One of the great things about sci-fi television shows is that they can explore a number of real-world issues without sounding too preachy. For example, no one would want to sit through a TV show that tried to elicit an ethical discussion on proxy wars by showing, say, the US and the Soviet Union arming various groups who then fight. However, examine two fictional tribes on another planet--one being armed by the Klingons and another tribe having close ties to the Federation--and you might have the basis for an interesting hour of entertainment. (Although, in this particular episode, a good portion of the fun is watching the low-budget fight between Shatner and a guy in a polar bear suit).
Battlestar Galactica is a sci-fi show that has been recently honored for doing just that. The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (known as "BSG" to us in the know) is probably one of the best TV shows today. Not only is has it been re-imagined as a gritty, action-drama, but it also incorporates many themes applicable to the modern-day military: issues like prisoner torture, suspension of civil rights, internment camps, insurgency, collaboration with occupiers, use of religious structures as weapons caches, and more. Apparently, I'm not the only one who's made this connection, as the United Nations is hosting a symposium on the issues raised by BSG.
Among the great things I loved about this show is not only the little nods it gives to the original series, but also the little touches that let you know that they have to have a great military advisor on this show. For example, in one BSG episode, Starbuck crash-lands on a planet and is being dragged along by her parachute (any paratrooper will know this feeling). She reaches into her survival vest and pulls out a strap-cutting device. I looked at it closely and realized that I had the exact same damn strap-cutter in my own survival vest! How's that for a neat touch (or low budget)? The aspects of military aviation are much more realistic in this show than I've seen in almost any other movie or TV show (with the exception of, maybe, Flight of the Intruder).
I also like how there's a number of scenes where both Starbuck, Apollo and the other Viper pilots get to celebrate a successful mission with massive amounts of alcohol; including one incident where Starbuck gets drunk and I think a bunch of people slide her down a table with her squadron mug in hand. Art does in fact imitate life, as there's a magical place in the world where aviators can still do that, as anyone who's ever been stationed in Honduras can certainly attest to.
I didn't think I'd like the new Starbuck, since they turned Dirk Benedict's character into a chick, but I have to admit, she's my favorite. I figure I have to love both Starbucks (old and new, male and female) because, like yours truly Starbuck, who doesn't love drinking, smoking the occasional cigar, and promiscuity in a consequence-free environment? It's just that the female one does so because she came from a broken and abusive family and the male one did because, well, he's awesome.
Focus: If anyone can send me copies of the episodes that started airing in January, I'd greatly appreciate them. I think we can work out a trade if you can do so. Come on...