Pointless geek debates: Battlestar Galactica vs. Battlestar Galactica

Posted: May 24, 2012 in Pointless Geek Debates
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I was doing my morning workout the other day, flipping through the Netflix instant watch when I found the classic BSG (Battlestar Galactica) on the list.  I also saw the new one, and I thought why not?  I haven’t seen the old one in years, let’s give it a looksee.  As I was watching it, I was reminded of all the debates and arguments online about which one is better, and which one should be considered ‘official’ etc.  This also gave me a great idea for a feature.  There are pages upon pages of text devoted to arguments that are, actually, very important.  Who would win in a fight between Chuck Norris and Jet Li?  Who’s faster, Superman or the Flash?  Who’s the most immasculine vampire, Lestat or Edward Cullen?  Some debates, however, are just plain dumb, and I am going to apply my humble writing skills to explain why.  For this first installment of ‘Pointless Geek Debates’…Battlestar Galactica (the classic) vs. Battlestar Galactica (the new series).

So, first up on the block, the classic Battlestar Galactica.

What does this timeless classing have going for it?  No one can deny that the show was ahead of its time, as a science fiction show on television.  It has amazing effects and sound, some would say almost as good as anything in the theaters in that era.  It had a compelling story, humans, near extinction, struggling to survive with dwindling resources and on the run from an enemy force that seeks their annihilation.  The writing is good, for a show of that time, without too much of the expected sci-fi jargon to throw off the casual water, but enough to make you feel like you are in a different place.  The acting, for the most part, isn’t bad from the starring cast, and certainly no worse that network TV had to present anywhere else.  All of this, however, is related to the time it was released.

What does it have going for it now?  Nostalgia, plain and simple, oh and hair (the hair is big in space).  Compared to shows today it’s sorely lacking when it comes to effects, sound, and writing.  The only thing that honestly holds my interest with the show, is memories of watching it as a kid.  The dialogue is fairly basic and dated.  It does well with the ships, sets and models, for the most part, due to how well they did originally, but when stacked up against many shows today, sci-fi or not, this show just doesn’t cut it.  I know, that’s probably going to get me all kinds of hate from those who can’t seem to take off their kid goggles, but hey, this is just my opinion.

All in all I think the original BSG is a good show, for the hard core sci-fi viewers that enjoy just what it is.  Campy, science fiction with decent sets and props and a good story behind it.  Kids would probably still love it, and older fans obviously still enjoy the show.

Jump ahead a few years and you have the SciFi original show Battlestar Galactica.

I remember seeing the pilot for this show, when it first hit the SciFi channel, and being totally blown away by it.  The way the dogfights were shot, like you were actually there flying next to them.  The sound effects, the animation and models, it was all great.  There were also the touches that connected it to my childhood memories of BSG.  Some of the same terminology, the old-school viper fighters, the names of the characters.  The writing is fantastic, and it carries the same story as the first, but delivered in a much more compelling way.  I can honestly say that this show is one of the few that the family watched religiously, only missing two episodes on their air date.

Of course it has its flaws.  Not all of the acting was top notch, but the ones who were good overshadowed the ones that weren’t.  There were some plot holes, but nothing so glaring that it took away from the enjoyment of the show.  I didn’t always like what they did with characters, but that was more of an emotional reaction, it was good for the story in the end.  The end, while it was the best ending of any show I’ve seen, I didn’t want to see it end.  I like shows that have a concrete beginning and end, never like to see them struggle and die a slow death of low ratings, but I really wanted to see more.  Again, more of an emotional reaction than a logical one.  It had to end, and it ended well.

I could go on for days about this series.  It’s obvious that I liked it, and this isn’t really a review.  Would I watch it again beginning to end?  Yes.  Do I think everyone should watch it?  Yes.  Case closed.

Now, on to why the debate is pointless.  First of all, BSG the younger is not a recreation, reboot, or remake of the original.  Not in my eyes anyway.  It’s an homage to the classic show.  They didn’t mock it, or ignore its existance.  All of the touches that they took from the classic, the old vipers, the original model psylons, even the Galactica itself, all pay close respect to the original series.  Sure, Starbuck and Boomer were a girls, some psylons look like humans, and the end is different, but I think that’s a good thing.  The new show does a good job of paying respect to the old show, without trying to copy it.

Let’s be honest, both shows are good, for different reasons.  Comparing these two is completely pointless.  No sane individual is going to say that the classic show has better effects and sound than the new one, just like no one can fault the classic for its originality.  They both deal with a dark theme, but you have to admit that the new one did better delivering that sense of struggle and drama that would come with being the last remnants of humanity.  The classic series is fun, and campy, but rarely is it as blood-pumping exciting as the new one.  The new one is gritty, dark and intriguing, but not always a good fit for kids.  Face it, these are two shows that, despite sharing a name and a few key features, are completely different.  Comparing them is worse than comparing apples to oranges, it’s like comparing apples to apple pie.  Both good for different reasons, both different for good reason.

  1. I liked the newer one better simply because the women were given more and better roles. For example, I had no role-models or girls I wanted to be in the first Star Trek series. I just had to pretend I was a female Spock. Now you have a show like the modern BSG and oh I can be Starbuck? HECK YES.

    • xamotdb says:

      A very good point, and I liked how the female characters weren’t just sex symbols, unless they were supposed to be. If the character or story demanded that then that’s what we got. When it demanded they be something else, they were. You could tell they weren’t just put in there for eye candy like a lot of sci fi shows/movies.

      Also on that note, they didn’t shy away from making them sexy when it was called for. Some shows go too far in the other extreme as well.

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