The Military Member: Valerie Ernst

'BSG's' flawed characters impress Lt. Col.

Battlestar Galactica” drew me in from the first episode because of the great writing combined with the slick cinematography. As a military member, I was impressed that the writers were able to translate some of the unique situations we face in real life to a dramatic science-fiction story.

For instance, the early episode where they had to keep operations going 24/7 indefinitely to run from the Cylons really conveyed the exhaustion and its effects when we can’t sleep because it’s a matter of life or death. The weariness was tangible. It actually brought back memories of some deployments and crisis planning when the missions didn’t allow for rest.

One of the other best elements in the storylines was that they revolved around flawed, fascinating adults. It’s hard to find a show these days that isn’t centered on predictable teen romance. That’s great for teenagers, but for people who have lived long enough to have interesting lives of their own, there’s no draw. “Battlestar Galactica,” on the hand, kept me tuned in precisely because I could never predict exactly what new layer might come out in a character’s personality.

I had the good fortune to visit the set and meet some of the cast and crew, including some of the writers. It turns out some of them have military members in their families and draw on that sometimes to flesh out the episodes. I held them in high esteem before I met them and was even more impressed after meeting them in person. They are geniuses and they are super friendly, gracious and self-effacing. Just as it is with the military, the best part was actually the friends I’ve kept from the experience.

Valerie Ernst is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and will soon be deployed to the Middle East. She majored in Russian and holds a master’s degree in space studies.

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