I watch a lot of TV, but I missed some classics by virtue of being too young, too uninformed, or too cable-less when they were on the air. As I try to correct this error I will fill you in on observations, reactions, and musings on old and great TV.
Okay so they’re not exactly the same. One is about a war between the last of humanity and their robot creations and the other is about forty-odd people stranded on an island after a plane crash. One is about space travel and take place in an alternate reality. The other is about plane travel and takes place in our modern world. They are just inherently different.
But, think about it. There are some definite similarities. A rag tag group of survivors after a devastating tragedy, trying to survive on limited resources and means. The dynamics that arise between the interaction of people who would never otherwise have met. A power struggle between two central figures. The looming threat of a people who are similar but different from our heroes. The revelation that these people aren’t as villainous as we once thought. The quest for a seemingly unattainable goal. The revelation that the goal wasn’t exactly what it was cracked up to be. (Heavy spoilers from both shows follow.)
And so on. The story they share is that of survivors. Whether there are 40 or 40,000, there are shared experiences that are unavoidable. But the shows both reach for similar stories and explore similar themes. You can draw parallels between numerous storylines and characters between the two shows. It’s uncanny sometimes. For example, the time Galactica spends on the cylon occupation of New Caprica parallels Lost’s season 3 captivity of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer by the Others. Both story arcs took place at the beginning of season 3, only lasted only a few episodes before the status quo was restored, and were frustrating to watch for the viewer.
I watched Lost a few months ago and am almost finished with Battlestar, having most recently reached the midseason finale where the fleet reached Earth and found it a wasteland. I am incredibly excited to see where it goes from here, but I noticed something as I started season 4. Having been not entirely shocked by Starbuck’s return from the dead at the end of season 3, I hungrily moved to the next episode on my Netflix. Instead of a season 4 premier, however, I found myself watching Razor, which some quick internet searching showed me was a TV movie all on its own, that chronologically took place in season 2. The movie chronicled the experience of the Battlestar Pegasus, from the time of the attack on the Colonies to their meeting with Galactica. I was reminded, unsurprisingly, of a great episode of Lost while watching it. “The Other 48 Days” details the lives of the survivors from the tail end of the Oceanic flight from the crash up until the point they meet our survivors. They are both excellent looks at the road not taken, at the reality that could have been there but for the grace of whatever. In the case of Battlestar, the Galactica had the benefit of Adama at the helm, a civilian fleet to protect, and Roslyn to keep them honest, all preventing them from becoming the military machine that Pegasus was. In Lost, the survivors from the middle of the plane had Jack, a doctor and a leader, they had luggage and spare clothing and alcohol and supplies, and they had a manifest to weed out the Other in their midst, to keep them from becoming like Analucia.
(End of Spoilers)
In essence, the experience of watching these shows has made me realize both how few stories there actually are out there, and how that doesn’t really matter. Watching Lost earlier this year didn’t at all hamper my enjoyment of Battlestar. On the contrary, I love finding clues to our collective consciousness, and recognizes archetypes that permeate fiction. It’s just one more way to enjoy stories. So my advice to you is: if you’ve watched show to watch the other. You might be surprised by just how much you end up liking it.