When, some years back, a friend told me there was a reworked BSG coming out, I was sceptical and excited at the same time. I'm not a fan of all things sci-fi, and most of the reworkings or recent years are just comedy pisstakes, take Starsky and Hutch as an example. But on the other hand, the original was so rich and so alien, that nobody would take it on without wanting to do something really special, right?
It's about four years on since I bought the first series on DVD from Woolies in Eltham High Street. I didn't find the miniseries for another year or so, but that's another story. The first episode, 33, had me on the edge of my seat throughout. I watched the remaining episodes over a long weekend, then watched it all again. I was hooked.
So I've still not seen all of it, the third series eluded me, owing to not having Sky, or the money to buy the DVDs, but even so, I had the chance to watch the fourth series and took it. The irritating hiatus, courtesy of the American writers' strike led me to think that I should consider it done at that point, but I still watched the remainder eagerly.
It came to an end last night, or for me this afternoon when I actually watched it. I was not disappointed, in fact I was overwhelmed. It wasn't the ending I expected, or even hoped for. If anything, being and old cynic with some experience of TV production, I was quite pessimistic. The genre is packed with TV screenwriting glitterati who over reach themselves, their budgets and audiences. Things drag out to anticlimactic finales, loaded with fan-focussed bananlities, or crash into dwindling audience figures and critical poundings that result in abrupt cancellations.
BSG has been different to that. It has achieved what so few series of any type even approach. It has been great drama. It has managed the expectations of the audience and the critics. It might have missed out some of the nuances that sci-fi fandom demands of its entertainment, but these might well have mired it into an early demise.
It told the story of a people, through the eyes of its leaders, and of its enemies, both within and without. It carried along its audience on the waves of the story, giving them highs and lows. While there have been long overarching plots, there have also been the staples of a good story: lust, greed, hate...and the rest.
There has also been homour, but without the overt comedy character so often found in modern sci-fi tales. I'm thinking here of the Neelix and Jar-Jar Binks variety. The show has kept its own sensibilities throughout, much like another modern success, Life on Mars. It has created its own icons, and not dwelt on anything too long.
For me, it ticked all the boxes for great entertainment. It took me for a long ride, where I never found the desire to ask 'are we there yet?' I hope there is more like this to come.
I read last year that another series that heavily imprinted my teenage years, V, might get a similar revamp. That would be a big challenge, but not an insurmountable one, given what has been achieved with Battlestar Galactica.