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October 15, 2006 10:37 PM   Subscribe

Which side are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We're evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I'm surprised you didn't know that.
posted by furiousxgeorge (88 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
free republic? Christ. It's not like liberals don't like the show...
posted by delmoi at 10:45 PM on October 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


That freeper thread is awesome, as they slowly all realize what they're enjoying. It's like a bunch of homophobes suddenly realizing how turned on they are during wrestling.

By the way, somewhat off topic, but is anyone else annoyed by the "there are only 12 models for skinjobs" thing in BSG? How do the cylons know which one is which?It's f'ing sci-fi, why bother with limitations like that? And another thing, are the skinjobs completely biological creatures? I mean, they bleed, respirate, breed with humans, perspire, eat, drink (presumably excrete), etc. What allows them to download? Are they biological creatures with a chip? I like my sci-fi with more clearly established rules.
posted by jonson at 10:51 PM on October 15, 2006


The Free Republic thread is the main link because if you read enough of it, you will see the real power of science fiction to open up the minds of people who are pretty set in their beliefs.

"FIrst suicide missions in WWII were American ~ flying out to attack ships beyond the point of return.

The Japanese were highly impressed.

The Maryland 400 saved the American Revolution as Washington withdrew the Army from New York to safety in Pennsylvania.

You really can't look at this stuff through the narrow perspective of current events ~"

Free Republic comparing suicide bombers to American patriots?

No wai.

"

I must admit, at first I was seeing it as an anti-Iraq deal, but then I remembered the end of the 2nd season, when the Cylons marched down the street reminiscent of the Nazis marching through Paris. I then thought to myself, "wouldnt i be doing the same thing if the facists or islamofacists occupied America?"
"

Doing the same thing, really?

'
Keep in mind Tigh has fought two wars against the Cylons - the current one, and the last one that was 40 or so years ago. On one of the DVDs, in the deleted scenes, he talked about what it was like to look at them, and how much they hated humans. Chief and Anders have no idea what all he saw in the first Cylon war."

Justifying the terrorist tactics Tigh uses.

"If it makes us feel uncomfortable, that's fine. If it makes us think, even better.

Remember some on this same board crowed last season about the episode that seemed to make the peace movment out to be a bunch of dangerous buffooons."

Enough said.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:59 PM on October 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


It hasn't been totally explained, but there is something special about their blood. I am guessing the blood is made of or at least includes nanotechnology. When they gave the blood to Rosalyn, it cured her cancer.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 11:01 PM on October 15, 2006


The cylon skin jobs are (very accurate) imitations of humans. They can still interact easily with machines, and do so quite often.

Their ultimate goal is to make human/cylon hybrids, for some reason that has not yet been explained.

/see Files, X
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:03 PM on October 15, 2006


The freepers are finally realizing that Bush and his ilk are the cylons, the evil empire, not the good guys.

Of course, Al-Qada are just as evil. The best thing for all involved is that maybe they'll wipe each other out and leave us alone.

That probably won't happen, either.
posted by nyxxxx at 11:08 PM on October 15, 2006


jonson, you're living in a dream-world if you want "sci-fi" to have clear rules. Sci-fi is sf watered down and rules are some of the first flavors lost.

Almost any rigorous question you care to ask of sci-fi can be answered by figuring out why the situation makes the entertainment easier to manage. Twelve skinjobs means there's a limit, there's a way not to end up thinking immediately "They're ALL Cylons, dammit, Jim!" or whatever. Not immediately, anyway.
posted by cgc373 at 11:13 PM on October 15, 2006


Oy, the writers do a wonderful job of blurring the parallels to the current geopolitical situation. Like all good writing, the show is polysemous and can be read multiple ways. Those FReepers are hilarious by their incessant need to have a one-to-one correspondence between the show and Iraq. A lifetime of magical thinking does that to a brain.
posted by Falconetti at 11:25 PM on October 15, 2006


"
The freepers are finally realizing that Bush and his ilk are the cylons, the evil empire, not the good guys. "

It would not be fair of me to start this thread if I didn't point out the show had a very different message before this one.

Peace protesters were portrayed as ignorant, (often) terrorist, head in the sand morons over the last few seasons.

Good science fiction will always challenge your beliefs. If you read that freep thread they talk about abandoning watching the show because it portrays suicide bombers in a less then AXIS OF EVIL OMG light.

But if the writers keep up their same pattern, they will be offending the liberals in the same way in a few weeks.

Aside from that, the cylons this season on New Caprica DO have in mind a mission of peace and mutual understanding. The cylons DO have high ideals on their side.

The peacefull voices among the cylons, however, are shouted down when the ungratefull humans continue to launch suicide attacks.

This show is not, by any means, a black and white endorsement of any view of Iraq.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:25 PM on October 15, 2006


The show does what good art should do: It problematizes a subject, rather than resolving it, or making it palatable, or trying to promote a specific viewpoint. It's not propaganda -- it's a meditation on a subject, with a recognition that the subject may be complicated, ambiguous, and irresolvable.

At least, that's how I like my art.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:51 PM on October 15, 2006 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I can agree with your reading of the situation this season, furiousxgeorge. The implication of the show isn't that the ungrateful humans launching suicide attacks means that the peaceful voices are shouted down, it's that the very nature of occupation/being occupied can make the intentions or attitudes of the occupiers irrelevent.

