Saturday, January 17, 2009

First Reax: The Story of Job

Over the next few days, I'll be collecting, posting, and quoting the reviews of Sometimes A Great Notion as they pour in...

In the meantime we have this MUST READ from Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, who talked to Ron Moore, David Weddle, Bradley Thompson an Michael Nankin about the episode. My favorite quotes from the article are the words of David Weddle:

This is perhaps the most universal theme you can explore. For the people of ragtag fleet, the dream was Earth. For those of us here on Earth, the dream could be many other things. It may be the house you saved all your life for but now can no longer afford to make payments on. The career you fantasized about since high school, went to college to prepare for, finally landed and loved, then lost when your company downsized. The woman or man you met who seemed to be everything you ever wanted to find in a lover, who betrayed your trust or left you or died. The flood waters that swept your entire neighborhood away. The war in a far away land that took your son or daughter or husband or wife. The spot on an X-ray that now wants to eat you alive....

The day the staff finished putting the cards up on the board with Ron, and the day before we began writing, I flashed on my favorite American novel, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. It is a much underappreciated and towering work. Anyone interested in fine literature and great story telling should read Kesey’s masterpiece.

The book opens with a childish rhyme that enunciates the theme of the book and what to me was the theme of our show. “Sometimes I live in the country. Sometimes I live in the town. Sometimes I get a great notion. To jump in the river and drown.”

In Kesey’s book, the hero --Hank Stamper, an Oregon logger -- does constant battle with the river that runs past his home, a river that has claimed the lives of pets and loved ones and comes to symbolize the vast and indifferent power of the universe that both gives life and cruelly snatches it away again. In his notes to himself as he was writing the book, Kesey scribbled something that has become one of the shorthand phrases Brad and I use while writing scripts. Kesey wrote: “Try to make Hank quit.” By that he meant: take this strong, heroic character and pile one misfortune on his back after another until he finally falls. What happens in that moment? Does he despair? Does he get up and go on? For me, there is no more defining moment for a character.


radii said...

Rave review of SAGN up at
Galactica Variants

Alex said...

Ok I'm a UK person whocan't possibly resist all these spoilers falling into my feeds, so rather than disconnect myself I've rigged yahoo pipes to give me a four delay on my battlestar feeds so I get everything once it's safe.

In anyone's interested, the time delay feed for Galactica SiRep is:

I'll be happy to throw feeds out for any people who want other sites in delay.

the Science of said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I'm not entirely convinced that they're on Earth -- that is, I'm not convinced that they're on the same planet we're currently on. There are too many loopholes in the way they describe the planet, both in the show and outside the show. Are they on the same Earth we're standing on? Probably not. Are they on a planet in a nearby star system? Probably not.

Brian said...

Real life astronaut has a cameo in BSG! Nice article in Variety:

J-man said...

Great article! The quote at the front of the book is one of the verses from "Good Night Irene" by Leadbelly.

General Boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deltaecho said...

That's a great read. One of the things I admire about RDM is that he's so willing to discuss how he thinks about BSG and how the story has evolved. His mix of honesty and humility makes the decisions he's made easier to understand, even if you don't necessarily agree with them.

theScience: One alternative is that they _are_ on Earth, but the Cycle has been broken through the birth of a human-cylon hybrid. So now it's "This has happened before and will not happen again"--the remnants of the cylon and human civilizations must now work together to create their own unified civilization/colonies.

tessa said...

Any importance as to the things D found on earth and brought back with her?

General Boy said...

I didn't even realize the allusion in the title or the motif in the show until I read this article. I tried to post this earlier, but I'm an HTML hack. Here's my favorite version of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene"

"Goodnight Irene"

If I messed up the link, just cut & paste this:

General Boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
normdoering said...

"the Science of" wrote:
"I'm not entirely convinced that they're on Earth -- that is, I'm not convinced that they're on the same planet we're currently on."

But what does that mean to you? That there is another Earth in the series, our Earth? Or, that Battlestar Galactica just a kind of "slipstream" story?

My blog.

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