Saturday, July 17, 2010

Battlestar Galactica

I've come to the conclusion that the re-imaged version of Battlestar Galactica is the best sci-fi television series ever made. I didn't have any emotional connection to the original which allowed me full freedom to immerse myself in the re-imaged version. The creators always gave the original it's respect. A few times my ear caught the original's theme song intertwined with the score.

We finished the series several evenings ago. I've taken some time to let it simmer and collect my thoughts on the show.

This will contain spoilers. Most people who were watching this show have already finished it or know how it ends. We were the late comers.

Unlike many sci-fi shows and movies before, BSG had a real natural feel with spaceship combat. The detail with centrifugal forces made the dog-fight scenes a joy to watch. I am always left wanting more. The first time I recall seeing this kind of detail to physics in a sci-fi show was in BSG's older brother, Firefly. One fault to this was that the Colonial Vipers and the Cylon Raiders did emit sound out in space. The silence was a detail that Firefly remains superior with. Their space was truly silent.

Another thing I liked about the series was a relatively low tech level. In spite of space travel and FTL, there were no lasers or beam weapons. Everything was still ballistic. This is quite easy for audiences to understand as it is no more advanced than our own technology. Their greatest weapons were nukes, as is ours.

At times it was more difficult to pop in the DVDs and watch BSG than it was to watch something like Firefly, because the drama was so heavy. BSG is not an uplifting show. Often quite a downer. This may be part of why I feel it is better. Something about that pain or effort making the trip worth the time.

Another very interesting thing about BSG was the UN appearance. I don't believe any other show has this honor:

BSG At the UN: Wow! That Actually Worked!
 By Matt Blum lMarch 19, 2009 | 8:00:00 AMCategories: Television 
We mentioned the then-impending appearance of the producers and primary stars of Battlestar Galactica at the United Nations a few days ago. Well, the panel discussion took place Tuesday night, and, while unfortunately nobody from GeekDad was invited, I've seen enough of the video and read enough accounts of it to have formed an opinion: It rocked!

While it was an undeniably weird idea, it nonetheless worked out remarkably well. While I still would like to know where the idea came from, it does make sense when you really consider it: Most of the best science fiction on television has worked precisely because it has been based on ideas and conflicts that exist in today's world, and BSG is a prime example. So why shouldn't people who've been working on addressing the issues of the present in a fictional setting have a reasonable chance of providing insight on how to address the issues in reality?

They showed clips from the show and talked about some of the more controversial plot turns the show has taken, from the outlawing of abortion aboard Galactica to Tigh's speech about why suicide bombings were useful and necessary in the resistance on New Caprica. When you think about it, the show has really covered an awful lot of tough, tough issues.

The best accounts of the evening that I've found came from io9 and Entertainment Weekly. You can also download a video (in RealPlayer format, alas) of the entire summit here. I wish I could've been there if only for the part described thusly by EW:
When one of the UN's representatives talked about how part of their mandate was to safeguard the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and station, Olmos got a little heated. "You never should've invited me here," he said, before blasting the UN for continuing to use race as a term of separation, of division among peoples. His voice rose, steadily, as if years of social activism was coming to a head on this night. Then, directing his attention to the high schoolers: "Adults will never be able to stop using the word 'race' as a cultural determinant....There is only one race: the human race. SO SAY WE ALL!"

I swear to you, everyone in that chamber shouted it right back at him. Because the Admiral asked us to.

And Mary McDonnell leaned over and gently wiped a tear from Olmos' cheek.

link to article
link to BSG at UN video

I really admired that the people behind the show saw an ending and took the show too it's conclusion. No matter if the finale was good or bad, this is a very good aspect of any show. Especially with one that contains so much scrutinized continuity. The story was more important that trying to wring out as much profit as possible. That always leads to jumping the shark. I felt BSG succeeded in ending before that point.

The series' conclusion is far more complete and satisfying than LOST (compared only that the two shows were quite popular at around the same time and ended nearly the same time, too). The ending was nice and tied ALMOST everything up.  The ending wasn't totally surprising, but it was a satisfactory twist.

I was disappointed with the Opera House dream that Roslin, Caprica 6 and Sharon shared revealed as the Galactica's CIC bridge room was quite anti-climactic. I'm not sure how else to conclude that thread, though.

The very end of the series has a scene of the Messengers, (or Head Baltar and Head Six as the fanbase called them), in the modern day Earth as we know it. This heavily suggesting that they were angels or something similar, hence the title Messenger. Throughout the show, these characters appeared to Gaius Baltar and Caprica Six and only to them. Their appearance at the end in this manner suddenly gave the show a very real super natural quality. There always was a quality just on the edge of super natural throughout, but here it was nothing less than divine.

As for the colonists becoming the origin of the human race, there are some complaints about this aspect in many of the reviews I've read. This sat fine with me.  One argument was that English language could not likely survive 150,000 years into the future relatively unaltered. It's unreasonable to try to argue this point, I don't believe the English language was supposed to be taken literally, but rather just simply the most convenient language to make the show for it's viewing audience. I'd say the languages of the colonies were probably resembling nothing we'd recognize.

There are enough open ended threads that could lead to more adventure (Baseship of Centurions sailing the vastness of space).

However, What the hell is Kara Thrace?

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