Once upon a time, every TV show with a vaguely enthusiastic following had an episode-by-episode guide published – but these days, to convince the fanbase to splash out on a wedge of printed paper, rather than just look up the wiki on their phone, you have to offer more.
Stevens and Moore certainly offer that in their book on the original Battlestar Galactica (and short-lived follow-up Galactica 80 ). The show makes a great subject, with its tumultuous production history, and the best sections are the overviews of the show and its ill-fated sequel. The picture that emerges of the American TV industry in the late ‘70s is fascinating: an opportunist environment where studios rip off each other’s movies, make them into TV shows and then sue each other. It’s a miracle that anything watchable emerged from this, let alone anything that stands up to the level of analysis each episode receives later in the book. But that’s the joy of this kind of criticism: to see how far you can break down a piece of ephemeral entertainment before it falls apart.
The book is strong on behind-the-scenes detail, assessing first draft scripts to see how they compare to the finished product – in fact, the main flaw is that it leaves you wanting to read a day-by-day account of the production, to track the unfolding chaos. However, on its own terms it’s as good a guide to the show as you could hope to read.