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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 1:00pm
Season 1
Battlestar Galactica ReWatch

Vox Populi is pleased to offer another television rewatch after a successful run last year with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This year we will attempt to fully bring into scope a television series praised for its multiplicity of political viewpoints veering from its historical context and connection with religion to present day from a modern American perspective. Battlestar Galactica has often been described as a narrative in connection to America’s War on Terror stemming from September 11, 2001 to, as some citizens believe, the American purview today. The sci-fi series originated in 1978 and was brought back on the air in 2003 by creators Ronald D. Moore and David Eickin. Notably, Ronald D. Moore is most acclaimed as a screenwriter and producer on Star Trek. With his work on Deep Space Nine, Moore, prior to Battlestar Galactica, utilizes the science fiction narrative to connect with contemporary American culture. Now amongst a time of political upheaval as we come upon the 2016 election season that will bring in a new President of the United States we are most thrilled to broaden the discussion via a television show about American politics. We will be discussing our political history, feminism, language, writing and time travel in relation to Battlestar Galactica seasons 1 through 4 which aired on the Sci-Fi channel from 2003 to 2009. Each lecture presented will be paired with a screening from the season it is discussing along with readings centering around the topic of discussion. Following the lectures and screenings there will be a round table discussion with all lead lecturers focusing on the featured season. The round tables will have specific topics in order to cover, though we also encourage the audience to join in on the discussion. As the lectures help illuminate much of Battlestar Galactica Universe the Round Tables will help further highlight other themes from within the series including philosophy, religion and science fiction genres.

We have some returning lecturers and some new people coming into the group. Each bringing to the discussion in their own interests from art, history, nerdom, television and writing; Ann Cornell, April Aguillard, Beth Heinly, Derek Jones, Kate Kraczon, James Myers & Jonathan McCabe.

Cosplay welcome. Ambrosia for all who attend. There are spoilers. As we conduct the rewatch in chronological order our conversations will sometimes branch off into upcoming seasons. Stay tuned, we will be airing round table discussions on Vox Populi’s iTunes channel.

Description of Battlestar Galactica via Wikipedia:

“Battlestar Galactica is an American science fiction media franchise created by Glen A. Larson. The franchise began with the original television series in 1978 and was later followed by a short-run sequel series (Galactica 1980), a line of book adaptations, original novels, comic books, a board game, and video games. A re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica aired as a two-part, three-hour miniseries developed by Ronald D. Moore and David Eickin 2003. That miniseries led to a weekly television series, which later aired up until 2009. A prequel series, Caprica, aired in 2010.
All Battlestar Galactica productions share the premise that in a distant part of the universe, a human civilization has extended to a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies, to which they have migrated from their ancestral homeworld of Kobol. The Twelve Colonies have been engaged in a lengthy war with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons, whose goal is the extermination of the human race. The Cylons offer peace to the humans, which proves to be a ruse. With the aid of a human named Baltar, the Cylons carry out a massive attack on the Twelve Colonies and on the Colonial Fleet of starships that protect them. These attacks devastate the Colonial Fleet, lay waste to the Colonies, and virtually destroy their populations. Scattered survivors flee into outer space aboard a ragtag array of available spaceships. Of the entire Colonial battle fleet, only the Battlestar Galactica, a gigantic battleship and spacecraft carrier, appears to have survived the Cylon attack. Under the leadership of Commander Adama, the Galactica and the pilots of “Viper fighters” lead a fugitive fleet of survivors in search of the fabled thirteenth colony known as Earth.”

Season 1
Sunday, November 6th, 2016
Episode 8 “Flesh and Bone”
Episode 10 “The Hand of God”

Derek Jones considers himself a professional geek. He works in IT and technical support. He is an avid consumer of all sci-fi and fantasy. In 2011 Derek graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor’s in History. Since then, he tries to complete at least one historical narrative a month. He is really excited about discussing BattleStar Galactica and its’ implications and relations to American history.

