Some readers will have seen this show on TV but others among us couldn’t bear the week-long wait between cliff-hanger episodes. There are no more DVD boxed-sets of this incredible show to watch.
Over the years that I’ve followed this TV series, I’ve watched what was a very simple premise – the re-telling of a classic science-fiction show – grow into something much greater. Epic and intimate, bold and humane, abrasive and yet shot through with moments of quiet intimacy, tackling the great issues of our time without losing sight of the need to tell an entertaining story with touches of humour and pathos, Battlestar Galactica has challenged what was possible in storytelling…
…and it’s not a book.
While such prominent critics as Richard Vine are rating this show as superior even to The Wire, changes in the way we view the best TV shows have ensured that we do not all share the best shows at the same time the following day. Few then have seen this show, fewer still because it is a ‘science fiction’. It is not. While Battlestar Galactica featured such staples as spaceships and robots, they were not the core of the story but simply the background against which the struggles of characters daily lives played out: their romances, their fears, their joys and struggles, dreams and desires, losses and hopes.
I’ve struggled to relay how special this show is to friends because no few words can encapsulate just what I’ve seen. Better maybe to compare the story to a novel but no contemporary novel I can think of comes even close. Only the classic Tolstoy novel, War and Peace, contains a comparable sweep of epic history described through the eyes of those caught up in the great events that overwhelm whole nations.
It’s going to be a few years yet before something this special is back on TV but in an era of ridiculous levels of discounting, unimaginative marketing and publishers too beholden to celebrity biographies, will we ever see a novel of such grand ambition?