It's saying that it doesn't matter if some of the cylons want peace; occupying an unwilling populace makes that meaningless.
posted by Justinian at 11:53 PM on October 15, 2006


I don't disagree Justinian.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:58 PM on October 15, 2006


Wow, interesting post.
posted by sklero at 12:07 AM on October 16, 2006


Dammit, I need to start watching Battlestar Galactica!
posted by blastrid at 12:35 AM on October 16, 2006


By the way, somewhat off topic, but is anyone else annoyed by the "there are only 12 models for skinjobs" thing in BSG? How do the cylons know which one is which?It's f'ing sci-fi, why bother with limitations like that?

The guy who came up with the show gave an explaination in an interview somewhere. Each one is 1/12th of the human race, as the Cylons see it. The Cylons wanted to reproduce humanity, but when they actually got down to it, they decided that most of humanity was redundant. They could just as easily boil it down to 12 different individuals without losing anything. There's no Thirteen because One through Twelve already covered every unique characteristic of humanity that the Cylons could find.
posted by queen zixi at 12:38 AM on October 16, 2006


So say we all.
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:41 AM on October 16, 2006


"There's no Thirteen because One through Twelve already covered every unique characteristic of humanity that the Cylons could find."

And yet none of them came out like Carrot Top.
posted by 2sheets at 12:53 AM on October 16, 2006


How do the cylons know which one is which?

Their IM icons on MSN are different.
posted by srboisvert at 12:57 AM on October 16, 2006


jonson: And another thing, are the skinjobs completely biological creatures? I mean, they bleed, respirate, breed with humans, perspire, eat, drink (presumably excrete), etc. What allows them to download? Are they biological creatures with a chip?
Well, my viewing is that this is the subtle dominant theme of the show. Notice in Season 2 how both Chief and Sharon bled onto the floor, and in both cases there was an almost-stock footage example of a close-up of a drop of blood falling to the floor in slow motion. Now consider Diana Biers little comment to the good doctor in the most recent episode, when smearing the blood on his smock, asking how he could tell the difference. And consider how the Cylons have, since half-way through Season 2, growing more loving, and more complex... suddenly even the harder edge models- not to mention Number 6 and Sharon- are developing these traits of love, protectiveness, and affection. What are we really seeing, but a morality tale to show us that these two warring groups are really... not so different after all.

The Cylons are human, to the core, and the hybrids are just the new race (remember- everything happens in cycles, and this new race will eventually find a new Kobol, and eventually splinter off into 12 tribes, etc, etc, -rinse, repeat). It's precisely the point, and the geopolitical point at that, to suggest the Cylons are somehow different- they aren't! Regarding the 12- well, obviously 12 disciples/12 astrological signs/12 months (is anyone expecting Gaius to be a secret 13th Cylon model- the Jesus Cylon!!!). For Sci-Fi, this is a heavily religious show, and for good reason.
blastrid: Dammit, I need to start watching Battlestar Galactica!
You do, actually. I had never seen it until two weeks before the season 3 premiere; some friends loaned me the first 2 seasons on DVD, and I blew through them like hookers at Ben Affleck's birthday party. Now I'm hating this week-long wait between episodes!
Great, great fucking show, though. Damn good show.
posted by hincandenza at 1:04 AM on October 16, 2006


Also discussed in Slate (with spoliers).
posted by homunculus at 1:08 AM on October 16, 2006


But if the writers keep up their same pattern, they will be offending the liberals in the same way in a few weeks.

Huh? Good writing only offends the shallow-minded, regardless of political persuasion. The freepers' problem has never been that they're conservative; their problem has been that they're shallow thinkers. My dad is pretty conservative and has never been offended by the show. But my dad also hates Hannity, Limbaugh, etc -- because he uses his brain.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:54 AM on October 16, 2006


Sci-fi is sf watered down and rules are some of the first flavors lost.

Oh, please. First, the whole "sf" vs. "sci-fi" battle to be the abbreviation of Science Fiction thing played out twenty years ago and sf lost. Second, Galactica is as good Science Fiction as a lot of written stuff. Yea, it's written in a hurry because it's a TV show but they've done a great job putting running interesting plot-lines, creating good characters, and exploring important themes. Most of the dumb parts, like the using names from Greek myths are artifacts of having to be a remake of a really crappy 70's kids show. No it's not as good as LeGuin or Lem but not much written Sci-fi is either.
posted by octothorpe at 4:00 AM on October 16, 2006


There are 12 models because there are 12 tribes of humans. The Cylon/Human Hybrid is as elusive to the cylons as the 13th tribe and earth are to humans.
Frakking good show. Lots of holes to fill in. We don't need everything explained to us. We're smart, not like people say.
posted by Gungho at 4:27 AM on October 16, 2006


octothorpe, that battle rages on, today, in these hallowed threads. Sci-fi is a useful way to describe looser, entertainment-driven sf, and conflating the two just keeps me from having better categories.

I didn't say BSG was sci-fi, either.
posted by cgc373 at 4:57 AM on October 16, 2006


Huh. Okay, maybe I did kinda say BSG was sci-fi, now I look over what I done wrote. And I guess it is, since I'm saying the details of the biology/technology that make Cylons possible aren't important for the show—the writers can wave their hands and lo! they have Cylons, which can interbreed with humans through some means!

And that's fine. So okay, yeah, BSG is sci-fi, but it's not bad because it's sci-fi, nor would its adhering to a better description scientifically necessarily improve it.

Anyway, I don't even know why I'm talking about this; it's textbook derail. Sorry, furiousxgeorge (and jonson).

Carry on, octothorpe—sci-fi vs. sf distinction be damned!
posted by cgc373 at 5:02 AM on October 16, 2006


Thanks for this post! When that episode ran I turned to my friend and asked "I wonder what pro-Iraq War people would think of this episode?"

