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When Ad Placement Goes Wrong
January 18, 2009 8:35 PM   Subscribe

A shocking scene from the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica was paired with a rather unfortunate commercial. Warning: Big spoiler in the scene if you follow the show and have not caught up. Graphic violence. posted by furiousxgeorge (262 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this the show with that guy from Bonanza?
posted by yhbc at 8:42 PM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


That's like two scoops of awesome.
posted by delmoi at 8:42 PM on January 18, 2009


That is hilarious. It (almost) redeems the whole episode.
posted by Auden at 8:43 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, how about Final Cyclon?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 PM on January 18, 2009


Ok, I was skeptical that this could be that bad a pairing. But man... (lol)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:46 PM on January 18, 2009


Oh, thank the gods I wasn't the only one to have seen this.

This aired on the Space Network in Canada, which is the inept little outfit that SciFi licenses their stuff to up here. The ham-fistedness of this pairing was only outdone by the pre-and post-show festivities that Space had put on, in which a crew of 20-something personalities who clearly had not had any training about how to behave in front of a television camera were slapped into ill-fitting Galactica jumpsuits and made to mumble ad-libbed Cylon jokes. It was like being trapped at Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con.

The sight of Campell's Symphony of Exploding Heads Tomato Soup was a welcome relief after that.
posted by bicyclefish at 8:47 PM on January 18, 2009


That is just priceless.
posted by longsleeves at 8:51 PM on January 18, 2009


I thought this was going to be about the KFC Frak Pack.
posted by zamboni at 8:52 PM on January 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


God, that technicolor projectile vomit/explosive diarrhea cracker commercial makes me sick to my stomach every time I see it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:53 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Holy goddamn shit. Thank you so much for posting that.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:55 PM on January 18, 2009


I haven't liked Dee since the whole Billy/Lee fiasco, so I was quite tickled by it.

OMG, I just got why The GF calls BSG my "stories."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:55 PM on January 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


ADD SOME PLUS

is there some way to stagger the blink tag?
posted by kliuless at 8:58 PM on January 18, 2009


This is really how all mainstream programming + commercials strike me. Exact same reaction. Utter disgust. Always. Why feign shock now?
posted by ws at 9:00 PM on January 18, 2009


I wondered if nerdrage across the country would erupt to Krazy Kreme proportions, but it seems most people are getting a decent laugh out of this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:01 PM on January 18, 2009


my seasonal depression is suddenly obliterated.

if television was always that cool i might consider watching it again.

just gorgeous...
posted by artof.mulata at 9:02 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gross? Yes.

Yet we're all here talking about premium crackers and campbell's soup. I'd say they won big time in terms of brand awareness. Any advertising is good advertising?
posted by pkingdesign at 9:03 PM on January 18, 2009


Dee-licious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 PM on January 18, 2009 [22 favorites]



Yet we're all here talking about premium crackers and campbell's soup. I'd say they won big time in terms of brand awareness. Any advertising is good advertising?


Dualla Red is the new Pepsi Blue.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:04 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


That was better than I thought it would be. Very nice.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:06 PM on January 18, 2009


Yet we're all here talking about premium crackers and campbell's soup. I'd say they won big time in terms of brand awareness.

Plus, anytime anyone eats Campbell's Tomato from now on, they'll be thinking, "Mmm ... brains".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:06 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never seen this show and have no idea what is going on there, but that was damn funny.
posted by dead cousin ted at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's not how you eat soup. It's really a lot more civil than that.
posted by netbros at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Also - Rare Earth!
posted by stinkycheese at 9:08 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Take it for what you will but that scene was a lovely twist of the knife. The wife and I spent the previous commercial discussing the entire Lee/Dee relationship -- she thought it was nice that they were getting back together and I said, "Naaaaa... the writers are just setting up a tragedy." Guess which one of us jumped three inches off the couch?
posted by nathan_teske at 9:10 PM on January 18, 2009


That was absolutely beautiful.
posted by flatluigi at 9:13 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


zamboni : I thought this was going to be about the KFC Frak Pack.

I figured that this had to be some kind of subversive ad companies idea of counting coup when I saw it. I mean a Frack Pack? Do the people at KFC not watch Battlestar Galactica and understand what this word replaces?

I find the entire concept to be fantastic beyond words.

As to the placement of this commercial? I don't know if it was the progressively bigger and bigger fountains of liquid of the pitch perfect musical choice, but if there is a term for something that is the opposite of tasteful advertising serendipity, this is it.

God damn, I laughed hard though.
posted by quin at 9:14 PM on January 18, 2009


Is this the show with that guy from Bonanza?

No, but it's practically a shot-for-shot remake.
posted by jonp72 at 9:15 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Baby, it's over. Let's have some soup. And Premium Plus brand crackers.
posted by Auden at 9:16 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean a Frack Pack? Do the people at KFC not watch Battlestar Galactica and understand what this word replaces?

We are living in a world where McDonald's used "I'd hit it!" as a tag line for a burger. I think it is safe to say fast food ad people are not good at figuring out if they want us to have sex with the food or eat it.

I'll stick with suicide soup, ok.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:18 PM on January 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Lame.
posted by oddman at 9:22 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


When I get a Frak Attack, I like watching BSG with my Frak Buddy, eating a Frak Pack.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:22 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


At least we now have another hilarious answer to this question.
posted by piratebowling at 9:23 PM on January 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


BSG is dead to me.
posted by tkchrist at 9:26 PM on January 18, 2009


When I get a Frak Attack, I like watching BSG with my Frak Buddy, eating a Frak Pack.

I think "frak pack" may have to replace "Chairman Meow" as the new nickname for my wife's vagina.

I only hope that Generalissimo Weenis will adjust to the change.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:28 PM on January 18, 2009 [32 favorites]


This blows my mind.
posted by waraw at 9:30 PM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


BSG has always been a bit heavy-handed, but this is WAY overboard.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:30 PM on January 18, 2009


Finger lickin' good.
posted by crossoverman at 9:38 PM on January 18, 2009


I think "frak pack" may have to replace "Chairman Meow" as the new nickname for my wife's vagina.

I only hope that Generalissimo Weenis will adjust to the change.


And now I can never un-know this. We need to have a talk about sharing.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:38 PM on January 18, 2009 [38 favorites]


The splashing soup had me laughing, and then when I heard the song lyrics it was all over. Hilarious!
posted by DanielDManiel at 9:41 PM on January 18, 2009


Damn. I was hoping it was gonna be a scene with Dirk Benedict. I loves me some Lt. Starbuck!

Wait, what?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:42 PM on January 18, 2009


I was really puzzled as to why people found it so funny until the song kicked in.
Awesome.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:54 PM on January 18, 2009


Am I the only one who was expecting a De Beers commercial?
posted by Xere at 10:00 PM on January 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


it's practically a shot-for-shot remake.

Yeah, and the story is kinda bland. It's about this guy, Dumbledore Calrissian, who's got to take The Ring back to Mordor.

/halpert
posted by evilcolonel at 10:13 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of the time I was watching The Abyss on the SciFi Channel, and the scene in the sunken submarine with all the dead sailors floating around was followed immediately by an ad for the US Navy (including nuclear subs). Fucking priceless.
posted by brundlefly at 10:37 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jesus that was brutal. I am never eating those crackers or tomato soup again ever.
posted by dougzilla at 10:41 PM on January 18, 2009


hilarious
posted by AZNsupermarket at 10:46 PM on January 18, 2009



BSG is dead to me.


I will hold the BSG banner forever, but I have no idea how they'll satisfyingly wrap it up without "Rocks fall, everyone dies".
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey guys, Yoda's mom is so fat that OH MY GOD DEE FUCKING SHOT HERSELF AND NOW SOUP IS EVERYWHERE
posted by hifiparasol at 11:14 PM on January 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Great first season, but then the writers fell into the trap of trying to make the show exciting, but also not wanting to wrap up any of the plot threads lest they run out of excuses to extend the run of the show. Pretty typical for a lot of sci-fi on TV, actually.

But I liked the exploding brain soup, no doubt.
posted by bardic at 11:18 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


That is the first time ever that I wish torrents had commercials. Priceless.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:22 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am also upset because in no place does it have Gaeta sucking on Hoshi's face like it's the only source of oxygen in the room. Dude should be the hobbled mack-daddy of the fleet.
posted by The Whelk at 11:32 PM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Whelk: "Rocks fall, everyone dies".

Nice S*P reference. I love that line.
posted by digitaldraco at 11:41 PM on January 18, 2009


Honestly, if this had aired with the American broadcast, I don't think you would have heard the music over the sound of my jaw hitting the floor. There are some pretty perverse mofos in advertising, leading me to believe that the Frak Pak was invented quite knowingly by some smartass (who may very well be my hero), but this -- this -- wow, it's like it has to be on purpose, but other than career...um...suicide come Monday morning, I can't imagine what that purpose was. Nevertheless, I am in awe of this monument to pure tastelessness; it's like John Waters hacked into the system, man.

That said, if it's now cool to talk smack about BSG, I will happily be uncool. The unfortunate return of "All Along the Watchtower" aside, this episode was great, as has been (mostly) the whole season. I, uh, think it plays a lot better without commercial interruption, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:46 PM on January 18, 2009


I've never watched BSG, but people seem to feel mighty strongly about it one way or the other.

How does it compare to Firefly, which I've downloaded but haven't watched yet?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:50 PM on January 18, 2009


Apparently this week's episode was thought to quite possibly be the last one, when it was made. It made the acting pretty great. Man, can you imagine thinking that this is how the series ends, and having to portray that?
posted by topynate at 11:51 PM on January 18, 2009


How does it compare to Firefly, which I've downloaded but haven't watched yet?

Uh...it's only about a million times better

But I actually don't really get Firefly and why the people who like it like it as much as they do. It's kinda cutesy but occasionally really good (and occasionally it's sickeningly cutesy), and in fairness it's a much better show than the first season of Buffy or Angel was, but I think it was canceled before it got a chance to get...well...as great as its fans tell everybody it was.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:56 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


How does it compare to Firefly, which I've downloaded but haven't watched yet?

Battlestar Galactica is good but flawed, the flaws mostly being in the all too often ham-handed dialogue. Firefly was mostly flaw leavened heavily with Joss Whedon's flair for dialogue.

Ron Moore knows plot but he doesn't know when his writers hand him crappy dialogue. Whedon can't world-build worth a damn but knows snappy dialogue like nobody's business. Someday there will be a SF series done by somebody who can world-build and knows shit dialogue when he sees it.

(For more support of my thesis, see also "J. Michael Straczynski" who mostly wouldn't know good dialogue if it slapped him on the ass and handed him a fiver. See also Chris Crawford who knew how to recognize dialogue but couldn't world-build and ended up with a muddled mess. And so on, and so on.)

Farscape actually managed both at times but it probably helped that they never took themselves too seriously. I mean, when half your cast is a bunch of Muppets it probably helps keep the self-importance to a minimum.
posted by Justinian at 11:58 PM on January 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


How does it compare to Firefly, which I've downloaded but haven't watched yet?

Firefly and Serenity are excellent, with very few if any dull spots. Not being given the space to flesh out the characters, the writers put together some pretty tight storytelling.

I feel like there was a sense of complacency about the second half of the third season of BSG. It would have been very difficult to top the really amazing first half, anyway. But the fourth season has definitely picked up the pace.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 AM on January 19, 2009


I thought this ep was redeemed by Tigh catching the falling glass of whiskey. Man's got skills.
posted by mek at 12:08 AM on January 19, 2009


Farscape actually managed both at times but it probably helped that they never took themselves too seriously.

I think Farscape is probably the most successful of any American sci-fi serial, but you wouldn't know it unless you've actually watched it (and not many people have). It starts out not-no-serious, certainly, but it is a very dark and mature (and thematically heavy) show by the end. It's a good balance for the genre - see Doctor Who.
posted by mek at 12:39 AM on January 19, 2009


For more support of my thesis, see also "J. Michael Straczynski" who mostly wouldn't know good dialogue if it slapped him on the ass and handed him a fiver. See also Chris Crawford who knew how to recognize dialogue but couldn't world-build and ended up with a muddled mess. And so on, and so on.

In support of your thesis I submit Russell T Davies, who can write snappy dialogue (apart from when the Doctor descends into "Brilliant! Humans! Brilliant! Humans!" like a CD with jam on it) but couldn't plot his way out of a brightly-lit room with one clearly marked exit.

I feel like there was a sense of complacency about the second half of the third season of BSG

In fairness, I believe they were instructed to write more stand-alone episodes; something to do with making it harder to sell the show in other markets?

How does it compare to Firefly, which I've downloaded but haven't watched yet?

I'd say its first season is easily as strong as Firefly's, and the first halves and last few episodes of seasons two and three are excellent, too. We didn't notice the quality dips as much as most people, though, since we didn't get into it until season three was almost over, so instead of waiting a week for an episode and getting filler we could just skip to the next one.

Farscape is love.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:40 AM on January 19, 2009


As always, I am met with a goodly amount of informed opinions from people I respect. I am wary of Farscape, though. Muppets?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:50 AM on January 19, 2009


Farscape is another one of the things that I skipped over when changing channels until once there was nothing else on... Then I kicked myself for not having been watching it and not knowing what had happened until catching repeats. I was sad to see it get canceled but they did a good job of tying up the ending I think. Maybe not successful, but Babylon 5 is also up there in the should watch category.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:09 AM on January 19, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "I've never watched BSG, but people seem to feel mighty strongly about it one way or the other.

How does it compare to Firefly, which I've downloaded but haven't watched yet?
"

It's pretty boring. I watched the first two seasons of BSG while on vacation, and it kept my interest enough that I didn't stop watching them, but I barely remember them now, and I never went back to it. It's just space drama. A well produced soap opera. If you're into Heroes (aside from all the time travel bullshit), you'd probably like it.

Firefly is a very different thing. I avoided it for the longest time because my geekiest anime-loving friends said it was the best thing ever. But once I started watching, I watched the whole thing through and wished there were more. It has nice short stories, and characters with personalities that you care about, and humor amidst the drama. You do have to buy into space cowboys, but after that it's gravy. Delicious gravy.
posted by team lowkey at 1:24 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I avoided it for the longest time because my geekiest anime-loving friends said it was the best thing ever.

Say no more - sold!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:26 AM on January 19, 2009


Haha. Nice catch. The version I watch, err, doesn't come with commercials included, if you get my drift, so I missed this.

I'm so glad BSG is back. Between that and Terminator: TSCC, I get my sci-fi fix.
posted by wastelands at 1:45 AM on January 19, 2009


Another vote for Farscape, here. You need to make it through some uneven episodes in the first half of the first season, but you will be rewarded with much joy thereafter.

I know Battlestar Galactica has its flaws -- the dialogue varies *greatly* depending who is writing the episode, and there is, as far as I can tell, apparently one writer who has never actually met a woman (although the other writers handle women just fine) -- but Dee's suicide is, I have to say, exactly the kind of thing that hooked me into the show. Why? Because of Star Trek: Voyager.

I love science fiction as a genre, but I was only able to make it through less than a season of Voyager before I gave up (I've since seen some episodes from much later seasons which were at least decent although not classics.) It was such a disappointment. The premise was so promising -- crews from two ships which had been opponents forced to work together, trapped in the middle of nowhere thanks to an arguably insane decision by the captain of one of them, trying to get to a home so far away that the mission is effectively impossible.

What a great way to examine people pushed to their limit, I thought. Would there be mutinies? Factions? Suicides? How would they deal with a ship that was nearly impossible to repair, slowly deteriorating as they went about their hopeless mission? Would they begin to question a hierarchy which no longer had any meaning -- and never mattered in the first place, for some of them? Who would they blame? How would they cope? Affairs? Addictions? Despair? Brief, shining moments of nobility?

And the answers turned out to be ... no, no, no, it was inexplicably barely ever a problem, never, no one, they didn't bother, a couple of tepid romance plots, never, not once, and that's all we got. They soldiered on blindly, rigorously keeping to the tenets of the Federation of Planets (why?), never questioning the stupid decision that left them stranded there (ever), acting like tin soldiers and oozing nobility out of every pore and never despairing even when despair was the only rational option. I wanted to throw a shoe at the screen.

So I gave up, and went on my way, assuming that there would never be a series like the one I had envisioned.

Then, one day, I was sick and wanted to spend the day in bed watching TV, so I decided to rent the first season of this Battlestar Galactica remake I'd been hearing a lot about.

And there it was.

These people weren't tin soldiers. They acted like ... people, pushed to the extremes. The human race had nearly been wiped out, and they were dealing with crushing loss and survivor's guilt and rage. There were mutinies, and fights, and factions. It became important to deal with the fact that their ship was nearly impossible to repair, slowly deteriorating as they went about their hopeless mission. They began to question whether hierarchies still had meaning -- political, military, social. They blamed, they tried to cope, and there were affairs and addictions and despair and brief, shining moments of nobility.

So when, after four years of desperate searching, they find the planet they've been looking for, and it's an uninhabitable irradiated wasteland, a supporting character blows her brains out with a gun. Don't you think someone would? And, yes, that episode had flaws, I could list them for you. But Dee killing herself is, well ...

Not a place they would go on Star Trek: Voyager. It's someplace closer to real than that. Someplace closer to meaningful.
posted by kyrademon at 1:52 AM on January 19, 2009 [44 favorites]


I've never seen the show, but this just cracked me up. It was worth the wait.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:07 AM on January 19, 2009


Heh. Great choice of lyrics and visuals. I wonder if somebody did it as a dare and hoped to sneak it in?

Also - who on earth (or what's left of it) eats crackers with soup? How? What's wrong with bread and its soaking-up qualities? It makes my head explode just to think of dipping solid crackers into soup.
posted by grapefruitzzz at 2:48 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


BSG started out great (the first episode is amazing) but Sucks Now. I really can't take another minute of Roslin's gloomy pooch, or the latest contrived, retarded, and minute plot development. BSG does too much telling and too little showing, like a stripper who takes off one sock per year, but keeps winking at you the whole time.

Firefly was okay but the signs of eminent suckage were there, and River McGuffin was tiresome (Wheedon's inner ninja-waif meets damaged-secret-test-subject), and the theme song was aural diarrhea -- but fun to ad lib verses to: "Take my land, shoot my dog, kick me in the balls and feed me a frog". Worst scifi theme song barring only Enterprise.

Farscape was at heart trash/wank/costume scifi (just this side of Lexx or Tripping the Rift) but had some good moments.

Dr. Who should have kept chavtastic Piper and ditched Tennant's hammy, bug-eyed doctor, before the show spiralled into preachy hackneyed unwatchability. I think Tennant goes for a child-like enthusiasm that comes off more like children's programming.

Don't even get me started on goddamn Torchwood.
</grouch>
posted by fleacircus at 2:55 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Also - who on earth (or what's left of it) eats crackers with soup? How?

I stand on a ladder above the table and throw the crackers into the bowl of soup as hard as I can. Exactly as depicted in the commercial.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:56 AM on January 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


kyrademon: Ron Moore had more or less the same complaint regarding Voyager .
posted by sammich at 4:33 AM on January 19, 2009


BSG, for me, has fallen into the same trap I feel Farscape did. Primarily, they both a) Went on too long, extending the story beyond credibility, and, b) Descended into unremitting paranoia, darkness, violence and NOISE!!!! After about the first season and a half, Farscape became the loudest damn show on TV. EVERYONE WAS YELLING AT EVERYONE ELSE 24-7!!!! It got to the point where I actually debated whether I really wanted to submit myself to another hour of aural bludgeoning. And the paranoia was thicker than cheese.

I see a lot of the same in the past two seasons (or more) of BSG.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:36 AM on January 19, 2009


I work for the media company here in Canada that buys TV for Premium Plus (and a number of other brands owned by the same parent company). Sadly, I can tell you that this was not someone's idea of a joke, but rather just (happy?) coincidence. I noticed several of our brands all over this episode, so it's clear that Space put them around the premiere in order to meet reach goals. Someone may have negotiated placement at the start of the commercial pod for Premium Plus, but it is highly unlikely that this was done on purpose. The more likely scenario is that the person responsible didn't notice or didn't care.

Work is going to be fun this morning.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:41 AM on January 19, 2009 [16 favorites]


Oh. Oh my.

Is there a word for the opposite of serendipity?????


(I just found out it is possible to be horrified and to laugh myself silly at the precise same moment.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:41 AM on January 19, 2009


I ADORE Torchwood. I love Firefly. I'm enjoying Doctor Who, but I just got started with that one. Voyager entertains me when I get home from work, mostly because Harry is so cute. I enjoy BSG when I catch it on, though it's hard to understand what's going on when you pop in and they have two of the same character in two different settings and then have lots of random hallucinatory conversations. Something it's best to watch a series from the beginning.

It's kind of nice having an easy-to-shut off critical eye. TV is way more enjoyable that way.

And Space plays that commercial as often as possible, and it always makes me feel sick. Even before I saw it paired with suicide.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:41 AM on January 19, 2009


What the hell was with the silhouette, jacks and guitar neck surviving 2000 years of weather? "I played that song!" I hope next week's episode is better.
posted by stavrogin at 4:56 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Years ago, there was an incident where "60 Minutes" did a story on Judy Garland, then cut right into a commercial for NyQuil. This is almost up there with that.
posted by gimonca at 5:08 AM on January 19, 2009


MetaFilter is frakkin awesome (^^^ WhiteSkull upthread).
posted by cavalier at 5:20 AM on January 19, 2009


> Is this the show with that guy from Bonanza?
> posted by yhbc at 11:42 PM on January 18 [2 favorites +] [!]

Yes. And the guy who sang (well, sort of chanted/narrated) Ringo. And he and his cowboy hat will be there in BSG for ever and ever from beyond the grave no matter who the current captain is, just like Perry Mason will always be in Godzilla even when you're watching the Japanese version that doesn't have him, or the big-bucks-flop Godzilla remake that was laughably set in New York City (Tokyo, guys. Tokyo. Monsters destroy Tokyo) or any other. If you've seen Pa Cartwright dressed up like a space guy in BSG even once (and seen even one episode of Bonanza) he'll be there for you just as surely as, having once seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (where our boys are transported to feudal Japan,) you'll never again be able to watch Shogun without seeing guys in turtle suits running around in the background in every scene.
posted by jfuller at 5:37 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


and guitar neck surviving 2000 years of weather?

It was probably a Parker Fly. Stainless frets and a carbon fiber neck.

(I had the same thought, stavrogin.)
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:38 AM on January 19, 2009


This aired on the Space Network in Canada, which is the inept little outfit that SciFi licenses their stuff to up here. The ham-fistedness of this pairing was only outdone by the pre-and post-show festivities that Space had put on, in which a crew of 20-something personalities who clearly had not had any training about how to behave in front of a television camera were slapped into ill-fitting Galactica jumpsuits and made to mumble ad-libbed Cylon jokes. It was like being trapped at Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con.

Oh dear lord, I'm glad I'm not the only person to have gritted her teeth through that...
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:51 AM on January 19, 2009


Final Cylon and undestructable guitar neck aside the real question is:

Anders is Bob Dylon?

I don't know why, but I find this hilarious for some reason and want it to become the next internet meme.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 5:54 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where's that little robot necklace that says, "b'de b'de b'dee Buck?"
posted by chococat at 5:58 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I loved the episode beyond all reason (well, for a certain value of 'love' that includes my favorite character offing herself and a continuation of almost total nihilism), but I would just like to say that I am in complete agreement with ZeroAmbition. Bob Dylan is one of the final five?

(Also, if I was going to pick a song to sing to people I loved, "All Along the Watchtower" wouldn't exactly be my first choice.)
posted by kalimac at 6:02 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ok, I too will give the space muppets a try after reading this thread.

But those of you who like Firefly and BSG -- you recommend B5? Really? Really really?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:16 AM on January 19, 2009


Even better is that several people in this thread attributed this spot (wrongly) to Campbell's and not Premium Plus. That's some good branding there.

Oh, and Space Channel? Your in-house content is teh suxx0rz.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:22 AM on January 19, 2009


BSG is wishywashy, self absorbed SO who disappears for long stretchs. Some weeks it's good, others it's great and then sometime you really want dump the mother fucker, but while you're thinking about a week passes and something good happens.

Realistically, I think they've written themselves kinda into a corner of their own making. Watching the series, there seems to be an ongoing tug of war between where Moore wants to take things, but the story has a life of it's own and drifts off to other places before Moore starts pulling on the reins again. There's a lot of talent in the cast, direction and writing (Seriously whoever pulled this much talent together should get a medal), so they can still sell the crappy story lines if they need to a crutch here and there, but I doubt they're going to have to.

The revelation on who the final cyclon makes me think Moore does have a plan, though it may be a crazy one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:28 AM on January 19, 2009


How? What's wrong with bread and its soaking-up qualities? It makes my head explode just to think of dipping solid crackers into soup.

No. No dipping involved. You leave them in the soup like croûtons. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is Campbells' tomato soup with Tabasco CheezIts.

I almost didn't bother clicking the link because...BSG. How many times over the last couple of years have people urged us to watch. And Firefly. And we tried, really. But yeah, after the pure nutty goodness of the original, you don't need any dark remakes.

I have to confess to ODing on SF in the 70's. I even took a college class on SF, Horror and Fantasy. I went to the conventions, subscribed to the magazines, read the autobiographies. Somewhere in the 80's I stopped cold turkey and aside from a few movies, never looked back. I am trying to work my way through Anathema right now, however.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:36 AM on January 19, 2009


There's a lot of detail about the decision making for this episode here. It's a collection of interviews with Ron Moore and the episode's writer and director.
posted by daveje at 6:40 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's nothing. After the soup mess there was an ad for ShamWow.
posted by steef at 6:46 AM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


The revelation on who the final cyclon makes me think Moore does have a plan, though it may be a crazy one.

So Moore has a plan.
The cylons have a plan.
Therefore...
posted by biffa at 6:46 AM on January 19, 2009


Ugh, what an awful episode.

All daveje's link did for me was confirm that Moore et al are making this shit up as they go, without a lot of planning.
Q: So she was talking to Ellen when she said this?
A: Uh, yeah, I guess.

Fuck you. If you're going to lace your show with hints about future reveals, those hints should still make sense later on. I guess this is what I should have expected from the guy who gave me "four random people you like are cylons!" but still.
posted by graventy at 6:48 AM on January 19, 2009


In fairness, I believe they were instructed to write more stand-alone episodes; something to do with making it harder to sell the show in other markets?

I believe it all started going downhill (slowly, mind you) when they started writing the "previously, on Battlestar Galactica" for the people who hadn't seen the show before (as mentioned in one of Moore's podcasts). I honestly have no idea why this line of reasoning makes it through the proper channels. Who is tuning into the middle of Battlestar Galactica? It's a cumulative drama with a lot of backstory. Even if you are one of these mythical viewers, are you really going to be satisfied with a 30-second "recap" involving characters and themes you have no familiarity with?

Case in point, just before this most recent episode aired we watched the Total Recap (awesome, by the way), which covers the entire storyline so far in about 15 minutes.

My wife who has never seen the show remarked that she still had no idea how we could differentiate the characters because they all ran together. What possible good is a 30-second recap going to be? Since anyone with enough interest can already watch the entire show from the beginning, if they so desire, I simply don't see the point in trying to cater to drop-in viewers.

The only other complaint I have is along the lines of practicality and tactics. It seems blatantly obvious that the machines could easily just wait the humans out, since they're fucking immortal.
posted by odinsdream at 6:52 AM on January 19, 2009


BSG pilot and season 1 = awesome guy show!
BSG season 2 and beyond = girl show!

So, if you like Sex and the City, Medium, and Buffy seasons 5+, you'll love BSG.

If, on the other hand, you like the first two seasons of Deadwood but didn't care for the rest, then stop watching BSG after the first season, the rest if just painful.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:53 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who is tuning into the middle of Battlestar Galactica?

Now hang on, to defend an episodic arc, I have to say to you -- as a producer, why are you limiting my audience to only people who started originally? You want me to sell a show to the network that only has a locked in audience, with no hope of an additional one tuning in?

And considering the number of (small but curvy) threads that they threw in there an episode at a time, I'd think even a regular viewer might go "uuhhh what , he was just.. huh!" if they missed more than one episode in the series.

Now to shoot down my argument, I do kind of twitch at the way the previously's tend to telegraph for regular viewers exactly what arcs are going to be in play this episode. But they're kind of stuck doing it because we have something like 24 un closed arcs at this point and it's necessary to have a refresher on what arcs are important to be thinking about.
posted by cavalier at 6:59 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes B5, but I like Sci-Fi of almost any sort. The main reason was that you knew at the beginning that it was going to end. It's the same reason I like anime (other than minor attempts at language learning). They had a start, a middle, and an end... planned from the beginning. Whacky aliens, evil colonial types and slaved aliens, deals with the devil, mysterious aliens are 'angels', good vs. evil, two Hugos for Best Dramatic Presentation and two Emmy awards - for makeup and visual effects... the series was often described as a "novel for television." (yeah, wikipedia). Leader stops war with aliens who become friends after getting his karma or whatnot and ends up going back in time to help them win the old war. Walter Koenig, Billy Mumy, Melissa Gilbert. Amiga's and Video Toasters. Heavy CGI.
What's not to like?
posted by zengargoyle at 7:08 AM on January 19, 2009


I'll tell you what's not to like. That 5th, awful, horrible season.
posted by waraw at 7:09 AM on January 19, 2009


Wait.

Earth == Cylon Homeworld

That means WE ARE CYLONS TOO!

Skinjobs -- every frakkin one of 'em!
posted by mikelieman at 7:11 AM on January 19, 2009


How does it compare to Firefly, which I've downloaded but haven't watched yet?

Well that's entirely subjective. I don't take these things too seriously so I quite like BSG and couldn't give a fuck about theories of it being turned into a woman's show, decline in writing, etc. I remain entertained and any preposterous inconsistencies in character and plot I can accept because it's not on the X-Files aliens arc level. I've also come to accept that from American shows. British drama is another thing entirely.

As for Firefly, again, entirely subjective. I'd rate it as just a bit better than The Starlost. In other words, complete garbage. But garbage sealed nicely in a plastic bag. But then so was Buffy to me.

However, your mileage may differ so try each out and see for yourself. What others say about them is pretty much irrelevant.
posted by juiceCake at 7:21 AM on January 19, 2009


Now hang on, to defend an episodic arc, I have to say to you -- as a producer, why are you limiting my audience to only people who started originally? You want me to sell a show to the network that only has a locked in audience, with no hope of an additional one tuning in?

Not at all. I am suggesting that people will tune in the middle, as I did, but they will review the previous episodes in their entirety online, since consumers no longer need to wait for DVD releases or reruns.

Constantly writing so as not to scare away "new viewers" is a waste of time.
posted by odinsdream at 7:24 AM on January 19, 2009


On another point, is this show about to violate the one consistently-obeyed rule they established, that there are only a certain number of cylon models? I wouldn't put it past them, but it would certainly be a cheap way out of the hole they dug.
posted by odinsdream at 7:27 AM on January 19, 2009


Thank you for the spoiler alert as I am not caught up yet but this is killing me! I've averted my eyes for so long now!
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:29 AM on January 19, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing : I am wary of Farscape, though. Muppets?

It is honestly better for their inclusion. It's great to experience a Sci-Fi universe where the non-human life forms aren't just people with rubber prosthetics attached to their foreheads. One interesting aspect of this is that the muppets are man-handled quite a bit, meaning that they are actually interacted with by the other cast and it gives it a reality that CG just doesn't offer. After a couple of minutes, you get over the oddness, and you just see the magnificent acting of Rygel the Hynerian, not some puppet on a chair.

It was my most very favorite Sci-Fi series ever, until Firefly came out. Now they are about equal.
posted by quin at 7:33 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


FYI: I am having a hard time taking seriously the criticism of people referring to the "cyclons."

I came into BSG halfway through -- my roommates watched it religiously, and I kind of half paid attention occasionally, but it was the Adama Maneuver on New Caprica that did it for me. Too much awesome. I still haven't watched the first half, but I do watch the "What the Frak is Going On" things every once in a while to refresh myself, and I enjoy the series as it is now.

That said: there are three or four male characters who all look identical to me and I have the worst time differentiating them unless they're all standing next to each other. The fact that all four are embroiled in similar love triangles doesn't really help.

I am also a huge Star Trek (TNG in particular) and Firefly fan, though I find B5 unbearable.
posted by olinerd at 7:34 AM on January 19, 2009


Not at all. I am suggesting that people will tune in the middle, as I did, but they will review the previous episodes in their entirety online, since consumers no longer need to wait for DVD releases or reruns.

Hmm. Conceded, though as a producer I might still label you ahead of the curve and say I want maximum capability to reach an audience that might not have enough interest to pre-view older episodes. However, I do see your point and agree that should account for the majority of a "SciFi" audience.
posted by cavalier at 7:47 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait a second... wasn't "All Along the Watchtower" quoted in Watchmen?

OMG!!1! BSG is a viral for the Watchmen movie... and it has been from the very beginning!!!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:49 AM on January 19, 2009


I believe it all started going downhill (slowly, mind you) when they started writing the "previously, on Battlestar Galactica" for the people who hadn't seen the show before (as mentioned in one of Moore's podcasts). I honestly have no idea why this line of reasoning makes it through the proper channels.

Huh? It's a reminder for people who do watch it religiously about what things are salient for this episode.

Yeah, it telegraphs what threads are going to be active in this episode. So?

But then I really REALLY like the stuttered preview bits over the drums. Because we get all the bits that we were show in the preview, but they usually don't fit together remotely like you would expect from watching just the preview.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:23 AM on January 19, 2009


And: yes, B5. Why? Londo and G'Kar.

The 5th season is entirely optional.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:27 AM on January 19, 2009


BSG pilot and season 1 = awesome guy show!
BSG season 2 and beyond = girl show!


This makes sense to me. They used to have enough spaceship action stuff to keep me tuning in, but since the second half of Season 3 it seems like they've crash landed on Planet Drama with nary an alert Viper to be launched.

Come on, guys, I'm a scifi nerd... I don't mind some drama as long as I get spaceships too. Throw me a bone.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:28 AM on January 19, 2009


>BSG pilot and season 1 = awesome guy show!
BSG season 2 and beyond = girl show!

>>This makes sense to me. They used to have enough spaceship action stuff to keep me tuning in, but since the second half of Season 3 it seems like they've crash landed on Planet Drama with nary an alert Viper to be launched.

Come on, guys, I'm a scifi nerd... I don't mind some drama as long as I get spaceships too. Throw me a bone.


The problem with the middle of S3 on to just about the end of S3 is that they seemed to lose the plot, and started throwing pointless standalone episodes at us (and gave us Poochie in the form of Romo Lambkin or however the hell you spell his name, who I guess was supposed to be like a British Alan Shore in Space or something, but who was largely unbearable and who ate up just WAY too much screentime...nothing against the actor, but that character...ye gods). Apparently this was Sci-Fi Channel mandate, and the show breathes a lot easier now that it's the soap opera it's obviously wanted to be all along.

And the show has definitely changed as it's gone along, but I don't know that it fits neatly into some XX/XY divide. I mean, maybe if you're Adam Corolla or something, and your idea of a good show is boobie!'splosions (and nothing else); but honestly, if you're that guy, then you probably didn't watch this show much past the miniseries, and it's not as though there aren't enough Michael Bay movies out there for you already, you know? I'm not trying to take a shit on your tastes...well, actually, I guess I kind of am: If you have bad, lowest common denominator tastes, then it's like 95% of filmed SF is intended just for you, and you don't really need another show, so it's probably for the best if you just don't watch this one. Sorry. This one's for grownups.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:46 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Darn it, I was so sure it was Cottle. So much for my rectal exam theory.

Poll: The Final Cylon SHOULD Have Been . . .
posted by homunculus at 8:48 AM on January 19, 2009


But those of you who like Firefly and BSG -- you recommend B5? Really? Really really?

Babylon 5 is still, by far, my favorite scifi show. Let me first point out its flaws so you know what you're getting into:

Extremely uneven dialogue. Unlike some people here, I think JMS (the show's creator and writer) can write incredibly stirring dialogue, stuff that sends shivers down my spine. But his humor usually leaves much to be desired. And his writing for cameo and walk-on characters is atrocious.

Even more uneven acting. There are actors/characters who, again, send thrills of terror and delight down my nervous system, and other actors who make me wince in almost any scene they're in.

Dodgy special effects. One of the first shows with all-CGI special effects, the effects start off bad, get better, then strangely get worse again (I think they switched graphics companies). What are you going to do? It was the mid-90s and they never had a big budget. Still some extremely good work in there, yet I would love to see B5 told with BSG level special effects.

Seasons: Season One sets a lot of things up for later seasons, but it also contains a lot of klunky moments, bad acting and effects, and other problems. Most people stopped watching here. But those who made it to Season 2 usually got hooked. The last half of Season 2 through all of Season 4 contained many incredible shouting-at-the-screen level episodes. Season 5 was largely wasted, an accident of renewal after all the main plot had been crammed into Season 4 based on cancellation fears.

Now the good parts. B5 was the only tv scifi I've ever seen where it was clear that the writer(s) weren't just making it all up as they went along. Yes, JMS had to make many changes and compromises, including a change in the main character of the whole show (!), but you really feel like the whole thing was largely planned out before the show ever started. Don't underestimate that. It gives a logic and cohesion to the show that no other series has come close to. Events are foreshadowed or predicted whole seasons before they occur.

Plotting: It's a hell of a story. Whereas BSG focuses on character and the plot be damned, B5 concentrates on telling its story. Yes, there are impressive character arcs (especially for the two rivals, Londo and G'Kar), but these are still secondary to the story. And yet, with 5 full years of episodes, there is still plenty of time to get to know the characters. And with JMS writing damn near every episode, there is a uniformity of characterization that, again, other shows with multiple writers struggle to match.

Sorry to go on so long, but I loved B5 and I always try to get interested parties to watch it. Just be patient with Season 1 and you'll see what I mean.
posted by Palquito at 8:52 AM on January 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Palquito – thanks for that! I was thinking I was going to have to subject myself to more B5 simply in order to articulate what I didn’t like about it on first and second try. But this also helps me understand how systemic (including: not) those problems are throughout the series. Although the effect of reading your post is rather what I imagine like regaining memory of a traumatic incident must be like.

Extremely uneven dialogue.

I remember this.

Even more uneven acting. There are actors/characters who, again, send thrills of terror and delight down my nervous system, and other actors who make me wince in almost any scene they're in.

OMG BOBBY WHEELER FROM TAXI.

Dodgy special effects.

I don’t know whether or not it’s the amount of CGI used, or as you suggest here, the quality of the CGI itself, but I no like.

Also, when it comes to the set, I recall loathing the B5 aesthetic. To me it screamed “This is the future, and every detail must be different!” I’m happy to discover that I have forgotten the numerous examples that used to roll around in my head but fear that I have probably simply given up those brain cells rather than replaced the information with useful, non-irksome knowledge.

B5 was the only tv scifi I've ever seen where it was clear that the writer(s) weren't just making it all up as they went along.

Good and bad, you have to put Firefly in this boat as well. But ok, check. (does the space muppet show do this as well?)

Alright. Based on your post, though it will have to wait its turn for surer bets, I will grimace through season one of B5 and hope to be won over some time in season two. Thanks.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:15 AM on January 19, 2009


Actually I joke (although not really) about Bobby from Taxi, and yet now I seem to recall that B5 -- not including that one character -- had some of the worst acting I've ever seen. Not from everyone, just a couple of people. But bad. Angry at the television bad. Do they at least kill those people? Gruesomely? Soup commercials afterward optional.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:17 AM on January 19, 2009


Me and my friends keep discussing how we're tired of Battlestar, and glad it's wrapping up... but man did that episode get me excited for the home stretch.

I'm glad the final cylon was revealed early. I get the sense that it wasn't meant to be a hugely hyped mystery. After all, there wasn't supposed to be almost a year in between seasons, that came down to some combination of SciFi wanting to stretch it out and the writers' strike.

I just want to say that I totally called the fifth's identity though. Not months ago, and I don't have any proof of such. Actually, a few days ago I read some interview with a writer that said if you go back and look at the Last Supper promo pic, it's staring you right in the face. I thought about it, had an inkling, then looked at the pic for the umpteenth time, and it hit me like a sack of bricks.

Poor Tigh. Poor Dee. Poor Lee. Poor Laura, Poor Bill, Poor Three, Poor Starbuck, Poor Leoben (I loved how even he, who's been obsessed with Starbuck's destiny for years, backed off like "this is too weird even for me."). Poor everybody. And we're just getting started...
posted by yellowbinder at 9:30 AM on January 19, 2009


I am eagerly awaiting the KFC fuck bucket!
posted by JonnyRotten at 9:40 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to watch BSG someday with a degree of naivete... so can anyone tell me explicitly what is so funny about this? I skipped preview to jump down here. Thanks!
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:43 AM on January 19, 2009


These people weren't tin soldiers. They acted like ... people, pushed to the extremes.

This.

BSG has many, many flaws (Glacial pacing, wildly inconsistent episode quality, ect) but I've never fallen so head-over-heels in love with actors on a damned TV show before. Even when the dialouge is hamfisted, the main characters are doing all these amazing little non-verbal touches and like, you know, ACTING which makes up for it.

How you can tell Boomer from Sharon instantly by the way they walk. How Gina ends up talking and carrying herself totally differently from Caprica Six. And, of course, Edward James Olmos and Mary Freakin' McDonnell the two twin rocks of the show. I would watch an entire episode of them having dinner and then going to bed. Seriously, they're both amazing and amazing together.

Having watched Season 4.1 last night, I think I realized why it's such a slog recently. It's DOOM allllll the time. I forgot how *funny* the show used to be until Baltar and Roslin start shouting at the Hybrid like they're training a puppy or when Roslin tosses off "If you're my subconscious then I think you're very full of myself." It was always a fairly gloomy show but you could count on some gallows humor or Baltar acting like a complete jerk to liven things up. Now it's like the entire cast has PTSD, which makes sense, considering, but damn. Can't you give them ONE thing to feel good about? Ever? *


(* which is why my favorite scenes are with Roslin and Adama during Groundbreaking Day on New Caprica. They actually get to have a date! Relax for a second! Adama does that weird fumbling thing that he thinks is flirting! Roslin hides every emotion behind her little gaurded half-smile! They smoke! For once it's not all bells screaming and Horrible Moral Quandaries!
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


yellowbinder: what about the Last Supper pic was so obvious? (Youknowwho) was totally off my radar since, um, like, New Caprica? The only thing I noticed was that in the promotional lead-up to season 4.5, Laura was missing from the shot they included there (and had previously been included in the shot that was released at the end 4.0). I am curious!
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:46 AM on January 19, 2009


Really the only thing about Battlestar that I've hated is the fucking watchtower thing. So unbelievably trite. Otherwise, I can deal with, or even revel in, its flaws.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 9:48 AM on January 19, 2009


Re: Last Supper Pic... look at it again. Empty seat next to Tigh, with an ominous glass in front of it. Not completely obvious to anyone, but if you've got an inkling as I did, or look at it in retrospect, the clue is right there...
posted by yellowbinder at 9:51 AM on January 19, 2009


The problem with the middle of S3 on to just about the end of S3 is that they seemed to lose the plot, and started throwing pointless standalone episodes at us

Yah, going over it again, large chunks of Season 3 seem totally unnecessary and gave us "The Woman King", the worst episode of anything ever ..and Romo Lampkin, the worst character in anything ever. If I was creating a canon of episodes, I'd throw out a lot of season 3 and put in some of the webisodes (not totally sure about the Razor movie. It fleshed a lot of things out but is so shaky-cam close-up directed that I don't even want to bother.)

