Friday, January 16, 2009

The best show on TV? In what alternate universe?

There are a lot of people who really like the new version of Battlestar Galactica. Some of these people I know personally, and others have opinions I usually respect, like S.F. Chronicle reviewer Tim Goodman.

Let me say this as nicely as possible. These people have lost their frakking minds.

I gave up on the show in the first or second season because I found it too unremittingly downbeat and the art direction was too drab, with every scene overwhelmed by shades of grey. This evening, the final ten episodes began, so I thought I'd check in to see how things have progressed. The shots are still all grey, and as for downbeat, this makes an Eastern European animation festival seem festive.

I am not anti-sci-fi or fantasy. I have plenty of nerd street cred. I watched Buffy and Angel and Babylon 5 and some but not all of the Star Trek franchises. I watched Farscape to the end and stuck with Xena:Warrior Princess for longer than I care to admit. I'm not completely against dark stories. I have several friends and family members who couldn't stick with The Wire or Mad Men because the stories were too depressing. I can understand that. These are acquired tastes.

I don't blame the cast. As always, if a show is good or bad, it starts with the writers. Like with almost all sci-fi casts, there are plenty of attractive young stars for eye candy and good veteran actors for gravitas, but that's not enough to keep me interested. I gave up on Heroes very early and got bored with Lost in the second or third season, and there are plenty of superfine honeys in both of those casts.

Like with the critical raves surrounding Slumdog Millionaire, I have to wonder if the world's gone nuts or I'm just getting too old and cranky. Because I have, how shall I put it delicately, a healthy self-image, I'm going to go with the premise that I'm right and the world is wrong.

You may have a friend who will try to get you hooked on the new Battlestar Galactica. He or she may tell you it is much better than the original, and on that point I would agree. This is not cornball stuff. But I advise you not to waste your time, and you have to consider the possibility that your friend is actually a Cylon.


Karlacita! said...

I'm gonna have to agree. The show was smart and fun at first, but then it got very dramatique and self-important. You could feel the walls dripping with reverence for the script, and yet for me it is meh.

The writers don't really have the depth of skill and life experience to create an entire world replete with governments, factionalism, multiple cosmologies, and so forth.

Also, they play around with the characters to advance plot points, and that's always a bad sign. It's been fun to see James Callis use all the acting muscles his mama gave him, but I think his skill only egged the writers on and made them think that they were the talented ones.

I'd have to say that of the current sci-fi/fantasy grouping, though, Heroes is the most egregious. I'd like to lock all of the writers in a rubber room, and start rewriting the series over again in the middle of season one.

And that my friends from The Wire are on Heroes is just so jarring!

Matty Boy said...

I admit this is a shallow reason, but I still think it's important. There should be some humor, even in a dark show. Battlestar Galactica didn't make me laugh very often, if at all. The cleverness of using "frak" for "fuck" lost its charm very early, and obscenity by itself isn't funny.

The Wire has plenty of cursing, but I can still smile typing in obscenity free lines like "And don't forget the dots. The Deputy Ops loves dots." or "That guy could talk a cat off of a fish cart."

sfmike said...

I've stuck with it for god knows what reasons. I think it's because I like the Cylon characters better than most of the human characters, and have a sneaking suspicion that most of the writers feel the same way. Plus, the thing is so subtextually lesbian it's sort of fascinating. I think it's the key Bush/Cheney TV series along with "24," and while the latter has basically been a disgusting enabler and inspirer of real-life torture by American malefactors, I don't get that feeling about "Battlestar Galactica."

Totally agree with you about "Slumdog Millionaire." Its only redeeming moment was the dance number at the end.

Matty Boy said...

I understand the post 9/11 vibe the show represents. I wish there was a show that represented 9/11 the way I see it, a scary, violent act that actually was close to meaningless. The best chance we have for that is the movie version of the graphic novel Watchmen.

Hope this isn't too much of a spoiler for those who haven't read the graphic novel.

Tara Mobley said...

I have so much hope and fear for the Watchmen movie. I love that graphic novel.

All the talk about the various TV shows is interesting, even though I don't watch any of them.

Distributorcap said...

i also gave up after season 1 - and i love science fiction

Matty Boy said...

Tim Goodman, one of the biggest fans of the show, gives a review with spoilers of this week's episode, and he's wearing the cranky pants.