Saturday, October 7, 2006

Battlestar Galactica, Season 3: A Bad Start

I'm a science fiction nerd. I love the stuff. Can't get enough of it. One of my favorite shows is the SciFi channel's Battlestar Galactica. Two seasons ago, it was my number one favorite show. However, as an observant MySpacer might have noticed, it's not listed in my TV favorites on my front page.

That's because, dear reader, Season Two was a disappointment. The season itself was adequate, with about a 50:50 ratio of good and bad episodes. The kicker, though, was the absolutely horrifyingly horrible season finale. In it, one of the cardinal rules of good television writing (and good writing altogether) was broken: following a nice set up, the show jumped "one year later" in order to shock us... to "grab our attention" for more, as it were.

Well, that it did. Shock us, anyway. What the flying fuck were the writers thinking?

Now, as I recall the horrible Season 3 premiere, I'm left with all of the silly questions the writers no doubt intended for me to have, such as:

"What happened in that lost year?"
"Why are the Cylons on New Caprica anyway?"
"What's going on back on old Caprica?"

To make matters worse, the writers decided to put another four month gap of between between the Season 2 finale and the Season 3 premiere, which essentially left us with 16 months of "what the fuck?"

The error of this, quite obviously, lies in characterization. Suddenly, because we are expected to acknowledge that 16 months of change just occured, characters are acting what seems to be "out of character." Starbuck, in what was the single most stupid subplot of the premiere, is now acting like a mother to her supposed half-Cylon child. Lee Adama, in what was another stupid subplot, is now grotesquely fat. Yes, it served up one good line of dialogue from Edward James Olmos, but otherwise seemed unnecessary. I could go on, but I won't spoil anything for those few Battlestar Galactica viewers that haven't seen it yet.

Another problem exhibited by the premiere is the rather glaring shift from being politically ambiguous to being clearly anti-George Bush. I understand that being relevant is an important aspect of art, but the show was much more relevant when both sides could be interpreted. Once, a couple of seasons ago, the creators and writers of Battlestar Galactica claimed that the Cylon similarities to radical Islam were "coincidental." As of the Season 3 premiere, despite the attribution of terrorist aspects to both the humans and the Cylons, this is obviously no longer the case.

As the season progresses, I'm hoping that the writers return to the original point of the show: a long lost colony on its way to find Earth. This was hinted at in the premiere, but it's been hinted at for three seasons now, and we're not getting very far. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that we're going to be subjected to another cardinal sin of writing, the flashback. Only one show I can think of does flashbacks well, it's called Lost. With Battlestar Galactica, I fear that the flashback will be used for what bad writers always use flashbacks for: to fix continuity errors and to avoid revealing lack of skill in writing "real time" plot and character development.

I'm not even going to mention that Mars is a Roman god. And yet the humans in the show were quite obviously intended to have worshipped the Greek pantheon.

Ugh.

11 comments:

  1. While the season opener was a little bit of a shock, it didn't stop me from watching. Compare this to the takeover of "LEXX" by the SciFi Channel: "LEXX" was thrown into the abyss of "steered" television shows. The story arcs in their 3rd season made me wretch.
    So have faith! It's my Hubbie's belief (and he's a big BSG fan) that Starbuck is just faking with her little squeeze of her Cylon captor's hand - she's setting him up for a big fall. I agree. While Starbuck may have some feelings for the child, she's not ready to latch onto a Cylon and tell him she loves him (unless she's pretending.) The characters will fall back into their norms once the story arc hits the ground running. Of that I am sure.

    Posted by Manda on October 8, 2006 - Sunday - 5:52 AM

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  2. Hey that had some episodes that weren't televised. They where shown on Sci-Fi/battlestargalactica.com, I didn't get to watch them all; but the two I watched where in that gap.

    Posted by Eddie on October 7, 2006 - Saturday - 5:24 PM

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  3. Lee wasn't that fat.

    Earlier religious references I have no problem with. Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, what have you. Much of history during those times is obscure and/or even lost. The Roman Era, however, is much more accurately recorded. To add the Roman/Greek schism to BSG is to pinpoint a specific timeframe in which the Kobol split would've occurred. Not to mention that it also reveals the likelihood that the writers of BSG are using Bulfinch's Mythology as their primary reference... and everybody (with the exception of BSG) knows how inaccurate Bulfinch was.

