In 2003, when the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries aired for the first time, Walter White had yet to mix his first batch of meth, Don Draper hadn’t ruined any of his wives or childrens’ lives and Netflix didn’t have one original series to its name. Friends was still on the air! In other words, it was a different viewing landscape, with peak TV still on the horizon and (gasp) nothing to stream. And so almost 15 years and who knows how many excellent dramas and dramedys and anthology series later, the question is what does Battlestar still have to offer us? When it premiered, it seemed to be a show for nerds – the spaceships and robots and Syfy channel logo in the corner gave that away. And during the years it was on, nerds (or scifi aficionados, if you like) flocked to it. But these days the internet has made us all nerds – nerds who argue online about the Twin Peaks reboot and listen to all of Chris Harwick’s seven podcasts. So now that TV is so much better and we are too (obviously) the question is, do we still need Battlestar – is it still worth revisiting? My answer: Abso-fracking-lutely. And here’s why:
- It’s about politics
Recently a friend told me she was 10 minutes into a conversation with a random Lyft driver – they were casually chatting about the Senate’s use of the nuclear option and whether or not it was worth it to filibuster a super majority – when she realized how weird the whole thing would have sounded to her a few years ago. But not in 2017. Politics isn’t just what we’re talking about it, it’s what’s on our minds and what we’re spending our free time trying to change. Enter Battlestar Galactica, a show in which almost every episode there’s political scheming, power struggles and showdowns between rival factions. And the political world of Battlestar isn’t just the volleying of high-minded ideas. On the show there are real world consequences – often the loss of precious human life – that result from the words politicians say and the decisions they make.
It’s not that our robot overlords are coming – they’re here you guys. If the dog in that gif could speak, he’d be saying “This is my new master. Eff you Sylvia, and all those sweaters you made me wear.” So in an age when we should really start thinking about the range of ethical issues surrounding the advent of artificial intelligence (not to mention whether they’re on Tinder already), Battlestar can serve as a guide and a big red flag of what mostly NOT to do. You know, don’t get enslaved by the race of robots you engineer to be your servants, don’t get complacent when they leave behind the planet they’ve been fighting you over for years cause they’re probably just getting read to bomb the shit out of you, don’t insult them by calling them Toasters… just the basic stuff. The biggest takeaway from human/cylon dynamic on Battlestar is that if we create new technologies with forethought and caution, we might manage to avoid the total destruction of our race. Which brings me to..
- It’s about the end of the world
While I understand that on a daily basis we have to act like it’s all good in the neighborhood, let’s just acknowledge here that at any given moment there’s a host of volatile factors that could come together to wipe us all off the face of the planet. There, I feel better, don’t you? But whether it’s a tweet fight between Donny and Kim Jong Un that does us in or you just happen to be one of the people the Rock doesn’t come to save in the event of a natural disaster, it really does feel like the apocalypse is especially nigh. And if you’ve watched even the first 20 minutes of Battlestar, that feeling will be familiar to you, because that’s how THE ENTIRE SERIES STARTS: worlds, not just one world, blown to smithereens, whole cities lost and centers of power reduced to rubble. And the 70+ episodes that follow are an in-depth examination into how we got to that point (possibly helpful) and how to carry on from there (most likely crucial).
- It’s about having empathy for the “other”
Some scifi shows give you baddies that look like day old meatloaf with arms, tell you they’re pure evil and let you cheer as the heroes exterminate them one by one until they’re entire race is extinct. It’s the easy path to a feeling of satisfaction and moral superiority. Battlestar Galactica, on the other hand, gives you a race of advanced AI that we are responsible for creating, puts human faces on them and presents them as both calculating purveyors of genocide and fervent believers looking for love and their place in the universe. You will find yourself siding with them against the awful humans, and against everything you thought possible. And once you have that moment where your favorite character from the past 10 episodes is revealed to be a cylon, you’ll realize you can’t even trust yourself to know who to hate – and that’s kind of the whole point.
