Battlestar Galactica is the exact same show as The Office. I’m serious. Alright, not completely, but I couldn’t help but think of similarities between the two as I made my way through the second season of Battlestar. I knew coming in and from what the first season laid out that it was less going to be a “science fiction” show in the classic sense you might expect of them visiting new planets each episode, battling aliens (Cylons in this case) in epic battles all the time and just generally combating with various fantastical concepts and beings. Yes, there is a portion of that in the show, but largely a lot of this season concerns just the goings on on the Battlestar ship and all the drama, tension, fights and so on that would just naturally occur from these people basically creating a new world on this lone fleet that are constantly in danger, heightening all the emotions.
Where The Office gives you a comedic take on the slice of life and inter-office happenings of a local paper company, Battlestar Galactica gives you a dramatic (and sometimes comedic) slice of life and inter-office happenings of the last remaining humans on a spaceship trying to find refuge and avoiding the cyborg beings that eliminated the majority of their race. Both take on the same concept, just in slightly different ways. Battlestar doesn’t need to be visiting a new planet each week and encountering new races and having epic dog fight battle each week, they do have them, but it’s connection and building of these characters, their values and relationships actually make these moments when they are in peril from Cylon attacks or encounter something new and revolutionary to their cause mean that much more because of how well all the character and inter-relationship ties are woven together. I mean, sure, this show was on Sci-Fi after all, so it’s not like they had the budget to be going all out on epic science-fiction-y thing each episode, but even still the show’s not really about that.
It’s no secret and is largely what this show was founded on, but the science fiction backdrop of the show is really superfluous when you really get down to it, with all the themes and storylines the show develops so easily able to be lifted and placed onto any other real world dramatic show. Sometimes I feel the show hits it a little too on the head, largely with the whole analogy of the Cylons being some kind of invading sect like “foreigners” from another country and the danger they pose, like being compared as terror threat. The science fiction aspect on the other hand gives it a good dimension to explore societal topics like abortion, which doesn’t seem too shoehorned in just to give them an excuse to debate the sides of the issue. The world of the show that has been set-up allows this abortion debate to actually mean something within the show with the deepening debate of whether they should keep a baby alive because it’s a live being, going against the fact that it’s a Cylon (the things out to kill them). A lot of the societal parallels are very blatant and on the nose, and I mean it’s hard not to be because if you just subtract the presence of the Cylons and the establishing shots to show this is in space, the show just looks like any government drama you see dealing with real world problems, because these are all real world problems, they just sometimes have to deal with cyborgs. Also, the show makes no qualms that it’s a lot more interested in telling stories of power struggles, political dealings and how the human condition reacts in extended periods of peril over the constant shoot ‘em up alien fights you might expect from some a show like this without knowing much about it.
Season two works well because it balances all of its elements quite well. There’s a lot of episodes just concerning the inner-goings on of the ship and the dueling powers, that largely just develops the people and their motives, which sometimes comes close to spinning its wheels, but then they’ll throw in some episodes that push the plot along, or begin to unravel or reveal things that’ll play out in full later. The ending of the season does well to highlight this and also assure that they’re not content with keeping the status quo that was maintained throughout the season of being removed from a huge Cylon threat. As soon as we think the people have found a worthy planet capable of habitation the Cylons are right on their track, taking over the planet and imprisoning all of our characters as the season ends. That’s something I continually love about this show, how it constantly gives the characters a brief moment of happiness or satisfaction and then the rug just gets pulled right out from under them. It does well to establish and further the condition of these people and how much of a constant threat the Cylons are even when they think they are free and clear. It’s just like any normal life really, just a series of highs and lows and learning to enjoy when you’re on top because the bottom could just be around the corner, and who knows what it will hold.