Watch Out! Mind Leeches! #3 – “Long Road Into Midnight”

“Long Road Into Midnight”

By Keith W. Cunningham

Six years ago if you’d have told me that the SciFi Network was planning on doing a remake of Battlestar Galactica I’d have told you it was a stupid idea. Because that’s exactly what I thought at the time when the mini-series was announced.


I’m too young to remember the original show as anything more than a nostalgic curiosity with its robot dogs, capes, and pig-faced aliens. I know that it has a lot of fans, but the cheese of late-seventies, early-eighties science fiction television was a ripe odor. I saw no way that the concept could play out now with the high bar that so many other television shows had set in the interim.

Never have I been so glad to be proven wrong. And so gloriously wrong I was!

When the mini-series first aired it made a statement right off the bat that this was an entirely different kind of animal. They unapologetically made changes to characters and concepts, as well as outright threw most of the previous show away. Many fans were upset by the changes to gender and race. Starbuck was now a woman. Colonel Tigh was no longer black. Boomer wasn’t black either, but Asian, and was now a woman, and, oh yeah, was also a Cylon! Characters were added all over the place. Others were torn out completely. An early attempt to put Boxey in the show was completely forgetting after about two episodes. People were worried, and justifiably so . . . which I think is exactly where Ronald D. Moore wanted them to be.

What stayed was the simple concept . . . the last survivors of mankind attempt to find the mythical planet Earth, hounded by the villainous Cylons. Deceptively simple in its description, but capable of producing some of the most powerful drama that television has ever seen.

Because I think they keyed into one of the most important things about science fiction. What science fiction does is provide us with so extreme and outlandish a setting where we can examine the most basic of human themes and conflicts without the bias of the mundane. Battlestar dove head first into examining ideas topical and timeless, using science fiction as a lens through which we’re able to view our own post-9/11 world. War, famine, racism, religion, torture, civil rights, issues of identity. All of these topics have been covered.

Have I mentioned that it’s damned entertaining too? That should probably go without saying. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. Or in this case, you can have your deep literary themes and your space combat!

The acting is the best I’ve ever seen on television hands down. The entire cast has managed to create characters that resonate, deeply flawed, but also deeply human. My own personal favorite is Helo, the man who can always be counted on to do the right thing.

Now we find ourselves standing on the edge of a precipice. This Friday the final episode of the show will air, and while I’ll be sad to see it go, I truly respect the decision to go out while they’re still on top of their game.

Provided they don’t frak it up with this last episode, I will not hesitate in saying that Battlestar Galactica is the best show I’ve ever seen on television.

Goodbye old friend. It’s been a glorious journey. So say we all.

Keith W. Cunningham is a writer, filmmaker, and podcaster from Pennsylvania. You can follow his adventures on the Cine-Rama Podcast, The Trip Podcast, or on his website at http://www.keithwcunningham.com

In his dreams he flies a Viper. Grace Park is flying his wing.

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