I have a confession to make. I have never been a fan of science-fiction television shows. I am not one of those who have grown an affection for the countless Star Trek shows, FarScape, nor any of the other similar shows. I just could not get past the idea that I will be watching a slew of episodes about events and characters who seem to be so disconnected with real life. I have never been a fan of science-fiction television shows, that is, until SyFy launched its greatest television masterpiece, Battlestar Galactica.
Not only do I have immense love and admiration for this series, it is one of the few shows that I watch again and again on a yearly basis. It is a show that has brilliantly combined science-fiction aspects with real-life issues and topics. Not only that, Battlestar Galactica is rich with fantastic characters, engrossing story lines, as well as gifted writers and directors that, when put together, produce what is undoubtedly a landmark television show.
Battlestar Galactica is an American television show produced by the SyFy channel. It was first created by Glen A. Larson in 1978 but this edition of the show is developed and executive produced by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. The series boasts an incredible ensemble that stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, and Grace Park.
The show takes place in the distant future where an old nemesis of the humans, the robotic Cylons, unleash a relentless attack that destroys all of the human’s 12 colonies. Humanity’s last hope then rests on the aging Galactica spaceship as it tries to reach that fabled 13th colony, Earth. Battlestar Galactica is an action-adventure science-fiction show that ran for four seasons from 2004 to 2009.
An essential factor in the success and everlasting greatness of Battlestar Galactica is the astonishing acting talent it possesses. It is no exaggeration to state that this is one of television’s best ensemble casts ever.
The first actor who deserves much admiration is the excellent Edward James Olmos. As Admiral William Adama, commander of the Battlestar Galactica, Olmos is nothing short of fantastic. From the very first scene, one clearly sees the hypnotic presence that Olmos exudes. He fully assumes the role of the ship’s leader, leaving no doubt that his decisions are the only ones that must be followed at all times. Through the four seasons, Adama faces many dilemmas but always has the mental strength to wisely get through them. He is an inspiring, if conflicted, character who is a chief reason why this show is so well heralded.
Another acting pillar in Battlestar Galactica is the inimitable Mary McDonnell. I have been a fan of hers since her absorbing performance in Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves. However, I see her work in this show as her career best. She plays the role of Laura Roslin, the colonies’ Secretary of Education who, as a result of the Cylons’ massive attack, becomes president of the twelve colonies. What I really like about McDonnell’s performance here is the level of sensitivity, grace, and kindness that she gives Roslin, making her one of the show’s strongest and most beloved female characters. One easily connects with Roslin and supports her through all the unenviable situations she finds herself in. Simply put, McDonnell is a gifted actress who adds something unique to this special television show.
Portraying the role of Admiral Adama’s son, Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama, is Jamie Bamber. I see Lee as one of the show’s most macho male characters but Bamber manages to give off an air of masculinity and power that is refreshing and fitting his character. He also does an excellent job of making Lee Adama a character with a lot of heart, establishing a strong connection between him and the viewer. Honestly, I find it energizing that Bamber does not rely solely on his good looks but instead pushes his acting talents to the limit. This results in Lee Adama being one more compelling character featured in Battlestar Galactica.
Speaking of captivating, James Callis’s performance in Battlestar Galactica is nothing short of amazing. He takes on the role of Doctor Gaius Baltar and successfully creates the show’s most conflicted and confused personality. It is that constant struggle within Baltar that makes him such a fascinating figure, and Callis plays him perfectly. Baltar is an extremely-intelligent scientist who, through a series of events, becomes a crucial factor in the fight between humanity and the Cylons. Callis’s performance is so good that I doubt anyone who watches the show will be able to forget the unique and mysterious individual known as Gaius Baltar. His is a performance that one cannot help but admire and appreciate; a definite sign of a gifted actor.
However, I cannot find a more entertaining and enigmatic character in Battlestar Galactica that I like more than Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace. Played superbly by Katee Sackhoff, Kara is the Galactica’s most skilled fighter pilot, despite being arrogant and combative for most of the time. Like some of the other characters I have previously discussed, Starbuck is a woman battling a lot of inner demons whilst also trying to create a name for herself in the Galactica’s male-dominated fleet. That takes a massive toll on her, both mentally and physically, but the journey she goes on is one that is quite profound and mesmerizing. Ultimately, it is Sackhoff’s seamless immersion into her character’s life that makes viewers, such as me, deeply connected to her. To be able to achieve that is proof that Katee Sackhoff is one skillful actress.
All of those wonderful characters are given life in the small screen thanks to creators Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. Through four seasons, they are able to explore and highlight many important and universal topics, whether political, environmental, or personal, through a beautiful and futuristic science-fiction setting. They accomplish this thanks to the talented writers, directors, and staff under their supervision. As I said before, I have never been a fan of sci-fi shows but Battlestar Galactica managed to change that, largely thanks to the outstanding crew.
In addition, because it does not only focus on the science but on those other important topics also, Battlestar Galactica is so much more than just a sci-fi show. There is an emphasis in the entire structure of the television show that is clear to see from the ambitious two-hour pilot to the satisfying and magnificent finale. It goes without saying that Moore and Eick skillfully shepherd the show and their decision to only have four seasons is one that has allowed them to not create any boring and excessive episodes or storylines. Those are the kind of shows that last the longest. The shows whose cast and crew have taken the extra effort to make sure everything is given the utmost detail and care.
