Monday, March 16, 2009

God has a plan, Gaius. He has a plan for everything, and everyone.


This last Friday I had the pleasure of drinking a pitcher of India Pale Ale while enjoying the next to last episode of Battlestar Galactica with 1000 other fans of the show and actress Katee Sakhoff who plays Starbuck.

I'm obviously a fan of the new Battlestar Galactica. It hasn't always fired on all cylinders but it has consistently been one of the best shows on television, better than 99% of the other tripe broadcast IMHO.

As a boy in the 70s I loved the original Battlestar Galactica. I loved the idea of an aircraft carrier in space. I thought Dirk Benedict as the original cigar smoking Starbuck was cooler than shit. I pined over the beautiful Jane Seymour in her short stint in the show. I loved the vipers and the Cylon raiders building models of both. Hell- I even loved Boxey and his robot Daggit.

But not every fan of the original has come along for Ron Moore's darker reimagining of the original series. Many fans of the original have turned a thumb's down to the new Battlestar. They don't like it's politics, including it's seeming turn towards a "24" pro-torture sentiment a couple of seasons ago. They think Ron Moore doesn't like the original show. Both of these criticisms leave me scratching my head.

If you look at the political sentiment expressed in the original Battlestar Galactica the prevailing theme seems much more reprehensible to me. Essentially the original Battlestar was arguing for that the best form of government was a benign military dictatorship. Again and again the democratically elected political leadership made decisions that threatened the future of humanity until a military leader - Commander Adama - had to step in and save their bacon.

The new BSG has always been a sort of counterpoint to post-9/11 America. The writers have tackled issues that were ignored by the mainstream media in asking questions about the dangers of paranoia, or the danger of allowing the military to control our society.

When it comes to torture they've done ticking time bomb torture scenes, but they've also aired Abu Ghraib scenes that show the cost of torture. In short- they've accomplished what the best science fiction is able to do - they make you THINK about issues in ways that are often uncomfortable.

But perhaps the strangest idea I'm confronted with by fans of the old show is that Ron Moore doesn't respect the original series. One of the many reasons I like this new show so much is that it regularly nods to the original series in big ways and small. From the genius move of casting Richard Hatch as a former terrorist to the sheer number of episodes built off of original episodes, of the series it's clear to me that Moore has a love of the original. The first part of the finale aired Friday began with that same shot of the nebula from the original BSG show. That scene wasn't put in there for fans of reimagined BSG.

As the new BSG rides off into the sunset this next Friday I'm looking at the loss of this series with genuine sadness (the Sci-Fi network will now be completely unwatchable.) Simple scenes like Doctor Cottell volunteering for the last one-way mission or Adama helping his frail love president Roslin cross the line still choke me up. Make no mistake about it- BSG is a jewel in a sea of American Idol on television. It's passing won't be a good thing.


ladybug said...

Although I do not like the new series (not because of old BSG, which was only "ok" IMHO), I DO think it's very good, and more realistic of what a war time/holocaust survival mentality...

and WTF is Dirk Bendict whining that Starbuck being a woman character and the new BSG's "perceived anti-masculinity agenda"...the guy's stuck in a late 70's time warp!

Finally the reason I'm not into the show this time around is simply that it's a bit too heavy...Burn Notice is more my kind of relax TV

Lockwood said...

I really, really disliked the original show, though I had the serious hots for Erin Gray. I have never seen an episode of the new series, but from discussions in the Webospheres and amongst folks here at the coffee shop, it really sounds like my cup of... erm... coffee.

Don Snabulus said...

I probably would have liked it more if Hulu had been around since the beginning. Spending $45/mo for a couple of good shows on cable just doesn't register for me.

It would be cool if BSG could get into syndication on network TV. Then I could start anew with it.

ThoughtCriminal said...

I've been thinking about a long blog post about the series after the final episode, but I'll bounce the idea here first. I think the final half-season, while interesting, has lost me in a few ways.

If I had been steering the plot, here's where I think I would have taken the forgotten history: The Cylons were created by Earth humans to protect themselves from the Colonies in a brutal civil war. It was also a religious war between the monotheistic Earth and the polytheistic Colonies. Earth lost and human life was exterminated there, but the Cylons survived and continued their war against the Colonies. The split among the Cylons is between those who believe their function is to exterminate the enemies of Earth and those who want to restore the human race, but convert it back to Earth's "One God".

Oh well... After "The Empire Strikes Back", I had a nifty theory that Darth Vader was actually a clone of Luke's father, created by the Emperor to destroy Anakin Skywalker and replace him. Lucas had other ideas, but I still think it would have been better my way.

Arkonbey said...

like a dear relative with Alzheimer's, BSG passed a very long time ago when they went to New Caprica.

Up until then, it was simply the best sci-fi ever presented on television.

I mourn not it's end, but its potential that was squandered in heavy-handedness, convolution, a failed attempt at timeliness and over-scrutinization of a universe that really couldn't hold up to such observation.

@LB: Dirk was just angry he didn't get a part. Look at how much Richard Hatch complained until he was offered a part.

Dean Wormer said...


It is a bit heavy. That's the reason my missus doesn't watch it.

As for Dirk- I think Arkonbey is right about the part although there have been rumors that he got an offer. I think he just has too big of a frakkin ego.


Check out the original miniseries first. It's only a few hours and will really give yyou a taste for the show.


I don't have cable. Pirate Bay. 'nuff said.


Fans have had to put together flow charts to follow the explanations of who created who and when this season. I think your story idea makes more sense and is much less convoluted that the direction they did take this season.

On the religious war aspect one of the unanswered questions that I hope the finale addresses is just where the cylons got their monotheism. It sounds like some third party introduced it to them. Are these guys going to appear in the end? Maybe the glowing angel guys from the original series?

I think thematically they're trying to make a statement about the absurdity of war in general and how we need each other. The war between the cylons and humans has happened before and will continue to happen until we break the cycle.

That's what the (somewhat dense) Adama has finally come to terms with. The final mission isn't just him fighting the idea of leaving someone behind, it's him also realizing that a half cylon child is just as valuable as a human to the survival of everybody.

I would've enjoyed seeing your take on the story, though.


Ha! Obviously I don't agree. I enjoyed a lot of the New Caprica storyline with my only qualm being that it seems to have defanged the character of Baltar and, in retrospect, maybe he should've died there.

The show has never been as great as the first couple of seasons but it's occasionally exceeded it in certain episodes. Almost every character has followed an arc and developed over the course of the show.

As for Hatch - I love that guy. He organized against the new show because he wasn't involved and it was cool of Ron Moore to bring him into the fold. The part written for him was perfect. His character met the end you might expect but it was just a brilliant turn on his part.

Arkonbey said...

@Dean: man, I'm gonna have to come out there just so we can hit a brewpub, drink many stouts and have a table-pounding discussion over the New Caprica storyline (a matter over which I am mildly opinionated)

Dr. Zaius said...

I couldn't get into it. I am still watching ST:Enterprise, ferchisakes!

Dean Wormer said...


You come out this way I'll buy you that beer and we can argue Battlestar. Nothing better than debating sci fi stuff. :)


The last season is best if you like the old series.

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