Suffice it to say that the recent release of Battlestar Galactica: Season One is one of the best television-related DVD sets I've seen in a long time. Not only are the season's thirteen episodes lovingly enshrined on five discs, but they included the 2003 miniseries that launched the re-imagining of the 1978 show and also added a host of extras. Bottom line: if you like science fiction, you should be off picking up Battlestar Galactica: Season One. And if you don't like science fiction, why are you still here, and should I really be talking to you?
The show, which is broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel, is routinely described as the "best science fiction show on television" by many critics. To my way of thinking, it should simply be described as one of the best shows on television, period, because trotting out the "genre card" is such an expression of an otherwise dismissive elitism regarding science fiction. Why do I say this? Simple. To audiences somewhat unfamiliar with the length and breadth of the genre, it often gets marginalized as a genre which focuses almost exclusively on the images of robots, rockets, and ray guns.
Which isn't to say that Battlestar Galactica doesn't feature some of those very things. But we have to remember that by its very definition, "science fiction" is simply a speculative genre which considers the impact of emerging science and technology upon society and the individuals which comprise it. Ray guns are only the beginning of science fiction; there's much, much more at play. Science fiction is frequently a mind-bending genre which allows for free rein in philosophical discussion. The worlds imagined by science fiction authors are frequently based on newly fabricated rules, the cultures they explore are often alternate visions of our own. Whether in the context of space operas, dystopian nightmares, cyberpunk or more, science fiction affords us the opportunity to re-examine what it really means to be human in the face of technological advancement and our ever-increasing separation from the natural world.
The new Battlestar Galactica adopts the same basic storyline as the short-lived original. After years of constant warfare with their rebellious robotic creations, the Cylons, the 12 human colonies brokered a peace which has itself now lasted for a number of years. The Battlestar Galactica is a relic of the old Cylon wars, in which the Cylons were capable of infiltrating the computer systems of other ships by way of their computer network. As such, the Galactica's computers are not networked together and the ship features many other things which might well seem antiquated. As the 2003 miniseries opens, the Galactica was about to be mothballed and turned into a floating museum, with its aging commander, Adama (palyed with steely-eyed determination by Edward James Olmos), reassigned to other duties.