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Battlestar Galatica's ending sucked and that's great
December 12, 2011 10:28 AM   Subscribe

"Here, in my final post on the ending, I present the case that its final hour was the worst ending in the history of science fiction on the screen. This is a condemnation of course, but also praise, because my message is not simply that the ending was poor, but that the show rose so high that it was able to fall so very far." -Brad Templeton's dissection of the modern version of Battlestar Galatica and where it went wrong
posted by Brandon Blatcher (275 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Prisoner had a non-disappointing ending? Really Brad?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2011


The last episode of The Prisoner was one of the greatest episodes of any television show ever aired.
posted by koeselitz at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2011 [15 favorites]




Yeah, if you think The Prisoner ended bad, you probably weren't paying attention to the rest of the series.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:38 AM on December 12, 2011


No bumpy-head aliens, no planet of the week, no cute time travel or alternate-reality-where-everybody-is-evil episodes.

"The Woman King" and "Black Market" are episodes set in an alternate universe where everyone is very badly written.
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah, if you think The Prisoner ended bad, you probably weren't paying attention to the rest of the series.

And if you were paying attention to the series, you probably cornered me all the way through 8th grade at the Little Tin Soldier role-playing-game store in Minneapolis to tell me about the show!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:41 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Buffy had a fantastic ending. Unfortunately, it kept going after it, giving use seasons 4-7.
posted by Legomancer at 10:42 AM on December 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


And if you were paying attention to the series, you probably cornered me all the way through 8th grade at the Little Tin Soldier role-playing-game store in Minneapolis to tell me about the show!

Who hasn't done that to you at one point or another?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:43 AM on December 12, 2011


I can't read this thread (I'm only halfway through the last season) but I CAN'T STAY AWAY. I think I need to take a Metafilter break until this is off the front page, or I will regret it.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:44 AM on December 12, 2011


What is commonly believed to be B5’s original planned ending, written before the show began, might well have made the grade.
To what is Templeton referring here?
posted by grouse at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2011


The last episode of The Prisoner was one of the greatest episodes of any television show ever aired.

Yup, forty-five or so years later and I'm still trying to figure it out. Or more to the point, The Prisoner was unresolvable, which is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to art. What would have made it bad would have been forcing a resolution on it. Instead, geniuses that they were, and in full sync with the spirit of the zeitgeist (psychedelic 60s hitting their giddy peak), the creators went full bore the other way.
posted by philip-random at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've only just started the post, but if this thread's going to be a discussion of SF endings, may I submit the conclusion of the British Life on Mars / Ashes to Ashes saga? F-ing fantastic!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2011


The last episode of The Prisoner was one of the greatest episodes of any television show ever aired.

Obscurity does not make something great. It only allows people to place their own interpretation on it, which in turn they believe is great because it matches their expectations.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the article: Is this too nitpicky?

Yes.

Yes, it is.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:50 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just came here to say that not all SF TV shows end badly.

Also, I wasn't that disappointed in how BSG ended either. Burn me; I'm a witch.
posted by digitalprimate at 10:51 AM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


So I was the only one bothered by the whole, "What the hell ARE the Cylons?" question? If they're machines, why can't you x-ray someone to find out if they are one? If they're not machines, and are indistinguishable from humans, then what's the issue? It bugged the shit out of me that it was just taken as read that they were artificial beings with powers beyond those of humans and supposedly incompatible with human anatomy (hence the magical wonder of Hera) yet it was impossible to tell one from a human.

I say it bugged the shit out of me, but I stuck with the damn thing until the end of season three. That shocking reveal demonstrated to me that I really didn't care what happened to any of these people and I just quit.
posted by Legomancer at 10:51 AM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Mark of Mark Watches makes a really good case for the BSG finale (and really the entire 4th season).
I can see how people would hate this, and I’m not here to really change anyone’s mind. I know people who despise the end to LOST and The Wire, and both those series finales I loved a great deal. I know it might be weird that an atheist would find solace and entertainment in a show that posits in-universe that some sort of being/force/God/gods exist and has been trying to guide humanity away from their repeated cycle of violence for hundreds of thousands of years across the galaxy. But I don’t view this aspect of Battlestar Galactica in real-world terms.
In an earlier part (I think), Mark also makes a distinction between plotty shows and character/theme shows. He thinks that in the end BSG was more of the second than the first, and that such shows tend to anger fans who want more cohesive and consistent plotting. This makes a lot of sense to me and I think you can look at BSG itself and show that the episodes that anger fans the most care the most about theme and characterization.
posted by muddgirl at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plus, it was a total rip-off of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Except that the original human civilization was destroyed by Cylons instead of a disease spread by the absence of telephone sanitizers.
posted by XMLicious at 10:54 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Obscurity does not make something great. It only allows people to place their own interpretation on it, which in turn they believe is great because it matches their expectations.

There is no discernible difference between a great ending and an ending that people believe to be great.
posted by penduluum at 10:55 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Buffy had a fantastic ending. Unfortunately, it kept going after it, giving use seasons 4-7.

I agree that Buffy's quality was uneven past season 3, especially in 6 and 7. (Then again seasons 1-2 weren't exactly consistent either. Season 3 is really the only consistently great season with very few missteps. But I think other seasons had higher highs.)

But goddamnit, if you take away everything past season 3, you're taking away Hush and This Year's Girl/Who Are You and Restless and Fool for Love and The Body and The Gift and Once More With Feeling and Selfless and Conversations With Dead People. That's a fucking fantastic list of episodes and most shows would be so lucky as to have one episodes as good as any of them.

(And I thought Chosen was pretty decent too.)
posted by kmz at 10:55 AM on December 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


There is no discernible difference between a great ending and an ending that people believe to be great.

I believe we have a new corollary to a certain famous Asimov maxim....
posted by digitalprimate at 10:56 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The list of things that required the "God did it" explanation really drives home how ham handed and disappointing the final season turned out to be.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes if only there had been mention of this God fellow before the last episode.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:59 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


So I was the only one bothered by the whole, "What the hell ARE the Cylons?" question?

No. That was the first sign that BSG was just a fast talking salesman, trying to sell you a used Pinto and telling you it's a Porsche.

The show hammered home the fact that scifi tv shows are products first and stories second. Bring in the eyeballs, so we can charge as much as we can for ads, everything is a minor note.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:59 AM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


What is commonly believed to be B5’s original planned ending, written before the show began, might well have made the grade.

To what is Templeton referring here?


Babylon 5 was originally written out, ahead of time, as a single, five-season arc. Towards the end of Season 4, the network told JMS that he was canceled. He hurriedly brought the main arc to an end with Season 4, and really, "Deconstruction of Falling Stars" does wrap up the plot up to then pretty well. Then they told him, "Actually, you're go for Season 5." So he pulled what was originally supposed to be the series finale, "Sleeping in Light," made a new season finale, and wrote Season 5 as fast as he could, then using "Sleeping in Light" as the end to Season 5.
posted by valkyryn at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


the finale failed because it didn't deliver the goods in ether way, there was no resolution ot the show's big mysteries and none of the characters got deserving fates aside fro Roslyn being allowed to see one last sunrise. It really was just "Oh by the way, everything we've been building toward and striving for? Meaningless!" it felt like everyone's wills and goals were bent backwards cause the show had to end with a specific scene.

IF you have going to have a powerful God or God-like force guiding the characters that's fine, but you have to deploy it well and seriously they HAD an in-universe candidate, The Hybrid Mass Mind.
posted by The Whelk at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Other than novels, where an author has supposedly plotted out (pun intended) where things are going and how they all work together, assuming the author is competent, I will no longer devote any of my time on TV shows that are telling a "long" story, such as Lost, where it feels that they are making up the story along the way with no end in mind, or the show gets canceled and I never learn what was going on. In both cases, a waste of time. At least with a book, I know there is some conclusion up ahead, satisfying or not. As Finnegans Wake is my favorite book, I appreciate that the end of the book requires me to turn back to page "1."
posted by njohnson23 at 11:01 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hush is my favorite Buffy episode, and probably in my top five for all the shows I've ever watched.

Anyway. BSG. Love you, hate you, miss you. I've tried re-watching, from the beginning, but I haven't been able to pull it off so far. It's partly because watching it the first time around is tied up with memories of watching with a group of friends, one of whom died a couple of years ago very unexpectedly; it's partly because the good parts are so good that I don't want to endure the bad parts again; and it's partly because the finale made me cry like a baby and want to throw things at the television, and I'm not sure I want to do that again.
posted by rtha at 11:02 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the article: Things that did not make sense should suddenly be perfectly logical. At the same time, the ending should provide a satisfactory resolution to the major dramas and conflicts of the story, leaving few loose ends, particularly around the clues.

Actually, I disagree with this. I think there is something to be said for illogical, mysterious endings - if you do them right. The omniscient reader/watcher is not necessary, and sometimes I like something to be left ambiguous, to chew over. Forever.

However, if you don't start out with this in mind, and you just screw up the story, that's a problem. I thought BSG was an example of screwing up the story with insufficient planning.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:02 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This article was exactly what I needed to read this morning. Nothing cheers me up quite like smart folks calling out Ron D Moore on his stupid, pompous bullshit.

Thanks, Brandon! YOU ARE A PAL.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:03 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This makes a lot of sense to me and I think you can look at BSG itself and show that the episodes that anger fans the most care the most about theme and characterization.

As somebody who followed the show at the beginning but gave up a season or two in, the themes and (mis)characterizations are precisely why I stopped watching and followed the spoilers like watching a carwreck. Characters I loved all of a sudden started doing shitty things for no good reason and that's no fun to watch. Dark character twists are fine, but only if they make sense and aren't asspulls to further plot and/or shock the audience. (Torchwood: CoE and Dollhouse ending, I'm glaring at you too. Buffy S6, you too.)

(I still love you Mark, and I'm really looking forward to your Buffy run!)
posted by kmz at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yep, it has a number of continuity, character, and plot issues that didn't get resolved, or didn't ring quite right.

But here's what I thought it did do right. It conveyed a sense of peace and rest that was a stark contrast to everything that had come before it, and for some reason, that felt okay to me. Perhaps because that was really the secret hope all along; not that everything gets answered, but that, in stark contrast to the first official episode of the series (33), they could simply stop running or worrying. You really got a sense that the new reality was a resolution to those deep desires. I also understand how that wasn't enough for many people, and that the continuity and character issues need to be resolved for this payoff to work. But it's enough for me to not consider it the worst ending ever.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


it felt like everyone's wills and goals were bent backwards cause the show had to end with a specific scene.

I dropped out at Season 3. The thing that I had loved about the show was two aspects:

1. Hard problems don't have pat, easy answers, and keep coming back. (Then they started doing the whole "well, classism and exploited labor! Solved in one episode!")
2. Character relationships saw permanent change (Then they reset a lot of character relationships - Tigh w/Adama, or Apollo/Starbuck.)

Backing off from these two things pretty much made me lose interest.

And, finally, the Cylons' didn't really have a plan after all. So meh.
posted by yeloson at 11:06 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


(I still love you Mark, and I'm really looking forward to your Buffy run!)

Hahahaha oh god YOU TOO, HUH? ;___;

posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:07 AM on December 12, 2011


such as Lost

Actually Lost works pretty well as a character drama, much better than BSG could claim. But it had time travel and alternate dimensions, so it fails there.

This article was exactly what I needed to read this morning. Nothing cheers me up quite like smart folks calling out Ron D Moore on his stupid, pompous bullshit.

He was bold and brilliant, at times, with the show, so he gets props for that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


valkryn, it goes farther than pulling the finale from S5 to S4.

The thought, as I understand it, is that the "Sinclair goes back in time to become Valen" bit was originally part of the finale, and that moving it to S3 was just a result of replacing Hare with Boxleitner.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I made it as far as dude refusing to shoot the robot, because it was apparently carrying his unborn child.

There's some really weird soap opera stuff in there that I just couldn't get my mind around.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:09 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


As far as the essay is concerned:

Other than getting some things badly wrong (genetic compatibility implies millions of years of Divine Intervention? How about two minutes of transporting genetically compatible humans from one planet to another?) what Brad misses is that Battlestar Galactica is fundamentally a religious story as experienced by the people involved.

Humans in all religious traditions go hundreds of years without encountering miracles, and when they do they seldom recognize them without a prophet coming along a saying "Hey, look at that! Divine Will!" Avatars appear and disappear, entire civilizations are wiped out for obscure reasons, godly artifacts turn the tide of hopeless battles.

