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What the Frak: "Battlestar Galactica" Returns to Friday Nights

Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica is back and I couldn't be happier. I've missed my one-two punch lineup of Doctor Who and BSG on Friday evenings and as the nights are becoming longer and colder, it's the perfect time for this hauntingly brilliant drama to return to the airwaves.

Especially given how much darker this season of Battlestar is than its predecessors (which, granted, could get pretty dark itself). A quick recap: the colonists have landed on a barren rock that they have named New Caprica, thinking that they are safe from the Cylons, but wouldn't you know it, the toasters show up looking to live side-by-side with their human brethren. Comprised of all of the Cylon models we've seen to date, they're led by Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer), the same Number Six that saved Gaius Baltar (James Callis) back on Caprica, and the same Boomer (Grace Park) who shot Adama (Edward James Olmos) and who was herself shot and killed by Cally (Nicki Cline) aboard the Galactica.

Confused? Don't be. Season Three picks up after months of Cylon occupation on New Caprica as the humans form a resistance committed to overthrowing their Cylon oppressors, even as some of their number form a collaborationist police force. Gaius Baltar is a mess, a puppet president allowed power only as a figurehead by the Cylons. And though he's been reunited with Caprica Six, their relationship is dysfunctional, to say the least. (And quite surprising, in fact, given their sordid history inside Gaius' head.) Poor Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) is imprisoned by the Cylon Leoben (Callum Keith Rennie) in a sick version of playing house -- one in which she keeps killing him -- but he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. (Oh, does he ever.) Former President of the Colonies Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) is now a teacher and spiritual leader of the humans and while she does not lead the resistance movement--that job falls to Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan) and Chief Tyrol (Aaron Douglass)--she nonetheless sanctions the use of suicide bombers in the fight against the toasters. Like I said, it's pretty dark.

Meanwhile, there's been no contact with the Galactica or the Pegasus. Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) and Lee "Apollo" Adama (Jamie Bamber) each have command of a battlestar; the Galactica seems to be in a state of disrepair similiar to that at the beginning of the mini-series, while Apollo has completely let himself go and has turned into a blobby shadow of his former self. His marriage to Dualla (Kandyse McClure) is on the rocks. Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) and Sharon (Grace Park) are married and living aboard the Galactica; Helo's been made XO with Tigh's absence and while Sharon is a prisoner, it's in name only as her cell is filled with luxuries not usually granted to a POW. Plus, she and Adama have formed a bond that might just lead to her release in tonight's episode. Only, Sharon doesn't know that Adama faked her infant daughter Hera's death... and that the child is being kept under the watchful eye of Roslin down on New Caprica. Do you smell trouble?

While the first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica dealt with the most apt metaphor for life in post-9/11 America, this season -- at least the first half -- focus more on creating an analogy for the occupation in Iraq, the natural of resistance and occupation, the role of collaborators, and how war can change people in the most profound and unexpected ways. It's a daring move to cast our heroes as freedom fighters and suicide bombers in this politically-heated climate, but I've got to give credit to Ronald D. Moore and David Eick for crafting what continues to be a jaw-droppingly powerful drama about the human experience that consistently manages to challenge its audience and never placate it. This is dynamo storytelling, regardless of the genre, of the highest standard.

Tonight's two-part episode ("Occupation"/"Precipice") showcases what is best about the series: its dynamic character interplay, its ability to tackle real world issues in the guise of "science fiction," fantastic special effects, and a taut, compelling plot that twists and turns with each installment. I've been blessed by the Lords of Kobol that I've been able to view the first eight episodes of Season Three and there's definitely surprises aplenty around the corner as the show's producers force their characters to make some extremely difficult and morally grey decisions. By the end of the season, some beloved characters, their relationships, and their personalities will be so very different than where they started off that you might not recognize them. And given the nature of the world that they (and we) live in, is that really so surprising?

The third season of "Battlestar Galactica" premieres tonight at 9 pm ET/PT with a two-hour launch. Subsequent episodes air every Friday at 9 pm ET/PT on Sci Fi.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); WWE Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Nanny 911 (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS);
Dateline (NBC); Men in Trees (ABC); Nanny 911 (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: NUMB3RS
(CBS); Law & Order (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Doctor Who on Sci Fi.

It's the second season of Doctor Who, with the latest incarnation of the Doctor played by the talented David Tennant. On tonight's episode ("Tooth and Claw"), the Doctor and Rose travel to the year 1879, where they encounter Queen Victoria and a band of warrior monks in the Scottish Highlands. And, wouldn't you know it, it ends up being a trap. Never trust the royals, I say.

9-11 pm: Battlestar Galactica on Sci Fi.

It's the two-hour third season premiere of Battlestar Galactica (see above). While I've seen the first eight episodes of this season already (and, before you ask, no, I'm not giving out any spoilers), I can't wait to get sucked in again starting tonight. On tonight's two-part premiere ("The Occupation"/"Precipice"), the humans try to survive on New Caprica under the Cylon occupation as Adama plans a daring rescue mission with a rather doughy Apollo. Start counting down the frakking hours, people.

Comments

Great BSG article. I think you really captured the essence of the show. I never thought I'd be a "Battlestar" fan but it's now one of my favorite shows. And better than most dramas on the air. I'm really looking forward to seeing how life on New Caprica plays out.

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