- It’s the ultimate binge
If you have the willpower to start Battlestar Galactica and not be immediately sucked into binging the entire series, well that’s how we know you’re a cyclon. When I saw the Portlandia sketch that showcased how a mild-mannered couple might have their lives hijacked by an addiction to the series, it was all too real. “You’d know who’d never call? Starbuck!” is something I swear I said to my husband during our great Battlestar binge of 2013. And notice that Carrie and Fred are putting physical discs in an actual DVD player. Weird, right? It’s notable that people were binging Battlestar when it still took that much effort to watch one episode after another. Before it was socially acceptable to watch entire seasons of shows in one couch-sitting, people binged Battlestar because it was too good not to.
- It’s a pop culture touchstone
In addition to its appearance in that brilliant episode of Portlandia – and in case you haven’t seen it all, that sketch goes on for several parts and features some really special guests – Battlestar has made its mark on the pop culture landscape far and wide. We all know it’s one of Dwight Schrutes favorite things (only bears and beets are better) and the show is regularly referenced on The Big Bang Theory (Katee Sackhoff even stops by for a visit). Basically other shows know they can mention Battlestar as a short-hand for hardcore nerdom. Current shows like Humans, The Expanse and The 100 owe a lot to the new ground it broke as a serious drama with a science fiction setting. It’s featured on myriad “Top Television” lists and has been highly praised by other genre masters like Stephen King and Joss Whedon. In a way, BSG laid the foundation for how we would come to relate to TV and movies in the decades ahead (binging them, rewatching them, obsessively discussing them, ending relationships over them) – don’t show up to a pop culture fight without it in your arsenal.
- Its got strong female characters
The fact that one of the best characters in BSG – the reckless, charming fighter pilot with the call sign Starbuck – was written for the reboot as a female (after having been played by a man in the original series from the 70s) says a lot about the show’s embrace of a feminist perspective. It’s take is far from perfect, and critics have rightly pointed out its failings when it comes to gender equity, the most glaring of which is probably the hypersexualization of many of the female leads. But for me the saving grace is the depth it imbues in all its characters, male and female. Yes, some of the women are sexy and sexual, but they are never just that. They are also intelligent and/or naive, scheming and/or brave. They are competent at their jobs, but fallible as people, and never presented as less than the equally flawed male characters. And I know if Kara Thrace and Lara Rosalind become role models for the next generation of young women looking to become warriors and world leaders, I’m certainly ok with that.
- Its got a big reveal
I have a TV related theory that ever since the awful ending of Lost crushed our belief that a show can be built around a satisfying twist, our collective consciousness just hasn’t recovered. So we salve our wounds with shocking deaths on Game of Thrones (which have become less shocking since some people won’t stay dead..) and even ruin decent twists by way of the internet (ahem, Westworld) before the showrunners get a chance to go “ta-da”. That’s why it’s such a thrill to see the identity of the 12 cylon models (and especially of the final five) unveiled over the course of the entire Battlestar series. Some of the reveals are more rewarding (and make more sense) than others, but they all pay off. And as a bonus, the shocking mystery of “who’s a cylon” that drives so much of the show is something you can threaten to spoil for all your friends who aren’t watching it as fast as you.
- There’s a really fun board game based on the show.
I own it (and one of the expansion packs) and you’re all welcome to come over any time to play. Seriously, one of the best way to spend 5 hours of your life at a time.
- It’s about what make us human
Riddle me this – what other TELEVISION SHOW has had its cast visit the actual IRL United Nation to talk about human rights issues? None that I know, though I really didn’t research it that hard. But I know that the cast of Battlestar did do that and that Edward James Olmos gave a speech about how we are all members of one human race and led the entire auditorium in a chant of “So Say We All,” and no, you’re crying just thinking about it. The ultimate reason this show is now and always will be relevant is that it does not just pay lip-service to some high-minded ideals, it does the work of character and plot development to force its viewers to consider the questions that are the essence of our humanity. The very first line spoken in the show is Number Six leaning over to ask a human: “Are you alive?” And Battlestar Galactica answers, yes, we are and here’s how we prove it – here’s what we are living for. So the justification for our very existence serves as the stakes for this, one of the best shows ever created.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm