Friday, July 10, 2009

Battlestar Galactica- 1st 4 episodes (spoilers)

(written with the disclaimer that I'm bleeding knackered and really can't tell if this is good writing or not, I just needed to get it off my chest)

I watched the first 4 episodes last night. On the whole it’s still good and still gripping. Episodes 1 and 2 were great, episode 3 I really didn’t like and episode 4 had a lot of flashbacks which were shot in that really bright light which makes everyone’s skin look really really smooth. A peculiarly American thing I think, or is that just cos I only watch (old) American (sci fi) shows? With no TV licence and a distinct aversion to learning how to download stuff I stick with watching only a few old shows.

Anyway, episode 3. I really did not like this. I do not like my TV shows
preaching at me
patronising me
moralising at me.

I watch TV shows to be entertained, I do not want some lesson in real life problems from them. If I want to be made to think and emote I will read a book or visit the internet, or watch the news. TV is my escapism and I dislike heavy political subjects intruding into it. With that in mind I was never going to be keen on this episode.

I heartily disliked the discussions concerning
Terrorism vs Freedom Fighters. I hate the phrase ‘we do not negotiate with terrorists’ – it’s overused and it’s too close to real life. No one came to a conclusion and it wasn’t looked at in any depth.
Whether it is prison that makes a man bad or whether he chooses to act that way. Again, no depth. At any rate, given the circumstances of the show it doesn’t bleeding matter. Just shoot the cunt.
And of course there was a lovely rape threat scene. Of course, because how else do you show the extreme evilness of men?

At least the intended victim bit the attackers ear off (good for her). On the other hand, they could have shot it completely differently – when the black lady (I’ve forgotten her name) said to the presidential aide dude that Callie can look after herself because she’s been trained, she could have sounded like she meant it. She could have been relaxed and less panicky. Callie could have been less scared and more in control. Then again, I guess that’s not in Callie’s nature, she’s a bit of a nervous one, very much like Kaylee in Firefly. It’s in Starbuck’s nature (who, if we’re going to be doing comparisons, is I guess more like Zoe from Firefly), but that’s why on these shows a character like Starbuck will never be abducted like this. Because apparently rape only ever happens to ‘weak’ women. Because apparently it will always be a threat and we have to constantly watch out for ourselves wherever we go.

I know BSG is very much about real people who haven’t changed that much between now and the year it’s set, so I’m not asking for some utopian ideal of society, I’m just asking if maybe for once we could leave the rape threats out please? There’s enough to contend with in real life, which may be why I’m taking this to heart so much.

But mostly, I disliked this episode because it brought nothing new the the 3 debates. It was lazy writing, reliant on cliches and I was expecting more. So far the show has been layered and has depth, it's been intelligent. They could have taken the stance that actually, there's a few precious people being held hostage, so we will negotiate. That would have allowed them to examine the morality and possible ways forward. The again I guess in a post 9/11 America being seen to even consider to kow tow to terrorists is an absolute no no isn't it?

Unfortunately this attitude led to a stifled, boring, trope filled plot by numbers episode that really wasn't very bright. Except for the last bit, which was...

...The exchange between Apollo and the President about the legality of her tenure and the promise of an election. That was ace. It was looked at in depth, it held arguments and counter arguments, it was an actual discussion and it contributed something to the make up of the show. It solidified the characters and add extra nuance. And it is fresh and new – how many other (sci fi) shows debate shit like this? The other 3 things that I’ve mentioned had none of that; they’ve all been overdone and overused.

The other plus point is Starbuck – is her real name Kara? If it is that’s fucking sweet. I heart Starbuck in a big way: cigar smoking, top pilot piloting, best (human) sniper in the universe, confident, butch wonder. Love love love her.


James Ashelford said...

I agree about how overused the "we don't negotiate with terrorists" line is.

However, terrorism is revisited more intelligently in later seasons including some very shocking material for a post-9-11 American show.

Saranga said...

Oh it wasn't post 9/11 at this point in the show?
Well it's good to know they deal with it better later. I shall look forward to that.

James Ashelford said...

Oh no, it was post-9-11, I'm just saying what happens later is more surprising given that context.

Also have to agree with you that Starbuck is all sorts of awesome.