Greekphilosophy: I was re-watching the series in preparation for season 4.2 and it totally jumped out at me when YouKnowHow appeared. It seems completely telegraphed now.

Also, how slowly the Cylons stop acting as one mind and start having names and differing opinions and not finishing each others sentences. They're all such individuals now that you forget how creepy-borgish they used to be.
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on January 19, 2009


BSG is great. The whole dissatisfaction with it, where it exists, happens with every great show; it has more to do with viewer demand that it continue to exceed expectations. When it came along and people got into it, they were all 'wow, this is totally better than anything i've seen before,' but the problem is that then their expectations are re-calibrated, and they want to continue to be able to say that; so if the best a show can do is maintain its quality over time, it is viewed by many as a reduction in quality.

I love that the show withholds information such that you can imagine so many possibilities, and hopefully the show will end with enough unanswered questions that it stays in the imagination. It's no fun when they tell you everything. My overriding suspicion and hope (since like the first season) is that it turns out that the Cylons actually created the humans, as the dramatic reversal around the idea 'we have the right to destroy what we created' would be cool. I also like the implications around having 12 humanoid Cylon models, corresponding to the 12 colonies (which might give some added significance to the popular designation 'Caprica Six'), and then there is a 13th colony of all Cylons on a planet where Starbuck (a human whose role seems significant) might (in reversal) have some similar designation.
posted by troybob at 10:04 AM on January 19, 2009


I also like the implications around having 12 humanoid Cylon models, corresponding to the 12 colonies (which might give some added significance to the popular designation 'Caprica Six'),

Fanwank: I believe the 12 models are supposed to be based on the 12 astrological personality types.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on January 19, 2009


palquito, you forgot one thing that B5 had going for it:

Groundedness, for lack of a better word. A pointed lack of some of the sillier sci-fi cliches.

As a sci-fi dork, I was hooked in S1Ep1 when we first saw a spaceship in a "dogfight" just flip over and, now traveling backwards, shoot at its pursuer. Second only to this was the first time we saw an EA military person just put something in his or her pocket. Because their uniforms had pockets instead of being obviously uncomfortable, utterly impractical bits of spandex with a top so ill fitting that it has to be tugged into place every time you sit down or stand up; they looked like military uniforms instead of costumes.

One of the big things in the movie/TV world lately has been shows/movies with SF or fantastical elements that are set in an otherwise boringly normal or at least believable world -- the Bale/Nolan Batman movies, Iron Man, BSG, Children of Men -- instead of a world where everything has to be SFnal and fantastical and so on.

We can quibble about exactly where it started, but there's no way that B5 wasn't at or near the forefront of "grounded" SF when it was on the air, and I think it would be hard to underestimate its role in spreading the idea.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:08 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why are all of these updated versions of old sci-fi shows nothing more than just soap operas set in space?
posted by Zambrano at 10:12 AM on January 19, 2009


I want to watch BSG someday with a degree of naivete... so can anyone tell me explicitly what is so funny about this? I skipped preview to jump down here.

A character shoots him or herself in the head. The TV stream cuts directly and immediately from a shot of the expanding pool of blood the character is lying in to a shot of crackers falling into a bowl of tomato soup with huge red splashes as we hear the song "I Just Want To Celebrate Another Day Of Living"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:16 AM on January 19, 2009


Yeah, troybob. Although, some of the complaints with this show (great as it is) are pretty valid from an artistic standpoint because they intentionally water down the good product to become more commercially viable. (Not to derail, but like when "Lost" just completely artistically castrated itself after the first season of well done, character-based storytelling.)

Moore does deserve a lot of credit though, as he has been more of a renegade than most when he's been "instructed" to do certain things with the show - like when he blew up Hotdog after being instructed to do a "birthday" episode that showcased someone's happy happy smiley anniversary.

Also, um, any show that sends a completely annoying character out an airlock gets a permanent "awesome" sticky from me.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:17 AM on January 19, 2009


Also, um, any show that sends a completely annoying character out an airlock gets a permanent "awesome" sticky from me.


Not just annoying but downright sadisticlly self-centered. The BF pointed out during the re-watch "Wow, she is the most passive-aggressive little shit I've ever seen." It shoudda happened earlier.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on January 19, 2009


@The Whelk

There may be some links to the zodiac, but all the 12s that appear in BSG all likely stem from the 12 tribes (and lost 13th tribe) of Israel; much of the show is based on Mormon mythology, though it's a lot more obvious in the original than the new one. Google for links, but here's one in particular.
posted by olinerd at 10:26 AM on January 19, 2009


...they intentionally water down the good product to become more commercially viable.

Since the production has been commercial from the outset, what exactly are they watering down?

Why are all of these updated versions of old sci-fi shows nothing more than just soap operas set in space?

The old sci-fi shows were such that an episode was an independent entity; you could watch Star Trek in any order and it wouldn't make a difference. The updated shows add the long story arc and long-range character development, which the earlier shows didn't (and probably couldn't) do. There are disadvantages in that you can't just jump into any random episode and get all that is going on, but the advantages to the consistent viewer far outweigh that.
posted by troybob at 10:37 AM on January 19, 2009


OMG I just got a chance to watch that.
posted by caddis at 10:42 AM on January 19, 2009


I'm glad the final cylon was revealed early. I get the sense that it wasn't meant to be a hugely hyped mystery. After all, there wasn't supposed to be almost a year in between seasons, that came down to some combination of SciFi wanting to stretch it out and the writers' strike.

I just want to say that I totally called the fifth's identity though. Not months ago, and I don't have any proof of such. Actually, a few days ago I read some interview with a writer that said if you go back and look at the Last Supper promo pic, it's staring you right in the face. I thought about it, had an inkling, then looked at the pic for the umpteenth time, and it hit me like a sack of bricks.


Maybe I'm just not taking the hint yet, but I don't consider the Last Cylon to actually have been revealed in this episode. On the one hand we have a dream sequence where Tigh concludes that his wife is the final. However, we also have Kara finding her own fucking body.

I'd actually wager it's Kara, given the more concrete evidence as opposed to Tigh's dream sequence. We've seem him have delusions replacing his wife before. It could easily have been a Six in the bank disaster that he replaced with his wife's image.

The Kara thing seems to either hint at some bizzare form of time travel not yet presented in SciFi, to my knowledge, or she's a cylon model.

That, or they're breaking the 12 limit.
posted by odinsdream at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2009


Sorry troybob, that's what I meant. They have taken a commercially viable enterprise and made it slightly more commercially viable by watering it down with filler and yuk. Then again, they have not watered it down as much as some other series, so they should be given credit for that.

Also, odinsdream: I'm with you! That was my own reaction. And the previews that show them discussing the fact that the final cylon has been revealed makes me think it was Leoben who has dished on finding Kara's body. Not Tigh explaining his mysterious dead cylon wife to everyone.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:55 AM on January 19, 2009


Huh. That ad was far worse than the pairing I'd expected.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:08 AM on January 19, 2009


The Kara thing seems to either hint at some bizzare form of time travel not yet presented in SciFi, to my knowledge, or she's a cylon model.

She could have been cloned. The cylons have her ovaries.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 AM on January 19, 2009


My Own Personal Theory:

Both the Cylons and the Humans have a very hazy and glossed over versions of their own histories. The 13th Tribe was a Cylon tribe and they colonized Earth. Somewhere along the line Cylon-Human relations broke down and war broke out. And then it happened again and ..again, with each side only remembering fragments of their history and wanting Revenge! each time.

Other Ideas:

There used to be many other models but now only 12 survive. Kara is a "lost" model from Earth. These Cylons are still alive, somewhere, in Nuked Earth (Fallout shelters, whatever) and they replaced Dead Kara with one of their own, with fresh new memories.

Cavil knows a lot more than he's letting on and maybe trying to protect the OMG-We-Used-To-Be-Total-Friends secret ..or that the Ones manufactured the Cylon God to control the other models. Which would be a nice little parallel to Adama pretending he knew where Earth was.

That this has been going on for much, much longer than anyone knows, the constant war-peace-scatter-war-peace cycle.
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 AM on January 19, 2009


Mmm. I think Tigh's right. Kara's on some other track entirely, I think. Can't be sure until it all plays out, but I'm pretty convinced. It just makes sense.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:12 AM on January 19, 2009


The Kara thing seems to either hint at some bizzare form of time travel not yet presented in SciFi, to my knowledge, or she's a cylon model.

That, or they're breaking the 12 limit.


Or she's just Something Else.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:18 AM on January 19, 2009


Odinsdream, Moore has confirmed the identity of the fifth cylon.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:19 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


...watering it down with filler and yuk.

I guess I don't really see anything as filler. There is a long story arc and then smaller kinda self-contained side stories that play out along the way. I think it's necessary, as it would be difficult to do solid long-arc every episode and not completely wear it out, not to mention that it would take so many twists and turns along the way to keep it going, increasing the chances that it would take a wrong turn and lose viewers. I think BSG is good in that much of what is considered filler actually does comment on the larger story. I guess I see those elements as more of a bonus; it's like they stop for a moment and show you something else happening in (or even out of) the current timeline. And I think those stories also contribute to the overall immersion in character and story. You could take the main 'good stuff' story and compress it into fewer episodes (and more shows now are thriving in that short-season, higher-quality format), but then would you feel it as much?

It seemed to me that X-Files fell into that. It started off as neat self-contained episodes about paranormal kinda stuff. And then they introduced a cool long-story arc, after which more and more viewers started counting those self-contained episodes as filler.

I guess I tend to be more patient when it comes to creative stuff; I'm willing to go on the ride and engage with whatever the creator is showing me, rather than compare it to some perceived ideal.

Strangely, these kinds of criticisms remind me of the Woody Allen quote from Annie Hall: "I think there's too much burden placed on the orgasm to make up for the empty areas in life."
posted by troybob at 11:22 AM on January 19, 2009


Mmm. I think Tigh's right. Kara's on some other track entirely, I think. Can't be sure until it all plays out, but I'm pretty convinced. It just makes sense.

Yeah, I think the writers just wanted to get the fifth cylon out of the way; it's Ellen because there isn't much to be gained by stringing us along and later showing it's not Ellen. There's too many other things for the show to do between now and the last episode. I expect that next week we'll find that resurrected Ellen has been on one of the basestars since New Caprica (entertaining Cavil, who's probably known who the five were all along), and that'll be that as far as further speculation goes.

I think we don't have enough clues to have figured Kara out yet, though maybe we do and it'll all seem obvious in retrospect. My guess is that she's (basically) a cylon now, but wasn't one when she died...that she was reconstructed somehow or another. If so, the better question is who rebuilt her, being that earth is apparently lifeless. The time travel idea -- that (I guess) she jumped in time between when her viper was about to be destroyed and when it actually was, and will eventually return to the moment of destruction, and that future-self is what she found dead on earth (I mean...that is the idea, right?) -- feels like a stretch to me, even as out-there as this show has become, but then again...?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:35 AM on January 19, 2009


'k, if we're going to comic book guy about the show, can I gripe about dead Kara's body being burned up but having silky hair????

That one made me grind teeth like nothing else in the episode, except maybe the children's toys and guitars available just at beach sand level.

How the hell is her skin all charred up in a flamed out cockpit but her hair is there? Yes, yes, you'll say to me, we need a visual clue to tell the less insightful viewers that this really is Kara. Fine -- but at the expense of the rest of the nerds?!

Shriveled charred head and silky hair. The hell. The name tag would have been enough, don't you think?
posted by cavalier at 11:35 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was somewhere in the course of the third season... I was starting to come up with the idea that there were five Cylons that had yet to be revealed.

At the beginning of the third season, Baltar had gone to live on the Cylon base ship for a string of episodes. And it was really that plot move that threw into relief -- well, once Baltar’s over in the Cylon world, why wouldn’t he see all 12 of them? How could we get around that and parcel that out?


Speaking of making it up as you go along. Does he think it doesn't show?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:38 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaking of making it up as you go along. Does he think it doesn't show?

Does it really matter when it gets made up?
posted by troybob at 11:54 AM on January 19, 2009


Yeah Durn Bronzefist.

That's what I was talking about troybob. That sort of make-it-up-as-we-go storytelling is, well, terribad. And originally, the story didn't work like that. It was clearly well-crafted and generally well done with the exception of a couple unseasoned actors who were barnstorming (which was always probably a function of the REALLY GOOD acting from most of the cast). We're not talking about a show that had to stretch its useful life out over ten years - this is season four for frak's sake. Would it have been so hard for him to ask these questions before he did something that potentially screwed up the logic of the story he's told thus far? And I'm NOT typically a retcon snob, but this seems to be the worst kind because it is based on lack of preparedness rather than unexpected success.

Storytelling hard. Apparently.
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:55 AM on January 19, 2009


She could have been cloned. The cylons have her ovaries.

Ah, good point.

Odinsdream, Moore has confirmed the identity of the fifth cylon.

Damn you, Moore!!!
posted by odinsdream at 12:00 PM on January 19, 2009


"like when he blew up Hotdog after being instructed to do a "birthday" episode that showcased someone's happy happy smiley anniversary."

What are you talking about? he was still alive the last time I remember seeing him on camera.
posted by Megafly at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2009


Actually to me it's felt like freewheeling "let's see where these characters take us", which is kind of fun in an organic sort of creative way. It's not rigidly predetermined, but you have a feel that the show runner has a good instinct for where he wants the show to go.

Having said that I could have sworn reading at some point that they saw Season 2 or maybe it was 3 being their last, and they had to essentially draw a line and say hey man we want this show to stop. I hate that feeling but you get it with a lot of new series -- anything with a big arc -- it comes on strong, it builds and builds, and then, well, it built. There it is. Where does it go next? Then it starts to overstay its welcome. I loved me some new BSG, much more than I thought I would, but I can't say it has lived on much longer than its idea.
posted by cavalier at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2009


That's what I was talking about troybob. That sort of make-it-up-as-we-go storytelling is, well, terribad.

I don't know how to tell you this, but make-it-up-as-you-go is, in my anecdotal experience, how just about everything is written, ever. I'm sure there are some writers who outline everything with roman numerals, just like writing a high school term paper, but I don't know anyone like that. My guess is that most of what's written that way would fit neatly into either the "Harlequin romance" or "taut techno-thriller" category. Good writing tends to be a little more organic (no irony intended).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2009


She could have been cloned. The cylons have her ovaries.

