galactica finds herself leading a refugee fleet away from the destroyed Twelve Colonies of Kobol and on a (and initially fictitious) quest for Earth, with turmoil from within and danger from without.

Battlestar Galactica began as a four-hour miniseries pilot on the Sci Fi Channel in late 2003. As with the Original Series, the show begins with the destruction of the Twelve Colonies, but in a style more familiar and disturbing to today's viewers, making its events eerily reminiscent of feelings felt by many viewers to the sporadic and inconsistent news and chaos shown during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

While the design of the battlestar Galactica was probably the most familiar element derived from the Original Series, many elements of the new show were altered. The commander, William Adama, is a battle-hardened, secularly-minded commander on the eve of retirement for himself and his combat-decorated old battlestar. The names of Original Series characters are now the pilot call signs for his son, Lee "Apollo" Adama and the crack pilot, Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. Starbuck's change into a female character initially became a torrid issue to Original Series fans who feared this and other changes would render an inferior series.

However, some fans became pleasantly surprised of the quality of the miniseries and the regular series. Unlike its Original Series counterpart, the new series has not only survived to prepare for a fourth and final season in 2008, but has received many awards and nominations, including several Emmy nominations, a Peabody Award, a Saturn Award, and a Hugo Award. Its popularity has even given the show its own spin-off series, Caprica. In addition, the series has been sold to many other countries across the world.

Series development

After the miniseries, the regular series itself was not immediately approved due to financial considerations. Initially, Universal Studios and Sci Fi Channel both deemed that the series was unaffordable, despite David Eick's and David Kissinger's attempts to secure funding for the series. Fortuitously, the UK network Sky One was looking to fund "high-profile American shows", "ultimately making up the difference between what Universal felt it could afford and what we needed to make the show", according to Eick.[1]

Once funding was secured, the official announcement for the series' launch was given on 10 February 2004.[1] Moore, a majority of the production staff, as well as every principal cast member from the miniseries returned to work on the series. Moore also hired the show's writing staff, including Toni Graphia, David Weddle, Bradley Thompson, and Carla Robinson. [2]

Principal shooting on the first season was from 19 April to 15 September 2004, with each episode taking eight days to shoot. In an interesting twist, the series was first broadcast on a European network, Sky One, between 18 October 2004 to 24 January 2005.[3] As part of the funding agreement, Sky One was given the opportunity to play the new series first, leaving Americans to wait several months before the series would debut in the Americas.

Noted changes from the Original Series

The basic story is still present: robotic Cylons conduct a surprise attack on the Colonies, thus forcing several stranded spaceships to coalesce around the last surviving battlestar, Galactica, to seek a mythical Thirteenth Tribe where the survivors hope to find shelter from the Cylons.

Many of the fine details changed from the Original Series.

  • The Cylons were created by humanity itself and not by a separate alien race.[4]
  • Galactica is a 50 year old relic on the verge of decommission.
  • The names of "Apollo", "Boomer", and "Starbuck" are changed to call signs. Most characters have standard first and last names; some first names were not given until later in the series, such as Felix Gaeta's or Anastasia Dualla's.
  • The alien (and often confusing) terminology used to denote units of measurement, such as distance and time, in the Original Series has been replaced with understandable terminology, such as "year" and not "yahren".
  • The ship designs, save for some revisions to the Viper Mark II and Galactica and a few noteworthy background ships (such as the Astral Queen and the Botanical Cruiser), have been redone.
  • The government of the Colonies resembles the United States' democratic republic, with a president, vice president, and secretaries. The Quorum of Twelve appears later, revised as a senatorial body, in the episode "Colonial Day".
  • Instead of the other-worldly, Egyptian-esque clothing and city designs (i.e. pyramids) seen in the Original Series, objects are more contemporary in design and function. Indeed, many aspects of contemporary society are very common throughout the new series.
  • The religion for the Colonials revises the Lords of Kobol to be analogous in name to many of the gods in real-world Greek mythology, making the Colonial religion of the Re-imagined Series truly polytheistic (the Original Series' religion was more monotheistic as God is referenced in tandem with the Lords of Kobol, who were more akin to saints.)
  • The Cylons themselves celebrate a monotheistic religion with a deity similar to the God of the Abrahamic religions. The Cylons and Colonials consider each other's religions to be false, reflecting the current Islam/Christianity/Judaism strife between the Western world and the Middle East, or clashes between colonizing forces and many indigenous or native populations throughout the age of exploration and modernity.

Characters are altered significantly from the Original Series.

The show has taken a more realistic turn, scientifically. Realistic science, which was absent in the Original Series, is applied in this series as best as cinematic and storyline requirements permit.

Certain models of Cylons appear human, right down to the blood, which generates some very disturbing problems in distinguishing friend from foe. This mirrors terrorist methods of infiltration and delivering destructive results to heavy population centers (akin to suicide bombers).

