Some of the most iconic characters from the original series were virtually unrecognisable, none more so that Starbuck, changed from the Dirk Benedict vehicle of the original to the damaged, tortured, fallible, and, perhaps most shocking of all, female Captain Kara Thrace, played by Katee Sackoff. This had Galacticans both intrigued and outraged in equal measures.
The series, particularly the mini series, isn’t a viewer friendly watch. Camera angles swipe and twirl, the Star Wars-esque dog fights gained call signs and machine guns more reminiscent of CAG or Top Gun and the whole thing became an allegory for terrorism and the alien within.
The vast role call of characters were treated with equality – this wasn’t a triumvirate lead Star Trek series, and it wasn’t a Leading Man series, despite Miami Vice‘s Edward James Olmos’s Admiral William Adama giving an intense, understated and powerful performance as the military Battlestar leader. The series was at once action adventure, at once human story, at once religious allegory, at once soap opera and it drove each of the disparate parts in a terrifying and surprising directions.
Each season had different emphasis, and each brought different aspects and layers to all of the characters. Some, like Saul Tigh and Galen Tyrol grew as the series evolved. Others, like Felix Gaeta made terrible and unback-outable decisions and, indeed, received injuries of war which never healed.
In the final seasons, the emphasis of the alien amongst us was ramped up when it turned out that five of the main characters were indeed Cylons, the enemy who had destroyed virtually all of humanity, and seeing much loved and rooted for characters struggling with their duality was a joy to behold.
Gaius Baltar, played by James Callis, was another who shared nothing with his predecessor other than the surname, and gave us a flawed and often fallible character with a God-complex who was, at times, utterly insane.
All in all, Galactica did have some faults – filler episodes haunted some sections of seasons unnecessarily, odd plot deviced – fat Apollo, for instance – seemed to have no logic and the denouement was a downbeat and head scratching affair after all we’d invested in it – but on the whole the series was a sparkling jewel and a new and innovative way to look at sci fi. It took the Star Trek model – Wagon Train To The Stars – and showed them how to do it.