Military science fiction
|Created by||Glen A. Larson|
|Developed by||David Eick, Ronald D. Moore|
|Opening theme||Gayatri by Richard Gibbs|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||75 (List of episodes)|
|Location(s)||Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada|
|Running time||approx. 42 min.|
|Original channel||Sci Fi
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|First shown in||United Kingdom|
|Original run||October 18, 2004 – March 24, 2009|
|Preceded by||The miniseries|
|Related shows||Original Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica (often abbreviated as BSG or just Battlestar) is a military science fiction serial drama television series and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was created by David Eick and Ronald D. Moore as a re-imagining of the Battlestar Galactica television series from 1978 created by Glen A. Larson. The series first aired as a three-hour miniseries in December 2003 on the Sci Fi network and ran for four seasons thereafter, ending its run on March 20, 2009. The series featured Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated Edward James Olmos and Academy Award nominated Mary McDonnell and garnered a wide range of critical acclaim, including a Peabody Award and the Television Critics Association's Program of the Year Award, as well as Emmy nominations for its writing and directing.
The story arc of Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant part of the galaxy, where a civilization of humans live on a series of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden sneak attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. The approximately 50,000 human survivors flee into space aboard any spacecraft they can reach. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of Colonial Fleet officer Commander William "Bill" Adama, the Battlestar Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.
The series was a ratings success for the Sci Fi Channel, and was particularly popular in Europe, Australia and the United States. Since its release, the show has received nationwide critical acclaim from the American media, Battlestar Galactica has been honored with numerous awards and award nominations in its four-season run. It spawned the spin off TV series Caprica, which began airing in January 2010.
Battlestar Galactica continued from the 2003 miniseries to chronicle the journey of the last surviving humans from the Twelve Colonies of Kobol after their nuclear annihilation by the Cylons. The survivors are led by President Laura Roslin and Commander William Adama in a ragtag fleet of ships with the Battlestar Galactica, an old but powerful warship, as its command ship. Pursued by Cylons intent on wiping out the remnants of the human race, the survivors travel across the galaxy looking for the fabled and long-lost thirteenth colony: Earth. Unlike most space opera series, Battlestar Galactica has no aliens (the antagonists are man-made Cylon robots) and intentionally avoids technobabble. Instead, most of the stories deal with the apocalyptic fall-out of the destruction of The Twelve Colonies upon the survivors and the moral choices the survivors must make in dealing with the survival of the human race, as well as their war with the Cylons. Stories also deal with the concept of perpetuated cycles of hate and violence driving the human/Cylon conflict, and religious issues, with the implication of an active God whose angelic agents intervene on behalf of the main characters, most notably Gaius Baltar.
Over the course of the show's four seasons, the war between the colonists and the Cylons takes many twists and turns. Despite the animosity on both sides, the Cylons and humans slowly turn away from their hatred for each other. Part of this is due to a growing schism within the humanoid Cylons, led by the disgruntled Cylon "Number One", named John Cavil. Cavil's obsession with hiding the true genesis of the humanoid Cylons (the "Significant Eight" created by the "Final Five", who take residence on Galactica after the attack, who themselves are humanoid Cylons from "Earth" who had their memories erased by Cavil) leads to a civil war among the Cylons, with a faction of the robot race forming an alliance with the humans. Other plotlines involve the mysterious destiny of Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, who is the subject of a prophecy involving her as the "Harbinger of Death", who will "lead humanity to its end" as well as the redemption of Gaius Baltar, as he becomes a pariah within the fleet (after being forced to collaborate with the Cylons) but ultimately finds redemption through monotheistic-based faith.
In the final episodes, a resurrected Kara Thrace leads the surviving humans and Cylons to a new planet which is clearly the Earth of present-day humanity, with the first colonists landing in Africa. Adama names their new home planet Earth, as a tribute to the "real" Earth of legend which had been originally sought by the survivors. The original Earth was revealed to have been a different planet entirely, one which, like Kobol, had become an uninhabitable wasteland as a consequence of a war waged by its own Cylon creations thousands of years before. The new Earth is found to be already inhabited by early humans who are genetically compatible with the humans from the Galactica and the rest of the fleet, but who possess only the most meager beginnings of civilization. Human beings had apparently naturally evolved on both Earth and Kobol, the original home world of the humans who settled the twelve colonies. The surviving humans and humanoid Cylons decide to live on the new planet and discard all technology, destroying all of their spaceships by flying them into the Sun. Kara Thrace, apparently an "angel" since her purportedly fatal crash on the "Earth" of legend, disappears. The surviving Cylon Centurions are given possession of the remaining Cylon basestar and proceed to jump away from Earth, never to be heard from again.