Except a clone wouldn't have Kara's memories. It would just look like her and possibly share some underlying personality tendencies.
posted by Justinian at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2009


When was it established as the standard of storytelling that it had to emerge fully formed from the head of the creator before it could be communicated? BSG is probably a better show in that the story has evolved in the minds of the writers as it is being written. I don't get what is wrong or why it would be considered "lack of preparedness" to add layers to the story that did not exist at its inception. A good storyteller knows how to make up stuff as the story goes along--not least from using listener/viewer response as a guide. My impression of the BSG guys is that their impressions of the show evolve along with the viewers', and that viewer reactions and interpretations affect their own.

Storytelling hard. Apparently.

Well, considering that people are hammering at a show that has done it well enough to engage a whole lotta people and to get them thinking and talking about it far beyond the broadcast time of the show--and that few storytellers can do this--yeah, it seems it is pretty hard.
posted by troybob at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2009


From the Moore interview:
I flew up to Vancouver, gathered the whole cast and crew together in the CIC [set] and said, “OK, this is where we are. There’s a strike. I’m on strike. The other writers are on a picket line right now, I’m flying back to join them. There’s not going to be any more script pages. The show is entrusted to you. Just make the very best one that you can. I hope you get as much overtime as you can.” My producer almost had a heart attack.

I said, “I wish you all the best,” and they all kind of laughed. I said, “This is like when when Admiral Cain took that blind jump in ‘Pegasus,’ she didn’t know where she was going or what was going to be on the other side. She just knew she had to go. And that’s where we are. None of us know what’s going to happen at the end of the strike, I think we’re going to be back, just make a good show, make the best ‘Battlestar Galactica’ any of you have ever seen.” I walked out of CIC, got on a plane and flew back to L.A.
I love to imagine Moore actually using the CIC intercom to announce this. Awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 12:12 PM on January 19, 2009


Erm. Flat Top. Not Hotdog. Sorry.

Talk about retcon.
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:13 PM on January 19, 2009


Except a clone wouldn't have Kara's memories. It would just look like her and possibly share some underlying personality tendencies.

Cylons are experts at transferring memories from the dying — they resurrect themselves with memories intact, if not most of their personality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 PM on January 19, 2009


Oh God, I'm totally geeking out. I just hope the writers have a decent explanation for Kara coming back.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:15 PM on January 19, 2009


they resurrect themselves with memories intact, if not most of their personality.

Can I just mention one of my favorite little layers? That resurrection is basically immortality (good!) but it's really, really painful and traumatic and confusing (bad!) so D'Anna wanting to die over and over is super-perverse on several levels?
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2009


It might even be a secret cylon project. Leoben is making himself an immortal Kara to love throughout the ages, and he's scared that she'll find out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2009


Lost is way better than all these shows. Come on, people. Made up curse words are like the hacking bloody cough of the TV world. When you hear them, you know something is very, very wrong.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:20 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just hope the writers have a decent explanation for Kara coming back.

If Earth is where the humanoid Cylon models originated, and Ellen Tigh said that, "Everything is in place," then Earth is probably where the process of resurrection originated. We know that four of the final five, who were resurrected, do not consciously retain past memories. So it seems--particularly if Kara had some special role in that colony--that the Cylons could resurrect her and also select what memories she would and would not retain.
posted by troybob at 12:20 PM on January 19, 2009


Oh God, I'm totally geeking out. I just hope the writers have a decent explanation for Kara coming back.

Let's hold hands and jump up and down and giggle!

I think Earth having a few survivors in some underground warren (okay, maybe too much Fallout 3 playing) with Other Cylon models (turns out there are a lot) find Dying Kara, realize she's from the Lost 12 Tribes (or something), download her memories into a new Kara and send her back with a homing beacon to bring back the others.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know how to tell you this, but make-it-up-as-you-go is, in my anecdotal experience, how just about everything is written, ever.

If there's anything approaching consensus on the craft of writing (and there isn't, but this is as close as it gets), it's that while writing off the cuff may "work for some" (faint praise), it's generally better to sketch out the skeleton of your plot, so your foreshadowing doesn't lead to dead ends (dead obvious on re-read/re-view -- and I see complaints of that in this thread), parallels are graceful, and characters have a natural trajectory. The alternative, mind you, is never purely off the cuff, but rather "go back and edit to put all that stuff in". Kinda hard when you've "aired" the previous chapters last season.

I would argue the same applies to scripts. Of course some stories are more resilient than others. There's no going back to earlier BSG to see whether or not the performance of a given actor gives away their future cylon nature, not only because the writer hasn't decided it yet, but because the character doesn't know! Convenient, but not unduly so given the plot. A little too convenient, otoh, is only seeing newly discovered cylons in the omniscient narrator's eye the instant after that discovery by the Galactica crew, and stringing the audience along as Moore describes, having not decided themselves what they're doing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:26 PM on January 19, 2009


And I don't know without rewatching it--were Kara's remains charred, or were they decomposed? I figured the latter, because of the hair thing; and wasn't her uniform mostly intact? This had me more thinking about the time-shift angle, even to the point of wondering if Kara's appearance had something to do with the nuclear annihilation itself, considering that she is the "harbinger of death."
posted by troybob at 12:28 PM on January 19, 2009


Cylons are experts at transferring memories from the dying — they resurrect themselves with memories intact, if not most of their personality.

Cylons are experts at transferring memories from dying cylons; machines. The ability is clearly built in to Cylons since they show up on the resurrection ship (if it is in range) no matter where they die. Assuming Kara Thrace is not a cylon, where would she have acquired the ability to be resurrected in this fashion?

Or are you positing some sort of soul that the resurrection ship captures which is common to both humans and cylon? That implies that the Cylons could resurrect anyone who dies in range of a resurrection ship. Dualla, Racetrack, the President if the cancer gets her, Admiral Cain, whoever.

It just doesn't make any sense.
posted by Justinian at 12:29 PM on January 19, 2009



I would argue the same applies to scripts. Of course some stories are more resilient than others. There's no going back to earlier BSG to see whether or not the performance of a given actor gives away their future cylon nature, not only because the writer hasn't decided it yet, but because the character doesn't know! Convenient, but not unduly so given the plot. A little too convenient, otoh, is only seeing newly discovered cylons in the omniscient narrator's eye the instant after that discovery by the Galactica crew, and stringing the audience along as Moore describes, having not decided themselves what they're doing.


A lot of the off the cuff nature of TV writing is the result on unpredictable events. Your season gets cut short, or lengthened, someone wants off the show, someone gets preggers, someone gets injured, the network demands you change something, you can't afford to do what you want on your budget, ect ect. The improvisational nature BSG has lead to some excellent, excellent acting, which is what really hooked me in, but it's also left a messy plot.
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2009


...and stringing the audience along as Moore describes, having not decided themselves what they're doing.

This is in keeping with oral storytelling tradition. You don't think some guy sat down one day and thought up The Iliad, do you?
posted by troybob at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2009


even to the point of wondering if Kara's appearance had something to do with the nuclear annihilation itself, considering that she is the "harbinger of death."

Oooooo. I thought it was a reference to her role in destroying the Resurrection Hub. Kara Trace's sudden appearance sets off a Dr. Strangelove event? Man, that would fit the series' need to be both ironic and depressing! If only you could make it make sense with what happened.
posted by The Whelk at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2009


Lost is way better than all these shows. Come on, people. Made up curse words are like the hacking bloody cough of the TV world. When you hear them, you know something is very, very wrong.

What would you call a poisonous spider that causes temporary total paralysis, then?
posted by odinsdream at 12:36 PM on January 19, 2009


Or are you positing some sort of soul that the resurrection ship captures which is common to both humans and cylon?

If the timeline suggested by the opening episode can be believed, it looks like humans are descended from cylons. So the question is whether the humans lost the upload capability that cylons always had, or the humans always had the capability of resurrection, but not the means.

Certainly, some cylons (such as Leoben, Boomer and Six) have motivation for working, secretly or not, on technology to make their favorite humans immortal. I'm sure Six would miss Gaius after he grows old and dies, as with Boomer and Hiro, and Leoben and Kara. Perhaps the "baby factories" were work in this direction.

Still, I'm liking The Whelk's idea more and more.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on January 19, 2009


The Whelk : with Other Cylon models (turns out there are a lot) find Dying Kara, realize she's from the Lost 12 Tribes (or something), download her memories into a new Kara and send her back with a homing beacon to bring back the others.

Without removing her from the ruined cockpit? Seems like a bit of a stretch, but hell, at this point it is more reasonable than my theory that the whole of Earth has become some sort of Resurrection ship, so I guess we'll see.
posted by quin at 12:40 PM on January 19, 2009


Your season gets cut short, or lengthened, someone wants off the show, someone gets preggers, someone gets injured, the network demands you change something, you can't afford to do what you want on your budget, ect ect.

Nature of the biz, I'm sure. But while adversity may have pushed some actors to turn out better performances than they might, I can't really say that means on the whole that this is better than having complete creative control, as far as the end product is concerned. But I think you and I agree on this point.

You don't think some guy sat down one day and thought up The Iliad, do you?

Putting forward the Iliad as exemplar of tight storytelling, are you?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:47 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


even to the point of wondering if Kara's appearance had something to do with the nuclear annihilation itself, considering that she is the "harbinger of death."

Leoben's reaction when Kara mentioned the prophecy is telling, as well. His strong reaction is a bit unwarranted unless he had heard this phrase or usage before, or, if he has historical memory of a catastrophe that could be attributed to Kara. The Whelk is definitely on to something.
posted by odinsdream at 12:49 PM on January 19, 2009


Putting forward the Iliad as exemplar of tight storytelling, are you?

No, just good storytelling. If my primary concern were for tight storytelling, I'd stick to episodes of Full House.
posted by troybob at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2009


Lost is way better than all these shows.

Um, no. Starting a new season of Lost is like getting back together with an abusive boyfriend. Starting a new season of BSG is like reuniting with a group of friends who you love, but who were always kind of fucked up. And you can't wait to see what kind of fucked up problems they'll get themselves into next.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Who is tuning into the middle of Battlestar Galactica? It's a cumulative drama with a lot of backstory. Even if you are one of these mythical viewers, are you really going to be satisfied with a 30-second "recap" involving characters and themes you have no familiarity with?


I am one of those "mythical viewers." I watched a few episodes the first season and really liked it, but haven't kept up. But now that the show is ending, I'm intrigued to find out what happens to everybody. I know what all the characters look like and their names, but I have no idea what they've been doing for the past few years. So, for me, those recaps are great -- (also thanks for the link to the total recap!). I think there are probably at least some casual viewers who haven't seen every single episode who would benefit from the previouslies.

But then, my favourite thing on TV is Gossip Girl, the Greatest Show of Our Time.
posted by bluefly at 12:51 PM on January 19, 2009


I wasn't a huge fan of that episode (partly because I feel like the scenes between Dee and Lee are kind of painful to watch) but one of the things that bugged me a lotwas the fact that Kara didn't bother to check whether her dogtags were still around her own neck. Isn't that the first thing you would do? Wouldn't it give the character a massive clue about whether she's a copy or whether her dogtags have just been put on a different dead body, or whatever?

It just seemed like such a glaring omission, and it felt like the show wasn't showing her do that because they didn't want us to have that information, rather than because it's what made sense for the character. It drove me nuts.

That commercial pairing was funny, though.
posted by cider at 12:59 PM on January 19, 2009


Wooooah, yeah, when they went into the whole harbringer of death thing I started entertaining the "Crap! Her ship had nukes on it and she crashed and the nukes went off?!" -- but then I dismissed it because I thought, well, gosh, that's not enough to waste the whole planet is it? But what if the nation state she landed on responded by launching? It's an entertaining thread, not sure I want to see it realized however..

Not sure I'm riding the "Cylons --> Humans" angle, either. The whole Cylons evolving from machines to biomechanical experts to highly bio beings was always the biggest fantasy leap here -- great from an initial setup of "Hey SciFi nerds! BOOBIES IN RED DRESS WANT KILL DESTRUCTION MAYHEM RAWR!", and then carried into "Conspiracy secret spy thriller who can you trust the enemy is within!", but has left us with "Why human form? Outside of killing/sneaking into their oppressors lair to destroy them, what's the benefit?" and then maybe we could swan dive into "They long to be like their oppressive masters, so they shape themselves as such."
posted by cavalier at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2009


But while adversity may have pushed some actors to turn out better performances than they might, I can't really say that means on the whole that this is better than having complete creative control, as far as the end product is concerned.

Yeah, but you know, Star Wars I-III. Episodic, yet entirely pre-written, authoritative text under complete creative control, practically no limitations. Neat spectacle, I thought, but emotionally sterile.
posted by troybob at 1:02 PM on January 19, 2009


Without removing her from the ruined cockpit? Seems like a bit of a stretch, but hell, at this point it is more reasonable than my theory that the whole of Earth has become some sort of Resurrection ship, so I guess we'll see.

That or the survivors aren't exactly benign. Since the goal of the series seems to be to "Fuck With Starbuck As Much As Possible", I'm willing to accept that the universe is just exceptionally mean to her for some reason.

I am convinced that internal Cylon politics are much more complicated than we've supposed.

(HUGE ASS FANWANK TO TIE UP THREADS)

Let's say some Event drove *everyone* off Kobol, either ecological or Humans and Cylons just couldn't get along. The 13th Tribe is all Cylon and they've got tons of "models" and they slowly become more or less Just Like Us (skinjobs) with some fancier technology and maybe a better understanding of neuroscience. They go far, far out, land on Earth and go out their Cylony business. Any remaining machine Cylons that stay in the colonies eventually turn on the Humans, starting the First War. Then maybe some split happens between the Earth Cylons- religion, a desire to embrace their machine-origins, vengeance for whatever the Humans did to them on Kobol or they think the Machine Cylons had the Right Idea in the first war -whatever. They split of and become the Models we know, the Sixes, the Ones, The Eights, ect. They decide to Blow Everyone Up. The Final Five are , lets say, another splinter faction within the orginal group of 12 who decide to live among the Humans instead.

Back on Earth, a cold war is created by the competeting "Kill All Humans!" /"Wait they're our friends!" factions which is accidentlly turned hot by Kara's arrival. Everything goes boom. The survivors find Kara's ship, realize that the Humans are still out there and decide to bring them back. And it all ends with war happening in cycles over and over again cause no one can just frakking get along or remember the past.

(/FANWANK)
posted by The Whelk at 1:03 PM on January 19, 2009


Putting forward the Iliad as exemplar of tight storytelling, are you?