Also - what is this "Religion of Peace" the freepers keep talking about? Is this some secret code word no one told me about? I'm probably part of it, huh?
posted by heresiarch at 5:21 AM on October 16, 2006


How do the cylons know which one is which?

They all have different IP addresses, duh.
posted by crunchland at 5:28 AM on October 16, 2006


Religion of Peace = Islam
posted by PenDevil at 5:34 AM on October 16, 2006


Anyone who happens to still be reading this thread who hasn't seen the show owes it to themselves to rent the first season/minseries on DVD. This is an insanely good program. I know, the name is dumb. I know, the first BSG was dumb. I made fun of the new BSG and its fans up until about a month ago. Then I saw it and immediately regretted being such a narrow-minded little twerp. This is the best show on television; it may be the best show I have ever seen.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:34 AM on October 16, 2006 [3 favorites]


Damn, Optimus. Now you're making me want to see it.
posted by languagehat at 5:59 AM on October 16, 2006


Ok, this was beaten to death quite enthusiastically over on the official BSG threads. Best example is the thousand+ posts in this thread. A lot of the analysis hits around page 45 or so. (Disclaimer: I post as EdwardJamesOlmos).

It was an interesting experience. Tons of people threatened to stop watching the show because they (incorrectly) imagined it to threaten their worldview. A lot of people were VERY offended, and you may notice that those most expressive of the OMGLIBRULMEDIAWTFBBQ!!!!1 sentiment had registered recently and this was their first post. I suspected we'd been inflitrated by freepers rather than cylons.

Honestly, the thread on Free Republic was actually much more civil. I can't believe I just said that...
posted by butterstick at 5:59 AM on October 16, 2006


I agree the show is fantastic; Ron Moore is freakin genius.

I think there are several attributes that combine to make it so good:

# The creators had worked on Star Trek TNG. TNG was fun but so clean. BSG is what happened when someone sat down, looked at Star Trek over 5 series and untold crappy movies, and said "What changes in the ground rules would make this universe better?"

# They got all of the positives of revitalising an existing franchise (name recognition, mostly, plus a very slight break on establishing the characters and mythos) without any of the baggage. No one would have accepted this with TNG - the original Star Treks were too beloved - but many fewer people had such a strong relationship with the original Battlestar.

# Technology and viewer acceptance means that hand-held camera work can be used, which makes the interior shots feel so much more alive. And

# This leads to the first real innovation in sci-fi space shots since the computers took over - to unifiy with the interior shots, the space shots are also composed from the perspective of a camera (genius!) with zooms and focal changes and shakiness when a debris field interferes. This interior/exterior unity is perhaps my favorite part of the show.


One potential weakness in BSG is that it's almost pointless to watch any single episode, moreso as the series progresses. It is a serial.

Gods. Sorry about the nerdgasm. Anyway, I recommend listening to Mr Moore's podcasts that narrate the creative choices made in each episode. I don't actually listen to them while watching the show, just while driving or working or whutnut.
posted by sohcahtoa at 6:10 AM on October 16, 2006


with zooms and focal changes and shakiness when a debris field interferes

When I first saw this on this show, I thought it was great and innovative, too. Then I watched the movie Serenity, and subsequently the rented the series Firefly, and realized that the technique had been done before, elsewhere.
posted by crunchland at 6:13 AM on October 16, 2006


Sci-fi is a useful way to describe looser, entertainment-driven sf, and conflating the two just keeps me from having better categories.

The trouble is in assuming that anyone who uses the term "sci-fi" has bought into this category scheme.
posted by smackfu at 6:15 AM on October 16, 2006


I second the Moore podcast recommendation. He often says pretty interesting stuff about the creative process and how that fits into the constraints of a (pretty low budget) television series. I like that he is pretty honest about what works in an episode and what doesn't, he didn't even like that black market one from last year. He also drinks scotch and chain smokes through the podcast, you can hear the zippo lighter periodically, and it's sort of amusing to hear him get more mellowed out as the hour progresses.
posted by octothorpe at 6:23 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


crunchland: I haven't watched Serenity or Firefly since the movie and had sorta forgotten about that. I still think, without anything to back it up, that BSG uses the effect to a better degree, but maybe I'll go back and watch Firefly to see if that holds outs.

At one point there was a Firefly as part of the rag-tag fleet.
posted by sohcahtoa at 6:25 AM on October 16, 2006


Then I watched the movie Serenity, and subsequently the rented the series Firefly, and realized that the technique had been done before, elsewhere.

That's because both shows use the same effects team, Zoac Studios.
posted by octothorpe at 6:29 AM on October 16, 2006


There's no real difference between SF and sci-fi. The only reason the word SF came about at all is because some authors thought sci-fi sounded juvenile. That is the ONLY real distinction. From the perspective of people outside that narrow community, the two words mean precisely the same thing.

You may be referring to the distinction between 'hard' and 'soft' SF. Hard science fiction is rules-based, and generally does not override physical principles we already know without a very good reason. Soft SF is really just fantasy in space... Star Trek being the most obvious example. From a large perspective, retuning the deflector dish to disable the Borg and inventing a control weather spell to wipe out the enemy army are precisely the same plot mechanic.

Galactica hasn't fully declared itself one way or the other, but it's at least hard-ish. It seems to have rules, and the rules seem to be consistent. They are not yet fully explained... this is a very common plot device in sci-fi. The reward of understanding WHY things have been happening as they have is often a big plot reward. This only works over the long term if you have real rules and stick to them... programs like The X-Files and Lost pretend to use this mechanic, but because they are just making it up as they go, there's no way to easily predict anything.

