TV Heaven – Battlestar Galactica

April 9th, 2008

What with the tornado of excitement created by my own releases, reviews, signings, and convention attendances in March, and the tidal wave of resulting reviews, I realise I’ve utterly neglected my important duties as far as slagging off other people’s hard work goes. Time to put that right…

I haven’t spoken much about TV before, except perhaps indirectly, but apart from working in the business for some 10 years (though mostly in the areas of live music and documentary rather than drama), I’ve also been a keen watcher of the stuff most of my life (like most of us, I’m sure), and have observed some interesting and exciting shifts in the way it’s been approached over the last decade, especially US drama. I’ve watched with ever increasing delight the realism, depth, unpredictability, and outright darkness of shows like Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, 24 (before it became utterly ludicrous), The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Deadwood and so on, and I think a lot of this stuff has been an undoubted influence on the way I write, and the kind of stories I want to tell.

All in all, it may seem odd to say, but I take in a great deal more fiction via TV these days than I do via books, as most of my (lamentably limited) reading is non-fiction. TV seems to have gone from the medium of light, schmaltzy, disposable, poorly-made entertainment, with film as the cultured, clever cousin, to the medium in which all the clever stuff gets done first while film (at least the commercial end of it) is looking ever more cheesy and repetitive. The long format of TV series seems to allow the development of deep approaches and long arcs that you just can’t manage at the cinema, while the relatively lesser outlay seems to allow for a greater level of adventurousness. Massive generalisation, of course, and there’s still plenty of rubbish on the telly box (though don’t you dare tell me So You Think You Can Dance isn’t brilliant), but for the discerning watcher there’s more quality product out there these days than you can shake a fistful of confusing remote controls at.

The advent of DVD, and in particular for me Amazon’s system whereby they send you stuff through the post from a list, you send it back when you’re done and they send you more, has only made things better. Now you can get hold of a series and burn through the bastard in the comfort of your own living room in a few days, three or four episodes at a time. No more waiting for next week’s installment. Truly we live in a privileged age. Lately I’ve watched three different series, all excellent in their own way, my opinions on which I thought I’d share with the world. Or at least the people who read this blog…

First onto the chopping block, Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica (new version, obviously). I totally missed BSG when it first came out, so I’ll probably say a load of stuff that you’ve all been saying for months, if not years. Still, doing something everyone’s already done and calling it original is what I do for a living, so here goes … Haven’t seen Razor yet, by the way, so don’t spoil me in the comments.

The first two series, and parts of the second especially, are frakking brilliant. Shades of grey? Oh yes. Deep and interesting characters? Most definitely (self-destructive frak-up Starbuck and mean-ass one-eyed drunk Tigh are my personal favourites, though there’s much great acting going on all round). Technical quality? Oh yes again – very interestingly edited, in fact (editors never get the respect they deserve), and featuring some of the best space combat scenes I’ve seen in anything. Best of all, though, is the way that at its best BSG uses sci-fi to investigate some highly relevant questions about the real world that contemporary drama would probably balk at. How far should we compromise liberty in the pursuit of security? Does democracy work against extremism? Are terrorism or torture ever justified?

Season 3 hasn’t been quite as good as the other two, but better than I was expecting from what I’d been told. A few bad calls seem to have been made, though a lot of them I think are the result of the writers’ willingness to change things up radically and shift the focus, the courage of which I greatly respect and applaud. It’s what you have to do if you aren’t going to become a bad parody of yourself. Still, some characters don’t really work. Apollo in particular seems always to be led around by the vagaries of the plot rather than by any personality of his own, as a result of which he doesn’t really seem to have a consistent personality at all (Though I will admit that fat Apollo was a stroke of genius). Baltar seems to have gone from a fascinatingly conflicted and ambiguous character to a whinging ass. The Apollo/Starbuck forbidden love plot is weak as well, and constantly repeated to very little effect of any kind. Their eyes meet across a crowded room. They both look lean and tortured while hugging someone else. He even more chiselled than in previous series, she more tanned, having evidently spent some time on a sunbed (careful, that shit gives you cancer).