I really do love Battlestar Galactica. It is a show that I have now watched three times and am sure to enjoy for many years to come. The ability to take such a brilliant set of actors and actresses and provide each and every one of them the space to give off deep and compelling performances speaks volumes about the level of talent on display both on and off the screen. There is much to admire about Battlestar Galactica that it would take me another post to give it true justice. Suffice to say, it is a show that almost everyone will enjoy as it contains equal doses of action, adventure, and drama wrapped within an engrossing science-fiction universe. I can confidently state that Battlestar Galactica is without question a classic television show that will easily pass the test of time.
Ronald D. Moore and David Eick
Action / Adventure / Drama / Sci-Fi
- Edward James Olmos (as Admiral William Adama)
- Mary McDonnell (as President Laura Roslin)
- Jamie Bamber (as Cpt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama)
- James Callis (as Dr. Gaius Baltar)
- Tricia Helfer (as Number Six)
- Grace Park (as Lt. Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii)
- Katee Sackhoff (as Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace)
- Michael Hogan (as Colonel Saul Tigh)
- Aaron Douglas (as Chief Galen Tyrol)
- Tahmoh Penikett (as Captain Karl ‘Helo’ Agathon)
Favorite Episodes: (Spoilers Alert!!)
- Pilot (Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2)
- Synopsis: Over forty years have passed since the end of the Cylon War, contested between the humans of the Twelve Colonies and man’s creation, the Cylons. The Galactica, one of the original twelve battlestars, is scheduled to be decommissioned. As part of the ceremonies, Commander Adama’s son Lee (“Apollo”) is named to fly Adama’s restored Viper. Lee’s return opens old wounds when they discuss the fate of Adama’s other son, Zak. Meanwhile, in Caprica City, the famous scientist Gaius Baltar argues against limits on research into artificial intelligence. He also has a sensual new lover with a mysterious agenda of her own.
- Kobol’s Last Gleaming: Parts 1 & 2 (Season 1, Episodes 12 & 13)
- Synopsis: In a moment of bad judgment, Kara sleeps with Gaius Baltar. Boomer and Crashdown discover a planet that Roslin believes is Kobol, the ancient homeworld of humanity. Boomer continues to struggle with her Cylon instincts, leading her to thoughts of suicide. Adama believes that the fleet could settle permanently on the new planet. However, the Raptor scouting party discovers a Cylon fleet near the planet. On Cylon-occupied Caprica, Helo encounters Caprica Sharon for the first time since he learned that she is a Cylon.
- Pegasus (Season 2, Episode 10)
- Synopsis: The Galactica crew is overjoyed when they encounter another Colonial battlestar, the Mercury-class Pegasus. The elation fades when Admiral Cain takes command of the fleet. The Galactica crew learn about the harsh practices onboard Pegasus. The tension boils over when Helo and Chief Tyrol learn about Lt. Thorne, the “Cylon Interrogator.”
- Resurrection Ship: Parts 1 & 2 (Season 2, Episodes 11 & 12)
- Synopsis: Kara arrives in the Blackbird with detailed photos of the mysterious Cylon ship. Despite the new truce between Adama and Cain, Roslin continues to see Admiral Cain as a dangerous threat, one that needs to be dealt with firmly.
- Downloaded (Season 2, Episode 18)
- Synopsis: After Boomer’s consciousness is downloaded into a new body following her death, she struggles with her new life on Cylon-occupied Caprica. Number Six is asked to help Boomer adjust to her new role in Cylon society.
- Unfinished Business (Season 3, Episode 9)
- Synopsis: Adama stages a boxing tournament on the Galactica to help the crew relax. The competitive atmosphere sets off a brutal match between Kara and Lee. Flashbacks from New Caprica reveal the origin and nature of their dispute.
- Crossroads (Season 3, Episodes 19 & 20)
- Synopsis: Baltar’s trial testimony threatens the very stability of the fleet. Lee assists Romo Lampkin in Baltar’s defense. Some in the fleet begin to feel that Baltar is divine. Though he dismisses such beliefs, Number Six suggests that the followers may know more about his true nature than Baltar does himself. At Baltar’s trial, Col. Tigh testifies about the death of his wife Ellen on New Caprica.
- The Hub (Season 4, Episode 9)
- Synopsis: Colonial Viper pilots plan an attack on the Resurrection Hub with their Cylon rebel allies. Meanwhile Laura Roslin struggles with her morals and ethics as she makes a momentous decision.
- Revelations (Season 4, Episode 10)
- Synopsis: D’Anna holds President Roslin and other Colonials hostage in order to draw out the Final Five from the Colonial fleet. Col. Tigh believes he has the solution to end the standoff.
- Daybreak: Parts 1, 2 & 3 (Season 4, Episodes 19, 20, & 21)
- Synopsis: With Galactica on the verge of falling apart, Admiral Adama readies the ship for what could be its final mission, as Baltar’s Six warns that humanity’s final chapter is near.
- Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series: Gary Hutzel, Mike Gibson, Doug Drexler, Adam ‘Mojo’ Lebowitz, Jeremy Hoey, Tom Archer, Brenda Campbell, Andrew Karr, and Alec McClymont for “Exodus”, Part 2
- Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series: Gary Hutzel, Mike Gibson, David Takemura, Doug Drexler, Kyle Toucher, Sean M. Jackson, Pierre Drolet, Aurore de Blois, Derek Ledbetter for “He That Believeth In Me”
- Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series: Daniel Colman, Jack Levy, Vince Balunas, Sam C. Lewis, Michael Baber, Doug Madick, and Richard Partlow for “Daybreak”, Part 2