Wednesday, January 28, 2009

They have a plan. [Just kidding.]

While we're on the subject of television, I guess I'll cover Battlestar Galactica too. It's been one of my favorite shows for a couple of years now. Like Lost, it just picked up again. Unlike Lost, BSG has finally reached the endgame. We're two episodes into the ten episode finale.

Since the finale of last season, the show has gotten a little strange. The writers are purposefully rocketing towards darkness, and they're doing it well. [It's led to some amazing performances. Edward James Almos in particular.] I don't doubt that the show is doing exactly what the producers want it to be doing.

The problem is, what they're doing isn't any fun. It's bleak. Everyone is unhappy, and once again the fleet's leadership is in turmoil. Which is fine, except we've seen this arc. We've seen it more than once. Roslin vs. Adama. Zarek vs. Roslin. Lee vs. Adama. Lee vs. Roslin. Baltar vs. Roslin. Blah vs. Blah.

It's a real let down to get all the way to the ending, just to watch the same horse get beaten one more time. Yes, I know, the horse will get beaten harder. It will be even more gritty, dark, and vicious than it was the last six times we watched it...

People's faces will turn red. Guns will be pointed. Unthinkable executions will occur. Ambiguous nobility and faux realism will clash to the sound of an angry drumbeat while handcams wobble and obscure the action. [The drum and wobbling camera will help you understand just how intense and gritty the action really is.]

Worse still, the traditional Battlestar Galactica "serialize as you go" system is finally catching up with the storyline. The farther we get into the ending, the more it looks like this last season will retroactively cheese up all previous installments. I'll explain...

For the first sixty-something episodes of Battlestar Galactica, the whole concept of the show revolved around the cylons "having a plan". They reiterated the cylons and their plan at the beginning of every single episode. In season four they just dropped it, and apparently the cylons have a lot less of a plan than they did before. So now when you go back and watch the old ones, it just comes across as a campy lie born of formulaic television plotting.

I'm even more concerned about Head Six. The Caprica Six ghost that only Baltar can see. There was an episode where we learned that Caprica Six also sees a Baltar. I've waited very patiently for that to be explained. We don't seem to be getting closer to any kind of answer.

"Two people from completely different species simultaneously developed a unique new mental disorder."

If that is the final explanation, as it appears to be at the moment, then every episode of BSG just got much, much dumber than it was before. They don't even show Head Six anymore. On a personal level I find it very disappointing; the cleverest idea on the series now threatens to transmogrify into the lamest thing to hit science fiction since Jar Jar Binks.

Of course, it's not just those two things. As important as those two plot lines are, they still aren't the whole show. It's many little things.

Last season ended with a "cliffhanger' that had no emotional resonance whatsoever. It was supposed to be this big important moment, and an overwhelming realization. Instead it just felt empty.

They got to Earth. Earth was dead. No part of me cared.

I'm the guy who cries at sad car commercials. To have me watch your big emotional moment and just shrug... that shouldn't even be possible. Especially not with characters I've known and liked for years. Yet the Galactica writers pulled it off.

Then they revealed identity of the fifth cylon. That was built up for longer than a season. The answer was meaningless. It may become meaningful, but at the moment you make your big reveal, your big reveal should have some weight behind it.

Ellen Tigh? Who cares. It didn't change anything. Watching the show knowing "Ellen Tigh" is exactly the same as watching the show without knowing it.

It's starting to look like the old OP was autobiographical material.

They had a plan. It got lost somewhere between seasons. Just like the writers.

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