On Battlestar Galactica
The Natural and the Unnatural
Verisimilitude in Battlestar Galactica
By Lou Anders
When it debuted on December 8, 2003, Battlestar Galactica became the highest-rated cable mini-series of the year and the highestrated original program in the Sci-Fi Channel’s history. The series it spawned was declared by Time magazine in the spring of 2005 as one of the six best drama series on television. It won viewers outside the category of SF fans, outside the Sci-Fi Channel’s regular audience, and it raised the bar for the entire genre by bringing a level of sophisticated writing, acting, and filmmaking hitherto only seen on shows like The West Wing or The Sopranos. This is not to say that there had not been earlier examples of science fiction television featuring quality acting, cutting-edge technique, or quality writing, but that the entire focus, the modus operandi of Battlestar Galactica, has been to elevate the art by a carefully crafted appeal to the sophisticated viewer, the new viewing audience that emerged for those shows, born in the wake of ER, that are typified by complex narrative and realistic character depictions. Shows like the aforementioned The West Wing, Six Feet Under, and Deadwood have created a market for television drama that reaches beyond clich‰d characters and simple everything-gets-tied-up-in-an-hour episodic narrative. Essentially, Battlestar Galactica was envisioned as the science fiction equivalent of an HBO series.
In his essay “Battlestar Galactica: Naturalistic Science Fiction, or Taking the Opera out of Space Opera,” executive producer Ronald d. Moore outlined his plans for the new show:
“Our goal is nothing less than the reinvention …