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'Battlestar’ Back With a Bang …

12/16/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

From its start as a miniseries (before it was a series), Battlestar Galactica has been a well-acted, well-paced drama that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats, in space.

Galactica’s season-two mid-season finale, “Pegasus,” was yet another homage to the 1970s sci-fi series that inspired the Sci Fi Channel show. Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) and his crew came across the Battlestar Pegasus, another survivor of the Cylon attack that destroyed the 12 colonies Galactica once defended. In command is Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes), and Adama defers to his superior officer. But tensions emerge and the two ships square off for combat against each other — before various plot twists ensue — when the series returns on Jan. 6 with “Resurrection Ship.”

The web of political intrigue woven throughout the episode — and throughout this unconventional sci-fi action series — is more compelling than the shoot-’em-up space battle, and two unexpected twists at the end are particularly intriguing. All-around strong acting only heightens the drama.

—M.D.

… As New 'Atlantis’ Outpaces 'SG-1’

Sci Fi’s Friday night duo Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, meanwhile, return from their mid-season break on Jan. 6, with SG-1 finishing up its ninth season and spinoff Atlantis wrapping its third. Both have been renewed, as has Battlestar.

With these episodes, at least, Atlantis is stronger than the original — borrowing heavily on SG-1’s past.

Both episodes are the completions of two-parters, with the first halves having aired in September. The Atlantis episode, “The Hive,” is structured much like in the earlier years of SG-1, when the intrepid team of U.S. Air Force explorers was always getting stuck on a spaceship, breaking out of holding cells, overcoming bad guys and getting off the ship just in time to blow it up before the world gets destroyed. Director Martin Wood made several such SG-1 thrillers before helming this Atlantis episode, named for the “hive ship” of bad guys called the Wraith.

Also of note: both shows restored full title credits after slashing them to a few seconds early this season. SG-1’s new credits do a good job integrating action from the post-Richard Dean Anderson period.

Mother ship SG-1 is still clicking along and weathering major cast changes. But SG-1’s “The Fourth Horseman, Part 2” doesn’t have the same fun feel as “Hive.”

The “Sci-Fi Friday” trio of hour-long dramas returns on Jan. 6, starting at 8 p.m.

— K.G.

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