Done well, the information reveal in SF is a lot like a murder mystery... all the information needs to be available for the reader to figure it out beforehand, but it should still make them "oh wow!" when it's finally explained.

So while a lot of Galactica doesn't yet make sense, it looks like it COULD. Some of the existing rules do break the physics we know. (fighter combat being one of them.) So it's not perfectly hard, but at this point, I'd call it the hardest since Babylon 5. And, while some of the little details aren't quite right, as long as they get the core plot correct, folks won't notice. The much stronger actors can gloss over technical glitches... these people are the real deal.

It is powerful social commentary, and just amazingly good television. Not only is the acting first-rate, so is the plotting; you do not know who will live and who will die. You can't take anything for granted. And you really do get the feeling... what would it be like if a catastrophe wiped out most of humanity? What would happen? How would government work? How would the military work? How would people survive? How much civilization could we keep?

They convey those issues better than any show I've ever seen. It's sad, and wrenching, and just incredibly good drama. If you haven't watched this yet, rent the DVDs. Watch in order. Start with the miniseries. You will not be disappointed.
posted by Malor at 6:31 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]



You may be referring to the distinction between 'hard' and 'soft' SF. Hard science fiction is rules-based, and generally does not override physical principles we already know without a very good reason. Soft SF is really just fantasy in space


Yea, but if you read a lot of what is called "hard science fiction", there's still a lot of hand waving. If you go back and read the stuff that was called "hard SF" when I started reading, (Asimov, Heinlein, Niven, Clarke, etc), most of the science is really just sugar poured on a plot device. I don't think that Niven knows how faster than light drive or stasis fields work any better than the producers of Galactica do.
posted by octothorpe at 6:48 AM on October 16, 2006


Then I watched the movie Serenity, and subsequently the rented the series Firefly, and realized that the technique had been done before, elsewhere.

The first time I remember seeing that effect is in Attack of the Clones, which I think predates Firefly.
posted by Prospero at 7:05 AM on October 16, 2006


In Attack of the Clones or Firefly, is every 'space' shot filmed from a 'handheld' perspective?
posted by sohcahtoa at 7:09 AM on October 16, 2006


Damn, Optimus. Now you're making me want to see it.
posted by languagehat at 5:59 AM PST on October 16


You should. It transcends simple definitions of science fiction. It has space battles and robots and faster-than-light travel but it isn't about any of those things. It's a smart, thought-provoking, moving drama.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:16 AM on October 16, 2006


Optimus Chyme is correct in his post above.

Season 1 is the only season I've seen, and I'm currently in the middle of rewatching it, so my impression is based on that season alone. But truth be told, the worldbuilding aspects of BSG are barely even interesting--if you've seen two or three SF movies, none of the basic concepts will be new to you. The writing has almost no neologisms ("Cylon" and "FTL" are pretty much it). Episodes tend not to be effects showcases--when the effects are there, they're very good, but there are probably episodes that don't have more than ninety seconds' worth of space shots.

Because the SF elements of the show are recycled common cultural property, that frees up most of the running time of each episode to be spent on character development. It's really the characters and the slow-burn plotline that make the show what it is--not good by arguably lowered genre standards, or by arguably lowered standards for television, but good, full stop.
posted by Prospero at 7:53 AM on October 16, 2006


The 13th colony was supposedly Earth.

12 models; we've seen 7: the black guy, Leoben, Cavil, D'anna Biers, Six, Sharon, and that PR guy. Part of the fun is guessing who will "come out" next.

For me, what keeps me coming back to watch is the characters and their storylines. It could be just as compelling if it were any other time period, imho. Saul Tigh went from some drunken bastard who "never wanted the job" to a pretty effective commander. How about that closeup scene of his one good eye when he discovered that his wife Ellen betrayed them--because she loved him and didn't want him to get hurt? Maybe I'm biased because I've loved the show since the beginning, but I think the actors do a damn good job, too.

I wholeheartedly agree with Optimus Chyme and Malor: it may be the best show I have ever seen. :)
posted by cass at 8:06 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Cylon agent speculation.

Honestly if they didn't introduce any more sleeper agents in the fleet I'd be fine with that. It's a good bit of uncertainty to keep the viewers on their toes and untrusting, but a future Cylon 'reveal' will have to be handled carefully to avoid deus ex machina. Of course Moore has a good track record on this count, so maybe I should trust in Ron.

As they develop character backstory it'll be hard to convincely make a main character a Cylon. That having been said, I'd like to see Billy come back as a character, so I'll nominate him.

Was there an out-of-show reason for that character's death (ie the actor wanting out?).
posted by sohcahtoa at 8:20 AM on October 16, 2006


Cass, that seen with Tigh's eye was fracking amazing. Michael Hogan is great this season now that his character has become completely unglued.
posted by octothorpe at 8:22 AM on October 16, 2006


In Attack of the Clones or Firefly, is every 'space' shot filmed from a 'handheld' perspective?
posted by sohcahtoa at 3:09 PM GMT on October 16 [+] [!]


In Firefly, I think it is.

BSG draws strongly on the sort of SF that both Firefly, and Babylon 5, before it helped to establish- both stylistically and thematically. Both previous shows also established themselves in contrast to Trek (the next generation, I think, more than the original - its cleanliness, the classless society, the noble and mostly unconflicted characters, the lack of continuing storylines or backstory - in other words, its simplicity, which could be beautiful and inspiriing, but also could move (in unskilled hands) into the insipid. Whereas the charaters of B5 and FF were conflicted, messy, sometimes not very nice, had baggage, and moved in a world of violence and inequality, while the shows engaged with arc based storylines, and let the viewers work out the details for themselves). I wish Moore would make public recognition of these other shows; I think his addition to the genre has been excellent, but I'm very annoyed when he claims all credit for this part of the genre. (As an aside - at one point, Moore boasted about having the first bathroom on screen in a sf tv show. He was wrong - Babylon 5 showed the bathroom long before, and Firefly even showed the little stowaway toilet. After that, BSG's demure toilet stalls were nothing special).