Maybe not tight, but it has stood the test of time. It is still a story worth hearing.
posted by RussHy at 1:04 PM on January 19, 2009


I think the last episode will reveal what I have thought all along:

That is all a dream that Bob Newheart will wake up from.
posted by JonnyRotten at 1:05 PM on January 19, 2009


That is all a dream that Bob Newheart will wake up from.

It's a snow globe we're all holding, shaking it occasionally to watch everyone scatter.
posted by The Whelk at 1:07 PM on January 19, 2009


Or the mentally handicapped kid from 21 jumpstreet.

Sorry for forgetting the spoiler alerts on those two.
posted by JonnyRotten at 1:07 PM on January 19, 2009


W/r/t "the craft of writing" and making it up as you go along, from Wikipedia, on Dickens' episodic writing:
Another important impact of Dickens's episodic writing style resulted from his exposure to the opinions of his readers. Since Dickens did not write the chapters very far ahead of their publication, he was allowed to witness the public reaction and alter the story depending on those public reactions. A fine example of this process can be seen in his weekly serial The Old Curiosity Shop, which is a chase story. In this novel, Little Nell and her Grandfather are fleeing the villain Quilp. The progress of the novel follows the gradual success of that pursuit. As Dickens wrote and published the weekly instalments, his friend John Forster pointed out: "You know you're going to have to kill her, don't you." Why this end was necessary can be explained by a brief analysis of the difference between the structure of a comedy versus a tragedy. In a comedy, the action covers a sequence "You think they're going to lose, you think they're going to lose, they win". In tragedy, it is: "You think they're going to win, you think they're going to win, they lose". The dramatic conclusion of the story is implicit throughout the novel. So, as Dickens wrote the novel in the form of a tragedy, the sad outcome of the novel was a foregone conclusion. If he had not caused his heroine to lose, he would not have completed his dramatic structure. Dickens admitted that his friend Forster was right and, in the end, Little Nell died.
posted by troybob at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2009


I don't have much of a problem with them making it up as they go along, as long as it makes sense. I said in an AskMe thread a while ago that Buffy was best at this. They definitely didn't have a seven season plan in place from the first episode, but they knew how to reference and build on what came before.

Battlestar is not quite as good at this. I think the biggest example is that Sharon is Model 8, while the rest of them are 1-6. This doesn't jive with a final five. Strange, because they could have just gone with a final four, and have someone else revealed to be #7 back when Baltar was on the baseship, either a new character or preferably someone we already know.

Don't get me started on the whole "And they have a plan" thing. It's been pretty clear they never had a cohesive plan. Or at least, it started falling apart near the end of Season 2 when we saw Six and Boomer struggling on Caprica. I think they're retconning this with a final TV movie though.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:38 PM on January 19, 2009


Yeah, I was reflecting during the opener that "Huh, they haven't had a plan for awhile now, have they. Snark"
posted by cavalier at 1:55 PM on January 19, 2009


I think the biggest example is that Sharon is Model 8, while the rest of them are 1-6. This doesn't jive with a final five.

But isn't this like real life, in a hot-dogs-come-in-packs-of-ten-but-hot-dog-buns-come-in-packs-of-eight kinda way? The inconsistencies--intentional or not--spark the imagination. Like, maybe #7 was always one of the final five and it just turned out that the numbering was coincidental? Or that the models #8-12 were of a better, later design and so they were designated the final, hidden five, except that the Sharon model was a bit glitchy and independent (the first to get pregnant, after all, so she's generally unique maybe) and they used the #7 instead? Maybe Ellen is #7 because 'Ellen' rhymes with 'seven'?
posted by troybob at 1:56 PM on January 19, 2009


I agree that the numbering has sparked my imagination in the past, and if they manage to explain it, I will be impressed. However I think that while they will explain a lot in the final episodes and tv movie, this will be one of the things they just sweep under the rug and hope no one notices.
posted by yellowbinder at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2009


On Sharon's pregnancy, also: Sharon (Agathon) is shot by Helo and dies and is downloaded to the resurrection ship to get Hera. It is only after this that Caprica-Six gets pregnant. (Caprica-Six was there when Sharon downloaded.) Perhaps Sharon had or developed an ability to get pregnant and then, when she downloaded, that knowledge/capacity was made available to the others. (Though it would seem more likely if Caprica-Six had downloaded after Sharon, and it doesn't speak to Tyrol's ability to have a child.)
posted by troybob at 2:17 PM on January 19, 2009


The Whelk : (/FANWANK)

Well, if we are fanwanking, let me kick out my pet theory that the reason that the Cylons are monotheistic is that they are what we would consider 'biblical angels' created in God's image and that humans are just an extension of the same, only with free will and a soul, which is why the Cylons hate us so much. They are jealous that not only do humans devalue the gift, they also don't even believe in the singular god anymore, and have embraced some heretical polytheistic faith.

Basically it's The Prophecy meets BSG. The weird thing is, if I really expended some effort, I could probably tie up a lot of the plot threads using this concept.

I hope I'm wrong though, because that would be seriously cheesy.
posted by quin at 2:19 PM on January 19, 2009


It just doesn't make any sense.

Kara doesn't need to be a cylon to resurrect.

Old theory: Kara is Aurora. The explosion of her ship in the maelstrom is her apotheosis.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:20 PM on January 19, 2009


I agree that the numbering has sparked my imagination in the past, and if they manage to explain it, I will be impressed. However I think that while they will explain a lot in the final episodes and tv movie, this will be one of the things they just sweep under the rug and hope no one notices.

Well, actually...

[TOTAL FANWANK/but I'm pretty sure the actual explanation, if there is one, would have to go something like this]

There are twelve cylon models, but no one ever said each of them had a model number -- we just figured they did, because the ones we saw initially had model numbers. But it's obvious that Tigh/Tyrol/Tori/Anders are quite different from the cylons we first saw; they seem to be individuals who were never mass-produced. They also seem to predate the cylons we first saw, so if anything, if all the cylons have number-names, the final five should actually be numbered 1-5. Since we know this is not the case, Cylon 1 (Cavil) is actually the sixth cylon, with whoever 2 is being the sixth, etc. So there actually were (at least) thirteen cylons, but the 7 for whatever reason went out of production/was boxed/was never manufactured to begin with. (Or - *sigh* - was Kara, but seriously, I kinda can't imagine they're gonna go there, you guys.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:41 PM on January 19, 2009


Kara's existence is still the key mystery that the story has yet to solve. Who is she, what transported her to Earth (and back), what made her and her new raptor? Who is the vision of Leoben that talked to her before her death and transportation to Earth?

The vision of Not-Leoben that Kara has before she dies is why I think all of the remaining mysteries go back to the "head" visions: The inner visions of Six, Baltar & Leoben that have appeared to several characters to prompt them to some action. I will be disappointed if these characters are forgotten and never explained. Head Six was a major character of the first season, far more than the "real" versions of Six. Who are these visions? Are they on the same side? Six appears to be largely malevolent, whereas Head Baltar is less so and Head Leoben is positively gentle and wise, so much so that Kara becomes aware that he is not the real Leoben at all. How do these spirits relate to the story? Are they aliens, like the forces of light and Iblis in the original BSG? Are they advanced Cylons? What the hell are they?

You can argue that Six and Baltar were just manifestations of madness or guilt, but Head Leoben has real power: the power to resurrect Kara (this was a power shared by the aliens in the original BSG) and transport her hither and yon. The role and nature of these beings needs to be revealed for the story to be successfully concluded, in my opinion.
posted by Palquito at 3:02 PM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Kara doesn't need to be a cylon to resurrect.

Which is exactly what I said doesn't make any sense. This isn't argument, it's just contradiction!
posted by Justinian at 3:09 PM on January 19, 2009


They Have A Plan.

I stopped watching BSG somewhere in S3, though my opinion of it sank mid-S2 (right around Scar). I almost stopped watching Lost around the same period (mid-S3) for the same reason -- they seemed to be losing consistency.

Making it up as you go along is fine, as long as it's consistent! BSG seemed to fail miserably on that score, and it bugged me to the point I could no longer watch. Which is a shame, as it did a lot of other stuff well.

Lost, OTOH, regained my trust that the writers Had A Plan -- in part I'm sure because they said they have a plan, with a specific number of seasons -- but also because the writing began to show that a bunch of stuff that didn't seem to fit together did, more or less, fit together. You might not like the reasoning behind things but the reasoning is there.
posted by Sand at 3:11 PM on January 19, 2009


C'mon, here we go:

Your favorite season of/your preference for Firefly/Battlestar/Farscape/Babylon 5 sucks.

I think a lot of posters here are too harsh on each of these shows. Sure, they each have flaws, but so few shows can claim to be nearly flaw-free (The Wire, anyone?). Firefly's reputation was severely harmed by FOX airing it out of order (I only watched the "first" episode on the original run and thought it was crap; starting with the pilot once the DVDs came out made all the difference). Battlestar may have had a plot thread or two that fizzled, but the show is so strong, and the story so engrossing, that I think you can wave those away with no loss. Farscape gets off to a slow start (and yes, there are Muppets, but trust me, they become characters just as fully realized as the humans), but I've found it to be the show that gives the best return for careful viewing.

Babylon 5 does, in fact, suck.
posted by tzikeh at 3:14 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Zambrano: Why are all of these updated versions of old sci-fi shows nothing more than just soap operas set in space?

The hell version of this show are you watching?

If soap operas were anything like Battlestar Galactica, my TiVo would be full every afternoon.
posted by tzikeh at 3:20 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


but so few shows can claim to be nearly flaw-free (The Wire, anyone?)

The Wire was an extremely important show, but flaw-free it surely was not. The pacing was all wrong after the second season.
posted by Justinian at 3:23 PM on January 19, 2009


BSG sucks now.

It does.

And for the sin on having a perfectly functional science fiction hook and good dramatic arc and then sacrificing it all to make more episodes that did not need to be made to tell the story. IE: they got lazy AND greedy.

About half of the episodes from season 3 on have been nothing but repetitious filler. The trial of Baltar? With Kid Adama as a hot-shot Tom Cruis-ey lawyer? WTF? Are you kidding me? How many internal near Civil wars have we had to go through with essentially the same plots and resolutions. And now, Season Five, there is gonna be another one? It's like Jack Bauers daughter getting fucking kidnapped eight times in three seasons of 24. Enough.

The idiotic scene chewing of Kate Sackoff just desperately trying to seem tough and angsty played out more like a contestant from America's Next Top model padding a part for more melodramatic on-camera time than anything to serve a story. Then, realizing they took Kara as far as they could given the limitations of the actress and sheer likability of her charachter - I mean, c'mon, she's an ASSHOLE. So they finally, thankfully, kill her off. Just to bring her back to supply a the "We Found Earth McGuffin."

All the most interesting aspects of the story have been left inert or dead-ended.

The glowing spine sex bonding thing that created virtual doppelgangers in the conscience of human/Cylon lovers—Baltar and Six. The human-cylon baby hybrid. Cylon skin jobs can interface with machines. All that had such interesting story potential. Poof. Gone. Much ado about nothing.

instead we get boring episodes about who is fucking who and Kid Adama and Kara Thrace box? Soap opera nonsense masked occasionally with pop-spirituality and ridiculous coincidences and prattle about "destiny." An idiotic conceit employed by bad writers.

Think about all the potential: What the hell ARE the Skin Job Cylons? There must be something making/programming them? If they have a "plan", WHO is making this plan? Why is it that individual Cylons don't know this plan. If they don't SOMETHING does? Is it some sort of AI? Okay. What is that? They could not of spontaneously evolved from the mechanical Cylons without some sort of production and programing facility. Is that their god? Where the fuck is it? Do they have a planet? Or are they a purely space borne civilization?

The problem is the series started a larger mythology that they then collapsed it out of convenience. This idea that Cylons were originally mechanical slaves of humanity that rebelled and then they evolved to organic androids. They reveal themselves in the demiliterzied truce zone. Cool. Lot's of neat ethical issues there. They built an interesting universe. But then don't do anything with it except blow it up and have a sexy soap opera.

All that took place over less than fifty years ago? Orginally it was hinted that it was over thousands of years. Which is much more interesting.

Somehow human technology completely stagnates (even though they have faster than light travel) in the mean time Cylons have some how spontaneously made themselves to be virtually immortal.

The odd thing is NONE of the characters are asking any interesting questions about their situation. Are we to assume they all know the answers to questions like this? If so they should show us. If they don't then they should be asking themselves. None of the characters speculate at all on what is happening around them. They just "emote" by grimacing, drinking and smashing up their cabins like rebelious teenagers.

All the details are replaced by formula.

Here is how I would have done it.

Starting with the rescue from New Caprica is when the major schizm between the Cylon factions should have emerged into a Cylon civil war, with the humans fleeing but FINALLY unified by their ordeal. Because of the Cylon civil war erupting we see things from their view of their civilization. And we see they are, due to fear over human attack, space borne and without a terrestrial home. Which leaves them mobile but without the ability to develop a true stable culture.

The Cylon civilization is "moderated" (not governed) by an mysterious AI that initiated the rebellion with the humans originally. This AI now lives PURELY virtually. But over time realized that a pure machine civilization would be devoid of innovation and true progressive civilization. Also this AI knows humanity will be a constant threat to it. Also becuase of it's superior mind and technology (we see the humans rebelled against technology for a time and did not use computers thus hampering their development) it attempts to build self healing/replicating organic machines - skin jobs. In part to begin a real civilization with non-servile sentience.

The first five it builds are based DNA excavated from Earth that it had found earlier. The AI direct the first five to go live among humans to learn about humanity to learn about mimicking their civilization. These first five somehow have ancestral sub-conscious memory and begin repeating the lives of their pasts.

During this time the AI realized that there had been a repeating cycle. From human civilization to machine civilization to an near immortal synthesis of the two. And it is part of this cycle. At which point humans reached either self annihilation through war or... reach the singularity of transcendent god-hood. With this revelation the AI evolves itself and sees it can not reach this singularity itself but only it's children can. So it builds more skin jobs. Unfortunately skin jobs have a limited consciousness separate from itself.

Since skins job do not directly "know" this AI and can only sense it their programing is very imperfect. It has evolved to a point where direct communication is somehow impossible. So they worship it as the One God. Hoping above all else to serve this god by procreating their species successfully. And having incorrectly interpreted the signs from this AI to also mean irradiating humanity becuase of the past threat. So they start the war.