There seems to have been a general loss of focus and attention to detail round the middle of this series, which is exemplified for me (yes, yes, I am a borderline obsessive/compulsive) by the way in which the rank insignia on the various characters’ uniforms are constantly swizzling round and pointing off sideways so they don’t match any more. That happens literally in every other close-up. The hard won feeling of reality that the show was so good at generating previously is nearly frittered away by some poorly plotted episodes and a bit too much reliance on pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo. The show is best when it engages with the real, and the prophecy stuff seems like movement in the opposite direction. One episode in particular involving some sort of radiation cloud just made no sense at all. They had to fly through it, but I’m sure in a wide shot later you could see it in the distance and there was no apparent reason why they couldn’t have just gone round the bastard.

Way the biggest mistake for me though, which started back in the second series, was the “deeper investigation” of the Cylons, which on New Caprica appeared to be lots of identical pretty people in coffee bars, and now in space seems to consist of Baltar in a bed with Lucy Lawless and a shed load of dissolves. Note to the gallery. Loads of dissolves don’t make an otherwise tedious and nonsensical sequence seem mysterious and alluring. In the first season the glimpses of Cylon environments seemed truly alien and strange – otherworldly mixtures of flesh and machine. Now the inside of a base-star is revealed to look something like a cross between a successful New York lawyer’s practice and a seventies disco. Folks in suits wander round the same stretches of bland corridor looking smug, and occasionally having unconvincing, bitchy conversations. The odd slime bath does not a tantalising alien civilisation make. Though you do gotta love Dean Stockwell.

The problem is that the show was much at its best when the Cylons were simply the unknown, implacable threat, the enemy within, a device for putting pressure on human civilisation and investigating the human reaction. Looking at them in detail makes the whole thing a) less frightening, b) less relevant to reality, and c) occasionally quite silly.

Anyway, despite a disappointing middle the season starts and ends as well as ever, and one can’t deny that sci-fi tv seems a way tougher, darker, edgier and consequently more interesting place as a result of this show. It’s often said that there’s nothing more dated than past visions of the future. I look back happily on Star Trek the Next Generation, though I was well aware even at the time that many of its episodes were poo (anythin
g involving Lwxana Troi springs to mind). I still think fondly of Picard, Data, prune juice and Cardassians. But it’s amazing how trite and disposable it all seems in the light of this dangerous new breed.

Gone are the glossy, sanitised environments of the Enterprise, in comes beaten-up, falling apart, low tech junk. Gone are the clean and shiny people too. The characters in BSG are tormented, damaged, generally drunk and strung out on drugs, often hate each other, often have sex with each other, sometimes hate and have sex with each other, and almost always have bad hair. Gone, most of all, is the noble mission to the stars. These are not people seeking out new life or new civilisations. These are people running for their lives, with hell at their backs and in their pasts, doing absolutely whatever is necessary to keep themselves alive. It’s a dystopian starship with a dystopian crew, making the best (and sometimes the worst) of a shitty, unfair universe. I particularly like the fact that they stand always ready to resort to nuclear weapons because, I mean, you would, wouldn’t you?

The future of futuristic telly has never looked so grim. And that makes me very frakking glad.

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on April 9th, 2008. Tags:

34 comments so far

  • etrangere says:

    hahaha, everyone seems to be a fan of BSG right now! I love synchronicity.

    I’ve been watching it all pretty recently and got utterly hooked. Starbuck and Baltar are my favourite – not to mention, you know, every other characters.

    I agree S3 was pretty uneven, and tragically underused some characters. I did think it got better by the ending (especially for Lee’s erratic characterization). The beginning of it was pretty good as well.
    One of my big complain about BSG is that I find them actually pretty lousy at political commentary. They’re never quite as subtle as they should be… sure, they try and as far as SF TV goes, I guess they’re pretty good, but there’s quite a few wince inducing moments. In S3 “Dirty Hands” was simply painful with its supposed happy ending; and I found paralleling Iraq and the Nazi occupation on the New Caprica storyline rather annoying (even if the episodes were good).

    Then there’s the mythology and the making-up-as-we-get-along-are-they-ever-going-to-be-able-to-warp-those-loose-ends syndrome… but that’s TV series for you. Although recently I’ve also been watching Avatar which happens to be a children cartoon that utterly pwns BSG in terms of continuity, coherence and world building. BSG is abysmal at world building… I know it’s not your priority but I like it, and if they had a better world building, I think their political commentary would be better too because it would flow more logically.

