Now I must attend to one of those most odious of endeavours, admitting that I've been wrong. Specifically, I was wrong about the new Battletstar Galactica. When the SFC announced, in the wake of cancelling Farscape, that they were doing a Battletstar Gallactica mini-series, I was, among other things, dumbfounded. After all, Bonnie Hammer had been bad-mouthing science fiction (even the watered down "space opera" sort) as unmarketable and declared that the channel needed to move in more popular directions. That's why we got Scare Tactics and Tremors: The Series and Mad, Mad House. Bonnie Hammer has her finger on the pulse of America. Anyway, when the mini came along, I watched it grudgingly. How good could it be? The original Battletstar Galactica was one of the silliest things pooped out by '70s TV (and that's saying something, kiddos). But, even at the time, I had to admit that it was actually pretty good. Here's a quote from my entry for December 9th, 2003 (see also my entry from December 10th):
But something I hate even more than that is desperately wanting, nay, needing, to hate something, and then failing to properly muster the longed for hatred. For example, the Sci-Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica mini-series, which I watched last night, even though I shouldn't have. After the cancellation of Farscape, and the network's release of trash like Scare Tactics and Tremors: The Series, I've been avoiding Sci-Fi. Not so much a boycott. More like the way you walk around a dead and rotting thing lying on the sidewalk. But I was intrigued by Battlestar Galactica. Even as a pre-teen, I'd recognized the original series was dren. Why resurrect a series that only ran for one season twenty-five years ago for a high-budget mini-series, when you're a network willing to axe the best hour of television (Farscape), supposedly because of budget concerns. No one much watched Battlestar Galactica in 1978. Anyway, I caved in and watched, and am disappointed to report that I've seen things that suck way worse than this mini-series.
Still, when the series began, I refused to watch. The loss of Farscape and the idiotic comments Bonnie Hammer had made to attempt to justify what, in the end, had been nothing more than a corporate pissing match, had left me too bitter to possibly tune in once a week and watch an updated Battlestar Galactica parked in Farscape's time slot. So I didn't. But I did take note that the same critics who praised Farscape as uncommonly good television were now praising Battlestar Galactica. Most of my friends were watching the series and loving it. Could it be, thought I, that somehow Bonnie Hammer and the suits at the SFC had screwed up and done something right? It seemed highly unlikely. After all, I was still trying to get the rancid taste of the Earthsea film out of my brain. But I promised myself that if Season One was released on DVD, I'd give it a try.
Last week, that's just what I did.
And if I may mix my space-opera profanity and slang, it's frakking drad. Spooky and I watched the mini-series again and then devoured the whole first season in only four nights. I love it. It's a very different sort of thing from Farscape, of course. It's not so much that the two are treading different ground, as they're treading it in very different ways. Farscape was outlandish, over-the-top, dazzlingly campy. Battlestar Galactica is taking an almost documentary approach to the same subgenre (indeed, the creators have said as much). There's so much to love about the series, but I'm not very good with proper reviews, so I'll just rattle off a few things that please me. The lighting, My gods, what Star Trek: Enterprise could have learned from the lighting of this series (and from Farscape, for that matter). The scripts are mostly solid, and the acting is very good. I'm especially pleased with Katee Sackhoff (swoon), James Callis, Grace Park, and Tricia Helfer. The SFX are gorgeous. The story has sucked me in, and I am very pleased that it has. I am a convert. Of course, now I have to wait until December for the release of Season Two on DVD.
I do have a few small caveats: Firstly, the presence of Number 6 in Gaius Baltar's mind bears such a striking similarity — hell, it's the same damn thing — to the John Crichton/Harvey relationship that I'm surprised the SFC risked the lawsuit. It works, but pretty much for the same reason that it worked on Farscape — comic relief mixed with horror. It's a joy to watch the preening, narcissistic Baltar talking to himself and screwing non-existent cylons (oh, the scene where Starbuck walked in on him and Number 6 doing it doggy style....wonderful). Also, the series clearly owes a debt to the underrated Space: Above and Beyond (1995-1996), and I was galled at the attitude of some of the creators as revealed in the interviews on the fifth disc. The whole "Oh, we're doing something that's never been done before, not in sf. We're going for realism. No one's ever done it this way before" almost made me sorry I'd fallen in love with the show. Some of the comments stopped just short of claiming that Battlestar Galactica wasn't really sf of any sort. Truth is, as good as the series is, most of the "original" aspects have been borrowed from somewhere else. Aliens gave us marines in space, and Space: Above and Beyond tried to give space marines the gritty flavour of a Vietnam film. Pitch Black used the harsh, funky lighting. The Terminator and innumerable other films and series gave us the basic look and feel of the non-humanoid cylons. And so on and so forth. It almost feels like Michael Rymer and the gang were saying the things they thought that the execs at the SFC want to hear, kissing eema to avoid the accusations leveled at Farscape. Oh no, this isn't about space ships and FTL travel and life on other planets and laser pistols and whatnot and suchlike. This is, um, realistic, yeah, that's the word. Sure thing.
Regardless, I do love the show.
We got a wonderful thunderstorm last night, and the first truly cool weather of the season this morning. It makes Spooky happy. She can wear "real clothes" again, she says.
As for Final Fantasy X, I have defeated the great dragon guarding Bevelle, fought my way through Maester Seymour's guards and machina, and watched Yuna's plunge from the tower. This game continues to delight, even if I'm not always sure why. Truthfully, I'm quite certain that I spend too much time pondering the whys of things like this. Sometimes, you just have to let go and accept that a thing is fun, just because. Too bad I couldn't have figured that out twenty frelling years ago. And speaking of FFX, my thanks to mr_graig for the new icon!