When I first watched the show I too was disappointed to watch it go from hard science fiction with biblical elements (Exodus, anyone?) to being more and more mystical. However, rewatching it from the beginning with different expectations I found that it hangs together a lot better.

That said, I still don't think the ending is all that great. It's not the most disappointing thing ever though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, how insane is it that everyone's reward for putting up with an unending nightmare of PTSD and paranoia and chase is getting to be pre-stone age hunter gatherers?
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


One continuity issue that I was never able to fully get past was that at the beginning of the series, the newer cylons apparently had spines that glowed or something, which you see before the destruction of the home planet. Later, no mention of it again, and they needed a special test to figure it out who the cylons are. Did this issue ever get explained?
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2011


I'm willing to forgive dropped plot elements like that cause, hey first season, you end up dropping a lot of things - it was the shapeless structure and lack of any payoff. It felt like a first draft.
posted by The Whelk at 11:12 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, finally, the Cylons' didn't really have a plan after all. So meh.

Yeah, that. I really loved a lot of things about BSG but the whole never really grabbed me. I thought the original inspiration for the original series (Mormons ... In ... Spaaaaaace) was a great idea, but the recent BSG's overall arc was a muddled mess. It seemed obvious to me that they were making it up as they were going along, and eventually they ran out of time and closed everything up in an (inevitably) unsatisfactory way.
posted by zomg at 11:13 AM on December 12, 2011


The whole Sarah Palin is really a Cylon twist was cool.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:14 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]



Yeah, that. I really loved a lot of things about BSG but the whole never really grabbed me. I thought the original inspiration for the original series (Mormons ... In ... Spaaaaaace) was a great idea, but the recent BSG's overall arc was a muddled mess. It seemed obvious to me that they were making it up as they were going along, and eventually they ran out of time and closed everything up in an (inevitably) unsatisfactory way.
posted by zomg at 11:13 AM on December 12 [+] [!]


You just described American television.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:15 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


One continuity issue that I was never able to fully get past was that at the beginning of the series, the newer cylons apparently had spines that glowed or something, which you see before the destruction of the home planet. Later, no mention of it again, and they needed a special test to figure it out who the cylons are. Did this issue ever get explained?

I think it was that their spines glowed when they orgasmed. And they decided to drop that because they thought it was dumb. Which it was.

How Cylons weren't able to be trivially detected is something the show never really explained. That along with the "Can't use computers or else they're get hacked! Magically, across great distances! Can't turn off the Wi-Fi, after all!" were not great signs about the science of the show from the beginning.
posted by kmz at 11:15 AM on December 12, 2011


One continuity issue that I was never able to fully get past was that at the beginning of the series, the newer cylons apparently had spines that glowed or something, which you see before the destruction of the home planet. Later, no mention of it again, and they needed a special test to figure it out who the cylons are. Did this issue ever get explained?

According to Moore, it was just a visual clue for the audience, their spines didn't actually glow. Which should have been a heads up about where things were going.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:16 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


well now that's an interesting way of saving "we didn't trust the audience" and/or "It was an idea we dropped cause it didn't work, sorry."
posted by The Whelk at 11:18 AM on December 12, 2011


There is no discernible difference between a great ending and an ending that people believe to be great.

A fanfic author believing his work is great does not make it great. There needs to be a general consensus, ala great works of art.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2011


Season 6 of Buffy with Spike & Buffy was the best ever. And scary witch Willow. Don't get me started.

Still, I hated the ending of BSG, truly disappointing. And it's not a show I'm likely to watch again. It was really good but something I only needed to do once.
posted by shoesietart at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2011


SpacemanStix: "One continuity issue that I was never able to fully get past was that at the beginning of the series, the newer cylons apparently had spines that glowed or something, which you see before the destruction of the home planet. Later, no mention of it again, and they needed a special test to figure it out who the cylons are. Did this issue ever get explained?"

Yes. That's one of the artifacts left over from the fact that nobody really expected the miniseries to be produced into a full show, much less last several seasons. They sacrificed a bit of plot continuity for a cool visual effect. I'll bet it was added after the fact in post-production, possibly after a test screening.

Moore openly expressed regret over that scene, and I'm a bit surprised it wasn't removed from the DVD.
posted by schmod at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2011


This clip pretty much sums up my thoughts on the direction the show took in the last two seasons.
posted by schmod at 11:22 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Deconstruction of Falling Stars" does wrap up the plot up to then pretty well. Then they told him, "Actually, you're go for Season 5." So he pulled what was originally supposed to be the series finale, "Sleeping in Light," made a new season finale, and wrote Season 5 as fast as he could, then using "Sleeping in Light" as the end to Season 5.

But "Sleeping in Light" was still the finale. Is Templeton saying that the same episode would have been a good ending if it hadn't been preceded by Season 5? It's still the same ending, right? If not, how was the "original planned ending, written before the show began" different?
posted by grouse at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2011


Moore openly expressed regret over that scene, and I'm a bit surprised it wasn't removed from the DVD.

On one hand plot continuity. On the other hand Tricia Helfer having an orgasm. Decisions, decisions :-)

Alternately he didn't want to become George Lucas, a decision anyone can respect.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I loved the ending of BSG and I think the last four seasons of Buffy are far better than the first three. So there.

The only thing about BSG that bothered me was whatever Kara Thrace turned out to be.
posted by something something at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


A fanfic author believing his work is great does not make it great.

Fanfic doesn't need to end with great literature, just with an orgasm.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2011


well now that's an interesting way of saving "we didn't trust the audience" and/or "It was an idea we dropped cause it didn't work, sorry."

I didn't have too much of a problem with the "we can't detect human cylons" thing, because they were able to do so, but Baltar lied about it actually working.

However, you'd think someone would pull a doctor into the design of the thing, instead of a computer programmer. Or at least ask the doctor to take a look at it, once they didn't trust Baltar.

But overall, the Cyclons has superior technology, so the humans being unable to detect Cyclons sounded vaguely plausible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:26 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I actually kind of liked the ending. I didn't like the road that got us there, but I thought that the writers did an admirable job of wrapping things up once they were told to pull the plug.

Also, Exodus Part 2 remains one of the best episodes of television that I can think of.

AlsoAlso: I never finished Buffy -- it's on my to-do list -- but, the first season was one of the worst things I've ever seen on TV. The show definitely took time to hit its stride. Tends to be true of most Whedon things -- Dollhouse also turned from "meh" to "whoa" in the second season, and reached a mostly-satisfying conclusion.... Imagine what he could have done with Firefly?

posted by schmod at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2011


Oh Kara Trace, everyone's favorite angel pilot dove cylon future perfect pixie walking talking plot device with a piano player in her head
posted by The Whelk at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Again, I'm blown away by how much nerds love rules.

Rules, rules, rules. Are we sure nerds aren't actually politically conservative?

Maybe. Maybe not.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


There were endless problems with the "Cylons indistinguishable from humans" problem. The skin jobs sometimes had super strength and sometimes didn't, and a human who discovered he/she was a Cylon suddenly had super strength, except when he/she didn't.

And any technology that can create a being indistinguishable from human even under subcellular analysis, yet has the ability to upload its entire personality and memories at death over unspecified distances via some apparently undetectable and unjammable medium is a technology you're not going to be able to beat.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:30 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if you think The Prisoner ended bad, you probably weren't paying attention to the rest of the series.

Holy crap I just realized I haven't seen the last episode. I thought "Once Upon a Time" was the finale, and it was indeed awful. I'm going ot have to track down "Fall Out"
posted by Hoopo at 11:30 AM on December 12, 2011


There are rules in fiction, it's what separates it from life.
posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


The best finale ever was that of Dinosaurs, the ABC puppet show. Seriously.
posted by weinbot at 11:32 AM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think the rules thing stems, in part, from role-playing games, where superior knowledge of arcane rules can be a competitive advantage.

"Nuh-huh! Magic-users can't use swords!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:32 AM on December 12, 2011


There are rules in fiction, it's what separates it from life.

Also from Nam.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:33 AM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Pretty much everything up to Exodus Part 2 is great. Sure, there's the G___ rebellion later on, which is HUGELY exciting, but you're still better off stopping watching there. Pretend it ends. Don't see the rest of it.

Similarly, if anyone hasn't seen them yet: watch STAR WARS and stop (though you may wish to consider continuing until the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI) and watch LIFE ON MARS but not ASHES TO ASHES and stop BUFFY after Season 3. Sure, you'll miss some good stuff, but there is other better new stuff to watch/read/hear and you won't spoil your enjoyment of the earlier stuff.

Now, because I haven't watched ASHES TO ASHES and don't know what happens (and as far as I'm concerned never happened) I'm going to leave the thread, which is kind of rude, so my apologies in advance. I'll just spend the next half-hour happily pondering where Sam really is and what happened to him. And the answer will be completely satisfactory. Cheerio!
posted by alasdair at 11:33 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


But overall, the Cyclons has superior technology, so the humans being unable to detect Cyclons sounded vaguely plausible.

Throw in the fact that the only technology the humans had was an old Battlestar and no real way to make new technology and it doesn't sound implausible at all.

Hell, even the Peagsus might not have been able to detect human Cylons. But that just brings up that crappy resolution to the "Are we going to kill one of our own" storyline and...yeah.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2011


A new visual and editing style unlike what has come before, with a focus on realism. [...] In Moore’s “naturalistic SF” he wanted to keep the realism but eschew the over-explanation. [...] Some SF is written not to be about the future at all, but the present, and simply uses an unrealistic future to tell a message about the present. [...] realism-oriented fans [...] Is it fair to demand all this accuracy, realism, meaning and relevance from a TV show?

Could someone please explain to the collected nerds of the Internet that "realism" has a specific meaning as a term of art in the world of fiction, and that by its very definition it doesn't and can't apply to science fiction? Whatever the rules/expectations of plausibility are that BSG's ending violated — and there is a long list of them, narrative, scientific, and otherwise — none of them was called "realism." And none of them is served by the rather typical sci-fi-fan move of pretending that lame, disorganized storytelling is somehow the same problem as the fictional universe's violating scientific plausibility.
posted by RogerB at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2011


Now I'm searching my posting history cause I'm pretty I've written a decent book's worth of comments on BSG over the years. I can have chapters like "Lee's Metaphorical Weight" and "Callie: Worst person or worstest person?"
posted by The Whelk at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


My partner's opinion on Buffy (some spoilers) (I am a terrible Whedon fangirl so I don't trust my own opinion):

* Season 1 and 2 are pretty bad. There are some good spots but overall, meh.
* Season 3 is terrible whenever Angel is onscreen. Otherwise pretty good.
* Season 4 and 5 were his favorites, even with Dawn.

He refused to watch after the Season 5 finale because he didn't think there was anywhere credible to go from there. The Buffy Season 5 finale is probably the best sci fi series finale ever. Too bad it wasn't actually the series finale.

I've watched the rest of it, and I recognize that there's some good episodes in the last two seasons, but his logic is hard to dispute.
posted by muddgirl at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best finale ever was that of Dinosaurs, the ABC puppet show. Seriously.

Jesus.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spoilers:

To me, the biggest letdown was that Papa Adama went flying off and left his son behind on new earth, forever. Why would he do that? All their baggage had finally been settled, and they were due for some quality time, but no. He flies off with his girlfriend who is about to die, and Apollo gets ditched by his already-dead girlfriend ghost. Stupid. Now they're both alone. I didn't get it.
posted by notmydesk at 11:38 AM on December 12, 2011


I came for the space combat and military life drama but left with the sci-fi equivalent of consumption.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:39 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I never got all the internet hate for Callie.

Anyways, as I have said before (and as mentioned in the article), if you skip season 4.5 of BSG, it ends on a perfectly appropriate note.

Buffy spoilers:

Also, Buffy season 3 had the stupid Angel comes back storyline. Why everyone in the Buffyverse keeps coming back to life (except Tara) I don't know, but you lose a lot of resonance that way. Buffy season 2 was, despite some clunkers (Go Fish), the best. (I am in the middle of season 2 of my rewatch, about to start Surprise/Innocence.)
posted by jeather at 11:43 AM on December 12, 2011


I'm going to have to track down "Fall Out"

Remember to drop some acid first. I'm told that helps.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:43 AM on December 12, 2011


Spoiler:

While the finale was moronic, and it truly was, it is most stupid when you look back on the episode featuring "All Along The Watchtower". Being heard/recited by the characters. Either the episode directly contradicts the ending, or we should believe that despite losing all technology and knowledge, we held on to that particular song for some reason for hundreds of thousands of years...

