Comic-Con: The BSG Legacy, Still Alive and Kicking

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We’re still a day removed from the annual Star Wars celebration here at Comic-Con, but already I’m feeling some big love for the other franchises that have been brought back and dusted off at this year’s event.

Just today, revives the Middle Earth euphoria surrounding the will-it-happen-or-not The Hobbit; a panel on The Expendables brings back the chiseled machismo of everyone from Dolph Lundgren to Sylvester Stallone; and halfway through the opening day festivities, fans of Battlestar Galactica will sit down to talk about the state of the franchise.

The panel is touted as “Caprica, Battlestar and Beyond,” with a heavy emphasis on the latter. The Bryan Singer big-screen film adaptation is what everyone’s already buzzing about – a project that pairs the X-Men filmmaker with Glen A. Larson, creator of the original BSG series. Apparently some trailers are on the way, and will debut this afternoon in San Diego. Count millions upon millions of fanboys, who turned the Syfy revival into a bona fide mainstream pop culture phenomenon, as twitching with excitement.

But I think there’s actually a bigger story here about the enduring value of this darker sci-fi franchise. The original BSG series, way back when, was always shoehorned by TV executives, and it wasn’t until 2005 that a reimagined weekly series took hold, melding all the rigid political formality of Star Trek with the sloppy, flawed,  passionate melodrama of an in-the-bedroom soap opera.

I’ve always felt that while Star Trek is more concerned with ideals in the realm of policy and politics, BSG was more interested in who we really were – profoundly flawed creatures of frequent and glaring mistakes, struggling to do right in a cold, hard world. That’s BSG to me, and it was so refreshing last decade, to see the show finally given enough space to breathe. It was even more exciting to take in all the TV movies, and then the spinoff Caprica, which we have written about widely as an artificial intelligence-laced family drama that is teetering on the brink of cancellation halfway through its first season.

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Some think that word will be handed down at Comic-Con about a second possible season for Caprica – the execs reportedly have to decide within the next month or so to fulfill contract requirements – but no one’s quite sure if the show’s lackluster ratings will be enough to warrant an extension.

Nevertheless: Caprica is every bit as dark and brooding as BSG, even often without the exhilarating action spectacle. Caprica is about a dead daughter, a mourning father, and that tricky, tempting line he walks in allowing a virtual avatar to fill that void. It’s heavy, harrowing, quiet stuff – and I’m an unabashed fan, who thinks that Syfy execs should follow the lead of the BSG series circa 2006, and give the show time to fully mature.

Anyway: As I came upon today’s BSG panel in the Comic-Con program, it gave me a moment of pause: Here’s a series that through the decades has remained true to its ideals. It was willing to think darker, resulting in the adoration of fans who kept the concept alive through the dark years. Some of those fans then finally rose to positions of power, bringing the show back, allowing it to stretch its wings in the form of TV movies, all the while laying the groundwork for a follow-up series that could digger deeper into the emotions that served as a foundation beneath the space adventures. And now I’ve even heard talk of yet additional BSG spinoffs or sequel/prequel series.

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So yes, a big-screen, faithfully-created movie is in the works – truly a cause of celebration. But as we get caught up in the Hollywood hoopla at today’s BSG panel, let’s also take a moment to marvel at the unlikely, unprecedented history of this specific storyline. For all the flops and missteps – for all the times that Hollywood has followed up the guilty pleasure of Transformers with a trainwreck on the order of Transformers 2 – there’s a couple success stories like BSG, where the fans pick up the flame, carry it forward, and prove to the entertainment industry that it was wrong to ever let something so memorable fade so quickly.

At the 2010 Comic-Con, it’s unmistakable: BSG is back in a big, big way. Congrats from all of us here at Techland.

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