I haven't been a fan of Battlestar Galactica since the beginning, I actually watched the first 2 seasons on DVD just in time to catch the third season live last year. Yes, it's been an entire YEAR! between seasons 3 and 4. And with the fourth season announced as the final season, some major questions should be answered and a cap put on the season - I hope. Anyway, in case you're one of the many who don't yet know what a wonderful TV series this is (you probably don't watch Friday Night Lights either), I'll sum up why I love it and what you can expect to find out in the final season. I think there are 10 things you need to know in order to really appreciate BSG.
1. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace - she's the bad-ass, pilot that bucks the rules and saves the day over and over. She disobeys rules, gets hurt regularly, takes nearly everything personally, hits her commanding officers, loves someone she won't let herself be with, and marries someone she barely knows. She risks everything when given an order by Commander Adama, died last season, and appeared in the final episode claiming she knows the way to earth. Oh, and she might be a Cylon.
2. Frak - This is the substitute word for all swearing done within the fleet. It works for all situations - frak you, mother-fraker, frak me, what the frak have you been doing? I challenge you to find a way it can't be used. Plus, it can be used on TV.
3. Hot Cylons - Okay, here's the best explanation I can give. Humans created machines called Cylons to make their lives easier. Cylons became self-aware and fought back. War ensued, peace was declared and Cylons left "The Colonies" to start their own life. Cylons advanced (evolved?) technologically while they were on their own, and returned to eliminate their human creators. The nuked the Colonies, and the remaining humans (around 50,000) managed to escape on spaceships. However, the reason the attacks were so successful was Cylons have evolved to take complete human form. There are 12 models of human Cylons (many copies of each model), and a few models have infiltrated human society. "Six" is the very hot Tricia Helfer, often shown as a figment of Baltar's imagination wearing a red dress. One copy of Six, known as Caprica Six, switches sides and agrees to help the human race reach Earth. Oh, and a copy of Three, Sharon, is a member of the military and had a half-human/half-Cylon baby named Hera, that seems wrapped up in the prophesy that will help them find Earth.
4. Bill Adama and Laura Roslin - Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell are amazing actors. They have the highest roles in the surviving human society - Admiral of the military fleet and President of the Colonies. They aren't above lying, cheating, murder, and rage in order to protect the remaining human society. However, they do everything in the name of compassion and humanity and an attempt to keep civilization from degrading in the name of survival. They show the dilemmas they have to solve and how the right decision isn't always moral. They're complex and creatively portrayed.
5. A really pathetic bad guy somehow manages to keep us interested and constantly manages to scuttle the best-laid plans of everyone else on the show. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) is a prominent scientist in love with Six. He helped her infiltrate the defense mainframe which led to the destruction of the Colonies. He's pretty much only out for himself, though he has various visions of how he will save people, but they alternate with visions of ruling the universe side by side with the Cylons. He's despicable and awful, and yet when he's tried for treason in the final episodes of last season, the arguments against him barely stack up against the good he's also managed to do. But people don't like him, at all. Which of course means he has a cult following, and loyal supporters.
6. FTL drives. I just love that the technical name for the mechanism that allows the fleet to fly faster than light is merely the acronym for its function. The Faster Than Light drive allows the fleet to jump large distances in the blink of an eye, escaping Cylons since you can't track a jump that fast or that far. Every little ship has it. It's just cool, basic sci-fi stuff, but I still love it.
7. The religion debate. Okay, so this is shaping up to be one of the major differences between the humans and the Cylons. The humans believe in many gods (when astonished, they say "oh, my gods") while the Cylons believe in one true God. The Cylons seem to want to convert the humans to their belief in a single God, but given that all of human culture is based on the prophesies of their religious beliefs, many of which have come true, including the myth of Earth, I'm not sure they'll be able to let go of their own beliefs.
8. The search for Earth drives the remaining human civilization. Their ancient religious leaders said that all humans came from the mythical place called Earth and formed the 13 Colonies. They're all named for astrological signs - Caprica, Tauran, Geminon, etc., which each have specific characteristics to the race that lives on that world. Of course racism occurs. Sagittarons have a mistrust of medicines, Capricans are the upper-crust ruling elite. It all seems to be tied up in their search for one Earth and their similar origins. This season we should find out about the end of the myth of Earth.
9. Cylon Ressurection is one of the keys to the survival of the cylons. When a Cylon dies, all the memories and personality of that particular copy is downloaded back into the system and a new copy is "reborn" with all the memories of all the other copies as well as the recently deceased copy. There is an awesome episode where they find a ship that is the source of resurrections and the humans try to destroy it. A particular model can be retired and no longer resurrected, but otherwise, they can die and be reborn over and over.
10. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The show models the current society, with racism issues, torture debate, military supremacy over democracy, love, hate, power, corruption, etc. There are wonderful episodes and lesser episodes like any TV show, but the acting is always superb, the stories mysterious and exhilarating, and the final season hopefully the best there's been!