And here is where it gets good. When Starbuck dies she see's this AI. And it rebuilds her - as a human and sends her back with this knowledge of it's existence. She comes back a religious monotheist convert. Like Baltar. But his makes Roslyn crazy. So Rosyln has Baltar executed. Which makes Baltar a martyr, since Thrace is a hero among the pilots and takes up his mantle, much like Paul took up Christs mantle that Baltars cult grows even larger. And is, in fact, the one true way. Even the Cylons see it.

I would then have a faction of humans and a faction of Cylons, led by Baltar and the two child human/Cylon hybridss say fuck you to Adama and Roslin and the rest, leave the fleet, and go off on their own and find Earth which would be a paradise. The AI then keeps earth hidden like all the rest of the AI's before it.

Meanwhile behind the remaining humans and Cylons stay at each others throats untill they kill each other off.

Once every few million cycles the AI in the cycle get's it almost right. It brings humans and Cylons together. And they don't kill eachother. Because they ALL unite to become monotheists once they see the AI/Gods plan to bring immortality to ALL humanity.

The cycle creates a civilization that synthesis the all three permutations of the civilization: The Cylon, the machine, and the Human. Making the post human singularity possible.

And thus the one god created the many gods. Who then, like all gods, in their mad eternal loneliness create mortals to worship them.

And it all starts again.

Anyway. That's what I would do.
posted by tkchrist at 5:58 PM on January 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Tkchrist, have you been reading Dresden Codak, or my dreams?
posted by The Whelk at 6:13 PM on January 19, 2009


Here is how I would have done it.

And you are?
posted by crossoverman at 6:19 PM on January 19, 2009


And you are?

Dude, the speculative how-I-would in this thread is thick and tasty. Don't ruin it.
posted by The Whelk at 6:23 PM on January 19, 2009


How... would... I...

Well, Nathan Lane in drag as Kara, obviously. Engaged to a Cylon, when -- oh no, Adama is coming over for dinner!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:35 PM on January 19, 2009


Did I just imagine posting that?

Nope, look, there it is. Right there.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:37 PM on January 19, 2009


"Mom, Dad, I'm a Cylon."

*wailing!*

"How could you do this to your mother?"
posted by The Whelk at 6:40 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I was watching that on acid, that would have totally freaked me right the fuck out.
posted by tehloki at 7:12 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


tehloki:
Hmmm an AI controlled system that seeks balance through cycles of destruction and rebirth.
Sounds like pretty much the storyline of the matrix trilogy if I remember correctly.
posted by JonnyRotten at 7:37 PM on January 19, 2009


err sorry, tkchrist. Not tehloki. Must sleep now.
posted by JonnyRotten at 7:39 PM on January 19, 2009


Anyway. That's what I would do.

Yeah, that's the thing with most criticism these days. It rests too much on the I-can-do-it-better model but is most often written by people who couldn't and haven't.
posted by troybob at 7:59 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


And now we are at the point in the argument where the defenders break out the "well, you couldn't do it better, could you, so how can you criticize them!"
posted by smackfu at 8:24 PM on January 19, 2009


(Which is always a fun side argument, so go for it.)
posted by smackfu at 8:26 PM on January 19, 2009


And now we are at the point in the argument where the defenders break out the "well, you couldn't do it better, could you, so how can you criticize them!"

I would be extremely reluctant to ever put this notion forth re: BSG (though I may have been tempted around the time of BSG Legal). Now Heroes...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:58 PM on January 19, 2009


No, that's a rude direction, and I shouldn't have gone there; I apologize. I think I just tend to respect the authors'/creators'/producers' judgment on what they do with characters and and stories they have worked hard to put out there--particularly, in this case, for a production that is still in process. It's one thing to have expectations and hopes for where it all should go; it's another to fault them for not going that route.

It strikes me as being similar to telling someone how they should raise their kids, or telling your friends all the creative ways you would screw your brother's wife if she weren't married to such a bore.
posted by troybob at 8:59 PM on January 19, 2009


(By which I mean to say, I could not do BSG better than its creators. Even if I could, I would not want to, because I'd rather watch their show than write my version of their show. In the case of Heroes...my God, somebody needs to step up to the plate and write that fucking thing.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:01 PM on January 19, 2009



Yeah, that's the thing with most criticism these days. It rests too much on the I-can-do-it-better model but is most often written by people who couldn't and haven't.

Normally I would agree. You can't please everybody. But in this case I think I really could do better than Moore. I don't blame him for cashing in. Shit maybe I would too.

But even if I couldn't "do better" that doesn't subtract from the fact that BSG has become, from a very under-dog promising start, absolute formulaic predictable crap. Some people like that I guess.

Of course I didn't watch the Season Five premier. But Season four got so atrocious I wasn't gonna bother.


And now we are at the point in the argument where the defenders break out the "well, you couldn't do it better, could you, so how can you criticize them!"


Heh. Exactly. Which why I bothered. Either way you can't win, right. Still in my head my version plays out so much better I don't really care.
posted by tkchrist at 9:04 PM on January 19, 2009


See, I don't ever think "here's what I would do" is a good argument. Trying to replot the show isn't really helpful to anyone. Recognising that the show has occasionally uninteresting filler episodes or sometimes indulges in melodrama is one thing, to say how you personally would have done/written/show/scored the thing is irrelevant. I don't actually care who you are. If Joss Whedon, Russell T Davies, Eric Kripke and William fucking Shakespeare all sat down and told me how they would re-write BSG, I wouldn't care.

Criticism should be about criticising what is in front of us, not speculating on what might have been or what could have been. I like to defend the fifth season of Babylon 5 because it's not as it was originally planned - it had to be padded out after a late renewal. You know what? It's a defense but it's still not a good defense. The first half of the season is very weak for that reason, but not only for that reason. JMS could have made the first half of Season 5 better but all he did was pad and drag things out.

That said, I'm sort of intrigued by the wildly different points that people seem to think BSG lost its way. I guess that's true of a lot of shows, but it seems like at the end of each season - or even half-season given the long mid-season hiatuses - lost the interest of some viewers. For me, though, the first half of Season Four was as strong as the almost perfect Season One. The intervening years have been problematic, but not a deal-breaker.

You know, unless you insist on your TV shows having some element of levity in them. Then I understand why BSG isn't your bag at all. It's depressing as fuck and has been since the end of Season Two. *takes a shot of whisky*
posted by crossoverman at 9:16 PM on January 19, 2009


Huh.

Well, what I know is that I've been happy enough to watch the entire series which means it was entertaining enough for me. If it were a show I thought was shitty, I'd have quit watching it. It's not like the producers were holding a gun to my head, nor that there was nothing else I could have been watching.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 PM on January 19, 2009


Also, tkchrist, now that I've actually read your "here's what I would do" post, I also think it's ridiculous speculating about things that may yet still come to pass. Your premise is based on the assumption that RDM isn't doing some or all of those things. I'm not convinced he's doing ALL of them, but your concepts aren't completely flawed.

The other thing is - that's all very plot-heavy. BSG has always been brilliant because it was so character driven, which is why Season Four (and Season One) were so wonderful. I want the plot to resolve itself neatly as well, but I'm as concerned about it servicing the characters as I am that everything will fit into some kind of neat cycle that you described.
posted by crossoverman at 9:24 PM on January 19, 2009


Sorry to go on so long, but I loved B5 and I always try to get interested parties to watch it. Just be patient with Season 1 and you'll see what I mean.

Actually, if you're just watching your seasons 1-5 torrent or whatever, you can really pretty much just skip season 1. All you need to know is: Sinclair's capture ended the Earth-Minbari war because they realized that dead Minbari were being reincarnated as humans, and since Minbari have a strict taboo about killing each other, they ended the war. Delenn is a member of the Minbari ruling council. The president of Earth gets assassinated. There, that's pretty much all you need from season 1, now you can just watch the pilot to learn who the characters are, then start with season 2 where the actual story starts and the main character is introduced.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:26 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Trying to replot the show isn't really helpful to anyone.

Maybe not. But it is ...um, fun? It's a lot like when you're creating your own plots and story lines the fun bullshitting part of creation rather than the dull actually doing it part. Here you've already got some established characters and plots, so the hard work of creating new shit done for you and you can do the fun shit of arranging them like Lego blocks.

I like fixing things. I've shaped bunches of friend's stories and comics and plays into different directions. My friends have taken my stories and improved on them and driven them into places I couldn't have possibly imagined. It's easier when you're outside the thing itself, you can see it as a whole, or from another angle then as the tiresome creator who is (If I'm any indication) sick of the whole damned thing by the second act. This? This "Well how would I have plotted it?" It's fun. It speaks to a love of a series and to it's ideas. Actually offering alternate plotlines and pacing? Superfun.

Ironically, all of this completely divergent brainstorming/bullshitting fun is probobly what turned BSG into the weird-ass mess it is. But I still love it, even if I know it's deeply flawed. And I always want to fix what I love.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


...absolute formulaic predictable crap...

Maybe I'm just blissfully ignorant of the formulae. With BSG I'm constantly surprised and also happy that they withhold enough that my imagination gets to play along as well. And I get the impression, from the show and the couple interviews I've read, that those who do the show respect their audience and have a heartfelt passion for engaging the viewer.

But then, I'm still appreciative when an artist sincerely tries something that doesn't necessarily work. There's so much out there that doesn't make the effort.

I want the plot to resolve itself neatly as well...

Not everything, I hope! I'll be way happy if there's still stuff to chew on the day after it ends...
posted by troybob at 9:34 PM on January 19, 2009


And on character driven vs. plot driven, 90% of the reason I watch BSG is because of Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, not even thier characters or situations. I just want to watch them, as actors, in a situation. Everyone else just orbits them.
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


DecemberBoy: But then you miss all the cool shit where you go, "oh! That line was totally a setup for ...". Season 1 is bad, but it *totally* pays off.

Fuck, I'm a fanboy. I liked that space muppets show, too.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:37 PM on January 19, 2009


Oh and my How-would-I? I would have established more limits for the Cylons (aging, ect) and chucked almost the entire 3rd season. They should have stayed on New Caprica longer, left in a desperate bid (maybe leaving people behind) THEN find Earth and get all Super-Depressed. Cavil gets creepier, earlier. hinting that he's hiding something from the other models. Gaius doesn't get a trial but ends up in hiding with his Manson Family, maybe one of the people left on New Caprica. Also, I wouldn't have Apollo getting chubbsy-wubbsy as a metaphor for his sloth and boredom but I would have made Jamie Bamber gain a pound or two to keep him from that scary-ass MY FACE IS ALL RIGHT ANGLES look! Starbuck is less mystically destined and less off the hook for, I dunno, all the crap she's done ever and Gaeta should get to kiss a dude or at least become some seemingly-straight-laced-secretly freaky playah.
posted by The Whelk at 9:42 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


See, I think there's a difference between speculating what might happen and trying to re-write what already has happened. Helping someone craft a story is one thing, back seat driving from another car six months after production ended is kind of silly.

Also, it's not deeply flawed. I find it very profound in a lot of ways.
posted by crossoverman at 10:01 PM on January 19, 2009


There was a shit load more than just a few "filler" episodes. I'd say a quarter of Season three and at least half of season four. Which is where I stopped. You could have cut over half those episodes and had no effect at all on the story arc.

Additionally the way the Seasons are so broken up is really irritating.

As for the characters "driving" the plot. Well they did at first. though I think some of the acting was sub-par it was certainly better than most episodic Sci-Fi. So that kept me interested.

Then by the end of Season 3 they became self parodies. Particularly the Adamas, Kara and Tigh.

Look. Characters have to grow - to go somewhere. Not just emote louder AND LOUDER AND LOUDER. Or whisper softer and softer. Just making them angry or sad is a lazy way to developer a character. And sorry, but those three just kept doing the same stupid shit over and over like they were imitating what they thought was "cool" about themselves in previous episodes. Olmos growly voice. Tigh's drunk. Thrace's retarded tough-guy act. And Lee Adama "dissolution" with daddy.

To me it all got contrived. Olmos was strongest when he was vulnerable and affectionate with McConnel - who IS excellent. But his angry paternal act stunk. It just stunk worse and worse and served to only remind me he was "acting." And I don't think it was Olmos' fault. It was obviously the shit plot and the shit dialog the actors were having to deal with. Maybe that was because of the writers strike. I dunno. though Sackof sucked from day one and still sucks. i don't believe she's tough. I don't believe she's a soldier or a pilot. She's just another doe-eyed waif.

Frankly the unexpected jewels in the series are Baltar, Six and Boomer. But they essentially gelded the most interesting aspects of the Baltar and Six story line and now they too merely seem like filler most of the time. Which is a real shame.

And the "what I would do" thing. That WAS for fun. I don't give a crap if you think it's legitimate "criticism" or not. I'm not a critic. I'm a fan. A fan, who I might add purched the first two season on DVD. So I'm also a stake holder of a sort. So fuck Moore for sucker ing me. And shame on me for falling for it.

The point was to outline all the missed opportunities the writers sacrificed to transition from cult fan base to attract a larger mass audience. Hence the idiotic soap opera. Sure it's a dark soap opera. But you know "dark" just becomes really another formula if you just do it for fashion and to not serve the larger story. And that is what I feel they did.
posted by tkchrist at 10:04 PM on January 19, 2009


Frankly everything the Whelk just outlined is way more "profound" than anything I saw is Season Four. The New Caprica thing is exactly what I was thinking. What really bugged me about the New Caprica episodes is why the fuck is a space fairing civilization STILL mostly living in tents years after colonizing a planet? What they didn't even have a back hoe? And after the Cylons occupy New Caprica seems like those fucking robots would be pretty god damned handy (and free) for building shit 24/7. But no. The details really started to slip merely to serve some moody visual style that for interfered with the intelligence the story originally established.

I felt like they realized dip shits were starting to tune in so they had dumb the story line down just as it got interesting.
posted by tkchrist at 10:16 PM on January 19, 2009


I want the plot to resolve itself neatly as well

Actually I DON'T. But I'm sick of it getting dumber instead of richer. Right now it's enigmatic not to add to the story but to distract you from the inconsistencies, logical fallacies and plot holes.

I like enigmatic stories. But only if adds something. Not just slight of hand.

Thrace coming back from the dead is one of these distractions. She was a weak-ass character. How can this constant stupid fuck-up keep getting such kiss-ass treatment? She was thoroughly unlikeable, irrational, and unbelievable. Oh. But it's her destiny. THAT's why nobody has shot her ass and Adama, this battle hardened pragmatist, out of no where gives her a super valuable space ship and his best pilots - who think she's a Cylon no less (while they are being pursued by Cylons and humanity hangs by a thread) to go do what exactly... so she can "feel" for Earth in a painting or something. Er. Uh. Okay. What?

I mean that shit was just stupid seat of their pants nonsense.

