All Along The Watchtower

films . videos . television

Monday, March 06, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Recap/Review

Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 1
So, Friday night I actually had plans to hang with some friends and I missed seeing Battlestar "live". (No worries to all of my single female readers/ wasn't a date. I'm still single!) Anyway, because of that I had to record Galactica and wait until Saturday afternoon to catch-up on the events in the Colonial fleet. (In a sad, side-note, I did make sure I got home before the midnight showing in case there were a VCR snafu)

Anyway, I bring that becasue watching the show on videotape, I felt like I was just barely getting settled in when, suddenly, it was over. I found myself hitting the rewind, seeing the words "To Be Continued" flash on screen and going--no, wait, surely there must be more! Maybe both week were extended to 90 minutes because damn, Battlestar was going really, really well. All I know is--it's going to be a long couple of days to wait for the next part and I have a strange feeling we're in for a heck of a long wait for the new episodes to return this summer.

One of the things about a great TV show (and Battlestar is a great TV show) is how it can explore new directions for characters which on other shows might seem to come out of left field but instead feel authentic and while they weren't directly hinted at on screen, looking back you can see how it was developed. Babylon Five was really good at this--I specifically refer to the plotline of Nadira, who was a throw-away conquest of the week for Londo in season one and in season three turns out to be the lynchpin of the entire series.

I'll give you that the Tyrol guilt and death-wish weren't quite as series-changing but it was still something that was absolutely right and worked for the character. It makes sense that he's wonder if he was a Cylon and beat himself up for the fact that he could be. And that he wants to die rather than bring more harm to the Fleet. Or, more likely, that he wants to die to get rid of the feelings of guilt and self-loathing he feels. He loved Boomer and she turned out to betray everyone and everything in the fleet...I can bet that'd be pretty hard to take, made worse by the fact that Helo returns from Caprica with the same woman (at least externally) who has chosen your buddy over you. It must be hard to stand by and watch the woman you love have some kind of life and potential future with another guy...and the thing is, the only thing Tyrol did "wrong" was to love the other Sharon and want to build a life with her. But despite all his bravado and swaggering that he's OK, he's not. And it shows up here in a compelling way that makes the character that much more interesting.

Of course, it only helps that he gets to play scenes off Dean Stockwell. Man, I knew Stockwell was good--just see any episode of Quantum Leap that focuses on Al, but he just took it up a notch here. I have to wonder--did Ron Moore write this part specifically for Stockwell? I guess I'll give the podcast a listen and find out. But all I can say is--Stockwell was great as a very unorthodox religious man. (On a side note, what is it with Galatica's figures who should offer comfort but really don't. We've got Doc Codell who is a great doctor but his bed side manner sucks and we've got Stockwell's priest who has next to no patience and comfort for Tyrol. Interesting that two professions we generally associate with providing comfort (well, unlesss you're House) and they offer the stark reality that the world is a hard place, so just deal with it and move on. I have to admit, I like that).

And yet, this was not the only thing going on. There's a lot going on here and the thing is--it all flows together seamlessly. I never felt as if one plotline of the other was getting the short end of the stick nor did I feel impatient to get back to one storyline from another. Instead, I found them all compelling, interesting and rivetting. I will admit the political side of things was of great note as we see Baltar's campaign get the boost it needs to possibly win. I've got to give Battlestar Galactica huge props I watched the episode, I found myself wondering, does the show have the guts to have Laura Roslin lose and make Gaius Baltar the leader of the colonies? Not to run down Star Trek, but any time you saw another captain come on board and seize command, you knew that by the end of the story Kirk or Picard would be back in the big chair and all would be right with the chain of command. But here we have the potential that Roslin could lose and it seems as if Ron Moore would actually write that to happen and then explore it. And there'd be no magic reset button at the end, I don't think. It makes me wonder if Baltar should win, would he then be exposed as a Cylon traitor?

At first, it seems laughable that Roslin would lose. But now, it seems less so. It seems as if Baltar could win and it seems as if Battlestar has the courage to allow that to happen. (And if you watched the previews and it shows you who win the election, don't tell me! I delibarately skip previews!)

Meanwhile, Kara heads out to keep her promise to Anders. Along the way, one Raptor crew discovers a planet that could be a suitable home for the fleet. As I watched this, I found myself reminded of an early episode of Voyager where the crew finds a suitable planet and must decide--do we keep on going or settle here? Of course, Janeway wants to keep on trekkin' for home, but there is some question of why not settle here? The problem there was I never felt as if the crew would decide not to stay. There was little dissension in the ranks and in the end, Janeway asks anyone who wants to stay to hurry on down to a shuttlebay and, golly, no one shows up. I found that a bit hard to believe that the entire crew would be of one mind in that way, especially since Voyager was built on the premise that you two crews with different world-views shoved together and having to find ways to work together. For no one to say--well, maybe it might be a good idea to get off here and take our chances rang false and was one of the reasons I found Voyager a less than satisfying Trek show.

All that said, I found that Galactica's fleet actually having some dissension and debate over it was nice. And it's nice that Roslin says--nah, we're not staying and people go--but wait a minute, shouldn't we think about it. I know--it's different things comparing the philosophies of Trek and Galactica...but humans are humans, I think. And I find the portrayal of the reaction from finding a potentially suitable home for the fleet more believable here. Again, I think Ron Moore has learned lessons from the storytelling confines of Star Trek and is using them here to make the Galactica experience as rich as it is. And please, don't take this as endorsing one show over the other--I love both. But I watch both and the comparisons come up in my mind..and Ron Moore has worked in both shows. So, there's another frame of reference.

And then, we've got resucing Anders on from Caprica. Now, there was some sadistic part of me that thought we'd get to Caprica to find he'd died that day or something--just to send Kara completely off the deep end. I still have a feeling that not every character is going to survive this season finale and right now, my money is on Anders and Tyrol to shuffle off this mortal coil. But as I've learned from watching Galactica, nothing is certain and that could change from minute to minute as we head into the 9o-minute season finale this week.

I have a feeling, this is going to be good...


At 5:14 AM, Blogger W said...

I missed it, but I decided to pick it up on iTunes 'because Micheal said it was good' (and so I understand part 2 this week). I hope you don't let me down....

At 5:39 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Wish I'd seen this before last night...BSG re-airs Mondays at 10 p.m CST. It'd save you the $2...


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