Sunday, May 18, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: BSG and me


Frak, frak, frak, motherfrakker, clusterfrak, frakker, frakked up, frak me, frakkin' A, fraktard--lately I find myself employing the word and its derivatives at the most inopportune times. There's a certain ambiguity about the expression, which combines the childish glee of saying a bad word, with a sneaking suspicion of massive un-coolness on the level of somebody's middle-aged midwestern aunt saying "Oh, for cry out."

My husband and I finally succumbed to the a) the plastic fantastic life: traveling to beautiful exotic places, interacting with beautiful, important people, in the course of carrying out beautiful, important work, ahem...b) taking a break from running around with the kids for our nightly Netflix date (don't call us after 9) of seasons-old programming from our new favorite, newly discovered TV series, recommended by friends: BSG (Battlestar Galactica)

My French-born husband wants to know if "House" could be a cult classic. I try to explain that "House" could not be considered a "cult classic." It is too consistently good and too many mainstream people like it.

Battlestar Galactica is a cult classic: being a B or B+ series, that has not (and never will be) discovered by the masses, about which one can feel a certain sense of superiority for overcoming all of its short-comings in return for rare nuggets of superior and transcendent drama, not to mention the satisfaction of belonging to a geeky subculture where you can impress your friends with the correct usage of all the series-specific jargon. Kind of like being in the Open Source Java community of yesteryear.

I have this obsession with BSG, in spite, or because of...

1)Tier two script writing--all those non-story arc episodes you have to "power through"--we're in the doldrums of it right now--"The tylium refinery labor dispute episode"--what the frak? Hello, if I'm watching sci-fi, it's to see the last battle that will determine the fate of the human race and hot Cylon sex, not because I'm interested in the working conditions of the underclass laboring in the tylium refinery.

2)Wooden acting--per "Entertainment Weekly," which I catch up on in my weekly appointment for allergy shots: half the fun is to see if any of the actors can break out of their one trademark facial expression.

3)Egregious use of genre cliche: "The One, whose destiny it is to save the human race;" a "tough, but damaged" central character--this role mostly monopolized by Starbuck; "Oh my God the machines have infiltrated our central defense system and are going to set off a nuclear catastrophe that will end the human race;" "the machines now look like us now;" the guessing game of who's the Cylon," and the old stand-by of "will they ever act on their latent attraction to each other and actually get it on"(Apollo/Starbuck, twilight romance of Admiral Adama, President Roslin)--the latter usually works best with female audience by exploiting their latent romantic tendencies. Granted, these are all staples of tier-one drama, as well. There are only so many story lines out there, the difference is in the writing and the acting.

4) HD would be

a) Bad, according to Nathalie, 'cause there's already too many disturbing close-ups on Admiral Adama's acne-pitted face. Come on, he should at least be earning enough per episode for some laser or collagen improvement.

b) Good, according to Marc and Andy O.--for highlighting more naked Boomer/Athena/Number6 scenes. Here is an actual conversation between Marc and Andy O. "AndyO: I swear she was naked... Marc:was not... AndyO: yes, she was... Marc: you mean she was naked under her military uniform...(they settle the score by going back and actually watching actual BSG episode in slow mo with poorly lit, multiple naked Boomers)...Marc: ok, you're right on that one! but, seriously, man! from a time investment standpoint for actual skin, you might want to consider porn, I recommend Natasha Nice these days.

5)In the sack/most frakkable?

He says: Starbuck, ok but not so much, too metro-butch (the feminine equivalent of metro-sexual). D'Anna? nah, all the sex appeal of a cold cucumber sandwich. Number Six, mos def'. He's ready to upgrade to his pneumatically-enhanced Cylon wife right now, oh wait, she winds up displaying all the annoying pyscho-bitchy qualities of a real wife. The Baltar projection episodes with Number Six are definitely tier-one, by far the best thing in the series. Hands-down, hottie, according to both of them: Athena/Boomer. Marc also likes Dualla.

She says: Gaius Baltar. Need I say more? As the picaresque, scheming, self-absorbed, disgraced, and utterly craven computer geek, he is by far the most interesting character in the series. Lee Adama and Helo? Nah, too bland.

6) Insiders only:

Deep thought a) If Rickard Oberg had based his alternative reality on BSG, who would be a Cylon, what kind? No spoilers please, we haven't watched all the episodes yet.

Deep thought b) Selling out (Gaius Baltar in BSG), Apache/recent licensing issues/MSFT as seen by Andy O. "You know you're getting older when you can accept selling out, as long as it's a greedy sell-out, for something that actually was worth it. What's pathetic is selling-out and being cheap..."

