Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Awesomeness Galactica

Don’t waste your time lamenting the cancellation of Enterprise – the show’s been a dog since the first time that sappy theme song aired. If you want to see the best science fiction on television, watch Battlestar Galactica on the Sci Fi Channel.

When the original Star Wars movie came out, I was four years old. And yet I still remember watching it in a drive-in in Memphis, Tennessee. It may be my oldest memory – sitting in the back of my parents’ car as they were watching a different movie, looking across the lot to another screen – the one with space ships and lasers on it. I was changed forever.

I was five when Battlestar Galactica hit the airwaves. One look at the spaceships and I knew this was just a horrible Star Wars ripoff. It may have been my first experience with righteous indignation. I spurned the show then and ever after. Even when my college mates watched it ironically, I resisted.

That was then.

When writer/producer Ron Moore announced that he was “reinventing science fiction” with a Battlestar Galactica mini-series on the Sci Fi Channel last year, I wrote it off as yet more bombast in a particularly bombastic medium. But then I actually watched it.

It was beautiful. Spooky. Personal. Dark. Imagine a robot that looks like a human having a conversation about God with a human scientist who’s given up on his humanity. Imagine spaceships that travel silently through space with maneuvering thrusters that account for actual physics – the ships keep going when the engines go out as they would in space. And, of course, imagine menacing mechanical evil – not the cheesy Terminator kind, and not the sprawling dirty Matrix kind – a truly robotic kind, scary because of how little of it is revealed.

Fortunately for all of us who grew up with Star Wars lunchboxes, Ron Moore’s vision was picked up by the Sci Fi Channel and turned into a full-fledged series this year. And it makes good on the promise of the mini-series. Of course there are spaceships and ray guns. And they’re incredible. (Trivia note: The CG effects are done by Zoic Studios, the same talented folks who did amazing work on the all-too-brief Firefly series.) But the series is about more than that.

It’s political (a recent storyline revolves around a rebellion on a prison transport ship). It’s personal (how do relationships evolve when people are stuck on a ship for, well, ever?). It’s sexy (the Amazonian blond Cylon haunting the doctor, Starbuck’s memories of her long-lost lover). The list goes on.

And to make it all that much more entertaining, Ron Moore is blogging the series and responding to questions from the Sci Fi message boards. After every episode, there’s a new post with some meditation on the Galactica universe, the show, and his personal experiences making and watching it. It’s like DVD commentary without having to wait for the DVD. Pure fabulousness.

The show’s on Friday nights on the Sci Fi channel. Don’t let the transporter hit you in the butt on the way out, Archer.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.