The final season of the Sci-Fi Network’s series Battlestar Galactica resumes tonight at 10:00 p.m., with the first of ten episodes that will bring the series to its conclusion.

The show is a brilliant remake of the late 1970s series starring Lorne Greene about a race of robots called Cylons who destroy all of humankind’s colonies, forcing the few surviviors to embark on a quest to find their mythical home planet — Earth.

battlestar_six.jpgThe new series, which began in June 2005, is a gritty update that is one of the smartest “political” shows on the air today. Full of Biblical overtones with its lost tribes searching for a promised land, the series is also about the ancient struggle between the Greeks and the Persians — between a polytheist culture and a monotheist culture — with the added twist here that it’s the humans who are the polytheists. (“Praise the Gods!”) In addition, the new show offers a further twist: the robots have evolved so that many of them look identical to humans (that there is a robot at the right), and they believe that they’re on a mission to do God’s will in cleansing the galaxy of humanity — or at least converting humanity to their fundamentalist point of view.

Another reason for readers of this blog to be interested in the show: one of its lead characters, a fighter pilot played by Katee Sackhoff, is named “Starbuck.”  (In the original series, Starbuck was a man, played by Dirk Benedict, who went on to star with George Peppard and Mr. T in The A-Team.)

The show left us with a mid-season cliffhanger last June, in which the humans and a group of Cylons have in fact discovered Earth. But a promised land, it is not, as the episode’s title, “Revelations,” turns out to be a pun:

bsg412_67x01_after.jpgWhen I first saw this post-apocalyptic image last summer, I immediately thought: It’s New York — and a homage to the conclusion of Planet of the Apes, in which the protagonist (played by Charlton Heston) sees the ruins of the statue of Liberty and realizes that the planet ruled by apes on which he’ thought he had been stranded is actually Earth after some future war. (You can see that scene here on YouTube.)

Compare the image above to this one of the Brooklyn Bridge:

080522-brooklyn-bridge-hmed-415a.hmedium.jpgIn the intervening months, fans of the series have studied that image, looking for clues about the future of the series in it; apparently, many have also suggested that what we’re seeing is a ravaged New York City.

But perhaps Manhattan won’t turn out to be the island at the center of the world, as far as Battlestar Galactica is concerned. One of the special-effects gurus who worked on the Battlestar shot reveals that original scene was filmed in Vancouver. Check out his blog for an interesting account of the creation of the shot and a peek into the world of special visual effects.

We’ll learn more tonight about post-apocalyptic Earth. If this sounds interesting to you but you haven’t been watching the show, don’t worry: you can still hop on board the Battlestar. There’s a marvelous 13-minute recap available called “Catch the Frak Up” (“frak” being a swear word in the BG universe). The amusing video is narrated at breathtaking speed by Sackhoff and is available on the show’s website, as well as on iTunes (free) and (free and downloadable to your Tivo). And the first three-and-a-half seasons are available on DVD if you find yourself getting hooked!