Battlestar Galactica and “the Most Universal Theme You Can Explore”

No show makes despair so consistently compelling as Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica

I’ve been continually mulling over the events of “Sometimes A Great Notion”, the first of the final Battlestar Galactica episodes, since Friday night. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about some of the episode’s revelations even as I find myself floored by the intensity and audacity of other revelations. Providing some interesting background and context for my musings has been this extensive — and spoiler-filled — article by Maureen Ryan, which includes an interview with series producer Ron Moore as well as some essays and thoughts from the episode’s writers and director.

There are some really great “behind the scenes” tidbits throughout the piece, including: Ingmar Bergman’s influence on the episode; how an actor’s ad-libbing added a whole new depth to their scenes; how budgetary constraints were overcome in the most creative ways; and how the writers’ strike and fears of cancellation impacted the episode… for the better.

As mentioned earlier, the article is full of spoilers — and I encrypted the article’s URL because even that contained potential spoilers — so consider yourself warned. I did, however, want to include this quote from one of the episode’s writers that explains much of what makes Battlestar Galactica so good:

We wanted to take the time to examine what happens to people when their dreams are shattered, when everything they held as true turns out to be an illusion. After a blow like that, how do you pick yourself up from the floor and go on? Are you able to pick yourself up at all?

This is perhaps the most universal theme you can explore… For those of us here on Earth, the dream could be… the house you saved all your life for but now can no longer afford to make payments on. The career you fantasized about since high school, went to college to prepare for, finally landed and loved, then lost when your company downsized. The woman or man you met who seemed to be everything you ever wanted to find in a lover, who betrayed your trust or left you or died. The flood waters that swept your entire neighborhood away. The war in a far away land that took your son or daughter or husband or wife. The spot on an X-ray that now wants to eat you alive.

Or, to put it another way, no show makes despair so consistently compelling as Battlestar Galactica. Which, odd as it seems, is actually a very good thing.

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