Just googled, hoping to find a decent explanation, but instead I found a pseudo-official and stupid one:
The song is not intended to indicate that the Colonials have picked up an Earth communication. Series executive producer Ron D. Moore considers the song to be an invention created by a Colonial citizen in a curious parallel to what had or will develop on Earth. The series creators had intentionally avoided citing whether Battlestar Galactica occured in the series' Earth's past, present, or future. Moore offers that "things that happened on Galactica were tied into our reality here on Earth in some way, in the past or the future, or some other connection".
...
Ron D Moore's point of view actually mirrors what Bob Dylan himself had said about his songwriting early in his career: "The songs are there. They exist all by themselves just waiting for someone to write them down. I just put them down on paper. If I didn't do it, somebody else would.'"

From here

I liked that Watchtower episode at first, thinking that it was a nice way of firmly linking the show to our real universe and a timeframe. Instead, it was just randomly tossing in "Oooooh, spooky" connections a la The X Files. Should've stopped right there.
posted by nickgb at 11:45 AM on December 12, 2011


My position on spaceships making sounds in space: there's no reason the imaginary mike has to be in the same place as the imaginary camera.
posted by zamboni at 11:45 AM on December 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think it all went to suck after the cliffhanger episode in season 2, promising an epic clash between opposing fighter squadrons from Galactica and Pegasus. And they blew it. Wrote a check they wouldn't cash. They promised real-world actions and their logical consequences; they gave us magical Cylon blood. They should have cancelled the show at that point; it would have been one of the all-time greats, the greatest of the "what-if?"'s.
posted by Auden at 11:46 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Callie is 10 pounds of manipulator in an adorable 5lb bag. I always thought she was there to contrast with Heilo: The Nicest man In The Universe.
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't buy the "it's about character" thing for a nanosecond. They clearly had no idea where they were going with the character arcs -- they retconned half the characters literally FOUR episodes before the end, and then went nowhere with it so they could make room for more scenes of Adama barfing on himself.

Character, my ass.
posted by vorfeed at 11:47 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Battlestar Galactica ended midway through the last season in the big-reveal episode when they landed on actual Earth.

I deny that any episodes after that one actually exist, and if you tell me otherwise I will stick my fingers in my ears and sing All Along the Watchtower until you go away.
posted by rokusan at 11:49 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Could someone please explain to the collected nerds of the Internet that "realism" has a specific meaning as a term of art in the world of fiction, and that by its very definition it doesn't and can't apply to science fiction? Whatever the rules/expectations of plausibility are that BSG's ending violated — and there is a long list of them, narrative, scientific, and otherwise — none of them was called "realism." And none of them is served by the rather typical sci-fi-fan move of pretending that lame, disorganized storytelling is somehow the same problem as the fictional universe's violating scientific plausibility.

I've only really watched BSG over the husband's shoulder, because I don't do space without aliens (I know, I'm ridiculous. We all need rules in life, okay?). When it comes down to it, my deep suspicion is that "naturalistic SF" refers to just that. Space without aliens. Because aliens are dorky, and if you watch a space show with aliens, you're a big ol' dork too.

I am a dork.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:49 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Either the episode directly contradicts the ending, or we should believe that despite losing all technology and knowledge, we held on to that particular song for some reason for hundreds of thousands of years...

Well, since the show posits that an active God exists, it's not too surprising that he's got a theme song.
posted by muddgirl at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Shakespeherian, I can't glean the meaning of your comment, but I hope it was something like, "Jesus....that episode shattered my fragile adolescent psyche and I can, to this day, remember where I was when I first saw it."
posted by weinbot at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2011


Battlestar Galactica makes me feel like a crazy person, because everyone I know loves it, and I cannot understand why. It's unrelenting in its nihilistic view of human nature, revolves around religious ideas that seem like they could only come from writers who hate religion and want to kill it with fire, and is populated by characters who are utterly humorless and seem devoid of any apparent virtue. I've watched a bunch of episodes now, admittedly many out of order past the middle of the second season, but I can't figure out which of these automatons I'm supposed to like or want to succeed. They seem to interact only inasmuch as they can be utter shits to each other for as long as possible, as hard as possible.

But everyone fucking loves this show and thinks it's one of the best dramas around with incredible characters rich with internal integrity, a deep and varied plot, and a nuanced take on religion and devotion. I want to see the show my friends like, it sounds really good, but apparently I'm living in some sidecar universe.
posted by Errant at 11:52 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I never got all the internet hate for Callie.

I didn't realize there was a lot of internet hate for her, but Callie was a soulless monster who did nothing but ruin the Chief's life. THE CHIEF! Why wouldn't everyone love him and resent her horrible influence?

Her death is on-screen death that has made the second happiest. In the interest of not spoiling things, the one that made me the happiest is in the Wire series finale. I'm giggling at my desk just thinking about it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it all went to suck after the cliffhanger episode in season 2, promising an epic clash between opposing fighter squadrons from Galactica and Pegasus.

Yep. There were some interestingly questions raised about just how nasty and dirty humans, including the beloved "heroes" would get. The setup was great and then the creators chickened out, but for understandable reasons I think. They were selling a product and were about to go down a road that NBC probably would not have let them and even if higher ups had signed off on it, they would have been in uncharted waters, tv wise, especially after 9/11. Moore and company didn't want to get that dark, where the good guys were all killing each other.

But man, it would have been awesome place to go, story wise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


really the central question should have been "Well, does humanity deserve to survive?" and the episodes that hit on that were some of the best.
posted by The Whelk at 11:55 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shakespeherian, I can't glean the meaning of your comment, but I hope it was something like, "Jesus....that episode shattered my fragile adolescent psyche and I can, to this day, remember where I was when I first saw it."

I'm decently sure I never saw that episode but just reading the summary has somehow gone back in time and fucked me up all proper-like.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:55 AM on December 12, 2011


There were some interestingly questions raised about just how nasty and dirty humans, including the beloved "heroes" would get.

It's not exactly what you're talking about, but I thought the ending of 33 basically pushed those buttons...
posted by nickgb at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2011


Could someone please explain to the collected nerds of the Internet that "realism" has a specific meaning as a term of art in the world of fiction, and that by its very definition it doesn't and can't apply to science fiction?


Except, realism isn't, in this context, referring to the fiction at all. But, don't let that stop you -- I know it's exciting to be able to show off your impressive knowledge. Perhaps you have another gem to share with the world?

tldr; literary snob can't read.
posted by smidgen at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm one of those people who thought the ending was in general a clever, neat trick; while I thought what led up to it was this kind of frantic, confused mess.

I loved the show though. I'm assuming some of the more firey condemnations of it and slights against Ronald D. Moore are because those folks loved the show too, and ended up being let down at some point during its run. Because it's the only sci-fi show I know of in the last decade that actually took on interesting, fresh themes. That might say more about the low quality of television overall, but shit, I'll take what I can get.

Thanks Ronald D. Moore, I'm glad you were able to free yourself from the tired constraints of Star Trek storytelling and try something new.

Now when is Ira Behr going to get the show he deserves?
posted by palidor at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anyone who liked Baltar and not Callie is an evil, wrong person. It's not that Callie was the most amazing person, but she wasn't so very much worse than any of the other characters, and she was much, much less of an amoral narcissist than Baltar.
posted by jeather at 11:58 AM on December 12, 2011


I think the rules thing stems, in part, from role-playing games, where superior knowledge of arcane rules can be a competitive advantage.

"Nuh-huh! Magic-users can't use swords!"


I'm pretty sure this reverses cause and effect.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:59 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because aliens are dorky

I dare you to say that to these guys. :-)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:00 PM on December 12, 2011


If they're machines, why can't you x-ray someone to find out if they are one?

Sure, any competent scientist could set up a quick reliable test in about an hour. Unfortunately there's only one scientist left alive, and on the advice of the voices in his head he tells the crew that nothing short of a nuclear bomb and his own splendidness can detect a cylon. At that point they have no reason not to believe him.

I thought Battlestar ended well. Stranded on that planet, seemingly without hope -- it fit with the tone of the series. However, I was exceedingly frustrated that they didn't pick up the show for a third season. I've seen some unaired footage of something they were going to call the "Adama Maneuver," and it would have been spectacular. In general I would have liked to have seen how Moore tied up all the loose ends in season three, but as they say in show business, always leave them wanting more.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:00 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


were his favorites, even with Dawn.

Man, i hated Dawn, still do. One of the worst things to ever happen on Buffy. The character. The actress. Everything. Ugh... Right up there with how good the last season started but then went on a quick spiral down the toilet. (The awesome of Spike hugging the cross, to "we are at war!!1!" every, damn, episode... we get it Joss.)

The BSG finale wasn't bad, it just "was". The show clearly had no set plan, this is what they came up with. Same with Lost. Same with almost every other show besides Babylon 5 and DS9 (DS9 didn't start the same way, but got a good thread going with the Dominion War and really grew characters).
posted by usagizero at 12:01 PM on December 12, 2011


Ok, I apologize. In the article, realism is referred to several times in the context of fiction. The quoted part, however, did not.

tldr; over-caffeinated nerd rage
posted by smidgen at 12:01 PM on December 12, 2011


I'm curious how all of the rest of you would have written the ending to BSG. Where would you have started doing things differently and how? How would the story have wrapped up in the end?

For me, the show really went off the rails when they did the whole cylon-run human concentration camp. But I'm not sure how I would have done things differently up to and after that.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


because my message is not simply that the ending was poor, but that the show rose so high that it was able to fall so very far

And there we have the most important thing about the essay. Yes, the ending of the series was disappointing, but only because so much of it was so damn good. We are coming up on three years later and people still talk and argue about it. How much did people talk about Andromeda or Space: Above and Beyond or Odyssey 5 or even the original Battlestar Galactica years after they ended?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2011


My position on spaceships making sounds in space: there's no reason the imaginary mike has to be in the same place as the imaginary camera.

Brilliant, I've never heard that explanation before but in fact it's very rare in any drama for that to be the case.
posted by pmcp at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2011


I can't figure out which of these automatons I'm supposed to like or want to succeed

Just for reference, that would be Adama (senior), Laura Roslin, and Helo.

Although to be honest I was just rooting for Baltar to find himself in trouble and put on the spot again. James Callis rocked those scenes.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:04 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


DS9 didn't start the same way, but got a good thread going with the Dominion War and really grew characters

I'm surprised that I haven't seen much analysis of Moore's influence on DS9 and how both BSG and DS9 both heavily featured aliens/god parallels/interactions.

I also just watched DS9 all the way through for the first time, and found the finale to be miserable as well. So many sudden unexplained decisions, largely of men who just decide to go off and "do what they gotta do" while their women-folk are left behind to wait.
posted by nickgb at 12:04 PM on December 12, 2011


I don't understand all the gripes about the agricultural, Neanderthal-fucking endgame. I don't think it was pro-Luddite of them to ditch the ships and settle in one place - what else could they do? Galactica was old at the beginning of the series and falling apart through the whole last season. At least once before, around my FAVORITE EPISODE The Passage, the fleet was on the brink of running out of food entirely, and after that they had to eat shit-tasting algae or something. At some point they were bound to run out of tilium, or face a revolt of people sick of living in a cargo bay in a decrepit war relic for MORE years. They finally reached the planet that their culture prophesied to be their new homeland, and it was habitable (moreso than New Caprica or nuked faux-Earth) and peaceful.

I remember Moore saying in an interview that Voyager bothered him because the ship just kept going indefinitely despite no starfleet repairs, resupply, etc. Well, he certainly didn't try to make Galactica like that. At some point they were going to have to stop and get back to work making tools and farms and towns if humanity was going to survive past that set of generations.

As for Baltar being an angel and Starbuck being... whatever, though, I certainly could have done without that stuff.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:05 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I dare you to say that to these guys. :-)

Oh, you don't have to. I still maintain that Alien Nation was actually the best SF show ever canceled by Fox.

That's right, Whedonites. The show with the rubber forehead aliens and the bad puns.

Of course, what the Alien franchise and BSG share is a conspicuous avoidance of girl cooties. "Realism" usually means "dark and macho." Aliens are close to cootie-licious, but if you make them monsters that look like dicks, not so much.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:05 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I gave up on this show at the start of season 3. I'm so glad I did.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:05 PM on December 12, 2011


They clearly had no idea where they were going with the character arcs

This is kind of a common thing on TV shows, like Lost, or whatever. And I think we have to cut the writers a little slack. They don't know how long their show will be on. They don't know how many seasons they'll have. How can you write the ending to character arcs when you don't know how long it will be until the actual end?

