Friday, January 30, 2009

The Atlantic: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

James Parker writes a primer to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA in this month's Atlantic. After explaining that the show is based on a chilly, silly 1970s space opera, he continues, "the retooled Battlestar Galactica has plunged into the burning issues of the day. Suicide bombers, torture, occupation, stolen elections. Homosexuality, reproductive rights, religious fundamentalism, genocide."

I especially liked this paragraph:

Of course, not everybody approves of the new direction. Dirk Benedict, who in the original series played the satyric flying ace and cigar-smoker Starbuck, was appalled to discover that his character had been reconceived as a woman—an angry and outspoken woman (Katee Sackhoff) at that, smoking a goddamned cigar! It was feminism, it was the humorless temper of the times—and from his home in the great state of Montana, the old trouper issued a counterblast. “The creative artists have lost and the Suits have won,” he declared in an essay for the May 2004 issue of the magazine Dreamwatch. “Suits. Administrators. Technocrats. Metro-sexual money-men (and women) who create formulas to guarantee profit margins.” The title of the essay was “Starbuck: Lost in Castration.” (Other members of the old guard proved more tractable. Richard Hatch, the original Captain Apollo, found a new role—while preserving, remarkably, the old hairstyle—as Tom Zarek, a William Ayers–like bomb-thrower who rehabilitates himself and becomes vice president.)


I post this here because I haven't seen mention of this article on any blogs, and it's nice to get the tip of the hat on a science fiction TV show from the lofty literary pillars of The Atlantic.

Brady is right: the show had some great, tough, insightful episodes. But I haven't seen any in a while. I've heard that the producers have been busy with developing a new show, a prequel program titled CAPRICA. Ever since I heard that, the program has pulled out all stops, relying on shock after shock; the deaths of supporting characters, the conceit that recurring characters are really evil Cylons. The last one, which was hinted at for weeks, was just silly. Maybe they think my jaw will drop; well, it did, but in a shark-jumpy reaction.

Anyone can write a good first act. The show, like LOST or TWIN PEAKS or THE PRISONER, has no third act. In its final season, now playing out on the Sci Fi channel, BSG is spinning plates, cooking up new mysteries and intrigues at this time. These events don't look like the tying up of loose ends. I hope I'm wrong. I like the show and would love to see a strong finish.

Ron Moore, the fellow who "reimagined" the series, wrote and (for the first time) directed last week's episode. I hope he's returned to wrap up the series in a sensible way that rewards its fans.

3 comments:

Barry Corbett said...

Galactica has had its ups and downs, but it's still a great show. It was a long wait for the final season, but it looks interesting enough. So what if Starbuck was originally a male character. This show is a separate entity...only loosely based on that original show.

Barry Corbett said...

ps. Loved the "Lost in Castration" line.

Philip said...

Have you ever tried watching the original and the new BSG in the same evening? It was quite an experience to see just how much more sophisticated all production values have become: effects, costumes, pacing of the script, editing, dialogue, story, number of camera angles, sound, set detail... it's a couple of orders of magnitude better!