(Series -- Sun. Jan. 21, 10 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in Vancouver by NBC Universal Television Studio.
Continuing to take creative risks, "Battlestar Galactica" made its debut in the show's new Sunday timeslot with a bang, featuring an episode that crammed a tremendous amount of story into a single hour. Only the faithful, in fact, will likely be able to dutifully follow the interlocking web of storylines, which might help explain the ratings erosion suffered during the first half of this season.
The latest hour found the Galactica crew locked in a race with the Cylons for clues that will lead toward the "lost colony" -- a little place called Earth -- while seeking to rescue Kara "Starbuck" Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), who was shot down over Cylon-occupied territory. Of course, the question of retrieving her was somewhat complicated by the fact that she's screwing around with Lee "Apollo" Adama (Jamie Bamber), who spearheaded the operation.
The Cylons themselves, meanwhile, are proving to have more plots and schisms amongst them than the residents of "The OC," with one of their human-looking cohorts (guest Lucy Lawless) having been overcome by an almost messianic zeal that diminished trust among her brethren. A similar rift has occurred over the future of a Cylon-human hybrid baby, prompting its alien mother (Grace Park) to take a major gamble hoping to retrieve the child.
Part soap opera, part space fantasy, part parable on the war in Iraq, "Galactica" has improbably managed to maintain its narrative momentum despite some ups and downs in the storyline, including a bit of a letdown after this season's introductory episodes resolving a breathtaking cliffhanger that left a sizable population of land-bound humans under Cylon control. In that respect, Sunday's installment represented a firm rebound, especially with the plot development regarding Baltar (James Callus), the scientist who essentially betrayed his race by throwing in with the Cylons.
Already lauded with an unusual amount of critical acclaim and industry recognition for a series in the sci-fi genre saddled with such a clunky title, it's nice to see that the "Galactica" crew isn't content to rest on those laurels. And at the risk of mixing space metaphors, whether the jump to Sunday helps the show beam down more viewers, for its loyal core, the series is still one hell of a ride.
Executive producers, Ronald D. Moore, David Eick. Running time: 60 MIN.