“Battlestar Galactica” Recognized By The U.N.
Does TV have a role in making global issues relevant? According to the United Nations, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” The U.N. recently recognized a TV show for putting the spotlight on important political themes and human rights issues. That distinction wasn’t for “60 Minutes,” “Frontline” or even “The Colbert Report,” it was the Sci-Fi network’s space-inspired drama “Battlestar Galactica,” which took center stage at recent panels in New York, at the imposing United Nations headquarters and in Los Angeles at Hollywood and Highland’s Mann Chinese 6 Theater. “Just steps away from SpongeBob posing with tourists,” it was noted by L.A. moderator Geoff Boucher, with The Envelope screening series. “Galactica’s” Emmy-worthy stars Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell were on the panel with producers Ron Moore and David Eick.
Olmos called the U.N. meetings “pretty extraordinary” but with four seasons of groundbreaking drama and awards, the acclaimed show earned the worldwide recognition. The U.N. reps said the show was “more allegory than science fiction, with so many themes that we addressed every day around the globe.” That endorsement delighted Moore, who explained, “We wanted to make the show relevant, examine the world we live in, ask difficult questions and test the boundaries of what science fiction can offer.” Among the real world of human rights issues that have been reflected in the storylines of the show were themes of terrorism, torture, retribution, religion, reconciliation and being faced with impossible decisions. The U.N. reps admitted that with a show like this, the Hollywood creative community is able to articulate the complex issues through stories. “Battlestar” did that extremely well. Eick was only half-joking when he said, “We told good stories about a sick world.”
Although the show has been recognized in the writing, editing and technical categories by the Television Academy, Moore mentioned that his outstanding cast has been overlooked, probably due to the academy’s tradition of not taking genre productions seriously. “I think there is an assumption that anything science fiction or fantasy must be a kid’s show or a cartoon,” Moore reported. “I think we have offered some of the best work ever seen on TV. I’d put our cast up against anyone else in the business to be honored.”
At the center of a stellar cast was Olmos, who said he was deeply moved by his character, a stoic military man who was very human. McDonnell described her character as a “spiritual person living inside a very frightened human being,” who went on to lead her people.
There was a wonderful varied response when Boucher asked the panelists what people can do to make the world a better place. Moore asked the fans to examine “what matters to you.” Eick was half-joking again when he said, “It’s okay to be smart.” Olmos explained that news coverage is very different in other parts of the world, so he wanted to implore everyone to seek honest information. McDonnell offered wise words when she explained that people should realize that “being compassionate and involved in life is more fun than being separate.” The U.N. reps asked the audience to volunteer for worthwhile organizations and care deeply about the world “and act.”