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rickard Oberg would be a cylon himself, probably leoben as a psychotic liar.

Anonymous said...

Keep watching this, see the stellar first 2 seasons, power through the uneven 3rd season, get your mind frakked by the 4th season. See then if you still think you'd call this B to B+ TV.

Marcf said...

Anon2:

It is the "filler" episodes that get us. There are so many of them... the first 3 seasons are un-even that way. That being said we absolutely love the cylon stories and I can't wait to have more of that.

Anon1: LOL. Yeah you are probably right.

Bill Burke said...

Except for Lost (which I recommend too), this is the best show I've ever seen on TV.

Most of the filler episodes are a must, IMO. Beyond character development, they highlight how much stress the fleet is in and how they are tearing themselves apart internally. Unlike the old series where everybody was happy, clean, and got along perfectly with one another, the new BSG really shows how a society of 40K people would react after losing their homes and being chased around in tin cans for years.

Seriously though, if you like BSG, you'll love Lost.

Marcf said...

character development scharacter development, they are just filler episodes. I want to see more naked cylon chicks :)

The first guy who recommended it to us (Jeff Schnitzer) mentioned the "powering through some episodes"... he also said that what was nice about the series format was all the character development you couldn't do in normal movies.

Which really got me thinking about the format thing. 2-3 hours is clearly not enough for the kind of depth or story we are dealing with here. But 60 hours is wasted and results in filler episodes. Most of the characters just irritate me (Tyrol I just can't stand, President Roslin makes me want to strangle my dog)

I want to say that no more of 15 hours is actually worth watching in here (at least in the first 3 seasons), although they are TRULY GREAT. But my wife and I know within the first 3 minutes of an episode whether it is going to be a good one or a filler one. And if it is a filler one, we just do it because we have to.

A 15-20 hours format for mini-series would be just GREAT. ANd I mean FROM BEGINNING TO END. It gives you room to develop the characters and all that stuff but stick to the important story arc and don't indulge too much on crap.

I personally rate this series a C- with some A++ moments (mostly the cylon story).

Nathalie said...

Hi Anon 2 and Bill, don't get me wrong I am enjoying BSG, ergo the blog post. I just find it a little un-even that's all.

Bill, have heard good things about Lost although the last person who talked to me about it, felt that Season 3 jumped the shark. What's your opinion there?

Juha Lindfors said...

Errr.. skip Lost, I couldn't make it even past the pilot. Big monster in the jungle, people die, blah.

Californication with X-Files' Mulder as a one hit wonder, once a successful book author who bought a Porsche with his money, and now is trying to make a living writing a blog. The rest is all downhill from there. Hilariously funny and plenty of nudity. Good stuff.

Nathalie said...

Hey, Juha. Thanks for the recommendations. It's funny when you've sunk yourself so much in biology (my 4 kiddos) that "committing" to a tv series requires some prior investigation.

In the cyper-punk'ish genre, the right movie adaptation of Gibson's "Necromancer," or a mini-series (only way you could do it) based on Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon" would so rock my world. Of course, I'd love to see well-made movie or TV adaptations of Stephenson's "Diamond Age" and "Snow Crash" as well...I've been meaning to do more "syllabus" blogging with recommendations, reviews and fave quotes from some of these writers.

Bill Burke said...

Nathalie:

Season 3 of Lost was a little sucky, UNTIL THE LAST EPISODE. The Season 3 finale made up for the mediocrity of the earlier episodes.

Jay Batson said...

Maybe this is what "Character Development" means to others.... But the real appeal for me in BSG is how it puts people into interestingly difficult situations that causes them to have to either (a) justify, and live up to, or (b) realign their moral / ethical compass.

Baltar having to give up people to Cylons to (a) maintain his addiction to power, (b) satisfy his cylon-based psychotic episodes, and (c) preserve his actual, physical life in the face of blackmail.

Or Colonel Tigh when he found out about his wife's history. Or the test of Roslin's values as her life seemingly draws to an end.

Or even Cylons placed in similar spots. D'Anna realizing she needs to start Cylon Civil War (and totally botches it).

This is the stuff that makes you forget that you're watching SciFi.

That, and Six in a red dress. (Tricia Helfer says she wants to burn the white wig. I'd suggest she put it on an altar; it _made_ her career....)

That said, last week's episode (The Hub) was definitely a bit out there. (Filler, or just too mystical?)

I'd love to get to know you, Marc; we share lots of common interests. (Electronic music, open source companies, other stuff.) Find me at acquia.com; you'll figure out a way to reach me. ;-)