The streaming war gets closer with NBCUniversal’s reheating of an old sci-fi (and Syfy) franchise.
NBCUniversal announced on Tuesday the name of its upcoming streaming service: Peacock. The name makes sense as it is the logo of the National Broadcasting Company and an instantly recognizable logo. It makes much more sense than WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, which really only highlights one sector of its enormous IP stockpile. And while Peacock will be home to many, many NBC shows like Parks and Recreation, it will also double- and triple-down on some older brands like Battlestar Galactica.
Deadline reports the second reboot will be spearheaded by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. Peacock will also feature the return of Saved by the Bell with some original castmembers and a continuation of Punky Brewster with Soleil Moon Frye reprising the title role. But for us, the Battlestar threepeat is the most interesting of the bunch. Originally devised by Glen A. Larson in 1977, it was clearly riding the coattails of that other 1977 phenomenon about a war in the stars. The premise saw a rag-tag, fugitive fleet of human ships fleeing from a race of robot invaders called Cylons. The similarities to Star Wars caused George Lucas to sue Universal Television, but the program still aired on ABC in 1978. Initially planned as a series of TV movies, the network asked Larson to covert it to a week, hour-long series. The results were mixed and despite amortizing the costs of the special effects footage it reused week after week, it was still an costly production. ABC cancelled it after one year. It eventually revived the program as Galactica 1980, but the less said of that, the better.
For decades, Galactica was being developed as a film from disgraced director Bryan Singer before Syfy (then still The Sci-Fi Channel) optioned it and brought on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine veteran Ronald D. Moore to revamp it. Keeping the essential element of the rag-tag fleet running from the Cylons and searching for Earth, the series involved into a mediation on forever wars. To some, it lost its way by the fourth and final season, but it early episodes are still some of the finest sci-fi stories aired by a cable channel.
Which leaves us to wonder what Esmail can do with it. On the one hand, Moore created the handy motto “all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again,” allowing both the original show and his reboot to exist as odd mirror reflections — to say nothing of subsequent iterations. He could continue on that train by setting eons after the 2009 finale. Alternatively, he could make it an unambiguous family show and flip the tone from Moore’s version. Deadline reports the two have been in contact because Esmail loved the Syfy series. Hopefully, he loved it enough to know another version needs to set itself apart somehow. UPDATE: Esmail took to Twitter to declare his BSG will not be a remake of Moore’s.
Unless, of course, the real plan is to reboot Galactica 1980.
Peacock is set to launch in April 2020, Galactica and the other reboots are set to launch later that year.