Hour long television dramas are great. I settle into my chair, turn on Netflix, and enjoy the unfolding relationships of characters onscreen. I’ve done this for Lost, Doctor Who, Breaking Bad, House, and Dexter. Its fun. I look into people’s lives and enjoy their struggles to reach their goals. Villains will inevitably appear, impeding the journey of our protagonists. Even if the antagonists succeed in the downfall of our beloved characters, I will still happily watch: such is life, everything doesn’t always go the way we want it to. This is how I used to watch television. This is how I watched television before Battlestar Galactica.
Battlestar has a fascinating premise. As it explains in the opening titles of every episode:
The Cylons were created by Man
They look and feel human
Some are programmed to think they are human
There are many copies
And they have a plan
Man, thats so cool! Yeah, so theres these robots who look totally human (and sexy humans at that) and they want to destroy all of mankind. The series starts out with a (literal) boom when the Cylons blow the crap out of all colonies of mankind. The only survivors are those who were in space at the time (most of whom were on the titular Battlestar Galactica [an aged war vessel]) and some gritty survivors on the planets. In total, about 40 thousand people are left. The series documents the lives of various crew members on the Battlestar and their attempt to escape Cylon attacks, find which of the crew are Cylon, the survival of mankind, and the relationships between the crew. The show is brilliantly shot. The visual effects are really darn good for being on the SciFi Channel Original, and the cast is filled with great actors who are all extremely attractive.
The four main protagonists of the show are: Bill Adama, commander of the fleet of ships; Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies; Kara Thrace, pilot and all-around badass; Gaius Baltar, brilliant scientist and part-time president of the colonies who frequently has conversations with an imaginary Cylon.
So thats the show. On paper, it sounds awesome. It is awesome! Except that I completely hate it because I have no heart.
Let me to explain: with every other television drama that I watch, I can get wrapped up in people’s lives and worry about what happens to them. I cannot watch Battlestar Galactica like that because the fate of human civilization depends on the success of this group of people. I have no idea why I have adopted such a Machiavellian view of a show, but I view all characters other than Adama, Roselin, and the ship crew as completely dispensable. When you compare the crew romances, friendships, and betrayal with the extinction of humanity, everything looks pretty fucking trivial. Everyone looks at Battlestar Galactica as an action-drama series but for some reason only I see the truth that it is really a series about post-apocalyptic survival.
That’s it! Battlestar Galactica isn’t about relationships and all that boring stuff, it’s about zombies in space. Think about it, Cylons are the space version of zombies. You can never be safe them them, all they care about is the extinction of humans, and even you can be one. Cylons are just zombies that are smart and organized (well they can’t exactly turn people into other Cylons, but get off my back dude).
Over the last few months, everyone on the internet has consistently been shitting all over The Walking Dead. Their criticisms are totally valid for why The Walking Dead isn’t as great as it can be, and they completely apply to Battlestar Galactica.
1. Characters randomly assume that they’re in a safe location that totally isn’t safe
With the knowledge that the Cylons are actively looking for New Caprica, the humans just go ahead and live on New Caprica because… I guess they missed being able to farm? In the entire Universe, with faster than light drives, I’m sure that they could find a place other than where the creatures who wanted them dead also wanted to live.
Sound familiar? Oh yeah, that’s because Rick and his crew in The Walking Dead move to a farmhouse with literally no security because… I guess they really wanted to be able to farm? It’s probably one of the worst locations to withstand a zombie attack. Shoulder high wooden fences around a house probably a hundred years old… I’m sure that will do great against the walkers.
2. Romantic subplots are a lot less interesting than actually surviving the apocalypse
Both The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica constantly have characters fucking and breaking up. I know it’s cheaper to film a love story than a battle sequence, but I really got the feeling that both series use it simply as a way to pad the running time to episodes. I get that Laurie is upset that her baby might be Shane’s, and Starbuck maybe wants to be with Lee, but there is a legion of monsters out there that want you dead. Read the first half of that last sentence again, it sounds like I’m summarizing a soap opera.
3. Anyone not directly helping the group is a threat to the survival of humanity.
I’m talking about you: Laurie, Shane, Carl, Carol, Sophia, Tigh’s wife, Gaius, Roslin, and literally all the civilians. Get your shit together and start being helpful to your group. No more complaining, this is a goddam war. Why can’t the characters that actually know the gravity of the completely-fucked situation tell these punks to step up? When will they lay down the law and convince Carl to stay in the goddam house, IT’S SURROUNDED BY ZOMBIES!