A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Battlestar Galactica isn't an unrealistic, space-set soap opera. Despite the show's sci-fi premise, the characters react in very human ways to the constant pressure of being on the run and fighting for the survival of the species. With little to lose, people live, love, and fight as if every day is their last -- and since it often is, the emotions can be very honest and very raw. Because of the adult themes and the frequency of both violence (including torture) and drinking (a couple of characters appear to be alcoholics), this series falls into the "older kid" sci-fi camp.
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What's the story?
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA starts with the notion that an offshoot of humanity has developed its own culture on the far side of the galaxy. Their technological accomplishments prove to be their undoing when the Cylons, a line of self-aware robots, decide that people are inherently flawed and should be eradicated for the good of the universe. The series begins with a deadly sneak-attack that almost accomplishes this, and the remaining humans flee their home world in anything that can fly. Other than the basic concept and several characters' names, this thought-provoking drama has little in common with the campy sci-fi series from the 1970s that shares its title. The original was light on realism and made the survivors' fight for survival seem like a party in space; the remake is more believable, showcasing the survivors' efforts to maintain their composure while running short of food, water, fuel, and hope.
Is it any good?
The strength of this series is the way its characters each choose to react to this untenable situation. Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) gives his crew a reason to fight by setting off in search of a planet long considered a myth -- Earth. Some choose to believe in this quest, while others decide the only way to survive is to put themselves first.
One critical difference from the original show is that some of the Cylons are now identical to people. Boomer, a supporting male character on the first show, has been recast as a female Cylon sleeper agent (played by Grace Park), and her struggles to comprehend the fact that her human tendencies are little more than programming make for one of the series' most compelling storylines. Indeed, her confusion lies at the heart of Battlestar Galactica, as the viewers and the cast attempt to define what it means to be human.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they would react if they lost everything and had to start over, like on Battlestar Galactica. Some people would find the strength to protect their people, but others might turn inward and focus only on protecting their own interests. Though it's hard to know how anyone might act in a life-or-death situation, it can be interesting to speculate. What would your teens take with them if they had five minutes (or less) to leave the house? What would you do if the slate was wiped clean?
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