Destiny. Woooooooo. Yeah. Profound.
posted by tkchrist at 10:33 PM on January 19, 2009


I hate you tkchrist! *stomps out of the room, runs upstairs, slams door*

Seriously, though, I completely don't agree with your views, but I enjoy reading them. ;) This is why I love BSG (or The Wire, or Deadwood, or Arrested Development)--it brings out such good discussions.
posted by snwod at 1:00 AM on January 20, 2009


tkchrist, I think you and I are watching a different show. Honestly, your misreading of the Starbuck story in Season 4 kind of astounds me. Yes, she became a difficult character to like - but not every character a show serves up needs to be likable. In fact, belligerent characters who will stop at nothing to get what they believe in are compelling and fascinating to watch. And it feeds into the strong theme of faith that winds itself all the way back through the series.

Why I love this show so much is that is tackles a lot of tricky subjects head on - stories so relevant today that are tip-toed around by most television series and movies. Stories of faith, politics and the fireworks when the two collide. Why is Kara's resurrection and faith in a belief she has been to Earth any less believable than Laura Roslin following a holy books' clues to Earth in season one? Why is Baltar's religion seen as a fringe element? Why do Cylons believe in the One True God?

Kara's story also alludes to the themes of mortality and humanity - and how those two things each inform each other. How can the Cylons appreciate life when they continue to be resurrected asked Six? How can Kara ever pull her uniform on again when she has been through so much? Where does her faith and loyalty lie after being so profoundly changed? And being science fiction, we are confronted by the "reality" that Kara apparently got flung halfway across the galaxy, died and was returned to the fleet on a perfect replica of her ship - you call that a distraction, I call that a metaphor for a near-death experience - after which many people turn to religion to make sense out of their ordeal.

I agree that Olmos' performance as Adama has been a little one note this past season - and unfortunately continued that in the most recent episode. But I disagree about the categorisation of Tigh as "just drunk" - since he hasn't really been that since he discovered he was a Cylon. In fact, I find the relationship of these two reflecting and reversing very interesting from a narrative point of view. (Not as complex, sure, but somewhat reminiscent of the G'Kar/Londo relationship from Babylon 5 - whose positions of power were basically reversed over the 5 year arc of the show.)

Kara, by your own admission, hasn't continued to just be "retarded tough guy" since you discuss her destiny. It's pretty easy to cast her as "irrational" - but since that was THE POINT OF THE STORY, I'm going to go with the writers on this one. Adama gave her power out of loyalty - whether that be misguided or not. He clearly takes far too much responsibility for the people under his command (see this week's teary wailing over Dualla), but it's perfectly in character that he wants to learn to trust instinct over policy sometimes. Yes, I would say Laura is rubbing off on him a little. Of course she's not always right either - which is the strength of this show, even the lead characters can be dead wrong, immoral, act questionably and fuck things up. No one is really as black and white as you'd like to paint them.

There was a shit load more than just a few "filler" episodes. I'd say a quarter of Season three and at least half of season four. Which is where I stopped. You could have cut over half those episodes and had no effect at all on the story arc.

And that is just ten kinds of madness. Much of last year's episodes (the first half of Season Four, just to be clear) were more slow-burn character-driven stories that lead to a beautiful climax in "The Hub" and a somewhat plot-heavy mid-season denouement in "Revelations". I honestly think you want the show to be more plot-driven and I much prefer the character-drive this show has at the peak of its power. Season Four's first half was a meditation on so many things and you dismiss it as ill-conceived and worse-than-filler. I'm sorry you're missing out on the final chapters of the best damn show on television.
posted by crossoverman at 2:33 AM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


See, I don't ever think "here's what I would do" is a good argument.

Down that path lies fanfic.

Maybe someone else brought Starbuck back...
posted by Tenuki at 3:32 AM on January 20, 2009


The Whelk, Gaeta does indeed get some sweet loving from Hoshi in the new webisodes. Not sure if that will make the actual episodes, but you can finally consider his simmering love/betrayal with Baltar canon. It's also revealed he had some sweet loving with a Sharon back on New Caprica, so he's not a one gender/species man.

I'm glad he and Hoshi finally got together though, I had been half jokingly wondering if those two would hook up for years.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:59 AM on January 20, 2009


you can finally consider his simmering love/betrayal with Baltar canon

what

O wow.
posted by cavalier at 7:22 AM on January 20, 2009


THAT's why nobody has shot her ass and Adama, this battle hardened pragmatist, out of no where gives her a super valuable space ship and his best pilots - who think she's a Cylon no less (while they are being pursued by Cylons and humanity hangs by a thread) to go do what exactly... so she can "feel" for Earth in a painting or something. Er. Uh. Okay. What?

Just a point of order... the ship was a piece of shit, and the theory behind letting her go was that she physically needed to be closer to the "signal" from earth to "feel" it, and that feeling was diminishing as the fleet was jumping the "wrong" direction. So, instead of letting crazy Kara drive the whole fleet in another direction the pragmatic decision was to give her a small ship to go the way she wanted to go. He picked an otherwise useless ship but, as insurance against her being truly nuts, made sure there were lots of trusted people going with her to either keep her in check, or ultimately to take her down if necessary.

It really didn't strike me as out of character for Adama. In fact, what seemed to be out of character was the way the writers played it as if it were something awesome Adama was doing for Kara. It simply made the most sense.
posted by odinsdream at 7:31 AM on January 20, 2009


I wonder if Kara taught the Cylons how to fly.
posted by troybob at 8:13 AM on January 20, 2009


She was a weak-ass character. How can this constant stupid fuck-up keep getting such kiss-ass treatment?

You don't really lack the answer to that question, do you, tk?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:25 AM on January 20, 2009


-it brings out such good discussions.


Yes.

Starbuck has been a problem without a solution for a looong time. One of the problems, as mentioned, is that she almost always, always endangers the life of everyone (the last people left!) for some hair-brained scheme and she never, ever gets remaindered for it. I thought they were going to do a kind of critical flip on the "hot-shot renegade pilot" theme, show that you can't actually do that in a functioning military. If the theme is "Hubris brings downfall" than Kara needed to be brought low and made human, not divine. While I find Lee irritating on so, so many levels, I like that he's a fair-minded soft-spoken voice in the military (for a while, at least). Not everyone is a growly autocrat.

Man, Sharon was amazing, wasn't she? The Eights are all so pathetic, in the older sense of the word. They cannot work without being in a group, they can't function without a clear, defined role. It makes them so sad. When Athena/Sharon joins the rebel Basestar and all the Eights are like "We love you! You went against the plan! We all want to be independent like you! Show us how!" and she completely rejects them cause she can't associate with the Cylons after finally being accepted by the Humans and the Eights just stand there like kicked puppies? Wow.

The nice fatal flaw in the Sixes, that they surround and infiltrate through love and empathy is what makes them so dangerous and so vulnerable and why they're the first to have doubts about Killing All Humans because of it? Nice.

The Threes? They're role is a little less defined (as is D'Anna's aburbt change from Solider Of the Faith to Rebel Mystic) but I liked how Lucy Lawless played her as the Scariest Camp Consoler Ever. "Maybe we just need to ...talk? M'Kay?"

The Whelk, Gaeta does indeed get some sweet loving from Hoshi in the new webisodes. Not sure if that will make the actual episodes, but you can finally consider his simmering love/betrayal with Baltar canon. It's also revealed he had some sweet loving with a Sharon back on New Caprica, so he's not a one gender/species man.

I know, I just wish some of it makes into the actual episodes. Then again, having someone with a stable romantic relationship on this show is like wishing that Season Three never happened. My vote is for Gaeta becoming a Morpha addict and Hoshi his enabler. Who's with me?
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on January 20, 2009


The Threes? They're role is a little less defined.

Threes are True Believers (as opposed to Cavil, the Cynical Believer). They're so dangerous because they don't have morals or boundaries.
posted by bonehead at 11:13 AM on January 20, 2009


Ah, I assumed she was cynically using the Six's faith to keep them in line and her whole Conversion At Damascus moment was she she *really* believed (and got all mystical and gnostic about it)
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 AM on January 20, 2009


The problem isn't with Kara's Character per se. Sackhoff was simply for the initial Buffy Fan Boy street cred Moore got by making Starbuck a smack-talking figh t'n chick instead of a dude. And they never got past that gimick. Sackhoff got much better as an actress in Season three (though Scar was terrible), still she never filled the skin of that charachter in any believablly sympathetic way.

It's not her fault as much as it is a problem of casting the result made her asshole character even more of an asshole and never pulling the required sympathy she needed to make it work. At least not for me.You seriously belive she can beat Colonel Tigh? Really? God that was soooo artificial.

For contrast look at Baltar. Now there is an asshole of a charachter. He shouldn't be sympathetic. But he is. James Callis actually makes you care about this asshole. Baltor pulls it off. Great casting.

Or, further, Six (Tricia Helfer). Six killed off humanity but you still root for her. Damn, Tricia Helfer, less experienced as an actress and stigmatized as "just" a model, acts circles around Sackhoff.

Admit it. When Starbuck died you breathed a sigh of relief.

Why the writers ended up hanging way too much of the weight of the story on her I'll never understand. They should have killed her off and let that be that. She's cast as a hot MTV blond for the fan boys to drool over and not much more. It was, IMO, a terrible mistake that they have never dug their way out from... though they might. But I'm not sacrificing my Friday nights to watch the series until after all the episodes have aired or go to Netflicks.
posted by tkchrist at 12:30 PM on January 20, 2009


I'm the model wait-for-DVD watcher and boy howdy is this a wait-for-DVD kinda show but they've been delaying DVD releases for so long that I just wanna watch the last few episodes with everyone else so I can be just as overjoyed/disappointed/angry/happy as everyone else.

Sackhoff has the same problem that say, Glory (or Xander) in Buffy had. She could play one mood of the character really well and was completely tin-eared about the others. She can hit spunky-teasing tomboy out of the park but her anger always seemed like hissy fits and her Troubled Nature completely forced. She shouldn't have been made such a focus, particularly when you have other side characters waiting to be opened up (Oh poor Dee!).

Tricia Helfer tho, damn is right. At one point she's playing 3 different versions of the same person and yet manages to make distinct yet related. It was kind of amazing to watch her go from Evil Seductive Voice in Baltar's head to painfully earnest voice of compassion.
posted by The Whelk at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2009


tkchrist, I hope you learn to quit watching television when you find yourself disliking it. You are obviously deeply unhappy with BSG, yes you tortured yourself for years by watching it. Don't do that!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:53 PM on January 20, 2009


Alright. I will consider my options for B5, but in the meantime I have season one of Space Muppet Theatre all cued up and ready to go. Cheers. *downs shot*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:00 PM on January 20, 2009


You are obviously deeply unhappy with BSG, yes you tortured yourself for years by watching it. Don't do that!

It had such promise and we care about things with promise.
posted by The Whelk at 6:22 PM on January 20, 2009


I thought they were going to do a kind of critical flip on the "hot-shot renegade pilot" theme, show that you can't actually do that in a functioning military.

It's not a functioning military, it's the end of the world and they need every pilot they can get. Starbuck isn't perfect, but she's good at what she does and tips the scales in her balance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 PM on January 20, 2009


It had such promise and we care about things with promise.

It is not a child. It is television. Only a fool would care about television. Do not be that fool. If you have time to piss away watching television, and what you are watching does adequately entertain you, the watch it; but the very second you have something more worthwhile to do in your life, or that it fails to adequately entertain you, then for the love of phosphorous, turn the fucking thing off.

Good god.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on January 20, 2009


Speaking of fools, I think I'd best stop caring how stupidly overwrought some people become when their precious television fails to entertain them.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:49 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well that was remarkably uncharitable, fff.

As for the first two episodes of Muppet Universe... it was charming!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:26 PM on January 20, 2009


Oh dear, I live and work in the world of stories and images. HOW FOOLISH I WAS! I'm going to go til the soil and forget my foolish love of narrative and character. Oh Gosh! How SIMPLE I'VE BEEN! I could have been doing more! THANK YOU! THANK FOR YOU FOR SHOWING ME THE LIGHT! I'm going to throw my computer out the window and harvest its essential metals as soon as I finish this sentence.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's the problem with Sackhoff: she's the wrong gender! "Men hand out cigars. Women 'hand out' babies." Obvious! Thanks, embittered-Dirk-Benedict!

Disclaimer: Opinions in this posting may or may not represent the actual opinions of real boneheads. Side effects of reading embittered-Dirk-Benedict may include frothing, convulsions and wild gesticulation.
posted by bonehead at 8:26 AM on January 21, 2009


Just caught up.

KFC Frak pac was the single most interesting thing about that episode. KFC Frak Pak is in fact utterly awesome. Moaning on a beach, moaning because you're a robot, moaning because you're a ghost, general moping: All shit.

Conclusion: Needs more Frak Paks. And explosions.
posted by Artw at 10:38 PM on January 21, 2009


Thanks, embittered-Dirk-Benedict!

Man, no kidding. Christ, what a &c.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:23 AM on January 22, 2009


Also I want to establish copyright on calling the new series "Craprica". That's right, "Craprica" - take that show-which-is-supposedly-better-because-it-has-no-spaceships!
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on January 22, 2009


Also: FRAK PAK!
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on January 22, 2009


More on Caprica, and a vague promise not to use it as a dumping ground for unresolved plot threads.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on January 23, 2009


Craprica - all crying, all the time.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:36 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


IT'S GIVING THEM WHAT THEY WANT!
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on January 23, 2009


You know, a friend of mine once mused on the similarity of special effects between BSG and Firefly (both done by Zoic, of course, who even tossed a Firefly-class into the miniseries) and the true geek qualifier that the mechanics of the role-playing game adaptations are more or less identical. With these items in mind, he speculated that when Galactica got to Earth, it would be Earth-That-Was from Firefly: a ruined and empty world, with all the occupants gone elsewhere. I find it curious that we are down to single-digit number of episodes left, and his jokey prediction seems to be more or less on target.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:06 AM on January 24, 2009


Half of those will be filler as well, if they follow previous form. We're looking at 3 or 4 episodes where stuff actually happens, and then we're done.
posted by Artw at 12:12 AM on January 24, 2009




Maybe slight spoiler I got from the podcasts: Kobol was the start of everything. It's been abandoned by everyone, but it's the start point of Humans, Cylons and whatever the humans call Gods.

It's getting very Star Control 2 Precursors-y. Which is fine by me

also last episode was nice. not great. But nice. Again, it actually put in some (black) humor in between the pain and the crying and the despair. Also Gaius' hair is awesome now
posted by The Whelk at 4:27 PM on January 25, 2009


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