This is not your 1970s Battlestar Galactica. Sci Fi Channel's updating of the broadcast TV science-fantasy classic takes a decidedly adult turn — and yields a result far more compelling than the original.
Despite strong ratings, ABC was forced to cancel the original Galactica
(1978-79) in part because its demos were too young. That's not likely to happen with the racier new version.
While Star Wars
was the original Galactica's muse, Sci Fi's effort is more inspired by later (and more adult-targeted) space-adventure iterations like the Star Trek
spin-offs, Babylon 5
or Stargate: SG-1.
Characters swear, curse and drink and sexual content and innuendo abound. The basic story's the same, though: the human inhabitants of the "12 colonies" find themselves again at war with the Cylons — a race of robots they created as servants — after 40 years of peace and nearly no contact in the interim.
— a relic of the first war — is about to be decommissioned and then turned into a museum. It's on its final approach home as the Cylons attack.
The ship's commander, Adama (Edward James Olmos, in the role introduced by Lorne Greene), is forced to quickly make the vessel battle-ready.
The Cylons eventually destroy all of the 12 colonies and only Galactica's crew and a handful of civilian ships remain.
Eventually, the humans are forced to concede they've lost the war, and Galactica
becomes their new residence as they search for a new permanent home. To make matters worse, the once tin-can Cylons are now mimicking human form.
Olmos delivers the show's strongest performance as the warhorse Adama — far more of an action hero than Greene's characters ever were. His son Apollo (Jamie Bamber) and fellow fighter pilot Starbuck (a woman this time, played by Katee Sackhoff) are less prominent than before, but are solid in supporting roles.
Mary McDonnell also packs emotional power as Laura Roslin, the secretary of education who finds herself president as the last cabinet member alive. James Callis as scientist Gaius Baltar ("evil Lord Baltar," a Cylon collaborator, in the original) is more plausible as a computer scientist and unwitting dupe of a "female" Cylon (Tricia Helfer).
Though not for kids anymore, Battlestar Galactica
is sure to entertain adult sci-fi fans. Viewed as a "back door" series pilot, it could become a regular part of Sci Fi's schedule if enough adults tune in.
premieres Monday, Dec. 8, at 9 p.m. ET on Sci Fi Channel.