Wednesday, March 25, 2009

BSG Blues

A few days ago I received an email from a reader who was disappointed in my blog.

He was upset by the blog content and my choice of subjects. "Leiken, where are the links to the pictures of hot chicks and scantily clad girls?  How come you don't write about your family or how cute your pets are, or scream about the president or comment about what you saw last night on TV?"

Well, my friend, today I will comment about something I saw on TV. Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica was a remake of a corny 1970's TV show that first aired on ABC, starring Loreen Green (of Bonanza and Alpo Dog food fame). It tried to capitalize on the Star Wars phenomem that had seized the country. It was full of hack actors, humans in tin robot suits (the Cylons), factory produced story lines, and even included the annoying kid with his pet robot dog Muffit.

It lasted a season.

In 2003 it was remade into a two part TV movie, then turned into a series on the Sci-fi channel.

The new series was gripping, intense, believable. The Cylons were frightening, the surviving humans desperate. Gone were the paint by numbers plots, the cornball humor, the stupid kid and his idiotic dog. Other then character names and that there was still a human crewed battleship called the Galactica, it was an entirely new show.

The pilot was picked up and turned into a TV series, and the show rocked. The writers kept focused on stories where characters had to make tough choices, fixating on emotional payoff over standardized plot lines.  

The fanboys hated it. "It's nothing like the original!" they cried.

News flash boys, other then some camp appeal, the original wasn't all that great.

For close to 3 seasons, it was an unbelievable, can't miss show. Like the best science fiction, the show reflected our present day insecurities through the context of a futuristic fantasy. Battlestar Galactica became a metaphor for modern day jihad, religious dogma, Iraq, secret military tribunals, torture, terrorism, and racism. It never beat you over the head, the allegory was always subtle, and the show was great even without the additonal level of complexity.

Then we found out Colonel Tigh was a cylon, and the show jumped the shark.  

Still, I held out hope.  In the opening credits it stated that the cylons had a plan, the writers had pulled out episodes that were simultaneously shocking and brilliant.   The revelation that cylon hater Colonel Tigh was a cylon was a bad moment, but the show was still good.

Then came the final episode.

The first hour was good.  Lots of action.

Then came the second hour of the finale.  This was where everything was going to be explained, where all would be revealed in one final apocalyptic showdown catapulting science fiction from the den of the nerds and into the realm of serious programming that would force networks and viewers to admit that science fiction was no longer just for geeks and freaks.

At least until we discovered that Baltar and Caprica 6 were angels and that Starbuck was an avatar sent by a being with the power of God but doesn't like to be called God.  

Did I mention that this was supposed to be a science fiction show?   When did it turn into "Touched by an Angel"?    With the ending BSG gave us it could have aired on the 700 club, or PAX, or TBN.  

Here is a small list of some of the more glaring inconsistencies of the final episode.

1.  The crew engages on a desperate mission to find Hera, the half human/cylon hybrid that is somehow mysteriously the key to earth.  They die by the hundreds and the Galactica is nearly wiped out, yet against all odds they succeed.  Except Starbuck already had the coordinates to get to Earth, meaning they could have just left Hera behind and not had to sacrifice anyone.

Did I mention that this is the same crew that left behind tens of thousands of "innocent" civilians in early episodes because it was too risky to try and save them?

2.  Starbuck tells Apollo that she is ready to leave now that she has completed her "mission" and gone to Earth.  Apollo asks her where she plans to go and she vanishes.  Poof.  No explanation.   Yup, just plain vanishes into thin air.  

3.  Baltar has his big moment where he is supposed to save "humanity" - he gives a half ass speech about divinity convincing the cylon leader Cavil (Dean Stockwell) to call off the attack and save Hera.   Except.... the truce falls apart, the cylons attack anyway and Cavil, a canny survivor, abruptly shoots himself.

Everything Cavil has done to that point is to extend his own mortality.   Does this sound like a creature that would suddenly shoot himself?

Added to the fact that even though Baltar saved Hera, they didn't need her in the first place because they already had the coordinates to get to Earth.  All Starbuck had to do was punch them in.

4.  The survivors get to Earth and find it populated by cave-men.  So naturally they ditch all their technology to live with them, forgoing all their equipment, weapons, medicine, and science to live in "nature".     All 38,000 survivors agree to this insane idea because Adama claims everyone wants a "clean-slate."  

These are the same 38,000 survivors who fought Adama on nearly every decision he made, most of them a hell of a lot smarter then giving up all your tech to live with cave-men.

Who knew that they were all secretly granola, tree-hugging members of Green Peace?

Actually, Green Peace would have at least kept the medicine.

5.  Adama decides to fly the Galactica and the rest of the fleet into the sun, leaving Earth defenseless if the cylons ever do decide to come back.

6.  Adama, Galen and Apollo all decide to live alone in exile.  Why?  Not really explained.

7.  The final minute we find out that that Caprica 6 and Baltar truly were "angels" sent by a divine force that doesn't like to be referred to as "God."

Did I mention that this was a sci-fi show? 

I thought I would never say this, but Galactica 1980 was actually a better premise then the ending of this show.

In the immortal words of comic book guy:  "Worst ending of a great science fiction show gone bad...EVER!"

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