Friday, January 19, 2007
Battlestar Galatica: the New Way Forward
Battlestar Galatica, hmmm… I have to confess, I’m getting bored with this show. I was really into it for a while. The apocalyptic vision, the deep drama, and allegories to current political disasters were engaging, but now I’m burned out. Maybe, I’m getting a wee bit tired of the heavy-handed emotional flip outs by the characters. I dunno. I watched... heck, I bought the original mini-series that jumpstarted the new re-imagined BSG, so I knew what I was getting into. I understood the tone and enjoyed it. So why would I suddenly find myself losing interest in it now?
Well, three possibilities come to mind. The first is that several elements of the show have been grating on me of late, the second lies in the fact that I am a crossover fan, meaning I was a fan of the original BSG but decided to give the new show a chance, and third, is the current reality of the world.
As BSG has rolled along into its third season, I realized that it has no real direction. This program has the illusion of direction in that the human survivors are trying to find earth, but Ron Moore and his staff really don’t have a plan for the over all series. It seems that the characters are floating from one angst-filled episode to the next. Examples of this lack of planning include Boxey who just disappeared after the miniseries (why have this character if you don’t want to use him), the two sharons, and Helo, a throwaway character that that Ron Moore liked so much he decided to shoehorn him in even though he was left to die on Caprica. I understand that things change during the run of a TV show, but I just don’t believe BSG has any significant direction, beyond plot points that are just dropped in and maybe used later. I feel this contributes to wild swings in character behavior like: Tom Zarek the ‘freedom fighter’ creating secret panels to execute collaborators, and the sudden adultery between Lee and Kara just to mention a two examples. That’s why when it says “…and they have a plan.” during the opening sequence, it strikes me as very ironic.
When the original show wasn’t continued but re-imagined, I was terribly sad that the BSG I knew wouldn’t be coming back. Especially when it came so close to being a reality with Bryan Singer’s Battlestar Galatica project. But I put these feelings aside as I dove into the grim and grittiness of Moore’s new show. But over time, the fact that the new BSG is a drama first and a Sci-Fi show second has worn me down. The naturalistic style means no heroic adventures. With only humans and the humanlike cylons in the entire galaxy, there is nothing to discover but the void. There is no hope as the survivors travel from one empty planet to the next. That’s not to say that there aren’t things I like about the current BSG, it just means that the show has become an emotional slog. Moreover, I miss the old cylons. The clunky armor, the synthesized voices, they were just good fun. I had this weird feeling that the BSG crew would stumble across the old cylons at some point as a lost group, but because Moore abhors the old show this isn’t going to happen. Although, the old style cylons do appear in the new BSG comic set between current storylines. So I guess my weird feeling was for the comic book version.
Finally, with all the bad news in the real world, the grim militarism and political assassinations on BSG are becoming too much of a downer. I guess I want a respite from the turmoil rather than such a direct reminder of it. The show’s allegories seemed an important expression of the shock of 9-11 and the war in Iraq, but now not so much. I just need a little more fantasy in my science fiction entertainment right now. Although I gotta' admit, some of those new cylons are hot.
With my interest in the show waning, I still don’t think BSG should be cancelled. The Sci Fi Channel currently has a dilemma as the show’s ratings have sunk, that’s why they moved it to Sunday nights, but to not provide a proper ending for BSG would alienate what’s left of their base viewership. Remember the PR disaster the cancellation of Farscape caused? I suspect that Battlestar Galatica will get a fourth season regardless of ratings as there is nothing to replace it and a forth season would solidify the show for reruns. I just personally won’t be as concerned about skipping episodes anymore, besides I can just download them anyway right? I read on the Sci Fi forums that the more that Battlestar Galatica moves away from the premise of the original show, the more it’s audience shrinks. That makes me wonder if a continuation would have been more successful. We’ll never know. All Sci Fi can do now is move forward with the current BSG. Boy, that’s an allegory all by itself.