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 Post subject: Re: A little S4.5 bitching, if you don't mind
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:51 pm 
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About 1/3 of the way through Season 3, however, things went sideways and never got fully back on track.


This guy is really sharp, isn't he? :grin: He even mentions "Collaborators", my personal marker as the point after which the show went off the rails.

About the only thing I disagree with in that piece is putting "Cavil’s final acts" in the good category. Although I liked Cavil as a character, I thought turning him into a super-villain solely responsible for everything was a cop out.


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 Post subject: Re: A little S4.5 bitching, if you don't mind
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:39 pm 
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Ouch.

This one is a little harsh for my tastes. It's an old, pre-Season 4 review that discusses why the show is going off the rails. But it's got some truth about the post-Collaborators stuff, and I'll post it for Pierre, with bolds for emphasis. Might make him feel a little more at peace with the Boomer mess.

...Battlestar Galactica is a profoundly dishonest and manipulative piece of writing. Good drama relies ultimately upon clarity and honesty. A good dramatic character is carefully constructed so that when their failings are laid bare before the audience, they have a real sense of dramatic truth about them. Drama is ultimately fuelled not by emotion but by emotional truth. The series writers have ultimately failed to grasp this simple fact.

Consider, for example, the fate of Chief Tyrol whose loyalty to the Galactica is tested when he realises the Dickensian work conditions of the fleet's factory ships and the complete lack of social mobility within the fleet. Horrified by what he learns, Tyrol calls a general strike, only to call the strike off when Adama threatens to execute the chief's wife. Evidently, on New Caprica, the chief was the head of a union. We know this because the "previously on Battlestar Galactica..." vignettes tell us. However, the actual New Caprica episodes hardly mention labour unions and the episodes in between scarcely mention the chief's history as a socialist firebrand.

Nonetheless, we are expected to believe that the chief agonises over his decision to call a strike. In truth, the decision to become a union man seems capricious, an impression underlined by the fact that Tyrol seemingly bears no ill will to Adama for threatening to execute his wife because he dared to complain about 11-year-olds working 18-hour days on factory ships. There is no emotional truth here because the chief casually becomes a union leader when the plot demands it and casually stops being a union leader when the reset button is hit. Battlestar Galactica gives us spectacle and it does a good job of contriving moments that look a lot like proper drama but there is never any depth to any of it as the characters are routinely rewritten to suit the needs of the next episode. Given this constant state of flux, Starbuck's death and resurrection come as no surprise whatsoever.

Once you understand the writers' paper-thin loyalty to their own creations, it also becomes obvious why Starbuck is such an important character in the series. Starbuck is screwed up and as such she's liable to do anything at any time. This is a real boon for lazy writers as it means that Starbuck can be used to plug whatever hole the plot demands and it can all be explained by having Tigh or Apollo shake his fist at her and declare her a basket case but the best damn viper pilot in the fleet. What is worrying about the direction Battlestar Galactica is headed in is that more and more of the characters are kept in that same screwed up holding pattern. All the characters are emotional cripples and therefore you don't have to worry about drastic changes to their personality, so it doesn't seem odd that in one episode Adama thinks to himself that Apollo has really pulled things together and a few episodes later, Adama doesn't want a man like Apollo serving under him. Helo undergoes a similar transformation where despite being steadfastly loyal to his friends and his cylon wife, an episode suddenly demands that he be seen as an outsider and so steadfast but dull Helo is reinvented as a serial contrarian.

The writers even go so far as to attempt to explain this tendency away by drawing attention to all the 'mistakes' that have been 'forgiven' during the programme's three season run. Like many bad action films that draw attention to their own absurdity, Battlestar Galactica's awareness of its own shortcomings neither explains them nor justifies them. It's just more grist to the writers' mill and the writers are more than happy to remind us that we've swallowed a lot of shit being swept under the rug in the past and we're bloody well going to swallow Baltar being forgiven his crimes too.