I can see writers having some idea of where they want to go with their characters, but what happens if you suddenly wind up with not enough time to get there? Or even tougher, you wind up having to go two seasons longer than you had planned? It can't be easy easy either way.
posted by notmydesk at 12:06 PM on December 12, 2011


I'm curious how all of the rest of you would have written the ending to BSG. Where would you have started doing things differently and how? How would the story have wrapped up in the end?

NO, goddamn it NO, you will not drag me into that time suck

I don't think it was pro-Luddite of them to ditch the ships and settle in one place - what else could they do?

Keep'em for shelter? Electricity? Indoor plumbing? A place to hide from sabretooth tigers?

It was an incredibly stupid idea.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:08 PM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


As for rules: narrative and character continuity are paramount no matter what kind of show you're doing, and both were a total joke since at least season 3. Fat Lee? The love quadrangle? Surprise "twists" every six episodes? Watchtower? C'mon.

On preview: making up an entirely new history for a whole race and
posted by vorfeed at 12:10 PM on December 12, 2011


Fat Lee is my individual favorite thing about the entire series (seriouspost)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:11 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oops, wrong button. I was going to say "and five main characters isn't how you do it, hard or not."
posted by vorfeed at 12:12 PM on December 12, 2011


This is my favorite video on youtube with more dislikes than likes.
posted by palidor at 12:12 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand all the gripes about the agricultural, Neanderthal-fucking endgame.

The biggest problem for me is that if you put more than 25 thousand members of a very advanced society on a habitable planet, and they still have things like computers, they are going to rebuild pretty rapidly. If our species were reduced to 25 thousand people randomly selected from, say, the U.S. or Japan or the U.K., we would be back to our current level of technology within five hundred years. Probably sooner. But the show asks us to suppose that the colonists took a hundred fifty thousand years to rebuild to a much lower standard of tech.

I'm not sure for myself why this bothers me more than many of the other plot problems and character problems that other people are pointing out. But somehow, I'm happier accepting that cylons can't be distinguished from humans (and yet have all these super-powers) and that some of the humans are actually cylons that didn't remember being cylons and so forth.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand all the gripes about the agricultural, Neanderthal-fucking endgame. I don't think it was pro-Luddite of them to ditch the ships and settle in one place - what else could they do?

They could have landed the ships or put 'em in geosynchronous orbit. They could have at least maintained enough technical knowledge to give their citizen's proper health care, clean energy, and sustainable agriculture. If they were our ancestor's, then we'd have them to thank for thousands of years of misery. Climate Change? Their fault. Smallpox, malaria, and the Spanish Flu? Their fault. The Dark Ages? Their fault. Could go on and on....
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:15 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


NO, goddamn it NO, you will not drag me into that time suck

Heh. I apologize, Brandon.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:15 PM on December 12, 2011


I can see writers having some idea of where they want to go with their characters, but what happens if you suddenly wind up with not enough time to get there? Or even tougher, you wind up having to go two seasons longer than you had planned? It can't be easy easy either way.

I don't want to spoil last night's Boardwalk Empire for those who haven't seen it, but the Terence Winter has been speaking extensively today in various interviews on exactly this topic. It boils down to: you do what's narratively necessary by following your characters' stories to their natural conclusions, rather than artificially strong-arming them because of external demands.

It takes balls, but it makes for damned satisfying viewing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:15 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you put more than 25 thousand members of a very advanced society on a habitable planet, and they still have things like computers, they are going to rebuild pretty rapidly.

I'm pretty sure even knowledge of computers would do.

I'm no engineer, but I could certainly start scraping together the foundations of science and technology, if you give me all the time and space in the world to do it.

I don't even need Spock's condescending tone to find my own potassium, sulfur and coal.

(What?)
posted by rokusan at 12:17 PM on December 12, 2011


As for Baltar being an angel

My theory is that there was simply no other way to explain the "hallucinations" that were happening, especially occurring with more than one person, in a way that made any sort of sense. To prove this, try to come up with something that would explain how Baltar would see Six, and Caprica-six also had a virtual Baltar. I don't think it can be done. And didn't Baltar actually see angel Baltar at some time? I think this was a plot device that actually forced a particular explanation, if they didn't want to totally blow it off.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:18 PM on December 12, 2011


Also, as season four went on I'd mock the show more and more watching it with my friend. Like, mostly it was pounding my hands on whatever was in front of me when THE DRUMS kicked in to tell you SOMETHING IS HAPPENING! In general that season tended to invite my disdain whether it was stumbling blindly into SHOCKING TWISTS or absurd character decisions or spending entire episodes explaining suddenly invented Cylon backstory.

But when it comes to shows from the past decade I recommend to friends, BSG is definitely #2. You can easily guess what #1 is. But being #2 is a pretty damn good job.
posted by palidor at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hearing Ron Moore say "It's the characters, stupid." as an excuse for poor planning and lazy writing somehow makes me feel all queasy and Lost...
posted by rokusan at 12:20 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


BSG was absolutely intriguing for the first season or so. But the author's point that it was more religious fiction than science fiction is spot on. Could the series finale been anything other than that shit show after Space Jebus became the driving force of the show? If we think of the whole thing as a bizarre retelling of the Mormon journey across the mid west to settle in space Salt Lake City then you can forgive just about every sin the show made, which were more numerous than the virtues by the end there.

Given the horrific set up I was rather happy with the ending. Starbuck disappearing? Sure! Sending their covered wagons into the sun? Sure! Baltar and Six becoming angels? Go ahead! It really didn't matter any more because someone took an awesome one season science fiction show and wrote religious fanfiction about it for an additional three seasons.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:20 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


my deep suspicion is that "naturalistic SF" refers to just that. Space without aliens

Sometimes, it does seem to mean this — it's an adaptation of the Atwood defense that runs along the lines of "talking squids in space are the bad kind of SF, we're not doing that." But sometimes it seems to mean they're shooting for deeper or more rounded psychology, or more "dark" or "quirky" or emotionally resonant plotlines than some vision of stereotypical straight-ahead obvious, declamatory space opera (in this case clearly the middle-period Trek that Ron Moore worked on). The problem is, exactly, that it's impossible to tell what is meant by it. The fudge factor involved in calling whatever non-stereotypical-SF thing they're doing "realism" allows people like Ron Moore to think they're making art. Half the time I think this is the real point — TV writers wanting to dignify their work with a sprinkling of added "literary" terms — but it sure ties Internet sci-fi fans in knots.

In the article, realism is referred to several times in the context of fiction. The quoted part, however, did not.

So what's the other, non-fictional context you're proposing? It's a blog post about a work of fiction, claiming to hold it to account for not being "realistic" enough. You think we should take him as talking about epistemic realism in the philosophy of science or something?

I think we have to cut the writers a little slack. They don't know how long their show will be on.

Would it be asking too much, if they were planning on making it up as they went along and just retconning the shit out of it whenever it suited them, not to put "AND THEY HAVE A PLAN" in a prominent title at the front of every single episode? It'd be one thing to promise to tell a shaggy-dog story and then deliver nothing more, but it's quite another to promise a tight, mystery-resolving dramatic arc that slowly falls apart into a tangle of loose ends, retcon, and handwaving.
posted by RogerB at 12:20 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I want to see the show my friends like, it sounds really good, but apparently I'm living in some sidecar universe. - Errant, we are apparently sharing that sidecar universe, although I think I ended up there at the same time as Jonathan Livengood: the show really went off the rails when they did the whole cylon-run human concentration camp. I tried watching it originally, got to that point, and went "f*** no, if I want that I'll just watch the news." (Am I remembering correctly that this was around the same time as "the surge" in Iraq?) Tried it again when mr epersonae watched it on Netflix recently, and the same basic reaction.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I totally prefer silly old 70s BSG.
posted by epersonae at 12:21 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many years ago, the National Lampoon had an article called "How to Write Good." It taught that if you get stuck for an ending, just conclude with, "And then, suddenly, everyone got run over by a truck." That probably would work in many of these cases....
posted by njohnson23 at 12:21 PM on December 12, 2011


Given the horrific set up I was rather happy with the ending. Starbuck disappearing? Sure! Sending their covered wagons into the sun? Sure! Baltar and Six becoming angels? Go ahead! It really didn't matter any more because someone took an awesome one season science fiction show and wrote religious fanfiction about it for an additional three seasons.

Wait, wasn't the original based on Mormon theology? Seems to me that someone might have been writing secular fanfic about a religious SF show for a few seasons.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was mocking "AND THEY HAVE A PLAN" from like the second episode of the series. That one was just way too easy.

But really I can't get into nitpicking too much, and it's probably because the first forum I ever took part in online was the TrekBBS (oh god the nerdery) and the fact that my favorite movie is Mulholland Drive.
posted by palidor at 12:24 PM on December 12, 2011


By season two there should have been a concrete *thing* surrounding the mystical elements that they wouldn't have to explain, but they would assume exists when writing. Here's one: The Hybrid Mass Mind has been putting events in place and attempting to communicate with people/cylons in their own alien, unfathomable way in an attempt to stop the cycle of human/cylon violence by whatever means possible.
posted by The Whelk at 12:28 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


because I don't do space without aliens

I didn't even know you could do that. No human only universes, ever? That's pretty's cool, actually.

I bailed on BSG when Starbuck got all motherly out of the blue. That's when I knew the show was definitely going nowhere good. Before that, I had kinda hoped they might turn it around.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:29 PM on December 12, 2011


Mark of Mark Watches makes a really good case for the BSG finale (and really the entire 4th season).

He makes some good points (and some not as good ones), but the real value of that recap, at least for me, was that it's rare to see someone trying to appreciate late-period BSG and not just tear it down and start an endless litany of complaints. Lord knows too many of the complaints are valid, but most of the time I'd rather see someone build something up and help me enjoy it than get wrapped up in a competition to see who can disdain it more caustically.
posted by Copronymus at 12:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Whelk, that's a pretty nice way to go with it, and at least in my biased view of the series that's pretty much what happened. "God" = incomprehensible higher intelligence the hybrids interact with
posted by palidor at 12:30 PM on December 12, 2011


Philip K Dick explained it better, but yeah, supposedly the Cylons were indistinguishable from humans. Hey guess what! That means they actually were humans! Always bugged me.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:32 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Buffy Season 5 finale is probably the best sci fi series finale ever. Too bad it wasn't actually the series finale.

The Gift was in fact superawesome, but as a series finale I think it wouldn't have been as thematically resonant as the eventual ending. If Buffy ends with Buffy dying to save the world, then her life basically ends just like every Slayer before her. One of the central themes of the show is that Buffy has an actual group of friends which is something the patriarchal Watcher's Council didn't like at all. And because of her group of friends, her found family, she has more control over her own life compared to all the previous Slayers that were controlled by the Watcher's Council. And because of that, she is more powerful than any of them. With Chosen, she was able to actually break the Watcher-imposed/power-limiting cycle. (Not that there aren't potential bad consequences to that as well, of course, as demonstrated by Damage on Angel.)

I'm not sure if I'm putting it well here. I remember reading an article that talked about this much better than I could but who knows where I found it now.

I feel similarly about the Angel finale, actually. It's a great episode on its own, but I didn't really like how it fit with the show. Last stands make for exciting episodes, but bringing hell down on LA to make a point doesn't really seem very smart.

Space: Above and Beyond

Man, I remember loving that show. Should go and do a re-watch and see what I think now.
posted by kmz at 12:32 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was thinking more the Hybrids have god-like powers and it's motives are unknown even to parts of itself, once they got a original model Cylon (Anders) connected into the netowrk, it would have a mouthpiece with a connection to everyone. It's not perfect but it at least has a shape.
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


and it would help explain D'Anna's death wish-interacting with the hybrid before being born again and again thing.
posted by The Whelk at 12:34 PM on December 12, 2011


Philip K Dick explained it better, but yeah, supposedly the Cylons were indistinguishable from humans. Hey guess what! That means they actually were humans! Always bugged me.

I always felt like the sinking feeling that the Cylons were really human beings was a supposed to be a huge, if somewhat unstated point.

Space: Above and Beyond

Man, I remember loving that show. Should go and do a re-watch and see what I think now.


