Battlestar Galactica (2003)

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This article is about the 2003 miniseries and subsequent television series; for other versions, see Battlestar Galactica (disambiguation).
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BattlestarGalactica2003.jpg
The cover from the North American DVD release of the miniseries. Shown are (left to right) President Laura Roslin, Commander William Adama, Number Six, Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama, and Lieutenant Kara "Starbuck" Thrace.

Battlestar Galactica is a science fiction miniseries which was first broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel on December 8, 2003. It spawned a regular television series which premiered on Sky One on October 18, 2004.

This new series was promoted as a "re-imagining" of the Universal Studios late-1970s movie and television series Battlestar Galactica. It was not simply a remake of the original but a new direction taken from the same original premise, analogous to a "reboot" in comic books.

The new series departs from the original in several respects, most notably in the recasting of several key characters from male to female, and the introduction of the notion that the Cylons, the robotic enemies of the humans, had evolved into a range of twelve types of highly sophisticated cyborgs, including some 'models' that are virtually identical to humans. The look of the new series also benefits from recent advances in computer-generated imaging and digital special effects.

Although purists from the original series's fandom loudly disapproved of changes to the premise, the show was the highest-rated cable miniseries of 2003. In fact, it has been the highest rated original program in the Sci Fi Channel's history. Its strong audience draw was enough to prompt the channel to commission a new ongoing television series, the first episode of which drew an estimated 850,000 viewers (5% multichannel viewer share) on its world premiere on Sky One. Furthermore, the miniseries and the subsequent weekly series have enjoyed general critical acclaim as being superior to the original, and in the tradition of Star Trek, the writers use science fiction to examine contemporary social, moral and ethical issues in allegorical form.

Contents

Reimagining

Previous efforts to remake or continue the story of Battlestar Galactica have mainly involved using the original cast, or at least the original characters and plot. None of these projects proceeded beyond the developmental stage.

Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and screenwriter of the new Battlestar Galactica, was previously credited with bringing darker story arcs to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 1990s. Of Battlestar Galactica, he wrote in February 2003: "Here lies a slumbering giant, its name known to many, its voice remembered by but a few. For a brief moment, it strode the Earth, telling tall tales of things that never were, then stumbled over a rating point and fell into a deep sleep." He tackled the remake with realism in mind, and intended to portray the show's heroes as being part of "flawed" humanity. Examples of this include Commander Adama and his son harboring resentment towards each other, Colonel Tigh being an alcoholic, a hulking battlestar prone to problems and outside sabotage, muted special effects shots lacking unscientific sounds commonplace in TV and movie sci-fi, and the use of bullets and missiles instead of lasers.

Differences from the 1978 series

Changes from the original series include:

  • The Cylons are now a creation of the humans. They rebelled against their creators during a war which ended forty years ago, formed their own civilization, broke off all contact with the humans and are now resuming the same genocidal conflict after an extended truce.
  • Cylon soldiers are significantly different from the "classic" Centurion design. These new units are faster, streamlined, more agile, and have built-in weaponry. It is currently unknown if they possess any organic components.
  • Cylon Raiders (small attack craft) are no longer manned by a crew of three Cylon Centurions. Instead they are controlled by a cybernetic organism that is a permanent part of the craft.
  • The Cylons now include twelve different, some biologically and virtually identical to humans, designed as stealth units for the purpose of infiltration to the point where some units don't even know they are Cylons. So convincing are the stealth units that they can associate with humans even at an intimate emotional and sexual level.

Main article: Cylon (Battlestar_Galactica)