The series finale concludes with an epilogue set "150,000 years later" in present day Times Square, as two "angels," in the form of Caprica Six and Gaius Baltar, muse on the origin and fate of present-day humankind, and on whether or not the cycle of violence between human and machine will repeat yet again. It is revealed that all present-day humans on Earth are in some small part descended from the half-human, half-Cylon girl named Hera, who lived out the remainder of her life in Africa, becoming Mitochondrial Eve.
Religion and theology flavored the original series, and they are prominent in the reimagined series.
Perhaps the prominent religious component is the series' overarching theme: the human survivors' search for Earth. That search is motivated by ancient religious texts' references to a 13th tribe of humans that established a civilization on a distant planet called Earth. Various religious relics and ruins, both on the Twelve Colonies and elsewhere in the galaxy, provide clues to Earth's location. Throughout the series, both humans and Cylons are assisted in time of need by mysterious entities possibly from a higher plane of existence.
Many of the humans share in polytheism, worshiping the gods of Kobol. This appears to be the official state religion of the colonies; government oaths refer to the gods and, back on the Twelve Colonies, public museums housed artifacts of the gods. Some are devout believers, others are atheists, most fall somewhere in the middle, and all three viewpoints are accepted more or less equally.
The Kobol gods have the same names and characteristics as the Greek Olympic gods, and the show makes repeated references to Zeus, Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Ares and Apollo. In one story in season 3, the crew fights with the Cylons to obtain "The Eye of Jupiter"; Jupiter is the Roman equivalent of Zeus. As evidenced by prayers offered by the human characters, the Kobol gods are morally refined and are believed to watch over and intervene benevolently in the lives of the just. This is similar to the conception of the gods during the Greek classical and Hellenistic periods, not the amoral (and very human) gods of the Greek archaic period.
In a reference to Hinduism, the opening credits are accompanied by an operatic version of the Gayatri Mantra, a hymn dedicated to the solar deity Savitr. During a memorial service, the residing chaplain recites another important Hindu prayer, actually a sample from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (one of many Upanishads) which is transliterated here:
— Brihadaranyaka Upanishads (1.3.28)
In another parallel to Western polytheism, the names of the Twelve Colonies and their planets are similar to the names of the constellations in the Greco-Roman zodiac. In the early days of the 12 colonies, each colony's flag showed the stellar constellation of its zodiac sign ("Home Pt. 2"). It is implied by the finale that the Greek/Roman pantheons as well as several ancient belief systems including the zodiac were imported to Earth by the colonial survivors.
The principal means of transmitting divine knowledge is the Sacred Scroll. The Scroll chronicles the early period of human existence, when people and the gods lived together on the planet Kobol (at the beginning of the series, the location of Kobol is unknown and the planet regarded as essentially mythical among secular humans). The Scrolls tell that at some point in time, twelve human tribes left Kobol and founded the 12 colonies, with a 13th heading towards Earth (miniseries et al.). This is also referenced in the opening words of the Scroll, "Life here began out there" (miniseries).
The show offers little detail of the Sacred Scroll, other than that it contains the Book of Pythia, which chronicles an ancient prophetess (similar to the Oracle of Delphi, herself named Pythia), who journeyed with the 13th tribe on their voyage to Earth. Pythia also described the exodus of the twelve tribes, and the things that happened to them. She describes a dying leader, who will guide the tribes to salvation. Among other things, the scriptures tell of the return to Kobol, stating that bringing the Arrow of Apollo to the Tomb of Athena will reveal the road to Earth. The dying leader is to die just before the end of the journey. President Roslin sees herself as playing the part of the leader in the texts, as she has terminal breast cancer which was in remission for a time, but then returned.
Many of the Cylons also share a religious belief — in this case, monotheism. The Cylons' monotheism seems to share many traits of Abrahamic monotheistic religions: belief that God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, that he will one day deliver divine retribution, and that he intervenes in the world. The actual teachings and laws of the Cylon god are infrequently referenced, but when they are, it is usually conveyed by Number Sixes. Some humans have, over the course of the series, come to follow the Cylon monotheistic faith, mostly by way of Gaius Baltar.