Heads up, if you get DVDs, the title screen will have BSG on it for some mysterious reason.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:35 PM on December 12, 2011


wait why am i in this thread i haven't watched that show
posted by shakespeherian at 12:35 PM on December 12, 2011


Sorry, I meant to say Babylon 5, not BSG. The Space: Above and Beyond DVDs have Babylon 5 on the title screen.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:37 PM on December 12, 2011


I always felt like the sinking feeling that the Cylons were really human beings was a supposed to be a huge, if somewhat unstated point.

Yeah that was kind of like the biggest theme of the show I was watching.
posted by palidor at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2011


If Buffy ends with Buffy dying to save the world, then her life basically ends just like every Slayer before her. One of the central themes of the show is that Buffy has an actual group of friends which is something the patriarchal Watcher's Council didn't like at all.

I recognize this, but I think the Season 5 finale (and really, the rest of the show) also makes the point that having friends and family is a blessing but also a huge liability. In Season 5, Buffy doesn't die the same way the other Slayer's do - she's not killed by a vampire who's just better, stronger, or faster than her. She chooses her death (and not in the same way that Spike claims other slayers had - not in a moment of weakness, but in a moment of strength).
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or rather, they're transhuman. But the issue of humanity was the theme.
posted by palidor at 12:40 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keep'em for shelter? Electricity? Indoor plumbing?

Electricity and indoor plumbing until they run out of tillium, at least. A substance that we apparently don't have on Earth since the Earth-based writers who named it chose to make up something that doesn't exist here.

The biggest problem for me is that if you put more than 25 thousand members of a very advanced society on a habitable planet, and they still have things like computers, they are going to rebuild pretty rapidly.

The computers won't be around for forever... see above, re: tillium. And then rebuild with what? Raptor repair tools? You're right that a hundred fifty thousand years is probably an overshoot. But most of these people just grew up in a civilization with advanced technology, they don't know how to actually CREATE it. Baltar was apparently the only one left with any real scientific understanding, plus a small number of mechanics who knew how to work within a particular domain.

They could have landed the ships or put 'em in geosynchronous orbit. They could have at least maintained enough technical knowledge to give their citizen's proper health care, clean energy, and sustainable agriculture.

Orbit would have required fuel. They could have landed them for shelter, true. Unsure if they would know how to pass along the details of science and medicine for hundreds of years with absolutely no basis for civilization - the Dark Ages weren't THAT long ago, relatively speaking, and they followed a period of European civilization that was incomprehensibly more sophisticated than what the BSG refugees had in place at the end of the series.

Anyway, I just saw it as: humans couldn't keep going on the way they had been throughout the series. It wasn't sustainable. And to ever reach that quality of life again would require a long, slow process of learning how to rebuild civilization from the ground up. Like seriously, Minecraft style. Oh, you want to build things out of metal? I guess you'd better learn how to craft mining tools and figure out where to dig and how to, I don't know, smelt and shit. You want medicine? You're going to have to figure out which naturally occurring features of this planet have medicinal effects, because it's going to be a while before you can develop a system of electric power based on fuels you've never seen before, develop fabrication techniques that require high purity and precision, and figure out how to isolate and test and manufacture medicinal compounds using tools and materials found on the planet. Especially if all of the scientific knowledge being passed down to the entirety of humanity, in every subject category, is coming from one man who's possibly insane and apparently an angel.

But obviously that was just my interpretation and it places me in a tiny minority of nerds on the Internet, so of course I'm not claiming it's better or more right than what anyone else took away from the finale
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Space: Above and Beyond DVDs have Babylon 5 on the title screen.

Oy. I guess the cover art intern just googled for space TV shows and stuck in a random spacestation for some reason. Reminds me of the terrible first Serenity DVD cover.
posted by kmz at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2011


I thought the big reason they destroyed the big ships was that there were still other Cylons out there who might be out for vengeance and they would have been harder to hide than the landers.

I totally agree that computers without power and limited ship-maintenance tools would have been nearly useless to the colonists and they would have been Bronze Age at best within a generation. Maybe Apollo was just cutting to the chase and saying skip all the post-apocalyptic cargo cult misery.
posted by zomg at 12:53 PM on December 12, 2011


I'd actually say internal consistency was it's biggest problem, manifesting on a small scale ("are the robots bulletproof thsi weak?") right through to a large scale ("They are operatimng according to a plan. Wait, no, it's a different plan. Oh fuck it, handwave like crazy"). Nailing some of that stuff down at the start and then sticking to it would have helped a lot.
posted by Artw at 12:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that so man here pulled out at the beginning of Season 3. That's exactly when I remember absolutely loving the show. Apollo gets fat, Tigh loses an eye, Adama grows a mustache. Seriously, though, that's when I felt like these were people who were suffering through horrible ordeals while accumulating irreversible physical and psychological damage.

As for the finale, it had plenty of problems, but I don't understand why he's hung up on the setting being the past or the future. Repeatedly throughout the series, the sacred scrolls are quoted as saying, "All this has happened before, and all this will happen again." It seems to me that BSG is both past and future to present day Earth, and we're all caught up in some kind of timeless, cyclical timeline.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 12:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Electricity and indoor plumbing until they run out of tillium, at least.

That's why you keep the other ships, so they can search for tillium, and the refinery.

Getting rid of all the ships and sending them into the sun (thus killing Anders), makes not a lick of goddamn sense, especially when 20,000 supposedly all agree to it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:56 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


cobra,

Even if you assume that all they have is knowledge that such things as computers and spaceships are possible, along with what would have to be high-school-level education in a society like theirs, it isn't going to take more than 500 years to get to our level of tech. As you say, the Dark Ages weren't that long ago. From the point that humans started seriously applying math to physics and started conducting controlled experiments, it was (roughly) 400 years to the internet. (I'm measuring from Galileo, here.)
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2011


I'm with Rokusan: they should have stopped it on the ruined Earth.
posted by tyllwin at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen the miniseries called, appropriately enough, The Plan, but according to Mark it clears a lot of this up (and, as I sort of suspected all along, it comes down to "Cylons are based on humans, and so have different and conflicting goals and motivations - they appear to be a monolithic enemy at the start but in the end they are individuals")
posted by muddgirl at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2011


I think that everything having to be analyzed in the context of America's New White Culture War is hilarious. Also, I bet a whole bunch of people would be happier if they called God transcendental AI or something otherwise nerd-rapture-ish.
posted by mobunited at 1:07 PM on December 12, 2011


The ending was an expression of the Rousseauian "nostalgie de la boue". The characters believed that their civilization, and civilization in general was tainted by some kind of original sin. They hoped that abandoning their technological civilization and joining with the Noble Savages on earth would cleanse them and their descendants of evil and guilt. It's an SF dramatization of the hippie (and Marxist) notion of "start from zero".

The flash forward to the contemporary era showed that humans were again on the road to repeating their old mistakes and were still sinners- a weird combination of the Buddhist cycle of rebirth and the Christian concept of perpetual lack of grace.
posted by TSOL at 1:10 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ha, The Plan doesn't explain anything at all, unless you buy ~The Power Of Love~ as an explanation. I loved it, but that's more to do with Dean Stockwell than anything else.
posted by vorfeed at 1:12 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Holy shit, Mark's first Buffy recap is up and unless he's a lying liar who lies, Mark is almost completely unspoiled for Buffy. Like, he doesn't even know what Angel is. If he's truly at that level of unspoileredness, I am so goddamn envious. And hell on anybody who accidentally/not so accidentally spoils him on anything.)

(Also, let me just say that as bad as a lot of Buffy S1 is, it's got some gems too. The pilot's pretty decent, The Pack and Angel are pretty darn good, and Prophecy Girl is the first truly great ep. I don't think it's a coincidence that it's also the first one written and directed by Whedon.)

And now I'm going to shut up about Buffy in this BSG thread.
posted by kmz at 1:14 PM on December 12, 2011


OK, orbit would have required fuel. How about sticking the ships in a Lagrange point, or setting the ships that couldn't land on Earth on the moon? Finding a different fuel source than trillium shouldn't even be an issue. A wood gasifier would provide enough power to run a computer with just bits of wood as fuel. Or build a solar cell, windmill, hydroelectric or geothermal plant, find some Uranium for a nuclear plant, dig up some fossil fuels, etc. Passing along the information from generation to generation could be done by, I don't know, writing it down? Building schools?
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:15 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


You think we should take him as talking about epistemic realism in the philosophy of science or something?

Err, no. My particular beef was with your use of the first quote, which explicitly referred to visual style, not to any aspect of the fiction. However, I feel that I reacted too strongly given the article itself was using the term realism very loosely and that perhaps I was reading too much into your comment. Hence my apology a few minutes later.

If you really want to debate about it. I would however argue that, whatever the proper nomenclature is, that BSG did attempt to have a "realistic" style. For the most part, I think the presentation held together very well. The story... not so much... I think it's worthwhile to understand BSG as a TV serial, not a generic work of fiction. Reading it would be horrible. As a TV show, it's worth watching a least a season's or two worth.

However, I will say that BSG has forever turned me off from watching TV serials. I don't think the form really can produce quality work after a certain period of time. I would say 3 years is the limit, not 5. Even B5, which was supposed to have a grand plan, just became irritating and stretched awfully thin (and then compressed awfully hard) towards the end. The length combined with the commercial constraints make for bad art.
posted by smidgen at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2011


I love Space: Above and Beyond far more than seems justified. It makes me happy to learn that I'm not completely alone.
posted by wintermind at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Electricity and indoor plumbing until they run out of tillium, at least.

I've heard a rumor that you can generate electricity and run indoor plumbing without tillium, but the government is covering it up.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:20 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've heard a rumor that you can generate electricity and run indoor plumbing without tillium, but the government is covering it up.

But they didn't have any dilithium crystals either.
posted by kmz at 1:24 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


BSG and Lost were like a 1-2 punch for me, driving home the lesson "If you even think they're just making it up as they go along, then run."
posted by tyllwin at 1:24 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


that's more to do with Dean Stockwell than anything else.

I was watching Song Of The Thin Man (1947) a while back and practically fell out of my chair when the credits rolled.

The best thing is that most of the characters Dean Stockwell has been playing for the last twenty years are just perfect for Nick Charles' son.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, Ron Moore, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to Starbuck
Not to touch a hair on her head
Or have her come back as an angel
And if He felt He had to direct you
let someone else handle writing the finale
posted by biffa at 1:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


I miss having a big spaceship on TV. Seemed like they were a peremenant fixture and there would always be some kind of show of that type on, but now they seem to be extinct. I suspect that not having a functioning Star Trek show is a big factor.
posted by Artw at 1:43 PM on December 12, 2011


Raise of hands, how many people would like a show set in SPAAACE that is also super fun and jokey that is *not* Futurama?
posted by The Whelk at 1:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


This is all just made-up silliness, but...

Tillium might be easily found on Earth. Just because it's called Tillium doesn't mean it isn't something like Lithium, Uranium, or even Thorium , to name a few elements. I mean, everyone on the show says frak, but we all know that's just a stand-in for everyone's favorite anglo-saxon expletive, right? So, losing the ragtag fleet was a dumb move. But then, it was Apollo's idea, so no surprise there.

Also, this is neither here nor there, but I always thought of Starbuck as the son Adama never had.
posted by KHAAAN! at 1:52 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


You've seen Red Dwarf, right?
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


they're not making any new ones it's an open playing field!
posted by The Whelk at 1:58 PM on December 12, 2011


Galaxy Quest. Definitely Galaxy Quest.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes they are, but they will be crap. So your point still stands.
posted by pmcp at 2:00 PM on December 12, 2011


Actually, it's worse, they DID make some new Red Dwarf... Let me try to forget that again.
posted by Artw at 2:01 PM on December 12, 2011


Galaxy Quest was the best Star Trek movie ever made, hands down.
posted by KHAAAN! at 2:03 PM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh boy, I like Galaxy Quest, but if you puty it head to head with my mad love of Khan or even TMP (super long effects nerd edition) then it's going to get smeared over the windscreen.
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I'd really love is someone in the UK doing a cynical and nasty compliment to Doctor Who in the vein of Blake's 7 - of course someone already tried putting an actual Blakes 7 reboot together but A) it failed and B) it was for Sky, and therefore sucky be definition.
posted by Artw at 2:16 PM on December 12, 2011


I'm curious how all of the rest of you would have written the ending to BSG. Where would you have started doing things differently and how? How would the story have wrapped up in the end?

Sigh, it's too tempting.


