Sunday, January 17, 2010

Disappointed with Battlestar Galactica Seasons 3 and 4

After I wrote the rave reviews of Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 and 2, I let it lie fallow for a few years, partly because I was in Germany with no real way to watch TV, but also because my friends who kept watching Seasons 3 and 4 expressed their disappointment to me.

I started watching Season 3 with low expectations, but episodes 1-4 were amazing, rivaling any of the first two seasons. The subject matter was intense, and the scripting and pacing near perfect. I started to hope.

Unfortunately, the rest of the season disappointed me. It wasn't so much so as each individual episode was bad, but the sense of an overall story-arc faded. It felt like literature professors had taken over the shows from science fiction authors, as the show started worrying more about character development (not that there wasn't plenty before, but now the show really worked on it) and meaning and symbols instead of telling a great story.

This really became obvious in Season 4, when it became very clear that Ron Moore had no idea where he was going all along, with the story contradicting itself in blatant fashion, with plot-holes you could pilot a full squadron of Vipers through. Seriously, I can put up a ton of suspension of disbelief, but the resurrection of one of the major characters with no real explanation? That takes it from science fiction to serious bible study allegories. There's a place for it, but keep it away from my fiction, especially one that worked so hard to maintain an illusion of a working military.

I wish I had stopped watching the TV series after Season 3 Episode 4, but I was curious to see if the producers and story tellers could salvage anything out of the mess they had written themselves in, and they never did. The photography was gorgeous, the actors just as great as before, but with an empty shell of story, it all turned out to be just eye candy. Someone I read recently wrote: "It's as though Lance Armstrong came into the last stage of the Tour De France in the yellow jersey, and 300m from the finish line, crashed and broke his collarbone and DNF'd." I think it was much worse than that. It was as though Lance got off his bike, and beat up one of his fans and got taken to jail and DNF'd.
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