|Battlestar Galactica: Season One (2004)
Starring: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park
When I first heard that the Sci-Fi channel was coming out with a series entitled “Battlestar Galactica,” my first question was why? They just cancelled a good original series, “Farscape,” and in its place they’re going to remake a mediocre series from the late ‘70s starring Dirk Benedict? The remake started with a miniseries in 2003 and was followed by the first season in 2004. Slowly but surely, word began to spread and the show built a strong and loyal following. After watching the first season on DVD, it’s easy to see why.
The concept of the original series is solid. Somewhere in deep space, there are twelve human colonies that are destroyed by the Cylons – a race of mechanical beings originally created by the humans. A small band of survivors escape (on the Battestar Galactica) and head to Earth, which is the fabled thirteenth colony. Aside from the character names, this is about all that this remake has in common with the original series. And “remake” isn’t really the right word, it’s more of a “re-imagining.” Creator Ron Moore, who had previously worked on all of the modern-day Star Trek series, wanted to reinvent sci-fi by making the genre as gritty and as realistic as possible. He created one commandment to always follow – Thou Shalt Be Real. In that process, stories emerge, from the survivors’ water conservation efforts to searching for a new fuel source to power the fleet. I know, these storylines don’t sound compelling, but with the strong writing and crafty production values, they are. And it helps that the survivors have to constantly evade the Cylons, who are always on their tail.
Females play a much larger role in the modern-day version of the series. One of the most controversial decisions in the development stages was to make Lt. Starbuck a woman (Katee Sackhoff), but after fans of the original saw her performance in the miniseries, there weren’t too many complaints. Another intriguing change is that some of the Cylons can take human form, sometimes as sleeper agents, which allows for all kinds of twists and turns as the series progresses. One of these Cylons, Number Six (Tricia Helfer), is the series’ cover girl, a scary-hot statuesque blonde who plays a prominent role in the happenings aboard the fleet’s flagship.
The cast is anchored by Edward James Olmos, who plays Commander Adama, and Mary McDonnell, who plays a former Secretary of Education that is promoted to the office of the President when all of the successors ahead of her are killed in the Cylon attack. The acting is generally good, and seems to get better as the series progresses and the actors get more comfortable playing their respective roles.
The five-disc DVD set includes thirteen episodes from first season, along with the original four-hour miniseries. As for special features, there are a few commentary tracks, several deleted scenes as well as nine behind-the-scenes featurettes, that cover just about every aspect of the series. All in all, the set is solid and it gives an informative, in-depth look at one of the best shows on television.