The idea of human Cylons that are at the top of the food chain is pretty silly. Unless the metal Cylons made them to infiltrate the humans. That, to me, immediately sets up two classes of Cyclons, the metal ones and their human counterparts. Naturally the metals look down on the humanlons for their soft, fleshy bodies. Naturally the humanlons hate/love the Cylons for their power and abilities (echoes of Cavil being pissed about being stuck in flesh tomb).

Right there you got three potential sides who can wheel and deal with each other, depending on the plot and where the series is going. Maybe the humanlons want to hook up with the humans in exchange for equality and freedom from the mission. Maybe the humanlons see themselves as better than human or metalons and switch sides to constantly throw the other two off. Maybe the humans and metalons should join forces to wipe the humanlons, you know? Lots of room to move, especially over many seasons with juicy ad dollars to make. Plus the show would be able to transcend the America/Iraq/War on Terror parallels at some point.

....

What would have made the ending good for me, with minimal changes? God getting pissed off about the decision to get rid of all the technology.

"GODDAMN IT, that is not what I meant, what the hell is wrong with these people?! I put them through hell for a reason, so they could learn to work with machines and each other better this time, they were so close to paradise and peace, what the hell? So depressing."

(LONG PAUSE)

"Baltar! Six! Get your sweet asses and that Asimov robot in here and let's get freaky. I need to de-stress "
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:18 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, let me rephrase my comment. Galaxy Quest was the best Star Trek as pop-culture phenomenon movie ever made. Trust me, I'm a fan. Just look at my name!
posted by KHAAAN! at 2:22 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


SPOILERS OF THE LAST SCENE AHEAD

I am a stark raving atheist. However, I managed to somehow not hate the ending. At least I didn't hate how half the show ended up being explained with 'God did it'. As other people have said, they made it clear from the start that God at least might play a role in everything. It's really my own biases that made me dismiss it as a silly notion throughout the series.

What I did hated and what ruined the finale was literally the last minute with the montage of modern Earth with all the robots and repeating the message that 'this has all happened before'.

WTF after years of awesome political, sociological and religious commentary, they decide to end it with the all important lesson that we should be be nice to our toasters or else they might fucking nuke us?

That was what was truly horrible about the ending.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 2:24 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed people hung on as long as they did. I think it was in Season One, when they tried to peddle that "Adama Sr. is a Cylon" bit that I knew it could never work out well. Either they had lied to the audience about how Cylons worked (there was no evidence Cylons could duplicate pre-existing people, and Adama was obviously pre-existing because, well, everything) or they were really okay with wasting my time for a couple of episodes, making something transparently wrong seem like it might be a "thing" through sheer dogged determination.

Did like the pilot, though, so I got to see footage from that first space battle show up in every episode thereafter, at least.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2011


Just look at my name!

You're clearly not big enough of a fan. Only 3 As? Tsk tsk.
posted by kmz at 2:35 PM on December 12, 2011


Artw: “What I'd really love is someone in the UK doing a cynical and nasty compliment to Doctor Who in the vein of Blake's 7 - of course someone already tried putting an actual Blakes 7 reboot together but A) it failed and B) it was for Sky, and therefore sucky be definition.”

Speaking of which, the original Blake's 7 (as you know, one of the best science fiction shows ever made) had an extraordinarily good ending, I thought. Really brought the themes of the show together, which is difficult in a show that lasts four years and dozens of episodes and particularly in one of the old shows in a serial format. What an incredible, focused show that was.
posted by koeselitz at 2:37 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god yes.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2011


I'm curious how all of the rest of you would have written the ending to BSG.

I'm interested in how people would have fixed BSG, and at what point. Before the finale. My favorite elements which could have been incorporated in the first two seasons: At some point before the initial attack, an active surveillance AI was installed by human spies of the missing 13th Colony (present on the BSG and throughout the fleet - think Asimov's Second Foundation) within the Colonial military datasphere. A Cylon AI, present since the end of the first war and systematically manipulating the Colonies via financial markets (to retard development, who knows), detected it. That was the basis for the war, a war of AI rivals that the colonists were completely unaware of. Following the attack, the BSG carried a fragment of the 13th Colony AI within the Galactica as they fled. Thus, the pursuit and subsequent attacks. Additional points: Every Cylon (including the pupet hybrids) was a fragment of a single unitary Cylon AI. (and when placed in some kind of Faraday cage, the human Cylons became mind-wiped infants.) The Cylon(s) would have forever remained an unknown "other" at the same remove as the alien presence of 2001: A Space Odyssey; unknowable. The 13th colony AI may have been interacted with at some remove (with vague or unsatisfying interactions). Any religious elements were due to AI manipulations - like Baltar's glandular implants, producing synthetic hallucinogens. The war ends with some reconciliation or mutual infection or mutual destruction of the AIs, and, finding the Earth a burned-out wasteland, the remaining ships minus the BSG (destroyed at some point) fly off into the sunset as a wandering nation, and they start up the cloning creches. Though an ending like the Forbin Project would have also been OK.

I don't understand why Moore or the writers didn't seek out somebody like Gene Wolfe and say: ok, we are out of our depth and don't know where we're going, we're just flying by the seat of our pants and can't figure out our end-game, here's a suitcase of money, you don't have to tell anybody, you've done this before and well, could you paint a complete story arc for us?
posted by Auden at 2:46 PM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't think I'll ever forget the eighth episode of season 8 of Blake's 7, to choose just one episode out of many superlative ones. The first five minutes are some of the most immediately visceral and confrontational I've ever seen in any show – when you see Avon, the maybe-protagonist-and-then-maybe-not, being tortured by a gleeful and clearly evil stooge of the dictatorship... and then, when Avon's friends arrive, you see them turn on the stooge and prepare to start torturing him right back in equally lurid fashion. Gave you a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach, like you really couldn't tell who was right or who was wrong, and that vacuum of certitude is disturbing.

I really don't think I've ever seen another show that did that so expertly – that is, that drew characters that were so beyond stereotypical good and evil, characters that were whole enough for you to both like and dislike all of them. This is something people say they see in shows all the time, but Blake's 7 was incessantly without an actual hero. And the ending did justice to that, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 2:47 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a Space Spaghetti Western, to match all those Space Westerns.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once heard someone describe Blake's 7 as "Star Wars for adults." That sounds about right to me. It's like Star Wars, but with all the gory details that actual rebellions entail – the bloodiness, the lack of certitude, the being forced to trust people that might not be trustworthy, the frustration, the longing just to stop and have a normal, decent life for oneself, and (in particular) Avon's need to balance self-interest with this grand (and somewhat silly) heroism of Blake's. Really, Avon is one of my favorite characters in any television series. In Star Wars, Han Solo was just a go-along-for-the-ride sidekick to the oh-so-self-important Jedi and the the Rebellion, shameless do-gooders without an iota of self-interest. But Avon is Han Solo forced to take part in the rebellion, and finding it's scary and difficult and painful and not at all fun – and yet still, on some level, quite necessary.

There are hundreds of shows that took up the "space opera" or "space spaghetti western" theme from Star Wars, but I don't think any was more successful than Blake's 7 at actually confronting the problems inherent in the Star Wars model and actually hashing all that troublesome shit out. Meanwhile, they managed to create a show that was unsettlingly even-handed in its characterization, and yet that was a joy to watch.

Seriously, everyone that cares about science fiction should see Blake's 7.
posted by koeselitz at 2:56 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The BSG finale forced me to coin the phrase "retsuck" : when the ending to a show sucks so bad, it makes the rest of the show suck in retrospect.

And I'm not trying to be cute here. Prior to the finale, I would have recommended BSG to any fan of Sci Fi or creative storytelling. Now, there's no way I would recommend it, at least NOT without a big fat proviso, "oh yeah, but the ending sucks."

I don't know if I would ever re-watch BSG. In retrospect, everything after the escape from New Caprica was pretty useless. The show went from being an urgency-driven last gasp of humanity to a relatively traditional whodunit. It was clear the Cylons were just making it up as they went along.

And the last season? Seriously? God, so much walking around the basestar Explaining Things. In the end, it didn't make a whole lot of sense, and believe me, I tried. It's like, "Okay, so the humans created the cylons who left the original earth and mated with the cylons and settled the Twelve colonies, except for the Final Five, who are the cylons that designed the cylons, except for Tigh and Ellen who are special for some reason, and ..... ?!?!?!"
posted by Afroblanco at 2:56 PM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Speaking of which, the original Blake's 7 [...] had an extraordinarily good ending.

Huh. I always felt that bringing Blake back for the finale after 25 episodes in which he only appeared once (and not really in that one) was a bit of a wrong turn. I wish they had brought him back about two episodes earlier to let the character settle in and really take charge of the group before getting them all killed.

Still a better ending than most though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:57 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Battlestar Galactica (Reprocessed Edition) was doomed from birth because it didn't have Lorne Greene to look jarring and out of place. BSG without Pa Cartwright was about as meaningful as Godzilla without Perry Mason.
posted by jfuller at 3:43 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lost got resucked for me. Loved that show up until the "you know how we promised all would be explained and that kept you intrigued well guess what" ending. (And, pre-emptively, I'm not engaging in any "but they really did explain" discussions here; I've been around that merry-go-round and I think we just have vastly different ideas of what constitutes an explanation).

But "retsucked" is perfect, because I think about how enjoyable that show was, and how I feel about it now. Gah.
posted by neuromodulator at 3:48 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Afroblanco, you pretty much said exactly how I felt -- the final episode made the whole show not worth it -- not worth all those red envelopes from Netflix, nor all the time I resisted going to Wiki to find spoilers, nor all the time I spent searching for a fuller/better explanation of the spoilers once I did look them up.

I'll always have a soft spot for model number six though.
posted by of strange foe at 3:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll always have a soft spot for model number six though.

Really? You're just going to provide that setup and walk away?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:58 PM on December 12, 2011


the moment is past, so say we all.
posted by The Whelk at 4:04 PM on December 12, 2011


I'm one of these memory hackers who manages such things with a bit of creative Stalinization.

BSG ended with Adama on that hillside, sitting beside the cairn.

"It reminds me of you."

And then I'm bawling.

The god that's manipulating the whole thing? Incorporeal cylon mind from another line of the Kobol cylons tangled up in null space with quantum entanglement yadda yadda looking out for the people.

Kara? Dead. Extracted, projected back into reality for a job, released when it's done.

Earth? What, when, where, why? Too much stuff gets explained these days. Who cares?

I actually just finished an end-to-end rewatching of the series last weekend, and the thing that makes me inclined to do this creative Stalinization is that I was rapt virtually the whole time, even knowing what I know. Stuff I missed the first time became clear, my suspicion that they were all just winging it (Lost) was either mostly or entirely assuaged, and the storytelling is still great. Too much of Olmos clenching his teeth, too much frowny face on Tigh, various issues here and there, but I just don't care. It's still almost infinitely better than Trek or Wars combined.

Now I just need to watch Farscape straight through again.
posted by sonascope at 4:05 PM on December 12, 2011


As it's on Amazon for free I am currently attempting to get over the muppet barrier and watch that through for the first time. Just about managing it...
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on December 12, 2011


Well, I'm a muppety sort, but the thing that will make me forgive a lot of WTF in Farscape is that the puppet thing let them do something other than the atrocious universe full of aliens distinguished by little more than just having prosthetic foreheads on their real heads, a blight on visual SF in general. Plus, it's got fart jokes and a non-human minor character named 1812 and blue space buddhists.

My criteria may be a bit specific, though.
posted by sonascope at 4:13 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, you know, I'm trying. You buggers going on about it for so long at least got me that far...
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on December 12, 2011


ArtW, Farscape had such a great sense of WHINZ BANG YES WE'RE IN SPAAAAAAACE.
posted by The Whelk at 4:17 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would watch the hell out of a paralleled Battlestar Pegasus that didn't get "retsucked" by meeting the BSG.
posted by stratastar at 4:18 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was pretty gratified to see it get the character off into unknown space within, what, about 5 minutes? certainly no more than 10.

A modern. post-Galactca show would have had an entire half hour of family guff or emo moping or whatever before that.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on December 12, 2011


See you could have set up all of Starbuck's weirdo stuff and hell even her whole *thing* with the idea that she doesn't really exist.
posted by The Whelk at 4:20 PM on December 12, 2011


Her apotheosis moment, returning from the void? Not becoming Divine, returning to it. All the inconsistencies in her story? Well she doesn't know she's a tool of the Cylon Mind God. That's what I had in mine at least when I did the scene re-write above, Kara was given an implanted mission like the other Cylons, but it was kept obscure and hidden from her. When they finally settle down, she's the one who can't stop moving because it would mean reflecting on nothing in her story makes a lick of sense, so she has to keep going.
posted by The Whelk at 4:24 PM on December 12, 2011


she's the one who can't stop moving because it would mean reflecting on nothing in her story makes a lick of sense, so she has to keep going.