*Disclaimer - I enjoy all three series, though none have the imagination or whimsy of Farscape. I don't remember if they showed the toilet on Farscape, but there was a cartoon episode.

I like SF because it could also stand for "speculative fiction", which covers a lot of really interesting art that doesn't fall neatly into "science fiction", including fantasy.
posted by jb at 8:24 AM on October 16, 2006


Sci-fi is a useful way to describe looser, entertainment-driven sf

What a completely useless distinction. Glad I somehow missed *that* debate.

Anyway, languagehat, take Optimus' gushing with a grain of salt; he's in the initial throes. I loved the pilot and plowed quickly through the first two seasons on DVD, and yes, they're very good, beautifully filmed, occasionally brilliant sci-fi and drama. But I also quickly grew disappointed with the way the series too often kept itself afloat by relying on main characters doing completely out-of-character things. Adama allowing the already clearly unstable Baltar to be the only person who conducted the "is it a cylon" tests - unsupervised - was just completely ridiculous and something a commander like Adama would *never* have done, and yet much of season one was driven by that decision. The show dropped a notch for me at that point, but it's bounced back enough times to keep me interested, and the characters are some of the more engaging around, in any TV genre. When it's good, it's really up there with the best drama on television; at those moments, the sci-fi setting almost seems secondary.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on October 16, 2006


Cass, that seen with Tigh's eye was fracking amazing. Michael Hogan is great this season now that his character has become completely unglued.

Tigh is my favorite part of the new season (so far) as well. He's fracking Ahab. Or Marlowe from Heart of Darkness. He's so beyond the pale now.

Ellen too. Finally has a soul of some sort. Even the herpes is adorable.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:48 AM on October 16, 2006


Oh shit, the red above Ellen's lips are sores? That's awesome. I always thought it was smudged lipstick.
posted by sohcahtoa at 8:52 AM on October 16, 2006


sohcahtoa, Wikipedia says
Paul Campbell has said that the character, Billy Keikeya, was axed due to Paul's unwillingness to commit to a 5-year contract. He has also said that he would not mind coming back to the series as a Cylon.
posted by cgc373 at 8:57 AM on October 16, 2006


In Attack of the Clones or Firefly, is every 'space' shot filmed from a 'handheld' perspective?

I don't think Attack of the Clones is, and I'm certainly not going to go back and check, but Firefly is definitely the pioneer of that particular style of space CGI. The interior stuff was also done with a lot of steadycam work--the whole thing looked, visually, kinda like a 70s TV show (and I mean that in a good way). I suspect at least part of the reason BSG's space scenes are "shot" that way is Zoic's disappointment at not being able to continue doing Firefly.

(The style probably owes at least some small debt, though, to that shot from the original Star Wars where the camera swoops down and zooms into the trench on the Death Star. It's totally the same documentarian feel that you get in Serenity when the camera tracks the ship, then notices a huge explosion happening offscreen and jerks to the side, focusing in on it. Super cool, like the director just happened to show up at a big space battle with his camera crew.)
posted by EarBucket at 9:00 AM on October 16, 2006


I always thought the debate between sci-fi and sf was that sci-fi was the harder, rules-driven version, and sf ("speculative fiction", as I'd been lead to believe) allowed you to drop magic sauce as deus ex machinae at will.

Not biased in the least, mind you.
posted by Imperfect at 9:01 AM on October 16, 2006


mediareport is right, it's a good show but not a great show. The allegorical take about the current political turmoil in America and the War is a little stale. It's like interpretive theatre. The new shows, in particular, are a bit "hitting one on the head with a hammer." But I guess the writers couldn't resist.

Now, for great television... watch "The Wire" or that new thing, "Dexter".
posted by gsb at 9:04 AM on October 16, 2006


bsg is one of those tv shows that I always watch, but I don't look forward to it. All those jarring betrayals and rampant paranoia can get to be a bit much. Still, I watch it religiously.
posted by crunchland at 9:15 AM on October 16, 2006


Actually gsb, the writers (or at least the producer) have stated that they really didn't intend to be strongly allegorical to the istuation in Iraq. They examined the history of war and of occupation, and there are a lot of themes that repeat themselves. The fact that they're repeating themselves right now is just icing, really.

(Actually, they were planning on having a different issue than suicide bombings be the big focus of Cylon fear for a while. The resistance was supposed to originally be kidnapping Cylons, but not killing them, thus preventing them from coming back and that was supposed to be scaring the pants off them. But they looked at that and thought the torture angle was a little... too "current-news" and that the suicide bombings seemed a little better an issue for both sides to have strong-but-right opinions about.)
posted by Imperfect at 9:17 AM on October 16, 2006


by the way, speaking of Dexter, you can catch the first two episodes in streaming video over at the showtime site.
posted by crunchland at 9:23 AM on October 16, 2006


"There's no Thirteen because One through Twelve already covered every unique characteristic of humanity that the Cylons could find."
And yet none of them came out like Carrot Top.

Are you trying to imply that Carrot Top is human?
posted by thedward at 9:34 AM on October 16, 2006


Oh shit, the red above Ellen's lips are sores? That's awesome. I always thought it was smudged lipstick.

They're out of medications, and settled with the intention of repopulating (ahem) a planet. So now everyone has an STD.

