January 24, 2005 12:00 PM

Sci Fi Channel (Fridays, 10 p.m. ET)

SCI-FI

Following up on the 2003 mini-series, this show is a well-crafted, surprisingly intelligent update of ABC’s late-’70s Star Wars clone.

As the series launches with two Jan. 14 episodes (starting at 9 p.m.), the last human survivors are wandering through space in a motley fleet, trying to stay one jump ahead of the robot attackers called Cylons. The human military leader, Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos), has a wary relationship with civilian president Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), who enlists Adama’s son Apollo (Jamie Bamber) as a close adviser. The political maneuvering and philosophical debates have relevance for our own time, but there’s more than enough action to keep the show from getting preachy. There’s also a sexual thrill every time Number 6 (Tricia Heifer), a robot in gorgeously human form, invades the mind of weak-willed scientist Gaius Baltar (James Callis). Unfortunately, the Jan. 21 episode suffers from the guest-star casting of Richard Hatch (Apollo in the ABC original), who seems rather rusty as a supposedly charismatic rebel.

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