Battlestar Galactica ended its run on the Psi Phye (still another name variant) Channel this week with a two part three hour+ episode that included elements borrowed from/in homage to/ripped off from several genre works including (by my count) The Matrix Trilogy, the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (which Ronald Moore, who wrote the BSG finale, also co-wrote), Douglass Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens and even… Space: Above and Beyond. It gave the major characters (and hardcore fans) closure, but it didn’t answer some major questions. (How did Starbuck come back from the dead?) Sometimes, ambiguity indicates depth. Sometimes, it just means you haven’t really thought things through. And sometimes, it means you’re just trying to pull a fast one.So, now that’s it all over (except for the TV movie this fall and the prequel next year), is Battlestar Galactica Version 2.0 the best SF series ever? The best TV show ever? And the real question… Is BST better than Star Trek?Long answers short: No, no, and… no. Longer answers:BSG was well written, produced and acted television but only nominally science fiction: Just because it takes place on a spaceship doesn’t mean it’s SF. In fact, your average crime drama (especially CSI and Bones) contains more cutting edge scientific speculation than a BSG episode.So is it the best television show ever? Definitely Top 20, maybe Top 10, but not Top 5.Now to the big one.The Internet Movie Database credits BSG with 73 episodes during its run. Star Trek: The Next Generation logged 176 episodes, Deep Space Nine 173, and 170 for Voyager. (The Original Series ran for 79 episodes and Enterprise lasted for 98.) Say half the episodes of the longest running Trek series sucked. That leaves half of them (even from Voyager) that were pretty good, as good as or maybe better than their BSG equivalents. If you know up front that you only have half as many hours to fill, you can be more selective with your storytelling and not do another story that launches from another transporter accident, holodeck malfunction or visit from a relative. (On Next Generation, we met Riker’s father, Troi’s mother, Data’s mother, father and brother, Worf’s brother, fiancée, son, and adoptive parents, Geordi’s parents, Tasha’s sister (this was after she died), Picard’s brother and nephew and even Beverly’s long-dead husband via hologram.)Then there’s the cultural impact. Star Trek has been credited (perhaps a little generously) with predicting or inspiring everything from floppy discs and flash memory to cell phones and automatic doors. BSG’s cultural impact (so far) seems to be “that F-word,” maybe the affirmation “So say we all,” and paper with no corners. Scotty will probably still inspire more people to become engineers than Chief Tyrol.I’ll credit Battlestar Galactica with being probably the most political SF show ever; the creators said the events of September 11, 2001 definitely informed their creative process. It also may be the series that allowed TV science fiction to “grow up,” dealing with adult situations (okay, sex) more openly and honestly than any other series. (Hey, even Tigh had a more active sex life than Jean Luc.) But the “best science fiction series ever!” has yet to air.So stop reading this and start typing, already!

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