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on December 9, 2003
The author impressed me with his knowledge of the history of the show including the legal milieu surrounding BG and Star Wars. While I thoroughly enjoyed BG series as a very young man, I am now adult enough to accept the obvious production flaws the author exposes in his superb objective analysis of the series.
I recommend this book for those who would wish to recapture the essence of the series and further understand the importance of the SF TV genre.
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on December 6, 2003
If you are looking for a frothy cheerleading book about how perfect a show "Battlestar Galactica" was.......this isn't it. If you want an objective, insightful analysis on the series strengths and weaknesses from an author who is more concerned with providing honest, well-thought out opinions rather than tired propaganda, then this is THE book to get.
The book reads like a thesis, with numerous points of the show's characters, concepts, and context being explored in a very objective way. Highlights of the book include an excellent analysis of every episode in the series, a detailed look into the Biblical and mythological overtones present in the series, as well as an interesting commentary on the lawsuit filed against the series by Star Wars creator George Lucas. This is simply great reading.
There is no question that Mr. Muir is a Galactica fan, however, he is not a mindless fan willing to accept every aspect of the show as flawless. His honesty and objectivity are wonderfully refreshing, and reading the book made me fall in love with the series all over again.
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on January 1, 2003
This is a very interesting, thought-provoking book about Battletar Galactica that is perfect for easy reference and has become a permanent fixture near my TV. The author knows the ins-and-outs of the series and writes well about it, and has clearly given his "analysis" a lot of thought (whether one agrees with it or not). He has a good eye for details and knows why the series was sometimes great/sometimes not - capturing the essence of a flawed classic. Overall a provocative read - not studio (or fan) propaganda.
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I am a diehard Battlestar Galactica fan and I would not waste the (money) to read this uthor call the show a "guilty pleasure". He did not do one interview for the book, instead over 200 pages he sounds like he is whining rather then analytically breaking apart the series.
This book has no legitimate pictures of any of the cast, only scans (and might I say poor quality scans at that) of Battlestar merchandise. Besides the horrible price, Mr. Muir also wrote an overpriced book on Space: 1999 and he goes around claiming to be a BG expert and a Space: 1999 expert as well.
Let me put it this way: anyone who includes Galactica: 1980 and gives it any credence at all can't possibly love the series all that much. In any good book about BG it is an appendix at most. Cheesy interior designs don't impress me all that much.
I think you should pass on this book and wait for the anticipated new unofficial book that is being planned for 2003. Check out, they just announced it on December 20, and it looks like it will be half as much as this and have interviews and better pictures.
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on July 10, 2002
This book is a detailed anaylsis (with some author bias) regarding Battlestar Galactica, but not its [dumb] offspring, Galactica 80. It goes into many things from the creation of the show to an episode guide to a look at the many legal problems and issues with Star Wars.
I like the author's take on the Star Wars vs. Galactica mess. He does have a point regarding copying. If Kurosawa and the creator of Flash Gordon used Lucas' logic then all the profits from Star Wars should go to them...
His analysis of each episode is actually pretty good. He doesn't shy away from calling a number of episodes dogs especially the cowboy in space junk. Not everything that Glen Larson did regarding Galactica turned to gold.
My only problem was that he over emphasizes the importance of both BG and Space 1999 in SF TV. I think that in terms of visuals, BG and Space made a difference in SFX and how they were done on TV (no more Salt Shakers and styrofoam sets!) As for writing? No, because it wasn't all that good. If both shows had better writing then they wouldn't have been canned after two years, but that is just my opinion.
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on July 21, 2000
On the plus side, Muir is to be commended for finally setting the record straight concerning the one thing that "Battlestar Galactica" has taken an unfair rap for so many years about, that it was a "ripoff." As he tellingly notes, not only was the George Lucas lawsuit highly suspect (and eventually dismissed) but Lucas himself had a far bigger track record of "ripping off" other sci-fi stories for Star Wars, if one were to apply the same standards to his work.
Unfortunately, as one of those who views Galactica as more than just a "guilty pleasure" (I am the author of more than a dozen Galactica fanfic stories) there are ultimately a good many things about this book that end up driving me up the wall. First off, Muir gets way too carried away with his literary criticism style and this causes him to fall in love with ideas of his that are not borne out by what BG's creators have said. Case in point is Muir pushing the long-discredited "Cain in the wreckage" theory concerning the episode "War Of The Gods." Terrence McDonnell, Galactica's story editor, laid this to rest once and for all in 1993 when he said that they had filmed a scene showing the victims to be fellow demons of the Count Iblis character but ABC censored it. Muir chose not to consult McDonnell, Glen Larson or any other participant in the production of the show on this point, or any other one for that matter, and that is simply inexcusable when he's going to bandy about theories that are not correct.
