Hard to compare
It is almost unfair to compare Stargate with Battlestar Galactica.
- Stargate spans 3 series (soon to be 4), 16 seasons, 340 episodes and 3 movies (soon to be 5).
- Battlestar Galactica spans 1 series (soon to be 2), 4 seasons, 77 episodes (if you count the miniseries as 2), and 1 movie (if you count Razor).
The sheer volume of Stargate dwarfs Battlestar Galactica and makes any fair comparison difficult at best, but they do share several things in common.
Both Stargate and Battlestar Galactica are military scifi series that pit the human race against a hostile alien force that threatens to destroy the human race.
The biggest difference between the two settings regarding the struggle to protect the human race is:
- Stargate focused on the hope that ingenuity, courage, and comradery would find a way to save humanity.
- Battlestar Galactica focused on hopelessness. Humanity was too full of greed, cowardice, and backbiting to save itself.
I know a lot of people are going to challenge my characterization of Battlestar Galactica, but its portrayal of human frailty in its many forms constantly brought the colonists to the brink of doom. While that added to the drama and tension of the series, it made most of the characters into melodramatic stereotypes who arrogantly or ignorantly put their own petty wants and needs ahead of the survival of their people.
I am not saying that is a bad thing, it is the way the show is. In fact, Scifi marketed of the spacey soap opera quality of the show.
While Battlestar Galactica focused on melodrama, Stargate focused more on character and military actions, tactics, and research.
Both series dealt primarily with characters in the military, but their use of the military was very different:
- Battlestar Galactica's post apocalyptic setting forced the military into a struggle between democracy and military dictatorship.
- Stargate's top secret setting forced the military into a struggle between open government and black ops.
- Battlestar Galactica contained reactionary military action where they were more often than not in a defensive stance.
- Stargate contained balanced military action where they were on the offensive as often as the defensive.
- Stargate focused on individual characters with their own hopes, merits, flaws, and detailed back stories.
- Battlestar Galactica focused on groups with prominent individuals whose flaws endanger society as a whole.
I am the kind of person who loves a good character, and for me the characters in Stargate are much more well rounded and interesting. With the exception of O'neil, I cannot think of a character that I wouldn't mind seeing an entire series about. The stories about each character really interested me, especially in how they interacted and affected the others.
Battlestar Galactica had many interesting characters too, but I never felt they went into the depth they need to have for me to completely fall in love with them. Starbuck was my favorite, as was Adama, but I didn't feel like they revealed enough about them until the season finale.
I suppose the easiest way to understand what I am saying is that to get a good perspective on a character, I like to see them, both under stress and at rest, maybe even at play to get a full picture of who that character is. I never felt like Battlestar Galactica allowed for that.
The lack of Science Fiction
Neither series could be considered Science Fiction, they are Scifi.
Science Fiction is a genre where science is integral to the plot, and both series rely heavily on technology that has little connection with actual science. That is not a bad thing, but if you are looking for a series that takes science seriously, Stargate comes closest, but neither really is.
- Stargate outlined its plot arcs into self contained stories with numerous subplots.
- Battlestar Galactica outlined its plot arcs into perpetuating continued stories.
Again, this is where Stargate moves ahead of Battlestar Galactica.
While I watched Battlestar Galactica, I never felt like the series went anywhere. There was no sense of accomplishment. I found it impossible to get emotionally attracted to any of the characters because I knew that anything good that happened to them would quickly be undone.
I know that many were able to get over this, but I like a series with triumphs and defeats and Battlestar Galactica was for the most part a collections of defeats with triumphs few and far between.
With Stargate, I was able to become emotionally attached with the characters and share in their gains and losses.
The Basic Difference
In the end, we end where we began:
- Battlestar Galactica is a military telenovella set is space.
- Stargate is a military scifi action series.
So, which is better?
That is a matter of taste and for me mood. When you compare the two series, you have to find the show that best fits you.
|spans 3 series (soon to be 4), 16 seasons, 340 episodes and 3 movies (soon to be 5)||spans 1 series (soon to be 2), 4 seasons, 77 episodes (if you count the miniseries as 2), and 1 movie (if you count Razor)|
|focused on the hope that ingenuity, courage, and comradery would find a way to save humanity||focused on hopelessness. Humanity was too full of greed, cowardice, and backbiting to save itself|
|top secret setting forced the military into a struggle between open government and black ops||post apocalyptic setting forced the military into a struggle between democracy and military dictatorship|
|contained balanced military action where they were on the offensive as often as the defensive||contained reactionary military action where they were more often than not in a defensive stance|
|focused on individual characters with their own hopes, merits, flaws, and detailed back stories||focused on groups with prominent individuals whose flaws endanger society as a whole|
|Neither series could be considered Science Fiction, they are Scifi.|
|outlined its plot arcs into self contained stories with numerous subplots||outlined its plot arcs into perpetuating continued stories|
|a military scifi action series||a military telenovella set is space|
If I had to choose between the two, I would have to pick Stargate. Why?
- I need to care about the characters.
- I like shows that are just plain fun.
- I want a show with near infinite rewatchability.
- I love shows that activate my imagination.
- I like optimistic stories that explore how people can improve themselves.