    They do make up for the flows with their excellent characters (and actors, they should be very, very grateful for their actors!) and a great pacing.

    I liked Razor, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  • Elena says:

    It’s interesting to see how other people took Season 3. We started watching it with the mini-series, religiously (no pun intended :), and loved it through about the first 2.3 seasons. For me the first 4-5 episodes of Season 3 were up to par, and after that it felt like a train slowly disconnecting from its engine…coming entirely unhitched by the end of the season. So now I’m watching the officially announced final season (4) with a cynical and spock-esque single eyebrow raised, hoping for the best but prepared to disown the second half of the series. It’ll be interesting to see how they pull it all together. If they do.

    I think the drawback of TV as opposed to film is that you never know exactly how long your series is going to last, so you might extend parts that wouldn’t have been expanded in a clear-from-the-beginning story arc (the fatter not taller syndrome, as you’ve put it WRT fantasy series books), and then get caught out with no good way to end things quickly if you get cancelled in 4 more episodes. I think Battlestar has suffered from not knowing how many seasons it was going to have, with first tons of support obviously pushing for an indefinite story, to losing the support and not having a definite renewal for S4 until after S3 had been written, filmed, and 75% aired.

    But I am only one person. Well I guess my household unit makes 2. But the only other person I know who watches the series has been playing catch-up, and he liked Season 3 better than he expected, probably because I’d given him a very low expectation. So it’s interesting to see what other people are thinking about it.

  • Bob Lock says:

    I just wish someone would teach them how to swear properly for frak, sorry, make that fuck’s sake. It is shown after the watershed so what is wrong with using the word that we all know they mean anyway?

  • etrangere,
    I used to love Baltar, but I felt they did nothing with him in this third series. He used to be highly amusing – especially the interactions between his imaginary friend and the real world. They seemed to give all that up in this series. He went from a conflicted genius to a cowardly ass, which I found a bit of a waste.

    I’d agree with you that worldbuilding isn’t their forte – have we ever seen anyone from half of the twelve colonies, for example? But I’d trade any amount of that nonsense for decent characters, and that they do in spades. I’m interested in the aspects of it that tie it to the real – the characters, the situations, their decisions and the results, rather than the stuff that’s made up.

    Agree with you about the excellent actors, though actors and script very much go hand in hand, I think.

    I thought they pulled it back together at the end of the series, but that the middle was definitely weak. And yeah, I went in with lowered expectations because of what I’d heard and so was pleasantly surprised – it’s amazing how heavily one’s experience of a film or show is influences by our expectations – how often have I been disappointed in a good film because I heard it was brilliant, or pleasantly surprised by an alright one I thought would be rubbish?

    That’s a very good point about TV being limited by the commercial pressures, and never knowing if there’ll be another season or not. It obviously makes it difficult – they can’t necessarily plan for a complete ending, have to leave threads hanging. But I think for some shows that’s precisely what I like – that feeling that life goes on. After all, in real life, who knows whether they’ll get another season?

    You know, 9 times out of 10 I’d completely agree with you, but it actually doesn’t bother me in BSG. I feel the characters are hard enough, and the conviction with which they say it extreme enough, plus “frak” as a word just somehow has the right punch that “frel” and many others totally don’t, that it just doesn’t bother me. It actually seems strangely fitting. Would it be better if they said fuck? I’m not actually sure it would be in this case.

  • Jared says:

    I’ve only ever seen the first episode. It was after a long day and a lot of drinks. I kept dozing off. It seemed to go on for six hours, and every time I opened my eyes, some blonde girl was taking her shirt off.

    Hmmm. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure that was BSG…

  • Elena says:

    Joe, I disagree entirely about the end of Season 3. That was where they lost me, other than the fate of Starbuck. That bit was good. But as far as revealing 4 of the “final 5″…that just seemed like the writers/producers said, “shit, we have to give the fans MOST of the answers so they can put the threads together themselves if we don’t come back to do it for them.” Granted, I could be wrong and those characters could have been intended as cylons from the beginning (I haven’t watched that episode with commentary, if it even has it). But it just seemed to me decision made out of necessity so the series could end with some modicum of conclusion if Season 3 was it.

