Culture | Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica

Getting to the bottom of the show’s geek mystique

I consider myself a geek, but there is a level of geekiness that I have yet to attain: one that embraces Battlestar Galactica. Is it just me, or are there more people talking about Battlestar Galactica these days? For those who have only heard whispers of it, Battlestar Galactica is a television show with a growing cult status.

Initially a short-lived 1970s television show, since its 2003 revival as a mini-series and eventual return to regular television, it’s produced more pop culture references than you can shake a stick at. The title of this article comes from an episode of The Office in which Dwight Shrute made reference to the show – and it seems that Battlestar’s pervasive influence is affecting more than just Hollywood. Though I’ve never seen the show, it seems to me that it’s an acquired taste. So I decided to take it to the streets to dispel some myths – I asked, what is so great about Battlestar Galactica?

Chris Kearney, a self-proclaimed sci-fi geek, is an avid follower of the show. According to Chris, although Battlestar adds to his geek-mystique, it is not the reason for his geekiness. “It is compelling television,” he said in a recent interview. “They try to show the ethical and moral dilemmas that are faced in political office and war.” It seems that there is more to this show than meets the eye.

Chris agrees that the show’s plot is really no crazier than the more mainstream television show Lost. (Be warned: if you are not up-to-date with the latest season of Lost, his next comment contains a spoiler.) “Battlestar is a serious television show. [The fact that] there are spaceships and robots doesn’t take away from that. Most people don’t say that Lost is geeky, but the plot-lines are just as far-fetched. I mean, come on, it’s [set on] a time-travelling island.” Of course the sci-fi fanatic would defend his beloved show. However, I dug a little deeper to find out what his girlfriend of nearly a year thinks.

Melanie, a U3 Marketing student at Concordia, is anything but a sci-fi geek. She exudes a Sex and the City-chic vibe, even if her Mr. Big is Mr. Big Geek. Yet even she was impressed with the show. She admits that she began watching because of Chris. However, even she appreciates elements of the show. “Honestly, it’s not as bad as I was expecting it to be. There is a lot of action and the graphics are pretty good too.” Maybe I was jumping the gun a little when I assumed that the show was all geek and no grit. There are strong contemporary moral undertones worked into the show. As I found out, though, the series will be coming to close shortly.

I asked my sci-fi guru whether the series finale would contribute to the show’s cult status. Chris disagreed. “I think the way they aired the show gave it a cult following. They aired ten episodes and then took a year off, repeatedly. This allowed fans to stew on each season. And if you know anything about geeks, we like to stew about what will happen next.”

Will the stewing continue after the finale? Chris predicts a reaction like the finale of The Sopranos, “No matter how it ends, the fans won’t all be happy. One of the true signs of being a sci-fi geek is ripping the producers for ruining the show.”

“You should end your article with, ‘All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again,’” Chris told me as we finished off the interview. “All the Battlestar fans will enjoy that.” I won’t go quite that far, but I am willing to compromise. For those readers who are die-hard fans of Battlestar Galactica, you will be pleased to note that I promise to watch at least one episode over reading week. I’ll give it a try and determine if I can see where the intrigue lies. But if the show’s taste is as acquired as the buttered popcorn Jelly Belly, then no dice, my friends, no dice.