Standard scholarship around the 2005 season one remake of BSG delves deeply into it’s post September 11th 2001 American militarism, racial and sexual identity issues, the War on Terror and international relation issues. While these themes are certainly present, season one also borrows from American history. In particular, Commander Adama takes on a military strategy approach similar to George Washington had in 1776 in the Revolutionary War. In this respect, season one of BSG showed the complexity and nuance of show that reflects American culture in its’ past and present sense. It delightfully has interwoven a Revolutionary War spirit in it’s narrative as it juxtaposes modern commentary. There are two main points where Adama takes on a direct Washington style role. The first is in the season one episode one, where Adama abandons his quest for glorious combat and realizes that survival of the fleet trumps military victory. In this, he adopts a military strategy called Fabian tactics. George Washington, after his humiliating defeats in New York City in the fall and winter of 1776 comes to a very similar realization. Washington comes to believe that surviving the British while keeping the army together trumps any other military objective. Secondly, in episode 12 of season one, titled “The Hand of God” Adama makes a bold counter strike move to secure fuel for the fleet. I submit that “The Hand of God” parallels the Battle of Trenton in that Trenton was not of major strategic importance to the British. However, the physiological victory for the Americans helped preserve the morale and will to carry on against an overwhelming force. The victory in episode 12 has a similar effect on scattered fleet.

My argument will be structured into three main parts. First, I will discus Fabian military tactics. To do this, we will start with a brief synopses of the Punic Wars, and the Roman Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus. Second, I will correlate the relationship between Washington and Adama and how they both came to adopt Fabian military tactics to outlast and survive against their enemy. Lastly, the battle of Trenton will be directly compared to “The Hand of God”.

Suggested readings:
McCullough, David, “1776“, Simon & Schuster, NY, NY, 2005.

April M. Aguillard is a self-professed pop culture nerd and straight up Philly girl who enjoys her own wit and sarcasm. April spends her time swigging booze and avoiding the dozens of script outlines on her hard drive instead of actually writing something beyond her Matlock/Murder She Wrote cross-over, old people-kink, smutty fanfiction. When she’s not spending time being weird on her own, she gets weird with the fine folks of Philly Comix Jam where she has contributed to several zine publications. April also has a comic strip published in the City Paper. She occasionally posts inane nonsense here tumblr and here twitter.

“…and you get a free toaster”

History is filled with unreliable narrators, which is probably where the phrase, “History is written by the victors,” comes from. Perhaps that’s somewhat of an over simplification of how history is represented in our culture. It’s not so much that history is a multi-chapter tale recounting events of the past but a retelling of those events from a very specific point of view. Within that context, how a story is told is just as important as the story itself and if a story is only told from one point of view, how can we be sure that is the whole story? History reads as theater and as such, it is prone to the same literary pitfalls as theater. Historical figures never see themselves as the villains but Historians have a way of assigning those roles anyway especially when it comes to war.

War is the greatest play that man performs on the world’s stage. Wars are filled with heroes and villains and characters somewhere in between. War gives us someone to root for and someone to revile in an epic battle between good and evil. But how do we know who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy? How are we to make that distinction? What if the hero isn’t the hero at all and the villain isn’t the villain. And just as these questions apply in real life, I couldn’t help but raise those very same questions as I watched Battlestar Galactica.

It’s fair to say that Battlestar Galactica is a fictional recapitulation of a war happening in real time. The audience is presented with a placid tableau of people going about their everyday life and then suddenly out of nowhere, calamity strikes at the hands of ruthless and sinister robots and we’re left with humanity’s last hope in the form of the eponymous, Battlestar Galactica. The stage is set, we have heroes and we have our villains, or do we. My lecture will try to make a case that perhaps the Cylons aren’t the villains we are led to believe.

Suggested readings:
Dyson, Stephen Benedict, “Otherworldly Politics, The International Relations of Star Trek, Game of Thrones & Battlestar Galactica“, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2015.

Eberl, Jason T., editor, “bsg-philosophy“, Blackwell Publishing, 2008.

Ip, John, “two-narratives-of-torture“, Northwestern University School of Law, Northwestern University Journal of Human Rights, 2009.

Listen to the Round table.

Battlestar Galactica ReWatch: Season 1
November 6, 2016 @ 1:00 pm
November 6, 2016 @ 5:00 pm
Beth Heinly
Vox Populi
319 N 11th Street, Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107 United States