The new show has ignited a fued between fans of the "wholesomeness" of the old show (who were invariably highly conservative "Red State-ers") and the gritty reality of the new show (whose fans tend to be more Liberal/Blue state people) that has been nearly as hard fought and vicious as the actions on the screen.
This show is practially the CNN we wish we had when it comes to 9-11, abu Ghraib, the election scandals of Florida, Ohio and even the issue of abortion.
With the New Series, Producer Ron Moore "reimagined" everything. Starbuck the brash macho womanizing fighter pilot - was now a woman. The warm loving father-son relationship between Capt Apollo (Lee Adama, played by Jaime Bamber) and his father Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) was a broken mishapen thing of angst, recrimination and regret. The enemy, the vicious robotic Cylons, formerly Alien and impossible to understand or sympathise, had suddenly grown human skin, flesh, blood and bone. They were now an invisible unseeable enemy with overtly religious motivations for horrific acts of mass murder and cruelty to women with thier horrorific experiments to mate and breed with "natural" humans.
In response to surviving the nuclear holocast that devastated their worlds in the initial Cylon attack, the remaining humans have fought as bitterly amongst themselves as they have with the Cylons - resorting to assasination, torture, rape, terrorism and election fraud.
Last night was the Season Two Finale and I have to say it was the balls-iest moves I've seen a TV show make since TNT's Witchblade completely rewound their entire first season back to ground zero. But I must point out that prior to viewing the episode, I received a heads-up that the last 20 minutes would 'blow us away' from one of the series associate producers Paul Leonard, and editor Andy Seklir (who were both attending a student film festival for Leonard's alma mater - USC).
According to Leonard they almost didn't air that last 20 minutes fearing that it was taking a bridge too far... but air it they did and I for one am very glad.
After President Laura Roslyn (Mary McDonnell) rigs the election, but is caught (oh, if only!) - the traitorous Dr. Baltar rises to the Presidency. His moment of glory is short-lived however as nearly simultaneous to his taking the oath of office - a terrorist (Tricia Helfer) sets off a nuclear bomb in the center of the fleet. A terrorist who happens to be a Cylon copy of a woman Baltar loved before the attack, a love that prompted him to free this verseion from imprisoment after seeing the horrendous torture she had suffered. A action which allowed her to assasinate her tormentor, Admiral Kane (Michelle Forbes). The irony of a woman killing another woman because one had been repeatedly and forcibly raped by men under the others orders, was quite thick - not to mention the point that unrestrained torture of a enemy directly led to a Nuclear Suicide Bombing!
Then with Baltar as President and the loss of several ships still hanging in the air the entire series takes off the gloves and skips ahead an entire year after the Colonials have settled on a new habital world deep in a sensor scrambling nebula. Many of the key members of the military have become civilians including the saucy Colonel Ty. Old friends Starbuck and Apollo have become estranged over Starbuck's husband Anders whose now suffering from pneumonia during a meds shortage. Others have grown together and begun families such as former Chief Tyrol and his very pregnant wife Callie. Baltar has become a letchorous, drunken tyrant on the verge of rounding up and detaining outspoken labor union leaders, including Tyrol, who themselves are on the verge of ordering a strike over poor conditions. Things are falling apart.
And that's when the Cylon's come back, catching everyone with their pants down around their ankles. (Balter's almost literally so...)
But in yet another twist, the Cylons aren't here to destroy the remaining 40,000 odd humans. Not yet. They're being led by Baltar's former lover - the original number six, "Caprica 6" - and the original Sharon Valerii (Number Eight) a former Galactica Pilot who didn't know she was a Cylon until activated and forced to shoot Commander Adama - MK Ultra anyone? - who herself was later shot during prisoner transport in a scene taken directly from the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. Exactly what the motivations and goals of this New Cylon Empire, with Original Six and Sharon at the helm remains to be seen -- but the initial forcast seems to indicate that their brave new home has just become a concentration camp, while the fleet escapes with just bare skeleton crews on board.
Througout this series the question of humanity - what is it and why does it deserve to continue - has been asked repeatedly.
If you fight your enemy because of their supposed "evil" by performing actions of clear and obvious evil yourself -- do you deserve to win?
Apparently Ron Moore feels that you don't. In all honestly I happen to concur. Just because you think you're the "Good Guys" and call youself the "Good Guys" doesn't mean that you are - your actions count more than the rhetoric. Clearly this show is parrelleling both the modern day struggle following 9-11 with al Qaeda, but also the historic aftermath of the Kennedy assasination, President Johnson's misguided invasion of Vietnam and the rise of the incredibly corrupt Nixon adminstration after Johnson's disgrace and fall.
Laura Roslin is Johnson, Baltar is Nixon.
But it's not exactly that simple. Leonard shared with me a little secret, that Ron Moore has been pulling quotes directly out of Bush speeches and inserting them into President Roslin's dialogue, and that if Mary McDonnell - who is a died-in-the-wool liberal who hates Bush with a seething passion - ever realized it she would probably hit the roof. However, I think the fact that her character summarily banned abortion two episodes ago (just prior to the passage of South Dakota's actual abortion ban) might have been a hint. Plus since her character isn't President anymore, so it's a moot point. Or is it?
This show matters, because it's able to cloak it's political commentary behind "Sci Fi" - it's not likely to get destroyed and cancelled as the excellent FX Show "Over There" was - it can address issues that seem to scare the begeezus out of ABC, CNN, NBC and MSNBC. CBS still shows occasional signs of journalistic courage - but they've been largely neutered by the National Guard Papers.
All I need is Battlestar Galactica and Keith Olbermann with a dash of truthiness from the Daily Show and Colbert and I'm good. Watching these shows tells me - Somebody is paying attention, and makes me feel we just might save this country (and world) yet. Maybe.
Oh, and the show drives freepers over the edge - and that's always a plus.