BOOK REVIEW – Battlestar Galactica: Downloaded (Inside the Universe of the Critically Acclaimed TV Show)

By Marty Mulrooney

BGDownloaded

Battlestar Galactica: Downloaded by David Bassom is the official full-colour companion to the first and second seasons of the most critically acclaimed science fiction show on television. It offers exclusive interviews with the cast and crew, stunning full-page photographs, production designs and concept art, in-depth behind-the-scenes features and a complete episode guide.

“Our goal is nothing less than the reinvention of the science fiction television series.”

 – Battlestar Galactica Series Bible

Battlestar Galactica, the re-imagined version of the cult 1970s series, is not only one of the best science fiction shows ever made, but also one of the best shows ever made – regardless of genre – period. The show, developed by Ronald D. Moore, crams each and every episode full of social commentary and morality lessons: this certainly isn’t a show with nothing to say. A great show deserves a great tie-in book, and that’s exactly what Downloaded – aptly named after the Season 2 episode of the same name – delivers.

This is a meticulously designed book that offers plenty of worthwhile reading material for staunch fans to pour over and devour. The extensive opening chapter, entitled ‘Battleplan’, describes in detail how the show went from an initial idea to a green lit production, with commentary from executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. The book is then split into three sections: The Miniseries, Season 1 and Season 2. Interspersed amidst these sections are in-depth features on the Visual Effects, Costume Design, Music and Production Design. There are also in-depth articles about several of the main characters, including Lee Adama, Kara Thrace, Sharon Valerii, Karl Agathon, Saul Tigh and Galen Tyrol, with interview quotes from their respective actors.

I’m living the character. I think we’re all doing that. We’re being honest with the moment and making it connect. The scenes come alive every single time. It’s great ensemble work.” Edward James Olmos

The decision to make the entire book an episode guide of sorts, when similar books in the past have simply inserted a brief episode guide at the back, is a bold one indeed. Luckily, it works fantastically. Each episode is dedicated three pages, one of which is always a full-colour still from the episode in question. The text doesn’t just offer a mere recap of each episode either. A brief summary of an episode’s events is initially offered, before author David Bassom delves deeper behind-the-scenes with interview quotes from the cast and crew.

This unique layout offers a great sense of progression as you read and makes the episode guides 100% worth reading. Not only does the book cast light upon the duel stories of the show’s universe and its fascinating real-life production – in chronological order no less – it also conveys a real sense of time and place that can sometimes be lost when watching DVD or Blu-ray extras. There also also extra panels – labelled as SURVEILLANCE: ADDITIONAL – dotted throughout, offering trivia and extra titbits alongside the main text.

Our storylines didn’t start with us saying: ‘Okay, who comes to bother the Galactica this week and what do the crew do about it?’ Much more often the stories started with a character and us saying things like, ‘What’s going on in Adama’s mind?’ ‘How does Laura feel about this trek through mysticism?’ These sorts of things became the catalysts for stories.” David Eick

Battlestar Galactica: Downloaded is one the most enjoyable TV show tie-in books I have ever read. It offers genuine insight for fans of the show and is written and presented in an accessible, highly enjoyable manner. There are some quibbles – a hardback version would have better protected the high-quality pages contained within and it is a real shame that, even now after the show has ended, you cannot buy one book that covers all of the seasons. Regardless, this is a great starting point if you want to learn more about one of the greatest television shows ever made, and comes thoroughly recommended to all Battlestar Galactica fans.

9 OUT OF 10

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