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Despite voluminous protest and nitpicking criticism from loyal fans of the original TV series (1978-80), the 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica turned out surprisingly well for viewers with a tolerance for change. Originally broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel in December 2003 and conceived by Star Trek: The Next Generation alumnus Ronald D Moore as the pilot episode for a "reimagined" TV series, this four-hour mini series reprises the basic premise of the original show while giving a major overhaul to several characters and plot elements. Gone are the flowing robes, disco-era hairstyles, and mock-Egyptian fighter helmets, and thankfully there's not a fluffy "Daggit" in sight... at least, not yet. Also missing are the "chrome toaster" Cylons, replaced by new, more formidable varieties of the invading Cylon enemy, including "Number Six" in hot red skirts and ample cleavage, who tricks the human genius Baltar! into a scenario that nearly annihilates the human inhabitants of 12 colonial worlds.
Thus begins the epic battle and eventual retreat of a "ragtag fleet" of humans, searching for the mythical planet Earth under the military command of Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the political leadership of Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), a former secretary of education, 43rd in line of succession and rising to the occasion of her unexpected Presidency. As directed by Michael Rymer (Queen of the Damned), Moore's ambitious teleplay also includes newfangled CGI space battles (featuring "handheld" camera moves and subdued sound effects for "enhanced realism"), a dysfunctional Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) who's provoked into action by the insubordinate Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), and a father-son reunion steeped in familial tragedy. To fans of the original BG series, many of these changes are blasphemous, but for the most part they work--including an ominous cliffhanger ending. The remade Galactica is brimming with smart, well-drawn characters ripe with dramati! c potential, and it readily qualifies as serious-minded science fiction, even as it gives BG loyalists ample fuel for lively debate. --Jeff Shannon