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Battlestar Galactica Premiere

It almost snuck up on me undetected, but fortunately somebody alerted me to the fact that the new Battlestar Galactica series was starting last Friday on the Sci-Fi channel. It’s the new series that continues the grippingly dramatic story begun in the 2003 four-hour miniseries, which was incredibly good, and I’m pleased to report that the first two episodes of the series continue the unfaltering greatness.

Even as someone who is only a recent inductee into the 1970s Battlestar fanbase, I really appreciate everything the creators have done with the new series. It ties into the old canon just enough to make you feel like you’re watching Battlestar, but does enough things differently to give the show its own modern appeal. And by that I don’t mean that everybody’s keeping up with current fashion trends. The entire dynamic of the show is different—where the classic show was a campy adventure story with the ubiquitous comic relief and laser battles, the new series watches like a political thriller.

The first episode, “33,” picks up five days after the end of the miniseries and tells of how, in that span of time, the Cylons have been chasing the humans from FTL jump to FTL jump, always managing to find them in exactly 33 minutes each time. The crew of the “rag-tag fugitive fleet,” to borrow terminology from the old show’s closing, is obviously on the verge of collapse from stress and lack of sleep. Even Baltar acts zanier than usual, which is a stretch. But at no time does it ever feel silly. You know that the human race is going to survive the encounter, somehow, but it doesn’t detract from the suspense of everything that happens in between. It’s a great ride.

Episode 2, “Water,” explores more of the “Boomer is a Cylon” plot. As the miniseries told, the Cylons have established humanoid sleeper agents in the human fleet, one of whom is Boomer (the new and improved Boomer, played by Grace Park). The interesting bit is that Boomer doesn’t know she’s a Cylon; she is programmed to believe she is human so that she will not act suspiciously. But apparently there are underlying Cylon directives which can come alive when requested, shutting down her conscious mind and effectively placing her on remote. When naive Boomer awakes again, she has no memory of where she’s been. And in this episode, she’s apparently been sabotaging the Galactica’s water supply tanks.

Both of last Friday’s episodes impressed me. I can rarely be persuaded to just sit down and watch TV (unless I’m eating dinner at the time, in which case it seems more efficient since I would just be sitting around anyway), but Battlestar had me glued to the set for two hours straight. This is great stuff! It blows Star Trek: Enterprise completely away, and if I had to choose between the two, I would definitely pick Battlestar. Fortunately, I don’t have to: ENT airs at 8:00 on Fridays, with BSG following along at 10:00. There’s plenty of time for both.

I look forward to Battlestar’s remaining nine episodes this season, including tonight’s installment which guest stars Richard Hatch, the original Captain Apollo.