What ultimately makes one watch Battlestar Galactica is that it really isn't far away from being really great TV. The New Caprica plotline expands on the 'war on terror' narrative of the first year and takes the series into the quagmire of Iraq as the dispossessed humans take to suicide bombing in the hope of someway harming the cylons. Again, the spectre of politics rises as the writers explore not only racial tensions between the different colonies but also class differences between the well off Caprican political class and the poorer working class colonists trapped on factory ships. It really wouldn't take much for Battlestar Galactica to return to the heights of the first year but every time an interesting idea appears it is rolled up by the end of the episode and never mentioned again. Unfortunately though, I suspect that the writers are now too used to the reset button, and their ability to rewrite characters, for Battlestar Galactica to ever return to the heights of its initial run, and with only one long season scheduled before the show finishes, there's not much chance of that happening.


Sort of the long version of Weissman's dart board comment. :)


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 Post subject: Re: A little S4.5 bitching, if you don't mind
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 6:00 am 
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Helo undergoes a similar transformation where despite being steadfastly loyal to his friends and his cylon wife, an episode suddenly demands that he be seen as an outsider and so steadfast but dull Helo is reinvented as a serial contrarian.

Because if he (or Sharon) were dull, we'd totally be having this nice website.

(That said, The Woman King was worse character assassination than even that steaming pile of Black Market.)


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 Post subject: Re: A little S4.5 bitching, if you don't mind
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:31 pm 
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What made them different!!!

I think (and seaosn 4.5 aside) that throughout the series the characters of Sharon and Helo were written very consisantly and in both their interactions with the rest of the characters and in theie feeling and interaction with each other. I think thats what made these stand out amongst the rest. That and the theme they represented that love is important and that two people can change things with that love.

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Sharon, Helo and Hera Always


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 Post subject: Re: A little S4.5 bitching, if you don't mind
PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:24 am 
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terribleted wrote:
Quote:
About 1/3 of the way through Season 3, however, things went sideways and never got fully back on track.


This guy is really sharp, isn't he? :grin: He even mentions "Collaborators", my personal marker as the point after which the show went off the rails.

About the only thing I disagree with in that piece is putting "Cavil’s final acts" in the good category. Although I liked Cavil as a character, I thought turning him into a super-villain solely responsible for everything was a cop out.


Don't want to beat a dead horse, but someone showed this to me and I thought you might find it interesting. It's another independent confirmation that closely correlates with your "Collaborators" rule. :wink:

"After I wrote the rave reviews of Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 and 2, I let it lie fallow for a few years, partly because I was in Germany with no real way to watch TV, but also because my friends who kept watching Seasons 3 and 4 expressed their disappointment to me.

I started watching Season 3 with low expectations, but episodes 1-4 were amazing, rivaling any of the first two seasons. The subject matter was intense, and the scripting and pacing near perfect. I started to hope.

Unfortunately, the rest of the season disappointed me. It wasn't so much so as each individual episode was bad, but the sense of an overall story-arc faded. It felt like literature professors had taken over the shows from science fiction authors, as the show started worrying more about character development (not that there wasn't plenty before, but now the show really worked on it) and meaning and symbols instead of telling a great story.

This really became obvious in Season 4, when it became very clear that Ron Moore had no idea where he was going all along, with the story contradicting itself in blatant fashion, with plot-holes you could pilot a full squadron of Vipers through. Seriously, I can put up a ton of suspension of disbelief, but the resurrection of one of the major characters with no real explanation? That takes it from science fiction to serious bible study allegories. There's a place for it, but keep it away from my fiction, especially one that worked so hard to maintain an illusion of a working military.

I wish I had stopped watching the TV series after Season 3 Episode 4, but I was curious to see if the producers and story tellers could salvage anything out of the mess they had written themselves in, and they never did. The photography was gorgeous, the actors just as great as before, but with an empty shell of story, it all turned out to be just eye candy. Someone I read recently wrote: "It's as though Lance Armstrong came into the last stage of the Tour De France in the yellow jersey, and 300m from the finish line, crashed and broke his collarbone and DNF'd." I think it was much worse than that. It was as though Lance got off his bike, and beat up one of his fans and got taken to jail and DNF'd."


Alas. Oh, well, I've made it better in my own mind with 'Sometimes a Stupid Notion."


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 Post subject: Re: A little S4.5 bitching, if you don't mind
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:51 pm 
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Yep. Oh, to have a time machine and go back to when they first began discussing the post New Caprica story arc... :write:


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