Oh, like the rest of the show then?
posted by stratastar at 4:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


METATEXT
posted by The Whelk at 4:27 PM on December 12, 2011


I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE!
posted by stratastar at 4:28 PM on December 12, 2011


it didn't have Lorne Greene in a frakking cape to look jarring and out of place

FTFY. I mean really, LORNE GREENE IN A CAPE? Most awesome thing ever. New BSG didn't have enough capes.
posted by epersonae at 4:39 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


usagizero: "we are at war!!1!" every, damn, episode... we get it Joss.

"Honestly, gentle viewers, these motivating speeches of hers tend to get a little long."


tyllwin: BSG and Lost were like a 1-2 punch for me, driving home the lesson "If you even think they're just making it up as they go along, then run."

And then there is Breaking Bad.


epersonae: New BSG didn't have enough capes.

Or monkeys in robo-god suits.
posted by the_artificer at 4:43 PM on December 12, 2011


I never watched the end of BSG, but I was really, really into LOST, and that show had the lamest ending of any show I've been even marginally interested in in the past decade or so.

The LOST ending--in and of itself--was perfectly acceptable, if a bit of a cheap way to get much of the cast back together. And to give what was often a really heavy, dark show a happy ending..of sorts. So the "they died and are in heaven" ending was cheap but whatever. What did piss me off to no end was the writers' flat-out refusal to deal with all the questions they created. Pretty much every episode introduced a new metaphysical/paranormal mystery that you're led to think will be explained at a later date. Some were, some weren't. There's a difference between leaving a mystery as an open-ended puzzle, addressing it as such and letting the audience pick over its ambiguity VERSUS just throwing a mystery in the trash to wither and die. In the last season, when the LOST writers spend half a season--we're talking about 6 or seven hours' worth--in the heaven/parallel universe timeline and then turn around and say "oh, we didn't have enough time to address all the mysteries!" Bullshit, you idiots chose not to address the mysteries.

sorry for the LOST derail.
posted by zardoz at 5:11 PM on December 12, 2011


Seriously, though, that's when I felt like these were people who were suffering through horrible ordeals while accumulating irreversible physical and psychological damage.

I really appreciated how everything in the series accumulated wear and tear. I love how the damage inflicted on the Galactica paralleled the damage inflicted on Starbuck.

You look at Starbuck at the very beginning, she's all piss and vinegar, and then you look at Starbuck at the time of the Scar episode, she's still holding it together but just barely, and then you look at her in season 4, where she's not the CAG anymore but all the other pilots have been kidnapped and so she has to step up and do some CAGGing and how she is just. not. up. to. it.

Galactica's Big Divinity was not kind to its messengers.
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:18 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Like it or not BSG changed SF on television, everything needs to be gritty and character driven, focus on interpersonal conflicts as well as big ideas, so we ended up with SG:U

All this goes to show you why SG:1 is so awesome. Almost every episode is the same, the plucky rag-tag feral humans outwit and destroy yet another godlike alien. Didn't take itself too seriously, they had two parodies of the show in the show. No trek style moral ambiguity, no examination of what it means to be human, no worrying about the robotic lifeforms, or holograms or photonics creatures. Just go to yet another forest planet with like half a dozen villagers on it and fuck some stuff up, come across any robotic lifeforms or holograms just kill them.

I really appreciated how everything in the series accumulated wear and tear

No replicators. That is one of the most annoying thing about trek. They have like an episode and a half where there are all wearing rags and living in the cargo bays and the next episode everything is ship shape again. Not to mention the "I know it will take 70 years to get home, but we gotta stop to facilitate trade negotiations between these two alien species we have never seen before and will never see again, it is just what starfleet does!"
posted by Ad hominem at 5:32 PM on December 12, 2011


> I'm curious how all of the rest of you would have written the ending to BSG. Where would you have started doing things differently and how? How would the story have wrapped up in the end?

Ron Moore's original idea would have been just fine with me:
There was a different ending that we had, it was all about Ellen aboard the Colony. She was sort of turned by Cavil, because she found out that Tigh had impregnated Caprica Six, and that deeply embittered her. And she sort of became dedicated to the idea of destroying Galactica and the fleet out of revenge. And [she and Cavil] got Hera, and then the final confrontation became very personalized between Tigh versus Ellen, and should they forgive.

That was the story, generally speaking. We didn't have a lot more than just what I spun out to you, when the writer's strike hit. Over the course of the writer's strike, I rethought about it and thought, "That's not going to do it. It's not epic enough. It's not interesting enough." That's when we decided to start over, and reinvent the last arc of the show.
They took an ending that resonated with the series' central themes, themes that had been developing since the goddamn miniseries—parents and children, betrayal and redemption, the cycle of violence and the futility of revenge—centred it on my three favourite characters, then threw it out the window because it wouldn't have sufficiently blown the minds of dorm-room stoners.

Before I read that interview, I was "merely" disappointed in the finale. Now whenever I think about it, I just get angry. Vengeance! Destiny! Incest! THAT IS THE FRAKKING DEFINITION OF EPIC, YOU ASSCLOWNS.
posted by Zozo at 5:34 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Character driven" seems to basically mean "fuck moving the plot forward, lets sit around and mope a bit" - it certainly doesn't seem to involve characters doing anything or revealing anything interesting about themselves.
posted by Artw at 5:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it can also mean lets have one of our main characters become a lawyer for a couple episodes cuz why the fuck not.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


It is the exact same set of skills as being a fighter pilot!
posted by Artw at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, the fucking cat...
posted by Artw at 6:08 PM on December 12, 2011


Stuff I missed the first time became clear, my suspicion that they were all just winging it (Lost) was either mostly or entirely assuaged, and the storytelling is still great. Too much of Olmos clenching his teeth, too much frowny face on Tigh, various issues here and there, but I just don't care. It's still almost infinitely better than Trek or Wars combined.

That, and it offered something you didn't get very often on tv: unremitting grim hostility.

Someone above mentioned that it had a horrible nihilistic view of human nature and so on, but that was in large part why I watched it and why I loved it. I can go to any network and watch good people win, or even watch somebody deal with a tragedy and learn from it.

There have been few places to go for doses of what amounts to unending bleakness interspersed with the occasional half-victory that will probably fuck things up even more. Fewer places still for a show that was going to fuck with your expectations as hard as that show did, which was awesome -- even within an episode, where most of the time the stuff they showed you in the little preview thing meant something completely different in context than you thought it was going to.

Almost nowhere to go for a show that's going to get you to care about people who are pretty fucked up to start with, deliver them a meal of cold ashes, and make you watch while the most likeable, least fucked-up, most cutest one of them finally blows her brains out.

Lord knows I wouldn't want every show to be like that. But as a rare thing to cut through the treacle of... well, pretty much everything else not on HBO... it was precious.

And, yeah, the ending was goofy, but I agree that at the end the show, and characters, and viewers had earned a resolution about rest and peace.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


They took an ending that resonated with the series' central themes, themes that had been developing since the goddamn miniseries—parents and children, betrayal and redemption, the cycle of violence and the futility of revenge—centred it on my three favourite characters, then threw it out the window because it wouldn't have sufficiently blown the minds of dorm-room stoners.

Meh. The writers never could admit that Cavil had an obvious point -- maybe the Cylons would be better off as fully-developed robotic beings, not just foils for look-how-awesome-humanity-is moralizing -- so I'm sure this would have been more of the same.

The show was all about how horrible genocide is, yet it ends in a "happy" off-screen genocide... I doubt the writers were capable of doing the heavy lifting it takes to make a reconciliation plotline pay off, unless it's the sort where Tigh and Ellen hug while Caprica Six gives birth to a highly-symbolic baby as all the Bad Guys fall into a convenient supernova.
posted by vorfeed at 6:24 PM on December 12, 2011


This was a poorly written article, clumsily defending a point that everyone with half a brain had already accepted ages ago.
posted by waxbanks at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2011


Like it or not BSG changed SF on television, everything needs to be gritty and character driven, focus on interpersonal conflicts as well as big ideas, so we ended up with SG:U

Farscape did it better and earlier.

In a different universe, Olmos wouldn't have been on BSG because he already did a tour as Captain of the Enterprise-D on TNG. And Ronald D. Moore wouldn't have been behind BSG because he would have been in charge of Dragonriders of Pern for the WB (and it would have been true to the books).
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked SG:U. It stagnated a little towards the end and was wrapped quickly but it wasn't half bad.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:28 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen the miniseries called, appropriately enough, The Plan, but according to Mark it clears a lot of this up

IF YOU HAVE ANY RESPECT AT ALL FOR BSG THEN DO NOT WATCH THE PLAN. IT IS ATROCIOUS. CAPRICA, I MEAN "DALLAS IN SPACE", WAS BETTER AND THAT IS SAYING A LOT.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:34 PM on December 12, 2011


Good timing, as I recently finished BSG. While I think the later half of the final season is mostly one giant information dump, as someone who watched Lost, I appreciated that they at least tried to offer some (what I consider to be fairly undergraduate "IT WAS EARTH ALL ALONG") resolution.
posted by smithsmith at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2011


(this article is truly entertaining if you read it in the voice of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons)
posted by smithsmith at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2011


The plan actually made things more complicated and insane sounding.
posted by The Whelk at 8:03 PM on December 12, 2011


Yeah, SG:U was ok. I was mostly waiting for Begbie to glass one of those blue aliens, I'm not sure I actually saw the end. I got kinda fed up with SyFy and started deleting their shows from my DVR on sight.

I am about half a dozen episodes into Farscape. I like it ok. I guess I will pick it back up, just to put off going back to Stargate Atlantis out of pure desperation for something to watch.

I want SyFy to at least think about doing a series, or mini-series, around New Cap City from Caprica. New Cap City was the best thing about that show. Think about doing it Max Headroom style. It is 2020, corporations have openly assumed control of the worlds governments, the world is a shambles, to keep the masses pacified they provide free virtual reality for all where everything is idyllic. Within the infrastructure of the virtual reality network misfits and criminals have carved out their own world. New Cap City, where anything is possible.

Someone with some pull make it happen. You can have the idea just name the nerdy kid that is always worried about getting into trouble but shows surprising inner strength after me.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:14 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I never watched the end of BSG, but I was really, really into LOST, and that show had the lamest ending of any show I've been even marginally interested in in the past decade or so.

I was pretty into Lost for the first couple of seasons but rapidly lost interest early through the third. After that I saw probably four episodes, tops, here and there, but I wish I'd been home for the finale; I think it would have been fun to sit down with no real idea of what was going on and bask in the WTF.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:20 PM on December 12, 2011


I think it would have been fun to sit down with no real idea of what was going on and bask in the WTF.

This was me! I'd seen the series premier and maybe a couple episodes from season 1. Then I stopped paying attention until the hype around the finale got me curious, so I watched it. I was in the deep end of the WTF pool I tell you what.
posted by rtha at 8:23 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nerds.
posted by bardic at 8:26 PM on December 12, 2011


Here is the first episode for my New Cap City show:

The setting is a standard early 21st century suburban house. Mom and dad are making dinner, a little boy is playing fetch with a dog in the house while mom in an exasperated yet playful tone tells him to get that dog outside. Everyone is laughing and having a great time as they take food from the stocked refrigerator and decide what to make.

Upstairs we see the standard "hacker lair", 15 year old girl is in front of the computer talking on a headset. Some sort of speed metal is playing, there are empty cans and plates covering every surface.

She jacks into "the game".

In the game it is a gritty part of town, it is night and it is raining. She has some sort of motorcycle outfit on and is two swords.

Bunch of fight scenes.

She meets a "dead walker" who kills her. She gets de-rezzed. Cut to same girl ripping off her headset. She is not in her hacker lair in a comfortable suburb. We pan around the room and see mom, dad, little brother all zonked with headsets on. It is a shitty one room apartment. The girl sighs wearily.

Out the window you can see the standard dystopian future. Feral dogs, a a crazy street preacher, maybe a motorcycle gang. Ever surface is plastered with ads for "VirtuLife".


