Even if you aren’t a huge sci-fi fanatic, you have probably heard of Battlestar Galactica. After all, it is a four-season complete apocalyptic sci-fi series made for the post-9/11 world. The 2004 series, sometimes called “The Reimagined Series, ” is also referred to as BSG-TRS. The series won more than 30 awards, more than 50 nominations, and many honors. In 2020, a Syfy journalist joined BSG star Tricia Helfer to watch the series and comment via podcast. So, after you watch through the finale, you can get another dose with Battlestar Galacticast. And when my in-press book is available to order, you can read an in-depth critical evaluation of religion and spirituality in the Battlestar Galactica series. So Say We All: Religion, Spirituality, and the Divine in Battlestar Galactica will be available to order later this year.
Should I Watch Battlestar Galactica?
Yes! Absolutely! If you are reading my blog, you are the kind of person who likes imaginative storytelling with complex philosophical themes. BSG is a series that has been around long enough to know that it’s a classic. But, like many sci-fi concepts, there is an original version that launched the concept, and subsequent spinoffs followed. So, where do you begin?
If you want to press play on something right this minute, I recommend starting with the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries. This is sometimes included with Series 1 as the first two episodes. It introduces BSG (2004). It is currently streaming on PeacockTV.
Battlestar Galactica—The Reimagined Series (2004-2009)
I’m starting with BSG 2004 because this is the one that has all the buzz. This series broke out of the mold of its original concept and landed right in our backyard. The story is set in uncharted outer space, but the problems are familiar. Political intrigue, religious terrorism, worker’s rights, freedom of choice, and inclusion are some themes raised in the episodes.
Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) dives into humanity’s many issues. The story comes from a very raw and grounded place. It is because of BSG that I realized that I am an ardent fan of Ronald D. Moore. So, no surprise when I found out that Moore was also a writer for one of my long-time favorite sci-fi series, Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST-TNG). ST-TNG used episodic storytelling to confront political and religious issues relevant to contemporary audiences. Stories presented religious superstitions and human determinism. Characters faced discrimination in ways that turned a mirror on the audience. And Battlestar Galactica does the same thing. Like other science fiction, BSG tells a story set in outer space that turns a mirror on humanity’s contemporary problems. And it turns out that the problems of early 21st Century humans are many of the same problems we are dealing with today, including racial and gender discrimination, equity in the workplace, right to healthcare and education, and more.
A Connection to the Past—BSG Classic (1978)
BSG (2004) is a reboot of an older series with which Ronald D. Moore was involved. Battlestar Galactica Classic ran for only one season in 1978-79. The 1978 series told a similar story but very different. While writers brought the character names into the reboot, almost everything else was altered. So if you watched the old series, or have heard about it from your parents, don’t be tempted to judge the new series on its predecessor. A lot changed conceptually across three decades.
Battlestar Galactica Classic is available to buy or rent on Prime.
Gap Filling—Special Movies & Extensions of BSGTRS
Three spinoff films were created to help explain and expand on some backstory elements of The Reimagined Series. These are Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007), Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009), and Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (2012). The first of these films, Razor, tells the backstory of a warfaring ship that Battlestar Galactica meets up with during the series. The second, The Plan, directly follows the series, backfilling the point of view of the Cylons as they conspired against the human colonies. The third film, Blood & Chrome, goes back to Admiral Adama’s early pilot days and explores what it was like for the first Cylons to evolve into a human-like appearance. These films are good, and fans love them! They fill in for some of the ambiguity in the series. The movies are unnecessary to understanding the series’ plot, but for most of us who can’t get enough of Battlestar Galactica, they are worth watching.
Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007)is available to buy on DVD Blu-ray at Amazon. Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009) is available to stream through PeacockTV. Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome (2012) is available to buy or rent on Prime.
A Path Forward— The Prequel
In 2010, the makers of Battlestar Galactica (2004) launched a series called Caprica, a prequel to the BSG series. The cover artwork for Caprica featured a beautiful woman holding a bright red apple. The religious symbolism is ripe for reference to Genesis’ Garden of Eden. The one-season series shows Caprica as a world just beginning to embrace hedonism. The wild underground virtual parties are countered by the emergence of a strictly monotheistic religion. For those who have already watched BSG (2004), there is a clear path from the religion in Caprica to the monotheistic religion outed by the Cylons. Unfortunately, the series was canceled just as it was getting good, which left them with an opportunity to wrap it up quickly. Nevertheless, this series is a must-see for anyone fascinated by the evolution of religious movements.
Caprica (2010) is available to rent or buy on Prime.
More to Come?
In 2019, NBC Universal announced a reboot of Battlestar Galactica that will explore a new story while maintaining the spirit of the popular series. Director Sam Esmail has been attached to the project, which has yet to appear. You can read a recent article on its development at Den of Geek.
Religion in Battlestar Galactica
I have spent the last two years developing religious commentary on the Battlestar Galactica television series. So Say We All: Religion, Spirituality, and the Divine in Battlestar Galactica will be available to order in Fall 2022.
If you are a fan of general science fiction literature and topics, please check out my other blogs and podcasts.