    Also, as far as the grounding goes, they have lost in terms of the world-building a lot of what made the initial world (AKA the Battlestar itself) very awesome–all the minor military details. Such as the pilots all touching the same spot of the ceiling before going out for a fight. Such as the wall memorial to everyone who died fighting the cylons. I know they still use that one, but my point is they aren’t still putting in new touches like that. They’re relying on the “hard times equal hard decisions” idea with the characters to keep things realistic. The other was part of what made the beginning of the series so special.

    And Bob, the whole point of using “frak” not fuck, even if they could get away with fuck now (i.e.., in 2001-8), being that the show airs on a cable channel after 8 p.m., is that they are making that nod to the original series. They have completed departed from the 70s version now, but the set-up of the story and sometimes whole episodes parallel the old series. For example running into the Battlestar Pegusus with Admiral Cain who comes in and outranks Adama and thus takes over…and then the Pegusus being sacrificed to destroy a Cylon fleet to save the colonial fleet–straight out of the old series. Though that happened in 1 or 2 episodes rather than half a season….Anyway. With the initial mini-series being a remake of a fairly well-remembered series, they could not have used anything but frak and kept their creditability, and now that it’s been set up they can’t very well change it. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Little known fact:
    Joe Abercrombie is a writer on BSG S4 (uncredited).

  • Melmoth says:

    How does it compare to Firefly for you. Are you even a Firefly fan? Have you even, *gasp*, watched Firefly?

    I enjoyed both series tremendously, but for different reasons. I felt the characters were stronger in Firefly, but the overarching story felt more epic in BSG, although that might be down to the fact that Firefly never got a chance to really get started on that front.

    It’s a funny old world, where BSG is still going strong and Firefly was cut off before it even reached its prime. Is it because BSG is more accessible? More trendy? Has cooler spaceships? Or a larger cast of characters, so everyone can find a favourite?

    Perhaps, in the end, it’s simply because “Frak” sounds recognisably ruder than “FAY-FAY duh PEE-yen”.

  • Jared,
    Well it certainly wasn’t real life.

    Well how DARE you come here and DISAGREE with ME. TOTALLY, no less.

    I just felt the episodes at least got a bit more interesting towards the end, though I agree that they seem to have lost some of that attention to detail that made it work so well to begin with. I guess season four will demonstrate whether they had a meaningful plan the whole time or were just meandering…

    If only I had the time. Or the experience. Or the talent. Or had been asked.

  • Melmoth,
    You posted while I was posting. You’ll be outraged I’m sure, but I haven’t actually seen Firefly. Saw the movie, was meh about it, but I understand the series is good. Should probably get around to that…

  • The intended life cycle of a TV series is an interesting factor in how well that series does. Babylon 5 was intended from day one to last five seasons and did a pretty good job of maintaining tension and pacing the action, although it went a bit pear-shaped in the final season. Lost, for example, really suffered badly in Season 2 and early Season 3 from not knowing how long the series was going to last for. Once they made the decision it was going to end after three more, shorter seasons, the series suddenly got a hell of a lot more interesting and less tedious.

    It still makes me chuckle that Blake’s 7 still gets kudos for its bravery in murdering the entire cast in the final episode, as that was never intended to be the final episode, just the cliffhanger for the next season. But it didn’t get renewed and that’s how the series ended.

  • etrangere says:

    I used to love Baltar, but I felt they did nothing with him in this third series.
    Aww, don’t hate the character for bad writing, hate the writers (that’s what I do). Then again that’s because character bashing pisses me off. Yeah, he was totally underused in S3 – apart from Taking a Break from all your Worries, that episode was brillant – and the Cylon basestar plotline was especially lame. Caprica Six also was underused.

    But I’d trade any amount of that nonsense for decent characters, and that they do in spades.
    Heh, I agree, I’d rather get good characters and bad worldbuilding than the reverse 🙂 but I still love good worldbuilding.

    I’m interested in the aspects of it that tie it to the real – the characters, the situations, their decisions and the results, rather than the stuff that’s made up.
    What an odd thing to say! That sounds like people who say they prefer mainstream lit to SFF because it ties to the real, always annoys me. As if the only way to tie to the real is through a kind of literal realism or something. Of course worldbuilding also ties to the real, it just does it in different ways. Can be sociological, for example. Or something symbolical. I don’t believe there’s anything human beings can create than doesn’t tie to the real.

