Is it useful or beneficial to watch Battlestar Galactica original show before watching the reboot?
It's not necessary to watch the original before the reboot, and to be honest I'd suggest it's a negative. While the two series shares names and some plot arcs, the reboot is a lot more plot intensive and some amazing TV. The original benefits from the rose-tinted glasses of hindsight.
If you haven't watched either, watch the reboot and then decide whether or not you want to watch the original.
As a person who watched the original in its heyday as a child, I have to recommend either watching the original after the reimagined series or not at all. Of course it's my personal opinion and it's based on the following:
- The entire sci-fi genre has matured a lot during the years that separate the two shows. Things that were fresh back then are now cliches that have been beaten to death a million times over. You are likely to recognize and roll your eyes.
- The original story had an upbeat tone to it, even with the whole holocaust backdrop. The characters were far more cheerful and even-keeled. But they were also a bit black-and-white (as characters tended to be in that era).
- Some of the special effects are likely to make you laugh.
Here's a (fan-made) sample of the re-imagined series:
Also, there are plot differences that might confuse you. In the original:
- Cylons were not made by man.
- Starbuck and Boomer are not women.
- Baltar and Adama have very different personalities (they're more black-and-white, deficient in human frailties and therefore not very believable).
- There are a few other things I can't discuss without spoilers.
Several other things about the new series to consider:
- It's shot in doco-style (the camera jiggles a lot). As a fan of the original, this initially infuriated me.
- The writers say that they have deliberately avoided the "planet-of-the-week" format for the show. There aren't many episodic stories. You may or may not like this.
- There is a lot of moral ambiguity and confusion in the new show. Much of it intentional, the remainder because the writers couldn't tie the loose ends together.
While they share some common characters (or at least character names), themes, and locations, there is zero continuity between them and they are completely independent of each other plot-wise.
I'm going to go against the flow and suggest that you should at least watch the pilot episode of the 1978 series before watching the new series. I watched the old series as a kid. As an adult, it was great to see how the producers of the new series were able to work and rework elements of the old series into the new version. If you go into the new series cold, you'll miss that extra layer of enjoyment.
The pilot episode of the old series was three hours long. It was apparently divided up into three one-hour parts for syndication.
Alternately, you could watch the 1979 theatrical film that was made from the pilot along with some other material.
Both shows are products of their time. The re-imagined series ties into all of our modern fears, attitudes, and insecurities post 9/11 (this point was specifically mentioned by Ronald D. Moore). The show has a very cynical atmosphere where there is little humor. The characters are not instantly likable and they don't always act as though they care about each other. This also ties in with modern sensibilities where Americans are less connected to each other and many are bonded not by friendship or camaraderie but simply by common interest such as being in the same profession or having the same politics. And even then, given how competitive our culture has become, we sometimes can't truly know who our friends really are. Today, it is not unusual for a family to not know their next door neighbor that well. The over-complexity and uncertainty of today's world is often blamed for the increasing occurrences of mental illness in America.
The old show had characters that truly cared about each other and even the non-blood related characters acted as an extended family. The terrible holocaust brought out the best in people and drew them together. This helped them retain a certain optimism and even a sense of humor.
This is not to say that the original series was a sitcom. It was a serious show that had numerous emotional moments but it wasn't doom and gloom 24/7. In the time the old series was written, audiences wanted an escape from the real world with all of its racism, sexism, political dishonesty, and cold war fears, drug problems, crime, and other sorts of bad behavior. So this is why the characters were much depicted more as people who we would like to meet in real life. And their trek was depicted as a great adventure much of the time. Role models were a big issue back then. Also, strangely enough, the 70s series does a better job at depicting strong female characters who aren't uber-bitches. All of the strong female characters are as kind and compassionate as the heroic males. Also, strong non-White characters who were not stereotypes. At that time, there was a faint sense amongst many that we as Americans were moving forward and making an effort to leave behind these nasty "-isms" (especially after all we went through in the turbulent sixties). The 2000s, however, has everyone in doubt about everything and wondering if we've made any progress at all.
So, basically, the old series exuded the concepts of optimism, pulling together, family, spiritualism, doing what's right not what's easy, and universal brother/sisterhood. The new series: fear, paranoia, moral ambiguity, dark secrets, dysfunction, and overstepping the line. Ask me which series I prefer, I'll always say the original every time. Bottom line is, if you want enjoyable escapism to cheer you up after a long hard day of the daily rat race, go for the old series.
The original series that was made back in the 70s, and the series made in the 2000s has very few things in common.
Here they are:
They basically have the same names, with change of sexes. For example, Starbuck, Boomer, are men in the original, in the new, they are women.
In the original, Boomer was human, but in the new series Boomer is a cylon
As above, There was no human cylons in the Original series, but as for the new series, you can't tell who is human or who is cylon. and don't worry, if you like someone and they get whacked, chances are they will be back. Why? because they made several cylon human like replicas.
To sum up your question. Other than humans running for their lives, from cylons and same names, basically, the two series have nothing in common.
The original had its good qualities for its time. And yes, it had its cheesy moments; but no more than the first installments of Star Wars, or any other sci-fi film made in its time.
When I was a kid, I loved it. Today, it is still a great show, but that is my opinion - as it is to most who have seen it when it first aired. It is best to think of the two series as alternate universes. Like DC Comics' Earth 1 & Earth 2, that way you can enjoy both. Just don't compare the two! The new series has its cheesy moments as well.
If You love one and hate the other or love one more than the other, I think it has to do with your age. Like me, I enjoyed the original more than the new, because it was in my era, just as those who love the new series it is of their era, meaning when the original came out I was still in my youth. If I hadn't seen the original first, then maybe my views would have been totally different. Who knows?
One thing that turns me off is when they remake a film, and totally change it up. That just turns me off to what could have been a good watch. as The new BSG did for me. Am I saying it is bad? No, not at all, that is when you block out the old and focus on the new. As I said, never compare the two when watching them. If You are starting the new BSG You need to watch the series Caprica,first It will help you start BSG with more understanding! Regards!
Think of them as two different shows with the same title and some of the same character names.
The original series:
- Pushed boundaries that we don't even see nowadays (skin color not an issue, female soldiers)
- Reuse of special effects. If you create a drinking game around seeing new special effects, you'll be sober after watching any episode after the first couple.
- Positive outlook
- Distinct good guys and bad guys
- Telling the story of: the tribes of Israel
The new series:
Everyone seems to hate everyone else
Pushed boundaries for how much skin they could get on the air
Decent special effects
Make sure your anti-depressant prescription is filled
Some people are not so bad
Telling the story of: the Muslims are out to exterminate you
It is nice to compare and contrast the old series to the new when watching the new one, and there are several minor references / shout-outs to the original which would pull at the heart-strings but will go over your head if you haven't watched the original. So I'd say if you are going to watch the original anyway, do it first.
Having said that, I feel like what I said above is mostly beneficial because of the nostalgic feeling, great if you watched it years/decades ago, but not quite the same if you just watched it last month for the first time.
As others have said, there's really no need to watch the original in order to watch this one. There's nothing you need to know from the original to watch the new, no plot continuation or anything. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "negative" though.
And there's definitely no need to watch Galactica 1980!
The only real purpose would be to catch the Easter Eggs in the second series. They are not really related in any way other than characters with the same name, though it is fun to see how they changed those characters.