Tonight marks the end of one of the best shows on television:
(CNN) — “Battlestar Galactica,” the TV series that has held up a mirror to post-9/11 politics and paranoia for the past four seasons, comes to an end Friday.
The show’s legions of fans may be in mourning, but executive producer David Eick finds the looming finale bittersweet.
“It’s a combination of deep sadness and a little bit of relief,” he told CNN by phone from Los Angeles.
Eick and his producing partner Ronald D. Moore revived — or, as they like to say, “reimagined” — a campy late-1970s space opera about a ragtag group of survivors from an attack that wiped out most of humanity, making it a gritty, tense, and morally ambiguous drama.
Echoes of the traumas that shaped contemporary America are inescapable, from a shot in opening credits that looks like Manhattan before the attacks of September 11, 2001, to questions about curtailing civil liberties in wartime.
“The intention of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ was to present flawed heroes, who fought among themselves as much as the enemy,” Eick said. “We are drawn to heroes who succeed in spite of themselves.”
“Growing discontent with the [Bush] administration allowed us to deepen many of those flaws in those characters,” he said, even as he denied the show was designed to reflect the headlines.
“Rarely do I recall saying: ‘Let’s do Abu Ghraib,’ ” said Eick, referring to the notorious prison in Iraq. The series does include an interrogation episode with a clear reference to waterboarding.
The show drew consistent praise from the critics, but never attracted huge audiences from its home on the Sci-Fi channel, a cable network. Nielsen figures suggest the miniseries that launched the show drew about 4 million viewers, but audiences dipped to about half that in the third season before rebounding slightly as the fourth and final season began last year.
And maybe the ratings would have been better if they’d been on an actual network rather than the Sci-Fi (or I guess I should call it SyFy) Channel, or maybe they never would’ve gotten a chance to get this far and tell a great story.
This show was so much better than it’s namesake that it’s not even funny, and it was so much better than most of what passes for entertainment on the Big Four networks that it’s sad to see it go.
Over at The Moderate Voice, Tony Campbell lists some of his favorite scenes over the past four years:
1) Galactica jumping while in the atmosphere of New Caprica.
2) Pegasus crashing into 2 Cylon Basestars.
3) Starbuck and Number 6 punching each other silly over “The Arrow of Athena”.
4) Starbuck and Lee Adama punching each other and then making out.
5) Finding out that Colonel and Mrs. Tigh are both Cylons.
6) They finally find Earth but it has been nuked for 2,000 years.
For me there are several that stand out.
One was the absolute anguish that of William Adama when he learned that his C.O., best friend, and the man who had been at his side for twenty years was, in fact, a Cylon. Another was just a few episodes ago when Adama realized that Galactica was finished and had to be abandoned. Both gut-wrenching performances by Edward James Olmos. And there aren’t words to describe the intensity of the two episodes earlier this year that brought the Galactica itself to the point of mutiny.
It all starts, or I should say, ends, tonight at 8pm Eastern with a rebroadcast of last Friday’s Daybreak, Part I, followed by the two-hour finale.
It won’t be a complete end, though, later this year we’ll have a tele-movie telling the story from the Cylon point of view, and, in 2010, a prequel series detailing the rise of the Cylons.