    It’s a funny old world, where BSG is still going strong and Firefly was cut off before it even reached its prime.
    Firefly was on Fox, BSG is on SciFi? I don’t think in terms of support and marketting they were given the same handling in the first place.

  • Bob Lock says:

    Hi Elena/Joe,
    I found this about frak too:
    The term “frack” was obviously used in dialogue in the Original Series to comply with FCC and other broadcast decency standards because the FCC has jurisdiction over the content of broadcast TV. “Frak” carries over this standard to the Re-imagined Series despite the point that the FCC does not currently have jurisdiction to impose decency standards over paid services such as cable TV (where the Re-imagined Series airs in America). However, the use of a profanity substitute rather than the “real” word is convenient should episodes be broadcast on broadcast TV (i.e., NBC and its affiliates) because editing for verbal content would not be required. Further, language still qualifies for changes to the TV viewer rating for the show (Battlestar normally gets a TV-14 rating, but has had times where a TV-M rating might have been used for adult content).

    I still find it bloody annoying, hehe 🙂

  • Melmoth says:

    @etrangere: That makes sense. I was hoping SciFi might save it, but if they’ve got BSG already then they may not have room in their schedule for two whole excellent series.

    @joe: I am indeed outraged, sir. If you had some kind of public forum where I could remonstrate, I’d be making an incoherent and bile-fuelled rant right now, as is the custom in all things Internet.

    Give the show a chance if you can find the time. I think it deserves its reputation in the main, and it didn’t make a great transition to film for various reasons which I won’t waffle on about here.


  • Anonymous says:

    Bronn Stone from ASOIAF community here.

    I saw Season 3 recently much in the same fashion Joe did. Actually even more compressed in that I got the full set of DVDs and watched them over the course of the next 36 hours. As with Elena’s acquaintance, I had such lowered expectations that I found myself enjoying them.

    I’ve been joining some other folks on the ASOIAF forum in a re-watch of Babylon 5, and one element that really stands out to me is the high quality of acting across the board on BSG. The ambassador aliens on B5 are extremely well-acted, but after that things get pretty dodgy. Whereas B5 is solid across the board, top to bottom, from Cally to Adama – even Trish Helfer showed her chops when she expanded beyond the sex kitten of the first season to her Gina model in the second.

    As to the swearing, it is a business decision in the US, but an essential one. Studios will remember Deadwood as a financial failure simply because of the endless string of ‘cocksu**er’s. And it will be infinitely harder to make such a show again, which is a crying shame because the use of that word was a very small part of what made that show great. And frankly, I find some of the differences between details on the twelve colonies and our reality part of what makes the series seem ‘real’. The characters should enjoy different sports, allude to different historical events and tales, different trees and animals and foods and everything else. Different swear words are in line with this.

  • Anonymous says:

    For what its worth I think BSG is just about the best written TV of the past 5 years. Consistently good, even the few fillers wear their heart on sleeve. And i’ve always had the guy who plays Baltar in mind when reading about Jezal dan Luther.

  • BSM71 says:

    Has there ever been a quality fantasy series on TV and I don’t mean Zena or Monkey?

    I know lots of Scifi series are pretty much fantasy in space which I really do enjoy but has there ever been a fantasy series as I can’t recall any.

  • Adam,
    I must say I enjoy Lost, despite the overarching sensation that none of it is ever going to make sense. Very good casting, willingness to shock, and I love the device whereby they show a bit of a character’s past life each time – it allows them to totally change your perception of who the characters are and what they’ve done with a deft flick of the wrist. It works on that assumption we make when watching TV (or reading a book) that we know the characters from the glimpses we see, when actually it’s possible we know very little about them.

    I’m sure we could have a lengthy discussion about what does and doesn’t constitute worldbuilding, and what of that is or is not important. To use an example about the real, though – clearly the modern BSG feels a great deal more real, and has more to say about our reality, than does the old series (my memory of it is somewhat sketchy, but I’m reasonably confident that’s the case). For me the reasons are the characters and their behaviour seem far more deep and convincing (on the whole), we care about them more and the drama is therefore far more intense (aside from the far more advanced film-making and effects of course). Plus the plotting is much more unpredictable and edgy, the tone far darker and closer to reality.

