What Colony can learn from Battlestar Galactica

"If there is one show that presents promise in recent years more than any other it's Colony"

The past few years have seen a huge increase in science fiction and post apocalyptic television shows such as Falling Skies and The Walking Dead and the genre is seemingly in danger of burning out as quickly as it arrived. Fatigue may be setting in as the multitude of genre shows are failing to find a voice in the vast crowd of their stagnant peers. Series such as Revolution came and went with limited noise and great shows like The 100 are being lost in the listings. If there is one show that presents promise in recent years more than any other it’s Colony.

It’s hard to pin down just what kind of show Colony is. The series focuses on a family trapped in a (yep you guessed it) colony set up by unseen aliens after an invasion (also unseen) for an unknown reason. Humans specifically chosen by the aliens govern these colonies in which people try to live a normal way of life while being trapped in their surrounding by a huge wall (think Game of Thrones but metal) and being monitored by drones that make incredibly loud noises and occasionally shoot people. The main characters are Will and Katie Bowman and their children whose family ties are tested when Will starts working for the occupation in the hope of managing to get to another colony to find his missing son and Katie is revealed to be a member of the resistance lead by the mysterious Geronimo. Part science fiction, part post apocalyptic (although if we’re honest how can anything truly be described as post apocalyptic when there is by definition nothing after the apocalypse), part espionage thriller, part family drama and even part of TV’s most prevalent genre: police procedural.

It’s a miracle then that it all gels together and works as well as it does but the lack of one clear direction may also be Colony’s downfall. Having no one main selling point but instead several smaller less developed features makes it hard for Colony to stand out and while the show was quickly renewed for a second season it’s going to be tough to see whether the show will carry on further considering its standing in this tough ratings war between shows and their networks. While in the future of the show I don’t want to see the eclectic mix of sub-genres disappear it would be in Colony’s favour to commit to one clear genre moving forward and having the development of it replace the weaker parts of the show like the weird and unnecessary sub-plot involving the character of Maddie helping steal peoples artwork and having sex with the guy who plays Talbot in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D while his wife watches. So what should this new direction be? To answer that we have to look back at what made Battlestar Galactica so great.

Now I should state that Colony and Battlestar Galactica are two very different shows and Colony shouldn’t copy anything from Galactica but it should take notes on how certain similar storylines were developed well on Galactica specifically that of the Cylon occupation of New Caprica from the first few episodes of season 3. In the storyline the Cylons ruled over the humans using a proxy human government while a band of resistance members fought back which is essentially the core set up of Colony. What made it work so well in Galactica is that we knew the flawed aims of the Cylons including why the occupation was going on and we also knew of the compelling back story between the humans and Cylons. In Colony we know neither of these two things with the aliens being faceless entities of oppression.

Moving forward Colony could and should develop the relationship between the aliens and their subjects while never losing sight of the human drama just like Battlestar Galactica managed. We can learn why the aliens are occupying parts of the Earth which needs to be answered soon; this isn’t Lost in which the co-creator of both shows Carlton Cuse (who also develops Bates Motel which everyone should watch) left the audience with questions for a long time. Maybe, like Battlestar Galactica, there is history between the humans and the aliens and from information we learnt in the first season this is possible. The aliens reached out to the humans they wanted to govern the colonies before their official ‘arrival’ and briefly in season 1 we saw a congregation of people who believe the aliens are the second coming and have ties to religion which is very Battlestar Galactica and could take the show in a cool and different direction if developed next season.

Colony needs to continue and a development in the overarching narrative of the alien invasion is an interesting way to do it and focusing on one major feature like that will make it stand out more among the other shows than when in the first season it was going for the jack-of-all-trades style. Part of the reason I want it to continue is just so Josh Holloway can hold down a job, he’s great here and he deserves another long running show like Lost especially when his co-star Sarah Wayne Callies with her staring-at-everything-with-her-eyes-really-wide-with-surprise style of acting seems to get a gig in pretty much every Fox produced TV show.

Did you enjoy the first season of Colony and how do you think it can improve moving forward into its second season? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV on Twitter @kylebrrtt.

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