    Posted by JeffScape on October 7, 2006 - Saturday - 3:55 PM

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  4. To be fair:

    1) Lee was fat in the season finale last year (doesn't make it good, but still, can't blame the premiere for it) =)

    2) regarding Mars...they already mentioned Mercury (off-screen)...and I think they made an Egyptian reference early on didn't they? While the Greek pantheon clearly dominates, they never have really written it in stone. Personally, I think that's a good thing...it makes them more of a reference to the Ancient World in general than the Greeks specifically, and in light of the fact that how they find Earth (i.e., what state/stage) is a sore point of contention among fans, I think the more vague the religious similarities, the better.

    Posted by Geoffry on October 7, 2006 - Saturday - 12:47 PM

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  5. @Manda: I'm pretty sure that it will be revealed that she was "faking," but the point is that, according to what we already knew about her character, she should've "celebrated" the Cylon hybrid's death. Instead, we get the "mom" response.

    Now, had the writers of BSG not cheated us out of those 4 months of story, I might have bought the switch.

    Basically, the premiere tried to establish too much with too little. The writers, it seems, have once again dug themselves into a hole. I will continue to watch, but if drastic improvements aren't made soon, BSG will join Star Trek as a franchise that I no longer care about.

    Posted by JeffScape on October 8, 2006 - Sunday - 3:25 PM

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  6. @Manda: i loved lexx i need repeats ,and i never got to watch much galactica so i need guys like u to tell me what the hell is goin on ,

    Posted by on October 8, 2006 - Sunday - 2:34 PM

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  7. "Hey that had some episodes that weren't televised"

    You referring to the so-called 'webisodes?' Supposedly, we didn't have to watch them to understand S3. Altogether, they added up to a half-hour thing.

    But, then again, the premiere referenced two or threee things from them, so I don't know if they count or not.

    Few outside the US could view them on the sciffy site, and had to resort to *ahem* "other means."

    Posted by Geoffry on October 8, 2006 - Sunday - 10:35 AM

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  8. If the Mars/Roman issue bothers you, what about the mention of Battlestar Valkyrie?

    Posted by The Artist Formerly Known As Jack™ on December 19, 2006 - Tuesday - 8:45 PM

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  9. You don't HAVE to disagree...you just like to. :)

    I like VOs, personally, though I imagine they're not everyone's cup of tea.

    Posted by Geoffry on October 9, 2006 - Monday - 2:00 PM

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  10. I must disagree. Roslin's VO was quite possibly the worst (and laziest) use of VO that I've seen all year. Again, bad writing that does nothing but cheats the viewer.

    Posted by JeffScape on October 8, 2006 - Sunday - 4:07 PM

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  11. "And since bad writers use flashbacks, I guess bad screenwriters use voice overs"

    I like voice overs...if done well, it can be very cool. The story you're telling has to support it, though.

    The Captain's logs on Star Trek were voice overs, and worked fine.

    Babylon 5, being a story told "after the fact" by the characters in historical form, used voice overs to great effect, especially during the season finale episodes.

    I think Roslin's VO here worked well to cover the four month jump since last year's finale. Leaving aside the year-jump that brought us to season 2's cliffhanger, this one was much more acceptable. We didn't really need to see everything from Day 1 of the occupation, since the characters do a good job of showing us that nothing much had changed, except that an insurgency was begun by ex-Colonial military officers.
    If Starbuck has been locked in that building, forced to play house with a Cylon that she can't even kill (since he keeps downloading and coming back), then it is perfectly reasonable to think that she's gone over the deep end.
    Tigh apparently spent days or weeks in detention being tortured by the Cylons, so his cold-blooded terror tactics make sense from his POV.
    Jammer was always weak, even in season 1, so his joining the NC Police and collaborating isn't unexpected at all.

    With all that, we didn't need to see every moment of how they got there to understand where they were and what they've been through. The four month jump to Occupation: Day 134 was not a problem for me.

    I AM a little upset that they might be killing Tom Zarek....

    Lee's weight gain is unnecessary. I understand what they are implying, his depression from last year has manifested itself as overeating and a lack of concern with himself physically. But, I don't think it was imperative to do that, it was just writer's choice. Me? I don't eat when I'm depressed...I eat when I'm bored.... :)

    I DO feel kinda cheated that we didn't see Helo and Sharon make up. Last year, they were left with Sharon discarding Helo after their baby died, because she was so angry...now they are married. Ok. How'd it happen? How did they make up and move past the apparently loss of the baby? I think we should have seen that.

    Why are Lee and Dee married? Everything in that relationship has been rushed by off camera...the result? Most fans hate it and hate her, because the relationship has made ZERO sense since the beginning, and it is annoying.

    That's all I can think of for now.

    Posted by Geoffry on October 8, 2006 - Sunday - 4:03 PM

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