The first episodes of Battlestar Galactica’sthird season revised the text displayed during the opening credits, thereby distilling the series’s premise down to its absolute basics: “The Human Race—Far from Home—Fighting for Survival.” In other words, these folks live thousands of lightyears away yet inexplicably worship the Greco-Roman pantheon and are at war with a genocidally-inclined artificial species of their own creation…but they’re us.
David Eick (#1–10 of 4)
“The Passage,” the penultimate episode of Battlestar Galactica’s2006 run, was both a throwback to the series’s more action-packed first season and an attempt at rehabilitating a character who was mostly invented to be a thorn in the side of the regulars. It succeeded at the former and almost succeeded at the latter, though it took a strong final monologue from Edward James Olmos’s Admiral Adama to rescue that plot point. All in all, a solid stand-alone, inching the show’s mythology forward a bit while returning to the feeling of imminent doom that was season one’s stock-in-trade.
For Battlestar Galactica’s cast, the storylines of the show’s third season (which starts Friday night at 9 p.m. Eastern) caused some soul-searching. In one thread, the human citizens of New Caprica, which is occupied by their robotic Cylon enemy, consider forming an insurgency, and contemplate the use of suicide bombers.
“I remember thinking that it was a very humbling experience to be asked to step into the other shoes, as it were,” said Mary McDonnell, who plays the humans’ former president, Laura Roslin, during an October 3 conference call with TV critics and reporters. Still, McDonnell said, the storylines should give audiences a chance to consider the issues of those in occupied countries throughout history—including those in Iraq right now. “I think we’ve got to clearly identify that possibility within ourselves,” she said.
Friday Night Lights (tonight 8 p.m., NBC) is the most accurate and honest portrayal of contemporary small town life in the small screen’s history. Relocated from the 1980s to the present, the pilot cribs heavily from the 2004 movie (which, like the series, was written and directed by Peter Berg), yet it manages to stand apart from it. If you’ve seen any sports movie ever, you won’t be surprised by much that happens; Friday Night Lights marches through the expected cliches in its portrayal of the “big game,” and even repeats a heartrending moment from the movie (though it happens to a different character). Still, for anyone who has attended a high school football game, much of the series will ring true, and the emotions that Berg earns through sports movie cliche are genuine. And the overall emphasis is different. Unlike the film, where nearly every event was directed toward the climactic showdown, in the series pilot the game is almost an afterthought; bits of it even feel rushed and perfunctory. This time around, Berg is more interested in the town itself.