10. Battlestar Galactica - ‘Daybreak’
Critically acclaimed from the beginning, Ronald D. Moore’s grim, ferociously topical update of late seventies Star Wars rip-off Battlestar Galactica felt like a modern classic from the word go.
On the verge of extermination by the artificial intelligences they created, the last of the human race escapes the genocide to search for a new home in the stars. So far, so identical to the high-camp original: but Moore’s version, tightly plotted and light on fluff, debated ideas of politics, revolution, and the nature of the soul. Buck Rogers, it was not.
As the series progressed, it began to change shape, the alluring mystique of the high concept devolving into oblique mysticism positing an Orphic take on spirituality: unless they could break the pattern, humans were doomed to repeat a ‘grievous circle’ of events over thousands of years.
‘Daybreak’, a three part capstone to that elaborate narrative, doubled down on the cod-religious shenanigans, substituting vagueness and a deus ex machina ellipsis for anything resembling closure. The audience felt cheated, and they had been: because no one expected the show they’d been watching for four years to end 150,000 years further in the future... in 21st century New York.