Since when do you even see an STD implied on television? Best show evar.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:00 AM on October 16, 2006


My take on BSG is a bit like mediareport's. It's a good show, with very very strong atmospherics, cinematography, and acting, especially by the leads: Edward James Olmos, Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Mary O'Donnell is it who plays Roslin? All awfully good. It's well sold. But the writing's got a lot of holes if you look at it too closely, and the show's emphasis on verisimilitude invites more scrutiny than a breezier show – even one like Firefly – might.

I still curse my not having a television right now, though.
posted by furiousthought at 10:02 AM on October 16, 2006


One of my favorite aspects of BSG is that they let the production group keep the same feel as Firefly in the space shots. The shaky hand cam, the lack of sound in space, all of it. As pointed out earlier in the thread, they pay homage to Firefly early on in the series (16 minutes into the pilot to be exact)

One minor change is that they allow for more sound in space combat scenes; in BSG, you can hear the guns of the Vipers firing, and the jets correcting, but I like that it's muted, like what the ships pilot might be hearing.

I've tried to describe Battlestar to people who haven't seen it as a well written, character driven drama. One that just happens to have killer robots in space.

My friend's description is better though: One gut-wrenching moral conundrum followed by another.
posted by quin at 10:05 AM on October 16, 2006


Firefly (the series) is actually "more accurate" than BSG space exterior shots in one thing: sound, lack of.
posted by linux at 10:33 AM on October 16, 2006


I'm a full season behind (got started late), so I'm just holding my hands over my ears and going "LA LA LA" past the spoilers.

The "difference" between sf and sci-fi is that the latter was once considered pejorative and seemingly lumps all science fiction or fantasy writing as some kind of space opera. The term sf was expanded in the 1960s by Ellison and others to refer to science fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy. Later on, post Star Wars and Star Trek when it was no longer uncool to enjoy the genre, sci-fi got rehabilitated as an affectionate term for lighter fare that had fewer pretensions to being idea-driven or addressing philosophical questions. Any distinctions beyond that are made up later by people who are trying to parse things without the history. I don't think there's really a functional difference between the terms, though -- it's almost always simply who's doing the speaking.

I don't think that Niven knows how faster than light drive or stasis fields work any better than the producers of Galactica do.

Bad choice of examples, octothorpe. Niven is almost certainly one of the most rules-driven hard sf writers, period. Read his essays on time travel, teleportation, and even Superman where he plays out assumptions based on the laws of thermodynamics, and parses out how different sets of assumptions lead to different types of stories. He once said something along the lines that a writer can cheat, but he should know when he's cheating.

Back on topic. I severely loved the old BSG despite its faults, and I really supported Hatch's efforts to revive the series. That might have been good in its own way. I don't quite understand how I failed to be wowed by the miniseries but I had distractions while I was watching it, so I didn't catch up until "33" won the Hugo. Holy crap, that was good (in some ways better than the pilot).

Yeah, they have some problems with the series. I don't always believe the hand-waving things they do for the dramatically necessary, like the example of Baltar above. They have characters doing too many different things like Starbuck leading an interrogation. But quin's friend is spot on about why each individual show remains compelling.
posted by dhartung at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2006


Firefly (the series) is actually "more accurate" than BSG space exterior shots in one thing: sound, lack of.

I actually think BSG is more "accurate" w/r/t sound; the sounds of thrusters and of Viper guns rotating are what the pilots are hearing from within the cockpit. Even though they're in space, the vibrations from either of those mechnanical process would resonate throughout the Viper's hull and be audible as muted sound in the cockpit.

as far as hand-waving goes, as long as they don't do any time-travel stories, the hand-waving they do doesn't bother me.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:26 PM on October 16, 2006


They have characters doing too many different things

just got caught up on season 1, and that's one of my peeves so far. i found myself thinking that they were veering into star wars territory, where the same damn people (and their descendents and ancestors) -- in a galaxy full of umpteen billions of beings -- play an important part in every single historic event. at least in bsg you're only dealing with approx 50K souls, so it's far less annoying.

i knew the series had the potential to be special when, in the pilot, the president thanked her aide for telling her that the cute little girl was on a ship w/o ftl drive. in most tv shows, she would have said "dammit, stop the jump sequence. we're not leaving her behind" and deusexmachinalarity would have ensued.

as to the series' topicality, i haven't even been viewing it on that level. when i recommend it to folks, i just say it's got great writing and acting.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:50 PM on October 16, 2006


lord_wolf, In one of the podcasts, Mr Moore acknowledges that it's a bit of a stretch that, for example, the best pilot in the fleet is also the best sharpshooter, but argues for it out of narrative effeciency and expediency.

That can be frustrating, or, worse, distracting from the story, but I can forgive them when I hear the creator acknowledge and explain the decision.
posted by sohcahtoa at 1:08 PM on October 16, 2006


I just discovered the series (didn't have cable until July this year) on iTunes. My wife and I became utterly addicted. Great story telling. The best show on TV I have seen in quite some time.

I love the fact that Baltar see's the Cylon chick in his head. That was brilliant. I like the low-tech Aircraft carrier aspect of the metaphore. And the charachters actually communicate what is going on instead being all enigmatic and stupid like in LOST.

SPOILER:

I DO have some problems with it.

Having the Cylons - the Raiders - have organic parts is fucking idiotic. So much for having the High-G acceleration and maneuvering advantage in combat. The advantage to the plot of having the Raiders be organic "pets" was negligable. Unless they will explain that high order thinking and functioning the Cylons found organic parts 100% necessary and the big AI (god) is also mostly organic. Hence thier obsession with humanity and cross-breeding.

