Monday, February 16, 2009

The good and bad of Battlestar Galactica

No less than a week after I had declared that Battlestar had jumped the shark did it respond with three consecutive weeks of entertaining fare that finally appears to be pushing the show to a conclusion that may not be completely satisfying, but should tie up all the loose ends. The mutiny arc was excellent, but like most of the show, it was too hastily dealt with. Like the New Caprica storyline, the interesting stories which see our characters put in different circumstances and which they're given a real purpose are rushed, while the plot lines like Starbuck's odyssey about the freighter Demetrius seem to stretch on far beyond their need.

As far as television goes, Battlestar is still a great program. The show looks great, it's probably the best acted show on television, and so many of the individual scenes are just amazing. But even dating back to the show's first season, I've always felt that something was lacking, that there was something keeping the show from reaching it's full potential and looking back on it, that something was ultimately the show's storytelling ability. There were flashes of greatness, such as the first season finale which led quite naturally into the story that unfolded in the first half of the second season which integrated the politics, characters, and mythology of the show so seamlessly. But as I mentioned above, there were far to many fits and starts, far too many moments when the show either seemed aimless or alternatively, hurried.

The sad part is that the show's conclusions seem remotely plausible and the whole idea of further interweaving the humans and Cylons makes cynical, but perfect sense. But as I mentioned in my last Battlestar post, the real problem is the execution. I can actually buy Ellen and Sal Tigh, Tyrol, and Sam as Cylons, but throwing Tori into the mix was gratuitous and just plain nonsensical. And of course, there's now the issue just raised in the last episode, that the genocide of the human race was actually brought about by the Cylon Cavil's disgust at being made so human-like. It's an intriguing motivation, but know we're left to wonder why the other Cylons went along with it. There are plenty of possible explanations, but once again, it feels as though plenty of good storytelling was left in the dust by an after-the-fact explanation. Ultimately, Battlestar will be judged on it's failures in storytelling as it will be on it's high points and it's just a shame to think about how close the series was to being truly great television.


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