Saturday, January 31, 2009


The last installment in the sputtering-to-a-halt phenomenon that has been Battlestar Galactica for the past two or so seasons continued its movement toward the end yesterday. To be fair, this was one of the better recent episodes. For one thing, I was never bored. I didn't once look to see how much time was left in the episode. That's not nothing with BSG these days. And I actually felt kinda engaged in the storyline, which is also atypical. It was better than the "let's just be sad" crapfest from last week, but not exactly up to BSG in its prime, when the "Best show on television" moniker could be applied without a smirk.

It does seem to be silly to hold television shows to really high standards--after all, it's just a show--but BSG and other shows like The Wire and The Sopranos have asked for our attention, and for us to think about more than just whether we're entertained. And we have, and as they are obviously intended to be of artistic merit, why can't a person say that the fifth season of Wire was not up to snuff, or that Sopranos was sucky for actually a significant portion of its run, and was only redeemed with an occasional "very special episode" where a main character was killed off? BSG is like The Sopranos in that way, but it's also similar in that it's repeating itself a lot as well. We're seeing ships refusing to allow troops to board them? Saw it. Civil unrest and authoritarian overreach? These have been explored before. The show has had the courtesy to give us a new idea to puzzle over with the coup, but they don't actually let us puzzle over it: from the moment that that likeable old crew chief got killed, the show was telling us who was right and who was wrong. There's no sublety there. Rather than letting us come to our own conclusions, as Battlestar has done historically, it is now telling us how to think. This is not a positive development. And it ends with the possibility of a standoff where Hot Dog is ordered to shoot down a shuttle carrying the president. We've never seen that before...except that we have, and Hot Dog didn't pull the trigger then. Basically, this season is quickly turning into the second season opener. Talk about everything has happened before and is happening again.

At this point I'm not really sure what to say about the show. The show has long lost any sort of political or social relevance, which it had in spades during the early years. I was actually a little intrigued by the season's opening, but rather than try to resolve the narrative questions raised in the episode it appears we're going to have three episodes about the coup, which is baffling. The fat lady is, after all, warming up.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.