  • Dr. Gaius Baltar, now a scientist instead of a colonial leader, was tricked into betraying humanity. He now helps the refugee fleet as a valued scientific advisor, and he desires to help. However, he is being influenced by waking visions of a female Cylon agent that only he can see, who is supposedly being manifested by a chip that she implanted in his head just before the attack on Caprica. He was already one of the Colonies' most famous scientists and subsequent events have further raised his profile.
  • The Cylons have the ability to remotely seize control of sophisticated enemy computer systems for their own use, in an obvious parallel to modern-day malware, which enables their rapid defeat of the human colonies.
  • Instead of being the flagship, albeit generations old, of the colonial forces, the Galactica is an outmoded 50-year-old ship, the last of its kind still in operation. Slated for decommissioning when the story begins, it survives the Cylon onslaught due to its reliance on older technology that the Cylons cannot infiltrate. There are no computer networks on the Galactica, and all communications on board are conducted using old-fashioned wired telephones.
  • Physically, the Galactica is far more clearly designed for combat. She has heavy armor plating covering structural ribs and water tanks under the plating to absorb harmful radiation. The command centre is much better protected, being located deep inside the ship, rather than exposed on the outside as in the case of Star Trek's USS Enterprise.
  • Operations have become more militaristic on the reimagined Galactica. Unlike the original, many new details are taken directly from present-day aircraft carrier operations, such as standard operating procedures, combat air patrols, and the term "CAG" for the Galactica's command Viper pilot. The original, by contrast, was extremely unmilitary in its operations.
  • The original Galactica costumes appeared to be a blend of World War II uniforms, disco fashions, and retro-futuristic attire. The current costuming strongly resembles contemporary fashions, as does some of the technology.
  • The new series has a deliberate "retro-tech" look, and there are no sophisticated computer systems or energy weapons -- soldiers carry rifles, the fighters of both sides fire projectiles, and communications often take place on personal wireless telephones.
  • Most of the strange dialect of the original series, including the decimal time-measurement system of "centons" and "yahrens", has been removed and replaced by conventional present-day language. One instance of the word "yahren" does escape this revision and appears on the Cylon Centurian Model 0005 specification sheet seen at the beginning of the miniseries – either a homage to the original or an indication that the Colonies' language had changed since the first Cylon War.
  • There are no references to "daggitts" – dogs – and no robotic daggitt like the original's Muffit, though there is still a boy named Boxey.
  • Adama is now only a military commander, rather than being "dual hatted" as a member of the Council of Twelve. There is no mention in the miniseries of the council. Instead, President Adar and most other government officials are killed in the initial Cylon bombardments; the highest ranking survivor of the Cabinet is the Secretary of Education, who is sworn in as new President. Civilian and military duties are divided between Roslin and Adama respectively. In this version, the "Quorum of Twelve" is more akin to the UN Security Council than a unifying government.
  • The Colonials themselves are clearly far more politically diverse, having previously experienced both political and even military conflicts between the different Colonies, and there are clear suggestions during the 2004 series that the Colonial society is riven by deep class divisions.
  • The personal details of various characters have been changed; for example, Starbuck and Boomer are now women. Boomer is also Asian instead of black, and Colonel Tigh is now Caucasian. The unusual names of some of the characters – "Starbuck", "Apollo", "Boomer" – have become pilot call signs, although characters more often talk to each other using their call signs rather than their given names.
  • In the new series, Apollo's brother Zak was killed in a Viper accident prior to the first episode, and this becomes a major plot point in later episodes. In the original series, Zak is killed when his viper is destroyed in the initial Cylon attack.
  • The "rag-tag fugitive fleet" is now made up only of ships with FTL capabilities. This helped to resolve a problem with the original show – the fleet could only move at "flank speed", the speed of the slowest ship in the convoy.

Similarities and homages to the 1978 series

  • The "museum" section of the Galactica features both a suit of "classic" Cylon armor as well as the original model for the Cylon Base Ship.
  • The Colonial Anthem, heard briefly during the Galactica's decommissioning ceremony, contains a signature fanfare from the original Battlestar Galactica theme by Glen A. Larson and Stu Phillips.
  • The "cubit" is still the unit of currency in the Colonies, even though it appears now as regular paper money rather than the gold ducats seen in 1978.
  • Despite the removal of most of the original Colonial dialect, the word "frak" or "frack"—often described as a way to get "fuck" past network censors—has been retained as the all-purpose expletive of choice for most humans. The other BSG ersatz—"felgercarb", for bullshit—has yet to make an appearance.
  • The original series' Colonial Viper design—referred to as the "Mark II"—is retained with a few tweaks as the mainstay fighter of the Galactica, while a newer design introduced in the miniseries—the "Mark VII"—occasionally makes an appearance. One of those tweaks is the steering mechanism with manuevering jets which can enable moves such as a 180 degree pivot to attack a pursuing enemy, much like a Babylon 5 Starfury.
  • The military rank system is basically the same as in the original series. The officer ranks in the Colonial fleet are Ensign, Lieutenant j.g. (or Junior Lieutenant), Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel, Commander, and Admiral - though all the Admirals in the fleet were lost in the Cylon attack. The rank of Admiral was never used in the original 1978 version, though one could assume something similar occurred.
  • There are also Colonial Marines, but most were wiped out by the Cylon destruction of the colonies; there are very few left on the ship. One such character is Sergeant Hadrian (Jill Teed) who is frequently seen on the Galactica. The Colonial Marines' rank system has not been laid out in detail.
  • Richard Hatch—Captain Apollo in the original series—returned to play Sagittaron terrorist-cum-politician Tom Zarek.
  • After President Roslin calls Apollo "Captain Apollo", he tries to tell her that his real name is Adama, but she cuts him off and tells him: "I know who you are, but Captain Apollo has a nice ring to it." She repeatedly calls him "Captain Apollo" afterwards.

