Friday, April 18, 2008

River Thames

Battlestar Galactica, has started its fourth and final season this week in the United Kingdom on Sky One and so there are a number of UK related articles and commentaries on the 4th series.

In The Scotsman, Andrea Mullaney writes a comprehensive and unique critique:

...a poetic portrait of a clash between belief and a changing world.

Which is, in fact, pretty much the theme of Battlestar Galactica, the dark, intense science fiction drama where they're more likely to debate terrorism and free will than have an exciting spaceship battle (though you do get those sometimes). Returning for what the makers have declared its final series, the show has a plethora of dazzlingly confusing plotlines to tie up, not least explaining just what, if any, is the difference between its increasingly converging humans and Cylon robots.

The key to BSG is that it's a post-apocalypse show, the characters' entire world having been destroyed right at the beginning. In lesser sci-fi shows, they'd have got over that by now, but here the survivors have basically gone crazy, stewing in an endless cauldron of paranoia, anger and grief.

In The Guardian Charlie Brooker wrote "Battlestar Galactica is presposterous, glum and strangely as compelling as ever. Hooray." After gamely trying to explain the complexity of BSG he notes:
In other words: if you haven't watched the show before but fancy tuning in this week, don't bother. It'll make less sense than a wool piano. Go back to the start on DVD first. It's well worth it, although you'll have to adjust your filter in order to overlook some glaring drawbacks: half the cast look like underwear models, there's a lot of gung-ho Top Gun bullshit, and it often takes itself so insanely seriously you start wishing someone would bend over and blow off in a Cylon's face or something just to lighten the mood.

Regular viewers, meanwhile, will be pleased to know that as season four opens, it's business as usual, ie moody and complicated. All your favourite characters are present and correct. The deeply conflicted Colonel Tigh stands on the deck hammily swiveling his one good eye around like a tortoise impersonating a pirate, while pineapple-faced Admiral Adama stands alongside emanating one gruff, depressive sigh after another. And my favourite character - sweaty, panicking, Withnail-look-and-sound-alike Dr Gaius Baltar - is still getting space-pussy thrown at him by the bucketload for no apparent reason: now a reluctant guru, he's been whisked off and hidden away in a sort of Temple Of Quim, full of lithe young women worshipping his every pube.

(Yes. By UK standards the above is a highly positive review.)

Also in The Guardian, Sam Wollaston watched BSG for the first time, starting with season 4's opener, He That Believeth In Me, and the results were... interesting:
There is plenty of interesting interpersonal stuff going on - it's not only intergalactic issues. I can see that the characters are more complex than in most science fiction. It is more visceral; more relevant, too. There's religion and morality in there, and all sorts of parallels with what's going on in our own world (which may or may not be the same place as Earth, the lost Thirteenth Colony - see, I'm getting this). There's sweat, and sickness, even a bedroom scene. No kitchen, though, no food, or baths.

Maybe there have been, and will be. I do realise that after one episode I'm not really qualified to judge. And that I don't understand half the complexities. (That, incidentally is another problem: it's so bloody complicated. Why is sci-fi like that - a competition for boys to see who's best at working out what the hell is going on?)

My inbuilt aversion to anything that happens away from my own planet makes me narrow-minded, I know. Racist, even. But I'm still not convinced. I'm not getting the smell. And by smell, what I really mean is humanity. This obviously makes me a girl, but I'm OK with that.


I'm sure people have emailed him by now to let him know, that yes, there are bathrooms, and food on the Galactica. But, starting to watch BSG with the start of the 4th season is tantamount to starting to read Lord of the Rings with The Return of the King, maybe somewhere around the late middle of the book.

The Tabloid The Daily Mirror, is typically useless with this deep insight: "Why on the ship does it always sound like somebody is rolling an oil drum down the corridor?" Yet it was their "Pick of the Day".

Dominic Maxwell in The Times on the other hand, compares and contrasts Battlestar Galactica with their nation's most beloved science fiction series, Doctor Who:
The greatest science-fiction show on television is back - and there isn't a Tardis or a sonic screwdriver in sight....

It's back! The best science-fiction TV series ever created is at last returning for its long awaited fourth series. And so, by a curious coincidence, is Doctor Who.

Yes, Battlestar Galactica really is that mighty.

But not only is the new show better than the original, it's also stronger drama than pretty much anything out there, give or take a Sopranos or a Wire. It's brilliantly written, perfectly played, and credits its audience with plenty of intelligence.


Maxwell goes on to explain the differences between Who and BSG:
Meanwhile, Doctor Who has grown cocky. Confidence has turned to glibness, as the Doctor cheerily saves himself with a smart comment and a spizz of his sonic screwdriver. Can it ever again be the best science-fiction series around? Not on Battlestar Galactica's watch - here's why.

....In the ensemble BSG, there's always the danger that one of our heroes might die at any moment. The President (Mary McDonnell) has cancer; Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) gets shot at close range by one of his own crew, and several second bananas lose their lives as the show progresses.

IT'S REALLY FILMED IN SPACE

It isn't? Well it certainly looks like it is. Respect to the special effects on the new Doctor Who, but BSG looks out of this world.

IT PLAYS A LONG GAME

You can't really watch BSG out of sequence, as each season has a shape. In last season's Doctor Who, on the other hand, the Master conquered the Earth in two episodes.

BREADTH OF REFERENCE

Doctor Who is the story of a superman hero. BSG is the story of a human society, and looks at the competing priorities of government and military, leader and worker, duty and desire. It also features sexy people in fetching outfits. In short, it's got the lot.


Coming back to America...

Maureen Ryan focuses on great women on TV with Plastic surgery? No thanks. Here are a few women whose faces I love:

Mary McDonnell is a strikingly handsome woman whose "Battlestar Galactica" character, President Laura Roslin, is forceful, sexy, afraid, bold and compassionate, sometimes all at once. And so what if she doesn't look like she's 25? She shouldn't. Roslin's been through hell. If she looked like someone who has not lived a full, rich and sometimes scary life, that would be a lie.


Also, here's Mo's latest bits and pieces on Battlestar Galactica, including a few (spoilery) photos from tonight's ep, The Ties That Bind written by Michael Taylor, and next week's ep, Escape Velocity.

Scott Ian of Anthrax updated his Battlestar Galactica episode reaction blog, with his thoughts on Six of One.

Meshel73 on the Battlestar Blog links to a series of Space (Canada) podcast interviews with:
April 4: Richard Hatch, Katee Sackhoff, Alessandro Julianni, Grace Park and Ron Moore.
March 29: David Eick, Grace Park.
March 22: Edward James Olmos.
March 15: Tricia Helfer, Michael Rymer.
March 8: James Callis.
March 1: Jamie Bamber.
Each podcast is about 30 minutes long. I've edited them down to just the BSG interviews. Most of them are only a couple minutes each. You can downloaded the edited versions at the following link.


Also on the Live Journal Battlestar Blog Meshel73 discovered a casting call for what could be quite an interesting character -- from the description, which is most certainly a SPOILER.

Check out this humorous BSG comic.

Grant Gould found this neat vid on YouTube from SciFi Assassin showing the BSG's opening titles done in the style of BSG 1979, using Bear McCreary's version of Stu Philips Galactica theme:

4 comments:

radii said...

re: CASTING CALL SPOILER ep. 19



Ew ... piano player for Kara scene ... I guess it's modern Earth after all - oh well
... or yet another dream sequence/hallucination ?

1500 B.C. boys, the only way to do it right

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