    So characterisation, drama and plotting are the things that chiefly interest me, and the things that I think make a story work, whether it’s genre or not. In a sense, the elements that make a sci-fi or fantasy story different from others (the world buildings, the technology, the systems of magic etc.) are a lot less important to me than the elements that unite sci-fi or fantasy with every other kind of story-telling.

    I’ll stick Firefly on the amazon menu. Let you know what I reckon.

    Bronn Stone,
    I totally agree, great acting, but also great scripting, really excellent dialogue at times. BSG can be genuinely funny, which I think marks it out sharply from a lot of more traditional sci-fi tv.

    I think there were a couple of pretty poor episodes in this latest season, but overall the quality remains very high.

    Yes there have been. Zena AND Monkey. Ha ha.

    If you’re talking about epic style fantasy, I can’t really think of anything. I think part of it is that space shows are relatively easy to do in terms of scale and sets. You need to do space shots, which may not always look great but aren’t going to break the bank, then you need interiors which will tend to be a couple of sets, usually a bridge, a room where you shift the furniture around for different cabins, and a load of corridor in which people will run through flashing lights, or walk looking concerned (BSG, all Star Trek, Babylon 5, Farscape, Blakes 7 would all seem to conform roughly to this model). With a limited crew on board the chances are your cast will also, perforce, not need to be huge.

    By contrast, your typical epic fantasy will tend to have lots of travelling, lots of battles, lots of city-based scenes, and generally loads of stuff involving lots of extras, lots of big sets, and events in the open air which makes it much more challenging and expensive to shoot and manage. I think actually the closest anyone’s come to an epic fantasy TV series is HBO’s Rome, which probably contains all the elements you’d need, though obviously used to tell a (roughly) historical story rather than a full-on fantasy.

  • Elena says:

    Joe-How dare I come and disagree with you completely? I’m a contrary bitch. 🙂 Actually, I do agree that the last few ep’s of Season 3 got more focused and back onto an actual storyling…and the happy report from the opening ep’s of 4 is that they seem to be sticking to that level of focus and story. They might, in the end, pull it back in to a conclusion worthy of the series.

    Also, glad you’re giving Firefly a chance. If nothing else you’ll finally get the comparisons I was drawing between Mal’s philosophy and LAOK…

    And anonymous–Baltar as Jezal = hilarity. I may have to go back and reread them all just to picture that…:)

  • Leiali says:

    Interesting discussion, we’re starting season 4 having watched the whole thing from when it came out. I do think BSG Season 3 did get a bit saggy round the middle but really, how many tv series’s are able to maintain momentum and quality to that standard consistently? I can’t complain, and though I appreciate your disappointment in Balthar Joe, I have a strong feeling that the change to an ineffectual ‘cowardly ass’ is deliberate, plot driven and intriguing character development.
    I’m very late in this discussion so everyone covered the ground I was thinking of, including B5, and more importantly, Firefly. Joe, you must watch it, there are so many reasons to do so, but one is that the people who do the special effects on BSG did it on Firefly. In the mini series, when Roslyn is having a chat with the president, look out the window as Serenity flies past. What a geek am I…

  • Tarn says:

    Regarding the unfortunate position of TV shows never quite knowing how long they have left, it could be interesting to keep an eye on the forthcoming Star Wars TV show, for no other reason than Lucas is entirely self-funding it (perhaps he made quite a bit of money off some of his films…?) and therefore can make exactly as few or as many episodes as he wants.

    Of course, it’s Lucas, and it’s Star Wars, so the quality of the writing and story is likely to be entirely unrelated to knowing how long it can be. 🙂 But it’ll still be an interesting and unprecedented experiment – and no doubt one we wish could be applied to other shows, such as BSG, B5, Firefly, Farscape and Lost.

  • Cutsnake says:

    Just on the previous comment about fantasy series. Did anyone watch the Dresden Files series (I think it only lasted 1 season) on sci-fi channel. I was over in the states a few weeks before it was started early last year, but we never got it in Australia and I would be interested to hear comments if anyone caught it.

  • Amanda says:

    haha I was a latecomer to BSG, and caught up in about 2 weekends, from the miniseries through the end of season 3, last summer. I agree with a lot of what everyone has been saying, so won’t rehash, but I gotta say, the first 2 eps of season 4 have been quite satisfying and are making me think that at least the majority of us will be pleased with the outcome of the season (there’s just no pleasing everyone, now is there?).