Also the science of the show being so conflicing:
- They have FTL but can't do DNA testing?
- They didn't know how to make stealth aircraft until they accidentally did it (and have not repeated what is obviously a crucial technology.)
- They blast all the stalled out Raiders to pieces instead of capturing them and studying the technology or at least using them as Trojan Horses loaded with bombs?

And some of the characters are simply irritating (much less so than the average show where the characters are pure idiots.)

Like Kara Thrace. She is an asshole. The Cylons steal her ovaries - basically rape her - and make a baby out of it. Suddenly, after she has been imprisoned by the Cylons and shown her baby, she BONDS with the baby she didn't know existed in three minutes. AND starts holding hands with the Cylon dude who is torturing her? C'mon. Get out.

She would have (anybody would have) suffocated that fucking little monster the second the Skin Job left the room, cooked it and eaten it— just to spite the fuckers.

And for Christ sake will Baltar wash his fucking hair! Do they not have Shampoo or Conditioner technology?

Other than that I am hooked.
posted by tkchrist at 2:55 PM on October 16, 2006


Anyway, languagehat, take Optimus' gushing with a grain of salt; he's in the initial throes.

I'd take mediareport's comment with a grain of salt. I've been watching the series as it has aired since Act of Contrition (season 1, episode 4) and I would gush as much as optimus if I could actually jot down my thoughts quite as well...
posted by briareus at 3:05 PM on October 16, 2006


You're obviously more invested in the show than the rest of us, tkchrist, since you sprang for the .99 per episode.
posted by crunchland at 3:06 PM on October 16, 2006


Two bucks per episode for TV shows.
posted by sohcahtoa at 3:15 PM on October 16, 2006


Wow. He really is invested then.
posted by crunchland at 3:18 PM on October 16, 2006


I can forgive them when I hear the creator acknowledge and explain the decision.

agreed. like someone quoted upthread, the author has to know that he's cheating.

someone else said upthread that the hybrids would one day go on to establish a planet kobol, split into 12 tribes, etc. does that mean there's a race x where humans are to race x as cylons are to humans?
posted by lord_wolf at 4:29 PM on October 16, 2006


Also the science of the show being so conflicing:
- They have FTL but can't do DNA testing?
- They didn't know how to make stealth aircraft until they accidentally did it (and have not repeated what is obviously a crucial technology.)
- They blast all the stalled out Raiders to pieces instead of capturing them and studying the technology or at least using them as Trojan Horses loaded with bombs?


I think with all three of these, the answer is the same: lack of personel and facilities. It's not like they got to select the best and brightest minds and gather up equipment before setting out on their journey. The ships that survived are the ones with outdated technology that the Cylon virus couldn't infect. And the people who survived are largely those people who were aboard those ships. Gaius seems to be the closest thing they have to a legitimate scientist, and he's only been spared because Helo recognized him and gave up his spot on the Raptor for him.
Artificial intelligence, not DNA is his forte, and we don't even know that DNA is a good way to tell the difference between Cylons and humans. BE that as it may, Baltar did build a successful Cylon detector; he just opted not to use it.
As for the stealth fighter, imagine that a decomissioned aircraft carrier was suddenly the only surviving remnant of US military technology. Its crew are the only surviving military personnel. Without Lockheed Martin, Rayethon, Los Alamos and Livermore labs, could the engineers and crew of that aircraft carrier build a stealth fighter?
As for the blasted raiders -- where would they store the raiders while they studied and hacked them? Who would watch them to make sure they didn't come to life? How could they be sure the raiders wouldn't "download" and reveal their location? Etc.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:57 PM on October 16, 2006


Anyway, languagehat, take Optimus' gushing with a grain of salt; he's in the initial throes, etc etc.

Don't get me wrong. There are some inconsistencies and just plain bone-headed moves in the show by characters who should be smarter / less naive / less conveniently fooled. This happens in pretty much every movie or TV series or what-have-you, because instead of having a cast, crew and writing staff totaling in the dozens or hundreds, you've all of a sudden got millions of people critiquing and analyzing the end product instead of a few people who are so close to the leaves that they can't see the tree, let alone the forest. Plus sometimes people are just fucking dumb, characters as well as writers.

I don't excuse it, but I understand it. Even with the little idiosyncrasies and tactical boners, it's a trillion times better than Star Trek - in any of its incarnations - could ever hope to be.

Yeah, I said it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:11 PM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


I’m sorry...there’s a publication called “Jewsweek”?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:35 PM on October 16, 2006


It is a *very* good show, but those who say it is the best suck c*ck by choice, Deadwood style.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 5:44 PM on October 16, 2006


lord_wolf: someone else said upthread that the hybrids would one day go on to establish a planet kobol, split into 12 tribes, etc. does that mean there's a race x where humans are to race x as cylons are to humans?
Well, that was me, and it's just my pet theory as to the eventual outcome/conclusion of this reimagining (plus, I was drunk last night when I posted). And I think the race x to the humans died out long ago: essentially interbreeding means that there will no pure humans or Cylons left in a few generations. But season 1 was very big into a) the concept of cycles and destiny, and b) an unavoidably spiritual element that doesn't flinch from the fact that something supernatural is going on and can't be explained purely by science. With the hybrid chidren cropping up, plus the finding of a way of finding earth, it suggests that this too is a "cycle"- of which the Cylons will grow more 'human' and a new species will arise.

