Dirk Benedict wrote recently that he doesn’t like the new show. I think he’s wrong.
I’m a fan of both series. I would watch both side by side, but I don’t compare them. They share common elements, and I love it when a small part of the original series appears in the new, but I understand that they are, in essence, two different tales of a similar event.
Science fiction isn’t just about wild new planets, bizarre future technologies and white clad humans working in a utopia. (Although it can be pretty cool.) Good science fiction is about people, and what happens when all of these things are introduced. Its a giant metaphor for all of us. Stargate SG-1 inserted a brief monologue by a ficticious cast member of a show within a show that explained it better than anything I’ve ever seen in the genre, a quote from Asimov:
Science fiction is an existential metaphor that allows us to tell stories about the human condition. Issac Asimov once said "Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and intellectuals of today. But the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.
The original BC had a grand scope, and it really did live up to that. Humans, fleeing the Cylon threat, triumphed and prevailed and even made it to Earth (although the BG1984 season was…flaky.) A whole civilization crammed into ships, many not designed for the task, always under the impending pursuing threat of cold, calculating machines (well, maybe lizard cyborgs) and their human Quisling Baltar. And don’t forget Satan! Even he plays a part (well, Iblis, close enough) and the humans rise above it. The story was always about a spiritual aspect that the humans all shared, set against a backdrop of a fleet of spacecraft and a huge carrier craft, that while somewhat fragile, was always up to the task of playing it’s role as defender and home to the colonials.
That was GREAT.
However, there were aspects to the story that weren’t told. Of course, the writers didn’t concentrate on them. Good science fiction, Heinlein once said, must do more than predict the automobile. You must also predict the traffic jam.
What does this mean? Essentially, when you introduce a future element, there are consequences. If you imagine cars, that’s great. Its even better if you include the traffic jam, the freeway, gas prices, and insurance. And this, New BG has in spades.
Yes, I admit, the morality at times appears to be that of humans during Katrina and New Orleans. It is dark, it is not healthy, and many times, you wonder where the hope is stored in the cargo hold. This is also a fact of the human condition. Offsetting this are the times when it is more like ferries and workboats rescuing passengers off a plane crashed in the Hudson. There’s sacrifice, personal bravery, and honorable action.
Sure, you might have invested somewhat in the characters, only to find that the writers have introduced something into the character you may not like. (For this reason, I find I personally identify with Tigh more than any other character.) This is a part of the human condition, and how we deal with this dissonance is something that the show explores. I may not always like these decisions (sometimes I feel it is a little inconsistent, a fatal flaw of the genre in series) but it also mirrors what people go through every day.
This is a story about people, mostly randomly selected, thrust into tiny sparefaring boxes and terrorized every lightyear they jump. Resources are limited. Working conditions are extreme. The military isn’t always appreciated, sometimes vilified. Stuff breaks all the time. Even worse, there may be Cylons posing as humans committing invisible sabatoge. These are people faced with imposible challenges, but they overcome them anyway, despite the varied flaws they al share.
Both shows tell a story about people. I was never happy with the conclusion on the older BG. I’m eager to see what happens with the new.