Time described Battlestar Galactica as "a gripping sci-fi allegory of the war on terror, complete with monotheistic religious fundamentalists (here, genocidal cyborgs called Cylons), sleeper cells, civil-liberties crackdowns and even a prisoner-torture scandal". Throughout its run, the show has attempted to maintain its realism by referring to both familiar elements of real world modern history – Laura Roslin's swearing in on Colonial One directly "cited the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson after the Kennedy assassination" – and the developing political situation since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Many people have drawn parallels between the Cylons and Al Qaeda" and according to The Guardian "Battlestar Galactica is the only award-winning drama that dares tackle the war on terror". The show delves into the emotional rationale of terrorists who act out of rage and vengeance in the aftermath of their oppression. The show has also tackled issues regarding terrorist sleeper cells with stories involving both the reality and fear of Cylon suicide attacks, Cylon Number 5, Aaron Doral, in the episode called Litmus, sneaks aboard the Galactica and blows himself up in the middle of the corridor, and 'sleeper agent', Lt. Sharon "Boomer" Valerii activates after destroying a cylon basestar at the end of season 1 and shoots Commander Adama. Similar themes are revisited in season 3 (Episode 3.1, "Occupation" specifically) with a far different perspective with the humans, rather than the Cylon 'enemy' becoming the suicide bombers. It has been suggested that these plotlines extensively "hinted at war-on-terrorism overtones". The show also references civil liberties crackdowns during the 3rd season when the 6 members of The Circle after the Exodus from New Caprica become judge, jury, and executioner of the people who were accused of aiding the cylons during the occupation on New Caprica. They also touch on prisoner torture during season 2 when Cylons 6 and 8 (Lt. Valerii) both are attacked, raped, and tortured by Lt. Thorne from the battlestar Pegasus. After 9/11, the original series' "broad premise – the human military's struggles in the wake of a massive terrorist attack – suddenly gained resonance" and let the show tackle issues like suicide bombings, torture ("evoking the darker side of the war on terror") and "civil liberties crackdowns".
Executive producer Ronald D. Moore points out that the Cylons and Al Qaeda are not necessarily intended to be directly allegorical: "They have aspects of Al Qaeda, and they have aspects of the Catholic Church, and they have aspects of America", and in contrast, with the New Caprica storyline the show's humans have been discussed as an allegory not for an America under attack, but for an occupied people mounting an insurgency, and turning to suicide bombings as a tactic. There is a consensus that with "its third season, the show has morphed into a stinging allegorical critique of America’s three-year occupation of Iraq" as the "cameras record Cylon occupation raids on unsuspecting human civilians with the night-vision green familiar to any TV news viewer. And the reasoning of the Cylons is horrifically familiar: They would prefer not to be brutal, but they won't accept the failure of a glorious mission." According to Slate "If this sounds like Iraq, it should", and "In unmistakable terms, Battlestar Galactica is telling viewers that insurgency (like, say, the one in Iraq) might have some moral flaws, such as the whole suicide bombing thing, but is ultimately virtuous and worthy of support." The "really audacious stroke of this season was showing us a story about a suicide bomber from the point of view of the bomber and his comrades... because the cause of this terrorist was unquestioningly our own. We sympathize with the insurgents wholeheartedly." If the Cylon occupying force is an allegory of the Coalition Forces in Iraq, then some of the other references are equally controversial, for example, the "scene of the shiny, terrifying Cylon centurions (a servant class of robots that actually look like robots) marching down the main road of New Caprica while the devastated colonists looked on was the Nazis marching into Paris."
Although David Eick has said the production staff "don't need to say 'OK, let's do the episode where we're gonna do the Abu Ghraib scandal'", and points out that events depicted on New Caprica "are as much a story rooted in political tales like the Vichy France or Vietnam" rather than current events, he acknowledges that they "do gravitate in those directions when it comes to the storytelling".
Bear McCreary is the primary composer for the television series, having assisted Richard Gibbs on the 3-hour miniseries. When the show was picked up, Gibbs opted not to devote full time to the regular series' production, and McCreary became the sole composer. He worked on the series until it reached its conclusion in 2009, scoring over 70 episodes. To date, five Battlestar Galactica soundtrack albums have been released, and have garnered a great deal of critical acclaim. The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan hailed the music as "sensational" and "innovative", Joanna Weiss of The Boston Globe praised McCreary as a "visionary composer" who did much to create "the rich atmosphere of Battlestar", Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger described McCreary's work on the show as "transcendent" and Variety said "Galactica offers some of the most innovative music on TV today."