Miniseries (2003)

Synopsis

The Twelve Colonies of Kobol ("Heaven" in ancient Persian) long ago created the Cylons as machine worker drones for humanity. These machines became independent, after fighting in wars between the Colonies, rose in rebellion, created their own empire, and launched war on their masters. The war ended forty years ago when peace was declared and the Cylons have not been seen since. However, unknown to the Colonies, they have been evolving into more human form, becoming machine-created biological beings who seek to exterminate true biological humans. Following the nuclear destruction of the Colonies, the Cylons pursue the Galactica and its companion fleet, fearing that the surviving humans will someday return to take revenge on the Cylons.

The Cylons use a human scientist, Dr. Gaius Baltar, to help one of their infiltrators (known as Number Six) penetrate the Colonies' master defense mainframes. Baltar is reluctant but is smitten with Number Six, who appears as a woman of seemingly insatiable sexual desire. The result of their affair is a nuclear sneak-attack which rapidly eliminates the Colonies and the fleet deployed for their protection.

One ship, however, survives; an obsolete battlestar designated Galactica, part of Battlestar Group 75, which had been scheduled for decommissioning. Its commanding officer, Commander Adama, assumes leadership of the fleet. President Roslin convinces him of the futility of continuing to fight and the importance of escaping. The Galactica must now lead the fifty thousand surviving humans on a quest for a new homeworld on which to rebuild humanity. Adama inspires his crew by pretending to know the location of the legendary thirteenth colony known as "Earth".

Galactica's first task in its new life as sole remaining battlestar is to lead surviving ships of the Colonies to a weapons deployment base within a spatial storm. This rendezvous leaves them trapped when two Cylon base stars track them down and open fire...

Mini-series air dates

Regular Series

Production

The first season of thirteen one-hour episodes was announced (http://www.scifi.com/mbb/browse.php?aid=10582) by the Sci Fi Channel on February 10 2004, and aired in the UK between October 18, 2004 and January 24, 2005 on Sky One, which co-financed the series with the Sci Fi Channel and NBC Universal. Produced in 2004 by David Eick and Ronald D. Moore and starring the original cast from the 2003 miniseries, it was aired in the United States from January 14, 2005 and from January 15 in Canada. Moore left his position as producer on HBO's Carnivāle after its first season to concentrate more fully on BSG.

Battlestar Galactica's first season aired in the UK three months ahead of the show's premiere in the US and Canada. This rare example of a North American television show being aired across the Atlantic before its first broadcast "at home" was the result of Sky's partially funding the first season's production.

The time lag between the UK and US screenings led to widespread distribution of episodes via peer-to-peer networks, such as eDonkey and BitTorrent, often within only a few hours of Sky One airing them. Although Sci Fi and Moore deplored this and publicly appealed for downloaders not to pirate the show, there was widespread speculation that its unauthorized electronic distribution contributed to the US success of the show by creating a favourable word of mouth impression among key demographic groups. Perhaps in recognition of this, the first episode was later made available for viewing in its entirety and without charge from the Sci Fi website. Moore also sought to address the "Internet generation" by posting podcast commentaries on individual episodes on the Sci Fi website.

