2003 Sci-Fi Remake

In December, 2003, The Sci-Fi Channel presented a “reimagined” story called “Battlestar Galactica” in a 4-hour miniseries executive produced by David Eick (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys), written/produced by Ronald D. Moore (Star Trek) and directed by Michael Rymer (Queen of the Damned).

While the basic story elements of Battlestar Galactica were vaguely identifiable (the remnant of a destroyed human civilization makes its way across the stars to a mythical planet called Earth), little of the original shows’ details and essence were part of this production.  In fact, the production team went out of its way to distance this production from its progenitor.

Instead of the famous Egyptian-inspired stylings of the original was a standardized, stereotypical, Earth-centric sci-fi look.  Instead of a portrayal of a heroic band of men and women who displayed the nobility of humanity facing desperate odds, we were presented with a case study of dysfunction and insubordination, betrayal, and lust.  Rather than facing a threat of alien origin, they are destroyed by their own hubris.  The mostly-white culture of the humans in this Battlestar Galactica did not draw strength from faith and family, nor did they display any sign that they weren’t just plucked off of a street corner of New York or Los Angeles.  They wore suits and neckties that could (and probably did) come from any department store.  Even their names could have been taken from any municipal phone book in the United States.  The names from the original Battlestar Galactica, those steeped in human antiquity, were used as pilot call signs.

Nor were the characters in the 2003 version based on the characters that were created in 1978; the production was very clear about that. William Adama was a cynic in the polytheistic Colonial society, “Number 6” was a blonde Cylon sex kitten with a fanatic God, and “Starbuck” was the call sign of an insubordinate and promiscuous female pilot named Kara.

Overwhelmingly, fans of the original series were upset and angered by this alleged “remake” that bore so little resemblance to its namesake show, and found the production designs, writing, and execution an insult to their intelligence.  Yet, there were others who found the look and storyline intriguing, preferring the dark tone and largely negative portrayal of humanity to the now-antiquated production technology and black-and-white “cold war” values of 1978. The miniseries was a success by Sci-Fi Channel standards, and the weekly series extended into 2008 (4 abbreviated “seasons” stretched over 5 years) despite a steady exodus of viewers.

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