The music of Battlestar Galactica displays a wide variety of ethnic influences and intentionally tries not to conform to the "usual" style of a science fiction score. For some of the series' more important episodes, McCreary was granted a full orchestra. Character themes and leitmotifs gradually took on a major role, despite being avoided at the outset. A variety of ethnic instruments have been utilized. One season 4 episode employed: Chinese membrane flute, Indian bansuri flute, duduk (Armenian woodwind), erhu (Chinese violin), yialli tanbur (a Turkish lute), dumbek (Middle Eastern drum), Japanese taiko drums—in addition to four brass players, 30 string players and a 12-voice choir.
There have been several live concerts featuring the music of Battlestar Galactica. In April 2008, more than 1,000 fans attended two sold-out shows at L.A.'s Roxy on Sunset Boulevard, with some fans flying in from as far as England and Australia. A ballet based on McCreary's scores for Galactica premiered on March 7, 2009 for a 13 week run. Entitled "Prelude to War", it was performed by the dancers of the Theaterhagen in Hagen, Germany with choreography by Ricardo Fernando, and the Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bernhard Steiner.
Season 1 began airing in North America three months later, on January 14, 2005 in the United States, and January 15 in Canada. The first episode aired in the US and became one of the highest-rated programs ever on Sci-Fi, with 3.1 million viewers. Successive episodes proved equally successful. The first episode of the season was later made available for viewing in its entirety, and without charge from the Sci-Fi website. Moore also sought to address the "Internet Generation" by posting podcast commentaries on individual episodes on the official Sci-Fi website. The Sci-Fi Channel ordered a 20-episode third season on November 16, 2005, which premiered in the US on October 6, 2006, and in Canada on October 7, 2006, with the first two episodes being shown together. The broadcast schedule for Season Three did not include a long hiatus in the middle of the season, as with Season Two. Production began in April 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Sci-Fi Channel moved the show to Sundays on January 21, 2007, the first time the show had changed nights since it began airing. Season Three was broadcast in high-definition on Sky One HD in the UK and Ireland, starting on January 9, 2007, and in the US on Universal HD, starting on January 27, 2007. The Sci-Fi Channel confirmed on March 22, 2007 that Battlestar Galactica had been renewed for a fourth season of 22 episodes, which producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore later announced to be the series' last. The first two episodes made up the Razor TV Movie, while the remaining season of 20 episodes was split into two halves, partly due to the writers' strike. The first half comprised episodes 3 to 12, while the second half comprised episodes 13 to 22. The series finale aired on Friday, March 20, 2009.
The first 2 slots of season four's 22 episode order were taken up by the two-hour TV movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor which was broadcast as an unbroken extended episode detailing the chronicles of the Battlestar Pegasus. It premiered November 24, 2007 in the US and December 18, 2007 in the UK, and an extended version was released on DVD immediately thereafter. Razor had Michelle Forbes reprise her role as Helena Cain, and co-starred Australian actress Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen who played Kendra Shaw.
The first half of season 4 (dubbed Season 4.0 in its DVD release) consisted of 10 episodes and premiered April 4, 2008. The Canadian cable channel Space aired season four on the same dates. In the UK, Sky One began airing Season Four on April 15, showing the first two episodes on that date, placing the UK four days behind the US screenings. The first part of Season 4 began broadcast on Universal HD on August 30, 2008. In Australia, the first half of season 4 began screening on Ten HD as of September 4, 2008 beginning with Razor. Linking both halves of season 4 together was a set of 10 webisodes which played a similar role to that which The Resistance played between seasons 2 and 3. Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy was released during the weeks leading up to the premiere of episode 13, starting on December 12, 2008, and ending on January 12, 2009, collectively titled The Face of the Enemy. The second half of season 4 (dubbed Season 4.5) consisted of 10 episodes and began airing on January 16, 2009. The season (and series) finale was split into two episodes in the United States, with the normal length first part airing on March 13, and the second, with a runtime (including adverts) of 2:11, airing March 20.
In Australia, the second half of season 4 premiered on the Australian Sci-Fi channel on Foxtel January 31 and continued on a weekly basis with each of the remaining episodes of the series airing about 6 hours after the US until the final episode on March 21.
In the United States the first half of Battlestar Galactica season 4 averaged a 1.8 Household rating: 1,576,000 Adults 18-49 (+15%); 1,726,000 Adults 25-54 (+19%) and 2,326,000 total viewers (+13%). Among Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54, this was the best half season or full season performance for the series since Battlestar Galactica season 1 (Jan-April 2005). Battlestar enjoyed its best season ever for female viewers, delivering 592,000 Women 18-49 and 646,000 Women 25-54.
On April 27, 2006, the Sci Fi Channel announced that a prequel spin-off of BSG was in development. Caprica takes place more than 50 years before the main series, before the original Cylon War, and chronicles the Adama family and Caprican society as well as show the advancement of technology leading to the Cylon revolt. On March 18, 2008, Ronald Moore, the Head Writer confirmed that Caprica is in fact a go project with a two-hour backdoor pilot to be produced initially. On December 2, 2008 SCI FI announced that it had given the green light for a full series. The first season, composed of 20 episodes including the pilot, premiered on January 22, 2010. An uncut version of the pilot was released on DVD on April 21, 2009, prior to the series' broadcast debut.
On July 24, 2009, Edward James Olmos suggested that The Plan will not be the last BSG movie, saying that he had written a script involving the Galactica characters in which a crisis occurs at some point after their arrival on Earth.
The miniseries was released in the UK on March 1, 2004 and in the U.S. and Canada on December 28, 2004, and included deleted scenes, audio commentary, and a behind-the-scenes documentary. The first season was released to DVD on March 28, 2005 and September 20, 2005 in the UK and North America respectively and included deleted scenes. The American set also included featurettes, and a tongue-in-cheek promotional special filmed for the Sci Fi Channel in addition to the miniseries. However, it does not contain the special features that were included on the mini-series stand alone DVD release.
The second season was released in its entirety in a single volume in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, but issued in two separate volumes (dubbed "Season 2.0" and "Season 2.5") in the U.S. to correspond with the mid-season break in the broadcast schedule. Each U.S. volume contains half of the season, along with deleted scenes and podcasts that were previously available on the official website. "Season 2.5" also contains an extended version of "Pegasus", the last episode of the first half of the season. The Region 2 DVDs include the extended version of "Pegasus", as well as the commentaries and deleted scenes from the U.S. 2.0 release, but do not contain any of the commentaries and deleted scenes from the 2.5 release (other than the extended Pegasus episode), nor the original, shorter version of "Pegasus" included on the U.S. 2.0 release. The Canadian DVD release of Season 2.0 was delayed until April 25, 2006, as the episodes had only begun airing in January 2006.
The third season came out in R2 on September 3, 2007 and in R4 on November 21, 2007. R1 was set for a March 25, 2008 release date. The R2 & R4 DVDs do not contain any extras but R2's box set came with a 45 minute recap of the previous two seasons (consisting of clips of the seasons strung together with a voice-over). The fourth season, like season two, will be released in two parts. In regions 1, 2 and 4 the television movie Razor were included in "Part 1" (as it is technically a part of the season despite it being released separately at an earlier date). In region 1, however, both the extended and shortened versions of Razor will both be included in the "4.0" box set.
On August 14, 2007, Universal Studios Home Entertainment announced that the mini-series and Season One would be released on December 4, 2007, in the North American market, on the now discontinued high definition disc format HD DVD. The technical specifications include 1080p/VC-1 transfers of the mini-series and each episode is in 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, plus Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 surround audio options.
In January 2006, Apple began offering the miniseries, season 1 and season 2 episodes for purchase on the U.S. version of its iTunes Store. After a delay, season 3 episodes were also made available. NBC Universal, the producer and owner of the show, has provided a number of its shows for purchase the day after broadcast to U.S. customers. In early December 2007 all of the iTunes Battlestar Galactica episodes were removed along with other NBC-Universal content, but were restored, and in mid-2009 the iTunes store has all four seasons and the miniseries available.
Shortly after being removed from the iTunes service, Amazon's online Video on Demand store started making them available for sale. All season 1-4 episodes as well as the miniseries and the TV movie Razor are available for purchase in Windows Media Format. Since May 2008, the newest episodes are added to Scifi.com Rewind and NBC's Hulu sites eight days after the original air date. As of May 6, Battlestar Galactica can be downloaded through the Zune marketplace.
All four seasons as well as the mini-series are currently available in both HD and SD format for purchase through the Xbox Live Marketplace for playback via Xbox 360 game consoles. On September 9, 2008, all episodes so far including the miniseries were released on iTunes, being released in both Standard and HD format (except for the miniseries, which is only available in Standard format). In February 2009, episodes of Battlestar Galactica became available in HD format at the UK iTunes Store. In March 2009, PlayStation Network began offering episodes for download on the PlayStation 3 and PSP devices.