    Enjoy Firefly. not my favorite, but I enjoyed it. I’m more of a Stargate fan myself.

    Cutsnake – Dresden Files was great – quirky and funny and my kind of detective show. too bad it got axed so quickly.

  • Jostein says:

    I do think BSG Season 3 did get a bit saggy round the middle but really, how many tv series’s are able to maintain momentum and quality to that standard consistently?
    Leiali, the Wire come close, but that’s not SF.

    Other than that I agree with Amanda on the Dresden Files.

  • Leiali,
    It might have been an intriguing development with Baltar, but I felt he just stopped being funny, stopped being clever, stopped having any agenda beyond self-preservation, and his imaginary friend largely disappeared so that we lost some of the funniest stuff from the first couple of series, which was the interaction between him and her when there were other people in the room, who of course couldn’t see her. Some of this was real genius.

    Wasn’t aware of the star wars TV show. Interesting. Though given my opinion of the three recent films, two of which I though were beyond risible, not THAT interesting.

    You anticipate me. I’m going to be talking about the Wire shortly. In my not-so-humble opinion about the best thing on TV.

  • Grayh says:

    Hi Guys,
    gotta say that there has been some pretty valid comments so far. But for all its short comings BSG is still one of the best at the moment. With the constant threat from the screenplay writers strike, I realised how pissed off I would have been had the show dissappeared before its climax. Too many shows have fallen by the wayside because they were too “full on ” for the general public, eg Firefly.
    I just saw season 4 ep 1 and I think there is room for some really cool stories to be told. Anyone else seen it yet? What did you think? I had to down load it being an Aussie and all’. Fair Dinkum! Joe gotta say, I have just had the devine pleasure of reading your first two installments of the first law, and I am hanging to read the third installment!! Great read man! Please keep it coming.

  • Amanda says:

    grayh – yes, the first couple eps of season 4 are shaping up nicely. personally, I adore Baltar’s interactions with his imaginary friend even more now than I did before, although I can’t quite see where they’re going with him and his storyline just yet. I also have to say that I don’t mind seeing the cylon side of things as much as I did before – things are definitely getting more interesting and I really can’t wait to see what they do with the newly revealed cylons. Should be fun. 🙂 oh and also? Starbuck rocks. but I still like the Chief best.

    random aside… is it sad that I had to see it mentioned more than once to even care about the star wars tv show? and yet, nevermind. still don’t care. in my mind there is nothing beyond the original trilogy.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why oh Why have you not seen the series Firefly? It leaves most other science fiction series for dead! It only ran for 14 episodes but spawned it’s own movie – Serenity. If you get the box set you can listen to Joss Whedon’s commentary discussing extensive camera shots for you to geek out all over.


    Ps stuck this in the civil war comments initially by mistake, sorry

  • Tarn says:

    “Wasn’t aware of the star wars TV show. Interesting. Though given my opinion of the three recent films, two of which I though were beyond risible, not THAT interesting.”

    Yeah, that’s the frustrating thing – if only that level of certainty could be applied to more daring, innovative and (probably) well-written TV.

    It’s particularly the case with sci-fi TV, which often doesn’t seem to really hit its stride until the 2nd or 3rd seasons. I wonder how many great shows never had the chance to be great due to trigger happy execs?

  • My apologies.

    I realise that I may have given everyone the wrong impression when I said about Star Wars, “given my opinion of the three recent films, two of which I thought were beyond risible.” I never meant to imply that I didn’t think the third film was also pompous, boring, silly, and badly made. It was simply within the boundaries of risibility, rather than somehow transcending the very concept of awfulness.

  • Leiali says:

    well I’m glad you cleared that one up for us Joe.
    On the Wire thing, I intend to buy the box set (or boxed set?) when I have time and money, right after I buy all of Buffy the vampire slayer..
    And the Balthar thing. The descent into madness isn’t always a fun ride, despite the number of comedians with mental health issues, they have pretty terrible dark days too.
    I like that we now see a craven man reaping the rewards of his actions as only a maniacal meglomaniac can. It’s an ugly sight, as it should be.

  • j says:

    I really, really wanted to read this but I was afraid of s3 spoilers. Haven’t seen that one yet 🙁

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