Battlestar Galactica: it’s time for robots

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Tahmoh Penikett, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Tahmoh Penikett, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004) © IMDB

In a distant corner of our galaxy, an agglomeration of humans lives scattered on different planets: the Twelve Colonies. But the Cylons are always lurking, determined to exterminate the human race. War is upon us, the attack is imminent, and the few survivors have to escape. Their goal is to find the legendary thirteenth colony, known as Earth.

In a space journey of plots, alliances, betrayals, and deceptions, we land on the spaceship of Battlestar Galactica.

Remake

Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch in Battaglie nella galassia (1978)
Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch in Battaglie nella galassia (1978)
© IMDB

It is 1978 when Battlestar Galactica is broadcast for the first time. In the wake of the success of Star Wars, released on the big screen in 1977, the world of cyborgs and artificial intelligence makes its way into the imagination of many. It is the beginning of a worldwide phenomenon that will thrill thousands of viewers, it is the time of science fiction.

And so, 25 years later, in 2003, conceived by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, a miniseries inspired by the original Battlestar Galactica was broadcast. The success it enjoyed allowed the birth of a real television series consisting of four seasons, which aired from 2004 to 2009.

Science fiction thus takes hold again. Commander William Adamo (Edward J. Olmos) leads the last surviving humans aboard the Galactica, the last remaining spaceship after the ferocious attack on the Twelve Colonies by the Cylons. Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) is ready to take on the post of president to lead humanity to a new planet: Earth.

Destruction and rebirth

Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)
© IMDB

Battlestar Galactica is a series that brings the human being to confront the darkest part of itself. In extreme conditions, under the guise of survival, it is easier to commit actions beyond any good civilization. In a world where flesh and mechanics are mixed to create humanoid hybrids, the boundary between human and artificial intelligence is easily thinned, almost to being canceled out.

This show casts dark shades on the future of humanity and sheds light on one of our biggest flaws: the inability to coexist without going into a world conflict. Battlestar Galactica tells us a story that occurs before our arrival on Earth. The Galactica spaceship hosts that platoon of human beings who are destined to colonize the Earth; yet, even before reaching the planet, infighting, betrayal, and deceit infect the survivors.

Destruction, therefore, seems close at hand, it is the basis of an infinite cycle of rebirth that irremediably fascinates the human being. It is easier to make your way over a pile of smoking rubble, and this destructive philosophy seems to take root in the Cylons as well, convinced of their desire for power.

Artificial Intelligence

Battlestar Galactica puts the spotlight on robots, on artificial intelligence, which in the human mind always seem to represent light and dark: scientific progress against the end of life as we know it.

The Cylons (an acronym for Cybernetic Life-form Node) are a race of sentient robots created by man. These robots undergo different evolutions.

  • Centurions: models of mechanical robots, commonly called toasters
  • Raider: vehicles halfway between mechanical and biological driven by an artificial mind
  • Hybrids: robots that are the first step towards a more organic model
  • Humanoid Cylons: organisms endowed with human intelligence

Thirteen series of the humanoid Cylons had originally been created, and it is their copies that take an active part in the story. It is Number Six who deceives secret information from the scientist Gaius Baltar (James Callis), information that will be used to initiate the first attack against humans.

One of the most popular series

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Aaron Douglas, Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Aaron Douglas, Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004) © IMDB

Battlestar Galactica is a solid and intelligent series, which makes excellent use of characters and delves into their psychology. This feature has been able to conquer the public, also thanks to a poetic and satisfying finale that superlatively closes the four seasons.

The irreverent pilot Kara Scorpion Threce, the indomitable Lee Apollo Adamo, the terrorist Tom Zareck, the seductive cylon Caprica Six, and the beautiful Number Three (played by Lucy Lawless, the unforgettable Xena – Warrior Princess), are all characters who, due to their unique and well-defined characteristics, will remain engraved in our memory.

And so humans and robots fully enter the Old But Gold column, two equal and opposite forces that, on a journey to the borders of space, time and religion, collide in a stellar battle.

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