Throughout its run, the series earned critical acclaim from Time Magazine, National Review, Rolling Stone, Newsday, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, and Entertainment Weekly. Diane Werts of Newsday wrote: "You can look at this saga any way you want—as political drama, religious debate, psychological suspenser, sci-fi adventure, deep metaphor or just plain fun—and it's scintillating from every angle." Robert Bianco of USA Today commented: "Driven by violence and rage, Galactica is perhaps the darkest space opera American TV has ever produced. In Galactica's future, humans are on the run, and if external enemies don't get us, internal divisions will... You'll understand them [the characters], their conflicts and their desires, because they're recognizable humans in all their glorious complexity. And that's what makes Galactica a great TV series." Peter Suderman of National Review stated that the series is "arguably the most potent, dramatically vibrant series on television. ...[I]t packs the power of a gut punch on screen. For that, much credit is due to the immensely compelling cast of characters... Battlestar Galactica burns with a combustive mixture of political turmoil and human drama that is as achingly real and relevant as anything on television. Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the show "has distinguished itself as one of television's very best dramas — on a par with 24, The Wire, and Lost — because it so utterly transcends both its genre and its source material. ...[The] series' sophisticated stories have also attracted a distinctively new breed of fan, one who's not necessarily a sci-fi buff."
Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times praises the show's ability to "anchor fantasy with vivid and recognizable human psychology" and declares that the series is "not just a cult hit but a significant piece of television." Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune describes it as a "sprawling, enthralling tale of human survival" that is "full of political allegories and fascinating, multifaceted characters." She finds, "Like Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica is interested in exploring how a society on the edge decides to govern itself. What rights and actions are sacrosanct, which are outlawed, when most of the human race is eliminated? ... Thanks to a stellar cast and brave writing, Battlestar soars." Throughout its run, the series has often surprised reviewers with its many twists and turns. Ryan comments: "There’s nothing like a good Battlestar plot twist to make your head spin, but the “holy cow” moments aren’t the main point (though they’re one heck of a tasty side dish). The show and its twists and turns are grounded in deep curiosity about human nature, and how contradictory and confounding it can be."
Matt Soergel of The Florida Times-Union states: "Its propulsive and complex storytelling is matched by, at best, just a handful of theatrical movies a year." Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle opines, "Battlestar Galactica transcends the sci-fi genre; it competes, creatively, on the same level as any other top-tier drama." Mark Perigard of the Boston Herald states: "A drama this gripping comes ’round rarely." James Poniewozik of Time Magazine has named it one of the 100 best TV shows of all time. Time magazine also wrote in the spring of 2005 that the new show was one of the six best drama programs on television. It would proclaim the program the best show on television in December of the same year. Television Without Pity describes Battlestar Galactica as "one of the finest, most beautifully written, expertly acted shows on television." Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger writes: "[W]hat makes Galactica so gripping is its emphasis on character over hardware. The explosions and the killer robots are cool, but they don't stack up to seeing fully-drawn people - brought to life by a great writing staff led by producer Ron Moore and an astonishing cast led by Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell - grapple with these life-or-death, genocide-level decisions." Joshua Alston of Newsweek declares that the show "captures better than any other TV drama of the past eight years the fear, uncertainty and moral ambiguity of the post-9/11 world" and "always finds ways to challenge the audience's beliefs."
The series also draws praise for having many strong and complex female characters. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Melanie McFarland notes, "[Starbuck], played with a tomboyish swagger by Katee Sackhoff, is fast becoming the latest in a long line of feminist television icons."
The series has also received favorable reviews from other writers. Stephen King wrote, "This is a beautifully written show, driven by character rather than effects...but the effects are damn good. And there's not a better acting troupe at work on television." Joss Whedon commented: "I think it's so passionate, textured, complex, subversive and challenging that it dwarfs everything on TV."
On March 17, 2009, the United Nations hosted a Battlestar Galactica retrospective including a discussion with Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Ronald D. Moore and David Eick on human rights, terrorism, children and armed conflict, and reconciliation between civilians and faiths. The Discussion was moderated by actress Whoopi Goldberg and also included Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning; and Famatta Rose Osode, from the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the UN.
Battlestar Galactica was the basis for a special session at the 2009 World Science Festival. The session included presentations from Mary McDonnell and Michael Hogan, as well as scientists Hod Lipson and Kevin Warwick.