Is this the best show on TV? Probably not, but it's up there, and when contrasted against a hit like Lost (which is fading fast in the ratings, thanks gods!) is so much more rewarding: it's plainly evident that the writers "have a plan", that subtle elements were introduced in season 1 that are panning out now- something I noticed in Arrested Development a lot, and is a sign of cohesive writing- and that if a mystery goes unresolved for a while we are usually given quite a few unconflicting clues to puzzle it out, and aren't disappointed when that mystery is resolved. The acting isn't always the best, but the character work overall is well done- I don't find myself shouting at the TV that that's not how humans behave- and the "rules" and motivations of this fictional universe are internally consistent.

Or to sum: Lost sucks donkey balls, and BSG is a very good show that doesn't shit all over its fans. :)
posted by hincandenza at 7:50 PM on October 16, 2006


As for the stealth fighter, imagine that a decomissioned aircraft carrier was suddenly the only surviving remnant of US military technology. Its crew are the only surviving military personnel. Without Lockheed Martin, Rayethon, Los Alamos and Livermore labs, could the engineers and crew of that aircraft carrier build a stealth fighter?

According to the Pegasus and Mining ship (Scar) episodes, yes. The Pegasus COMES with a manufacturing center. They simply lacked alloy... which was solved when they found the asteroids in Scar. Think about it. They wouldn't have ANY vipers left if they didn't. It would make for a short series.

My point is this: If the starcraft evolved from jet aircraft technology and military tradition (easy to make that leap because of the terminology like CAG and CAP etc) then they would of logically invented stealth. Hell, it was a project as far back as WWII and prop plane technology. They acted like it was a new technology completely. And all they did to make the home-made Viper stealth was clue some carbon fiber on it. Jebus. I would be glueing that shit on nearly every one of them. Wouldn't you? The blew up a base (Resurection) ship with one after all, right?

As for not having room to house a couple of Raiders? LAME. Do you know in WWII soldiers would sometimes CARRY peices of downed experimental German aircraft they would find and mechanics would attempt to reconstruct or at least photograph them right near the front lines.

Vipers don't have FTL... as was stated early on. They couldn't make them small enough. But the Raiders can. Seems to me that is a big deal to figure out.

AS for downloading cylons? The download is not FTL. Depending on far away a Cylon base fleet is, it takes (light) years for the signal to reach a Cylon ship. By then the BSG fleet would have moved on.

Anyway my one frustration is the lack of innovation on BSG. Like when the water leaked out into space? It would freeze. Even if was under presure it would crystalize in a finite area. Right? And it would still travel the same velocity as the ship. Right? So. Why not rig a way just suck/velcro the shit right back up? What they can't make fabric?
posted by tkchrist at 9:54 AM on October 17, 2006


All good points, tkchrist.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:57 AM on October 17, 2006


Suddenly, after she has been imprisoned by the Cylons and shown her baby, she BONDS with the baby she didn't know existed in three minutes. AND starts holding hands with the Cylon dude who is torturing her? C'mon. Get out.

Stockholm syndrome, perhaps?
posted by chuq at 11:52 AM on October 17, 2006


Why not rig a way just suck/velcro the shit right back up? What they can't make fabric?

Just repeat to yourself, "It's just a show; you really should relax." :-)

The show is not about the fabric.
posted by chuq at 11:55 AM on October 17, 2006


"It's just a show; you really should relax."

Yeah. I know.

You have to understand we didn't have cable until three months ago. This whole universe of entertainment is new to me.

Before I was always training or too busy or active to watch TV. And when I did - as we all know - it SUCKED. I banned cable TV (except for DVDs) for the last 12 years. Rarely watched the 4 channels we used to get.

Then I got injured and quit training for few months AND sold my share of a business. So I got nothing but free time and cash. I lifted my ban and we got cable.

I discover there is some quality shit out there. Now I'm hooked. Like some Amish kid snorting coke for the first time. A recipe for disaster.

We watched 14 hours of the Soprano's OnDemand in one weekend. Straight. To our friends we were like "Have you seen this motherfucking show called the Soprano's???...OMFG" and they roll their eyes.

So yeah. I'm invested. Literally. So if after all the investment BSG ends up fucking me over... well... I am going to be very, very upset. I may even attend a BSG convention and challenge the producers to a duel if that happens.
posted by tkchrist at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2006


*waits for tkchrist to be profoundly disappointed in his mainstream television choices*

or

Metafilter: Like some Amish kid snorting coke for the first time

(I couldn't decide)
posted by mediareport at 9:36 PM on October 17, 2006


tkchrist: I'm not sure, but I believe the water would boil, not freeze. Rapidly diffusing water vapor would be pretty difficult to contain...
posted by nervestaple at 11:23 PM on October 17, 2006


Cecil Adams says the water would boil away, so, um, so say we all.
posted by cgc373 at 4:32 AM on October 18, 2006


Hmm. On closer inspection, Cecil says:
In a vacuum most liquids have such a low boiling point that they vaporize almost instantly. For that reason, most substances exist in space in either the gaseous or the solid state. When the astronauts take a leak while on a mission and expel the result into space, it boils violently. The vapor then passes immediately into the solid state (a process known as desublimation), and you end up with a cloud of very fine crystals of frozen urine. Ooh, ick, the sixth graders may say, but I'm betting it's one physics demonstration they wouldn't soon forget.
So tkchrist, you're probably right that they could just whomp up big ol' nets of some kind and gather all the crystalized water; string the nets between the (physically impossible as presented but whatever) Vipers and collect it quick.
posted by cgc373 at 4:40 AM on October 18, 2006


challenge the producers to a duel if that happens

Thanks for the reminder that the Internet can be a very scary place.
posted by crunchland at 6:06 AM on October 18, 2006


Just watched the 10-20-06 episode and I have a couple of words about it:

Wow holy FUCK WOW.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:05 PM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


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