This Friday is the fall season finale of Battlestar Galactica, aka Malinda's Favorite Show on TV. To get you in the mood, I've compiled this list of the Top 10 Reasons I Love BSG. The subtitle is: And Why You Should, Too! I fear that I will be suffering some BSG withdrawal after this Friday, but at least the hiatus is short. It returns for the second half of the season on Jan. 21, when it moves to its new time slot, Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on Sci-Fi. Without further ado:
10. It's larger than life. Unlike the 1970s version of Battlestar Galactica, which I recall as a sort of campy, Star Trek-type show with really bad special effects, Sci-Fi's version brings an amazing cinematic feel to the small screen. It's so movie-like, you can even watch the season finale tonight on the big screen if you're in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, L.A., New York or St. Louis.
9. Admiral William Adama, played with steely-eyed charm by Edward James Olmos. Admiral Adama has proven time and time again that he supports women who are in authority. He has always had a soft spot for Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), insisting that she is the best pilot in the fleet even when others have put her in the dog house, and over the course of three seasons he has revealed an enduring — possibly even loving — respect for the president, Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell). He's my kind of man.
8. BSG's creators understand their fanbase. The show's official website offers fans a sneak peek into the producers' motivations through fascinating podcasts that provide executive producer Ronald D. Moore's commentary on each episode; a video blog that goes behind-the-scenes in shooting the episodes; and even a series of webisodes about supporting characters that provided a great background for Season 3. There's so much stuff here that you can get lost in it for days — hey, maybe that's what I'll do while I'm waiting for Jan. 21, 2007.
7. Multiple Boomers. Grace Park (who played a nascent lesbian teen on Edgemont) brings a wonderful versatility and believability to her role(s) as Raptor pilot Sharon Valerii, formerly call sign "Boomer" before she took on the new call sign "Athena." Oh yeah, between the two names, Sharon discovered she was a Cylon, fell in love with a human, had a hybrid baby (a time-honored component of great sci-fi shows) and never, not once, did anyone compliment her on how she speaks such good English. Sharon/Boomer/Athena: You rock.
6. Gorgeously devious Cylon Number 6, of course. Tricia Helfer has shown us that there is absolutely nothing wrong with casting a former Victoria's Secret model as a Cylon, especially not if she often has to wear very revealing red dresses. But Number 6 is more than a pretty, um, face. She has a fascinatingly twisted relationship with Gaius Baltar, can play femme fatale and sweet girl in love with equal skill, and is now mysteriously entangled with the delicious Cylon D'Anna Biers, played by Lucy Lawless.
5. Lucy Lawless kicks ass. As the aforementioned D'Anna, Lawless' character is undergoing a complicated dance with mortality, the meaning of life, and religion. Lawless brings all of her expressiveness to the role, which has her rebirthing periodically in an ooze of goo, getting down with Number 6 and Gaius, and even getting a bit Xena on some prisoners at times. Thank you, BSG producers, for bringing Lucy back. We've missed her.
4. Madam President. Mary McDonnell imbues the character of President Laura Roslin with enough grace, nerve and smart humor to provide evidence for why a woman should win the presidency in 2008. One of the very few female presidents to exist on television, Roslin started off as a bit under-prepared but quickly rose to the formidable task of leading a band of 55,000 survivors on a desperate search for Earth. I'd totally vote for her.
3. Starbuck, baby. Formerly a boozing, gambling, skirt-chasing man on the original BSG, the newly reimagined version recast Starbuck as a woman, Kara Thrace, played with admirable machismo by Katee Sackhoff. Starbuck's proclivity for insubordination and fist fights (see No. 2, below) makes her the butchest pilot in the fleet, but we all know that beneath that tough exterior lies a heart of gold. That's why she's so hot. (And no, I don't care that she's straight. She clearly just hasn't met the right woman yet.)
2. Give me some "Unfinished Business." The ninth episode of Season 3 involved Starbuck and Apollo (Jamie Bamber) getting in a boxing ring and smacking each other senseless. Yeah, it was a metaphor for all their pent-up emotions (read: lust), but it also spoke in an intriguing way to the 1970s incarnation of the show and the way that male characters throughout TV tend to express their feelings for each other through homoerotic violence. In "Unfinished Business," though, the tables were a bit twisted, given that Starbuck is a woman in this version of BSG. Hands down, this was my favorite episode of the series so far. It had drama, romance, a straightforward metaphor that worked because it alluded to countless hours of TV history, and Starbuck punching the lights out of people. I'm on board.
1. Good old-fashioned storytelling. BSG has a complex political story line, a fascinating examination of spirituality and difference, heroic characters as well as everyday ones, romance, mystery and adventure. It's your basic good old-fashioned storytelling — something that is very difficult to do well. Even Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of the best series out there for storytelling) admits that BSG "is my favorite show. Maybe ever." And he's not the only Buffyverse writer on-board: Jane Espenson, a former Buffy writer, wrote last week's episode. I can't wait to see what tales these folks spin in the future.