The series proved successful on its UK premiere, attracting favorable comments from reviewers and generating considerable anticipation in the US. The first episode aired in the US became one of the highest-rated programs ever on Sci Fi with 3.1 million viewers. Successive episodes proved equally successful, and on February 9, 2005, Sci Fi announced that it was commissioning a 20-episode second season, in contrast with the 13 episode run of the first season, scheduled to premiere on Sci Fi on July 15, 2005. A UK premiere will follow in October 2005 (the second season, unlike the first, is funded entirely from US sources, so Sky will revert to its normal practice of only broadcasting it after its US premiere). The second season will feature all of the first season cast.

The first episode of the regular series, "33", was nominated for the 2005 short form Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

See also: List of Battlestar Galactica (2003) episodes

Season 1 (2004)

Synopsis

The opening text before each episode:

The Cylons were created by Man.
They Rebelled.
They Evolved.
They Look and Feel Human.
Some are programmed to think they are Human.
There are many copies.
And they have a Plan.

Battlestar Galactica follows on from the miniseries to chronicle the journey of the last remaining humans from the Twelve Colonies of Kobol after their annihilation by the Cylons. The last surviving humans are led by President Laura Roslin and Commander William Adama in a ragtag fleet of ships with the Battlestar Galactica at its lead. Their mission: evade the Cylons and search for a new home.

Main title

The main title is divided into two segments, the first a reflective series of flashbacks showing the Colonies' destruction and the Cylon invasion, and the second an action-oriented montage of images from the coming episode. Moore intended the montage sequence to be a direct homage to the titles of Space: 1999, which used a similar device at the start of each episode.

There are significant differences in the titles between the UK and overseas versions of the show. The "reflective" segment of the title sequence has vocals over a lilting theme in the UK version, while the overseas version is slow and somber and lacks vocals. The UK and overseas versions have the same music in the "active" segment of the titles, using a fast-paced version of the distinctive taiko drumming that characterises the Galactica score.

The vocals sound Celtic but are in fact a famous Hindu mantra, the Gayatri Mantra, taken from the Rig Veda. The words are "OM bhūr bhuvah svah tat savitur varēnyam bhargō dēvasya dhīmahi dhiyō yō nah pracōdayāt", which may be translated in various ways but means approximately "may we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the God / so May he stimulate our prayers".

The contrasting UK and overseas versions arose as a result of creative differences between Moore, the series composer Richard Gibbs and the Sci Fi Channel's management. The Vedic vocals were originally devised as "temp music" intended to serve as a placeholder for a forthcoming score. Moore and fellow producer David Eick liked the temp music so much that they opted to retain it, and instructed Gibbs to work it up into a full score, though the composer himself was far from happy with this.

However, the Sci Fi Channel disliked the vocals on the grounds that they were "too sad", overruled Moore and created a new version for the US screening of the series. This was based on existing background music for the show, which Gibbs felt was even less suitable for a title sequence. The titles themselves were slightly shorter than the UK version, and the end result was two differing versions which only one party out of three was fully happy with [1] (http://www.galactica2003.net/articles/gibbs122404.shtml). It remains to be seen whether either version will be used for the second season, or whether yet another change will be made to the title music.

Story arcs

While the first season mostly consists of stand-alone episodes plus one two-part episode, it features a number of major story arcs, including:

  • What happens to Helo, who chose to stay behind on Caprica in the miniseries. Helo was originally intended to have died there, but the writers "resurrected" Helo after repeated fan queries regarding his fate. They were also impressed by the performance of the actor, Tahmoh Penikett.
  • How the relationship between Adama and Roslin evolves.
  • How Dr. Gaius Baltar manages to evade being exposed as the man responsible for the fall of the Colonies to the Cylons.
  • How the fleet tackles its shortages of supplies and fuel.
  • What happens to Boomer, who is revealed to be a Cylon sleeper agent in the miniseries.
  • What the Cylons' master plan really is.

Development of the arcs is featured in almost every episode of the season.


Season 2 (2005)

Story arcs

Moore has stated (http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire2005/index.php?category=0&id=30357) that in the second season, he wants to resolve the many cliffhangers from the first, while examining the Cylons and the religious themes already introduced in more detail.



Broadcasters

First-run

Reruns/syndication

Cast

Main characters

Recurring characters

See also

External links

sk:Battlestar Galactica (2003)

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