BACK TO GEEK HEAVEN: This Sunday sees the return of Battlestar Galactica on Space for its final half-season, and where I live, the anticipation is greater than any fan fervour about 24 or Lost or Mad Men, which says something about my friends, I’m sure.

If you’re a fan, I don’t need to tell you where things were as the first half of season four ended last June. The surviving humans -- allied with the rebel Cylons -- had finally made it to Earth, albeit the nuclear wasteland edition of Earth so beloved of sci-fi writers on a dystopia trip. Hardcore fans have probably already watched the 10 webisodes featuring the Felix Gaeta and Boomer Cylon characters doing what’s basically Hitchcock’s Lifeboat in space, which act as a bridge between the two halves of the season and set up one of the big conflicts for the show’s endgame.

A quick run through the season 4.0 box set just released by Universal is probably worthwhile, if only for hints, revealed in the bonus features, that at least the first half of the final episodes will play out like Ten Little Indians. Cast members, some of them much-loved, will start dying off, some at their own hands in the fog of despair that overcomes the survivors with their discovery of the fate of the Earth.

Like so much sci-fi, there’s a lot about Galactica that doesn’t bear too much scrutiny – the condition of post-apocalyptic Earth, and the clues it contains about the former lives of the final five Cylons are more than a bit implausible, to say the least. And like much of the genre today, there’s a magpie quality about the situations and scenes; watch for Edward James Olmos doing Martin Sheen in the first 10 minutes of Apocalypse Now, right down to the drunken mirror smashing, but without the naked Tai Chi (thank God for small mercies.)

The remarkable thing about Galactica at this point is how many characters and storylines are being pushed to the front of the plot with a clarity of focus almost entirely missing from Lost or 24; perhaps it’ll finally pick up a few awards for this accomplishment once it’s safely off the air and Emmy voters feel moved to overcome their aversion to sci-fi.

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