Official Statements

I approached the original show and looked at what worked and what didn't work. I tried to keep as much of the original show as possible. I kept all the essential elements of Battlestar Galactica: the aircraft-carrier-in-space; the rag-tag fleet; the Cylon attack, the escape and the search for Earth; Commander Adama; Adama's son "Apollo", who's the Galactica's lead fighter pilot; the rogue pilot, "Starbuck"; their friend, "Boomer"; and Baltar, the traitor. Those were the main things I knew I had to keep – it wouldn't have been Battlestar Galactica without them.
I changed the things I knew didn't work. The original Baltar didn't have a motivation for betraying his race[5], so I knew I'd have to change that character. I also never understood why the Cylons were so intent on pursuing these humans across the galaxy[6], so I changed the background of the Cylons and their relationship with the human beings. Making the Cylons the creation of humanity enabled the Cylons to have a much more complicated love/hate relationship with humans, and also provided us with a way to use humanoid Cylons in the series, which was something we knew we wanted to do because there would be limits on how much we could use CGI Cylons.
Athena didn't seem to serve any function in the original show other than look beautiful and be a love interest for Starbuck, so I just got rid of that character.[7] And while I thought Boxey was part of the family and decided it would be nice to include him in some peripheral way,[8] I never considered keeping Boxey's dog for a second. The dog was just absurd! it was right out from the moment I took the show.[9]
  • Moore discusses the religious aspects of the series:
The religious aspects of the show developed naturally out of my intention to reflect every aspect of the human experience. I was delighted because I'm fascinated with this notion of monotheism versus polytheism, and I felt its addition to the show enriched it and helped make it unique.[10]
  • Moore discusses using the series as allegory to current events:
The original "[Star] Trek" series ... dealt with a lot of hot-button issues at the time: It dealt with racism, and it dealt with war, and it dealt with a lot of ideas that were very, very timely and very important. And this was a chance to make a science fiction show that wasn't purely escapist, but actually dealt with the world that we live in.[11]
  • Jamie Bamber talks about the discussions that the cast and crew have regarding the show's content:
We discuss everything. We even do try to discuss the sci-fi techie stuff, but we're just not very good at it. When the script throws out something like Callie [sic] and the Chief in space without any protection, lots [of us discuss] around the set if that was really possible. In the end, we all bow down to the experts who tell us it is. That shuts us up very quick. The political stuff, that's the juice of the show with the cast. That's pretty much what we like to inhabit, those social-political dilemmas and what they mean morally and legally, and how they pertain to the world that we're in now. The interesting thing about this show is that a lot of people come up to me and say, "Is it really liberal, or something?" but everyone across the political spectrum can find a view that they can side with. We don't cast moral judgment on any of them. It is all shades of gray that are out there to be interpreted, and that's the beauty of the writing, I think.[12]
  • Bamber discusses being sympathetic to the Cylons:
The Cylons do garner your empathy gradually, as you see more and more from their point of view. That's a bold move. There is a lot about them that should be sympathetic to a Western American audience. They are monotheists, they kind of believe in redemption and rebirth and all these things that a lot of us believe in. The humans are polytheists and are a bit more anachronistic.[12]
No, I think it was [Sharon Agathon's] baby that really pushed her to the point of being more human than android. The love of a child is really the premise of this story. My [character's] love of my children, Roslin's love of humanity — all of us are her children. I have my son [Major Lee Apollo Adama], and of course I just lost my [surrogate] daughter [Captain Kara Starbuck Thrace], which was brutal. [13]
  • Moore discusses mapping out the series:
Each season, we mapped out where we wanted to go by the end of that season. That’s how I like to approach things. At the beginning of season one, we talked about where the end of the first year would be. And then, into the second year, we broke it up into groups of the first 10 and the second 10, and kept that style of planning, all through the show. I would say, somewhere mid-way through the second season, I started thinking seriously about what the end of the series itself might be. Ideas for where we were headed and what it all meant started to coalesce over the course of the third season. In season three, we started talking in earnest about, “Well, okay, if we do end it next year, what would it really be?,” and it just felt like, “Yeah, this is the right time to do it.” In terms of whether we’ve had enough time, I feel like we have. We’re really taking our cues from the story itself, and it just feels like the story has moved forward aggressively. What I’m proud of about the series is that it’s been unafraid to take risks and it’s been unafraid to move strongly forward, instead of trying to tread water. It just feels like the momentum of the series is now moving towards a conclusion. [14]

Notes

  • In the finale of Battlestar Galactica, it was revealed that the series took place more than 150,000 years before the present day. Therefore, unlike most space opera series, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica was a saga of ancient history rather than future history.

See Also

Cast

Season One cast photo.

Stars

Co-stars

Production Crew

Producers

Directors & Writing Staff

To view the list of all the directors and staff, see the Crew Portal.

Episodes

For a complete list of all episodes, see the Episode Guide.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bassom, David (2005). ed. Adam "Adama" Newell Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84576-0972, p. 41.
  2. Bassom, David (2005). ed. Adam "Adama" Newell Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84576-0972, p. 41-43.
  3. Bassom, David (2005). ed. Adam "Adama" Newell Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84576-0972, p. 43.
  4. This shift in antagonists mirror similar dystopian man/machine stories found in such popular films as the Terminator and The Matrix movie series.
  5. Moore's statement is subjective. Some readers may feel that Baltar's motivations were power-based. By deliberately making a deal with the Cylons, he believed that the Cylons would spare his colony and subjugate the human species under him (Saga of a Star World).
  6. For detail on the Original Series Cylons and their motivations, see Cylons (TOS).
  7. The series would transfer the daughter-figure aspects of the Original Series Athena to Kara Thrace and Sharon Agathon, who later receives the callsign of "Athena."
  8. The character of Boxey in the Re-imagined Series was intended to be part of a family unit with Galen Tyrol and Sharon Valerii, but a place for the character within story arcs were eventually dropped, and the character has essentially been dropped from the series.
  9. Bassom, David (2005). ed. Adam "Adama" Newell Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84576-0972, p. 13-14.
  10. Bassom, David (2005). ed. Adam "Adama" Newell Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84576-0972, p. 18-19.
  11. Wolverton, Troy (5 April 2006). Delve Into 'Battlestar Galactica' (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 9 Feburary 2007.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Cohn, Angel (23 February 2007). Galactica's Jamie Bamber Visits a Heavenly Ghost (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 23 February 2007.
  13. Four-ward, Cylons: EDWARD JAMES OLMOS (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 31 May 2007.
  14. Topel, Fred (13 June 2007). Battlestar Galactica: Ronald Moore talks about Earth (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 15 June 2007.


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