I also object to Muir's irresponsible use of the term "fascist" to describe Galactica's underlying political ideology, which is closer to the spirit of Reagan conservatism than it is to liberalism. For Muir to use an ugly term like "fascist" to describe viewpoints that are merely part of the normal conservative fabric says a lot about how there are some people on the left these days who are far more irresponsible than 50s paranoics of the right ever were about "communist" ideas in popular entertainment that they perceived.
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on January 23, 2000
Having been a Battlestar Galactica fan since childhood, and getting a degree in Astrophysics as an adult, I could readily identify with the author calling this sow a "Guilty Pleasure". He understood perfectly how the audience can forgive technical inaccuracies when there are strong characters we care about.
The book is the best I've ever seen done about a television series. It is much more than just an episode guide. It gives the details about the real world into which Battlestar Galactica was born, what earlier shows influenced it and what it, in turn, may have influenced. It also looks at the merchandising, fan community and state of the revival movement.
The only reason I did not give this book 5 stars is that it was missing two things. (1) Most of the fan community is aware of several scripts that were approved and ready to be shot when the show was canceled. I thought these scripts should have been included in any thorough analysis of the show. (2) This book was really just a very complete literature search. There was no new information, outside of the author's commentary, that hadn't already been published. I was surprised that no interviews were conducted with any of the actors, producers, writers, etc. involved with the show.
Overall, I can highly recommend this book for any Battlestar Galactica fan. It will bring back many memories and make you wish for a second season.
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on August 5, 1999
John Kenneth Muir has authored a superb analysis of the Battlestar Galactica TV series, noting the show's many critics, its strong audience pull, and so forth. He analyzes all 17 of the show's episodes, explores some of the behind-the-scenes production problems, and offers the strengths and weaknesses of the overall show and individual episodes.
Muir's theme is that Galactica, warts and all, was nonetheless an entertaining and thought-provoking series that didn't deserve the kind of criticisms it got from the likes of sci-fi author David Gerrold and horror author Stephen King - Muir reprints blasts by those two and others against the show, blasts that display the ever-indefensible strain of elitist snobbery distressingly common to sci-fi.
Muir's strongest insight lies in his analysis of the show's hawkish view of war-and-piece issues. Sci-fi tends to be drearily pacifistic, based not on any realworld context but on sheer myth. Battlestar Galactica was different, and remains such even today. The show's hawkish philosophy is based on what has happened in the real world, not on the dreams of pacifists. Galactica's viewpoint has been repeatedly verified throughout history; where, for instance, can the one-world pacific viewpoint of Star Trek be verified in the real world?
There are naturally areas where one can disagree with Mr. Muir - his analyses of the episodes Lost Planet Of The Gods and Gun On Ice Planet Zero are overly harsh; in GOIPZ he repeats the valid but misunderstood criticism that the Fleet could have simply bypassed the Cylon-armed planetoid, never realizing that the Fleet is in effect surrounded by Cylon base stars and cannot do such an end-run - and he overanalyzes cliches within the show, such as the court-martial cliche used in Murder On The Rising Star.
Muir's overall analysis, though, is spot-on. He recognizes Battlestar Galactica as an enjoyable and thought-provoking series, and includes a list of ten recomended changes should the series be revived, some of which can serve as rules to be applied to any film genre - the bad-guys-who-can't-shoot-straight cliche has GOT to go - and most of which have been employed in the Maximum Press and Realm Press versions of Galactica and in Richard Hatch and Chris Golden's novels.
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on March 10, 1999
This book is the most in-depth on BSG, and most likely it will be the only in-depth book of this nature that will ever be written. It dispels the myth that BSG was a Star Wars [copy] and reveals how Star Trek:TNG probably [copied] some ideas. It is even handed, praising the show where it deserves to be praised, and it is evenly harsh on the show when it's rather obvious any talent they had skipped an episode. The author is obviously a fan, yet he doesn't let it get in his way of being objective. As the author points out, BSG fans are the first to admit the show's many shortcomings. A definete must for any fan, this book is also excellent for libraries. (The only shortcoming is the horrid B&W picture near the beginning).
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