It has so many tropes it is sure to be a hit. Make it happen SyFy. All I ask is you make the nerdy kid down the hall use the online handle Ad hominem.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ooo, can I be a dealer of various dangerous and exciting FutureDrugs?
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


You mean like crystal twist? if anyone gets that reference without google we are bff
posted by neuromodulator at 8:44 PM on December 12, 2011


Stargate: All the Series had a lot of good moments and arcs, but simply went on too long with the same core of writers and producers. To me, it looked like they were running out of steam in Atlantis, but it was still good. SG:U was where it went off the rails, alienating the hard core SG fans, and not really engaging the BSG crowd (who were angry for other reasons anyway).

As for Caprica, that was a series idea that had nothing to do with BSG originally, and probably wouldn't have been produced at all if there hadn't been a way to reimagine it as a prequel series to BSG proper.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:47 PM on December 12, 2011


although googling it did lead me to "drugs messed up my nephew berserko", so it's really a win/win
posted by neuromodulator at 8:48 PM on December 12, 2011


Yeah, there has got to be a FutureDrug dealer right? In "the game" His headquarters is the office of a secret club underneath an abandoned train station. You gotta have the secret club so you can have the frenzied dancing scenes. There is a drug called "stim" that makes your reflexes quicker in "the game", all the best players use it.

He eventually finds out that Tracy or "Sys3mSh0ck" as she is known, has a mutation that makes her produce stim naturally. He wants to catch her to extract her genetic code.

Crystal Twist? Even with google it seems it is a gel pen or a weed grinder. Further research is necessary.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:52 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's for the busy executive stoner.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


when Adama started shouting "I am El Cyclone, from Bolivia!" that was my favorite
posted by Brocktoon at 8:54 PM on December 12, 2011


I wonder if BSG needs its own Galaxy Quest.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:17 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The BSG finale forced me to coin the phrase "retsuck" : when the ending to a show sucks so bad, it makes the rest of the show suck in retrospect.

Ha. Coincidentally, or perhaps because it was God's Plan All Along, I called it "retrosucking" at the same time and for the same reason.

The person I was watching with asked "Retro-suck? So that means... it blows?"

And I said yes. Yes, it does.
posted by rokusan at 9:19 PM on December 12, 2011


You want some Black Lace or Dorph.
posted by Artw at 9:20 PM on December 12, 2011


...alienating the hard core SG fans, and not really engaging the BSG crowd (who were angry for other reasons anyway).

Now I am imagining a lost and bedraggled group of angry Battlestar fans, wandering around the TV universe looking for a new show to call home, and unable to trust anyone, since they might end up being betrayed yet again.

This is high art, right here.
posted by rokusan at 9:22 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


We hid in a nebula for a bit, but it was crap.
posted by Artw at 9:23 PM on December 12, 2011


You know, in general fictional drugs tend to have really dated and awful names.
posted by Artw at 9:26 PM on December 12, 2011


What do you want! Plastic burners? Jupiter Express? Crystal Dreamland? Magic Sidewinders? Half cock jack? Black Dhalias? Bubblegum XE? Auntie's Apple Pie?

Apple pie?

Yeah me aunt makes em, better than store bought I always say.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 PM on December 12, 2011


rokusan: and they'd be hoping that the next leap ... would be the leap home.

Afroblanco: "retsuck" is a brilliant term. You deserve a Nobel Prize for that, my friend.

Anyway, I think we all know when BSG really started to bite it. Hera was born, despite the genetic incompatibility of humans and cylons, through the power of love.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:31 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


( also everyone knows future drugs will be named after common Final Fantasy spells )
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 PM on December 12, 2011


Black Stidgeon! The best!
posted by P.o.B. at 9:37 PM on December 12, 2011


I guess I sort of like how the creator of the show inexplicably engineered the destruction of his own creation, except for a few splinters of what was good about it. And yet it persists in the form of millions of copies of the original thing that you can stop and start anytime you want to without changing the content of the thing itself, as we experience it, although maybe the disc gets scratched or something? But I don't like it THAT much.
posted by Adventurer at 1:31 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]



Her death is on-screen death that has made the second happiest. In the interest of not spoiling things, the one that made me the happiest is in the Wire series finale. I'm giggling at my desk just thinking about it.


Even if noone ever reads this, I need to put this on the record (as non-spoilery as possible). The on-screen death (sorta) that has made me the happiest was with a certain character in Season 04 finale of Dexter. And I think you know who I mean . . .
posted by jeremias at 5:35 AM on December 13, 2011


Anyone who liked Baltar and not Callie is an evil, wrong person.

I LOVED Baltar and LOATHED Callie.

So. Yeah.
posted by Windigo at 7:38 AM on December 13, 2011


Anyone who liked Baltar and not Callie is an evil, wrong person.

It's not a real comparison, as Baltar was much more developed than Calie. The latter was given a semblance of a personality, then basically used a plot point for the rest of the series. The Chief literally beats the crap out her (why was he sleeping in the hanger in his underwear?) and she still loves him, what the hell was that all about it? It was about telling the Chief's story.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:17 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well I liked her better than Chief O'Brien's wife.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2011


Ah, Keiko, the sole point of whose existence was to be disapproving whenever Miles did anything that might move a plot forwards.
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always liked Keiko. I'd totally write Keiko fanfiction about how she married the dashing young transporter technician, only to find out he has antiquated ideas about a woman's place being next to the replicator.

(Seriously, am I the only one who's noticed that, in DS9, Keiko is still responsible for, like, programming recipes into the replicator while Miles either compliments or complains about her cooking? If he doesn't like what's on the menu, can't he just walk over and ask for something else? Whatta douche.)
posted by muddgirl at 9:22 AM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


why was he sleeping in the hanger in his underwear?

Cause sometimes if you want something enough it happens
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Keiko had the same problem wives in movies and TV always have.

They marry a loose cannon cop, or a super duper special forces guy then get mad when the guy keeps doing whatever he had been doing.

I'm waiting for a TV or movie wife to not care when her husband decides he needs to go on one last mission to settle the score, because this time it is personal.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:35 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


See also: Superheros constantly getting retconned back to single status.

(also: kids getting born and shunted off somewhere out of the way and then turning up again full grown.)
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on December 13, 2011


Except I have a hard time classifying O'Brien as a loose cannon or a super duper special forces guy (although I admit I haven't seen the last couple seasons of DS9 yet) - he's mostly just incredibly homosocial.
posted by muddgirl at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2011


Heh, she's disapproving enough of him going out to do his work, imagine if she thought he was hanging out with girls.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on December 13, 2011


...and again, I think it's the other way around (or even not really that). In DS9, doesn't Keiko go off studying plants in dangerous sectors of space while O'Brien stays home with his bros and pretends to be an adventurer on the holodeck? It seems to me that they have quite a functional, ah, gentlemen's agreement. Maybe that changes sometime after the 5th season, I don't know.
posted by muddgirl at 11:14 AM on December 13, 2011


Weeell.. O'Brien is a war hero who confirmed being in some insane amount of space battles. He was accepted as an expert in military tactics by a federation court. He is sometimes called the hero of Setlik after defeating a a batallion of Cardasians with a handful of men.

It is pretty clear all the holodeck shenanigans with Julian are him reliving his glory days.

He does do crazy risky things for no real reason. He goes undercover to bust a crime syndicate, then he goes AWOL to protect the wife of his old crime syndicate buddy.

He is the classic example of a guy who was "changed by love", but some part of him always wants to go back.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:18 AM on December 13, 2011


Oh yeah, all that silly retconning in "Rules of Engagement."
posted by muddgirl at 11:25 AM on December 13, 2011


"I'm one of the best tactical officers in the entire service... but all I really want to do is repair transporters!"
posted by muddgirl at 11:26 AM on December 13, 2011


(and we can't blame that one on Keiko, either - the timing isn't right).
posted by muddgirl at 11:29 AM on December 13, 2011


yeah exactly. Everything that happened to that character makes very little sense. They switch his ranks around, send him on missions even stranger than Picard's bizarre rescue mission ( Really? They send the captain of the flagship on a near suicide mission because he is a subject matter expert? He can't just train some guy in the holodeck?). They have O'Brien spend like 50 virtual years in a virtual prison and come out all fucked up.

Poor guy, all he wants to do is fight some battles in the holodeck with his bros.

I'm not blaming Keiko, they just twisted her character along with his.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2011


Yeah, O'Brien is basically the Cally of DS9, which is awesome when you think about it.
posted by muddgirl at 11:49 AM on December 13, 2011


Making the greatest tactical officer in the fleet a transporter operator is almost a trope in itself. What do you do with the killers after you have no one else to kill?Rambo was a hobo just hitchiking around with his knife. In all those Segal movies he is always a cook, or a petty officer, or some damn thing. There are probably like a million movies where some green beret wants to open a surf shop or something before it all goes horribly wrong.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:54 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the plus side for BSG they don't have a Neelix.
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The on-screen death (sorta) that has made me the happiest was with a certain character in Season 04 finale of Dexter. And I think you know who I mean . . .

My god, I begged the TV gods for that one for three years.

So. Freaking. Annoying.
posted by rokusan at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2011


When you get BSG nostalgia but can't quite stomach the show itself, may I recommend Da Vinci's Inquest? It's full of BSG alumni, especially the delightful Donnelly Rhodes!

And speaking of alumni, I'd really love to see James Callis again. His Baltar was such narcissistic little weasel that you couldn't help but love. Anyone else think he'd make a great Doctor Who?
posted by orrnyereg at 12:30 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned it, but hell yes he'd make a great Doctor.
posted by Uncle Ira at 1:17 PM on December 13, 2011


Having finally read TFA in its entirety, I agree with all the points made within, but he really only touches upon what bothered me the most.

Here's what killed it for me : after all that fighting and struggling and dying and seeing their loved ones day, the colonists just .... give up. They throw away all their technology, knowing that it means they're all gonna die in very short order. And that's it. They give up. They die. After all that. It's like, what the fuck. Whatever happened to trying to restart society and make it better and shit? What about just plain old ordinary NOT DYING? I mean, after all that. It made me feel like I wasted my time rooting for these shitbags; after they finally found the thing they were looking for, they just decided to GIVE UP AND DIE. And I'm like, what the fuck. I hate these people. I hate them with the intensity of a thousand suns. To go through all that just to fucking GIVE UP.

It still makes me mad to think about it. I was fucking betrayed.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:16 PM on December 13, 2011


(loved ones day = loved ones die)
posted by Afroblanco at 3:16 PM on December 13, 2011


There was a different ending that we had, it was all about Ellen aboard the Colony. She was sort of turned by Cavil, because she found out that Tigh had impregnated Caprica Six, and that deeply embittered her. And she sort of became dedicated to the idea of destroying Galactica and the fleet out of revenge. And [she and Cavil] got Hera, and then the final confrontation became very personalized between Tigh versus Ellen, and should they forgive.

While this wouldn't have solved everything, it would have made a lot more freakin' sense especially the overarching themes of cycles of revenge, personal and national. But no we had go into this 70s sci-fi cloaca of Eves and shit. Argh.

I would have taped this story to the writing room door, with the Hive Mind Hybrids as a more active form of "Christian charity", vowing to stop the Human/Cylon feud no matter what - and that last bit is important cause maybe their idea on how to end it doesn't sound very good to either party? Opening up narrative possibilities?
posted by The Whelk at 4:33 PM on December 13, 2011


I have to say that James Callis as the Doctor would be cool. However Benedict Cumberbatch still has my vote despite the fact that he just wants to be The Master.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:17 PM on December 14, 2011


I would have taped this story to the writing room door...

I would have drawn on it with marker and made doodles of the Hybrids being part of the Matrix. They were too much of a "Ooooh, cool idea" that was stolen from Minority Report with little changes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:24 PM on December 14, 2011


You know what would be awesome? A ten year moratorium on characters with special destinies who are guided by fate.
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what would be awesome? A ten year moratorium on characters with special destinies who are guided by fate.

The abolition of special snowflakes. Now there's something MetaFilter can get behind.
posted by XMLicious at 5:26 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if noone ever reads this, I need to put this on the record (as non-spoilery as possible). The on-screen death (sorta) that has made me the happiest was with a certain character in Season 04 finale of Dexter. And I think you know who I mean . . .

Yeah, some people told me they wanted that to happen back in the day.


And then they saw 5 and 6 and I was all, "Oops, it seems like the show sucks now and something is missing."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:24 AM on December 15, 2011


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