This post is next to worthless for anybody to whom it is news, as you shouldn’t start watching the show with only three episodes left. (I’d begin with the introductory miniseries, which has a kick-ass opening, but also about an hour of fat. Be patient, and trust that things will improve.)
I’ve not been so excited to watch the conclusion of a TV series since The Wire. And perhaps Deep Space Nine (also largely a Ron Moore production) before that? And man what a bring-down that series finale was…
It’s tough to write about BSG without giving much away. Let’s just say that it’s the Robot War, and you should bet on the robots.
Not every last moment is brilliant, and there’s some stinky cheese here and there, but on the whole it’s advanced the sci-fi space-faring motif to new heights, from which the genre cannot return. Which is to say, a lot of shows that might have been watchable in the pre-BSG era just wouldn’t cut it anymore. Here’s Moore describing — accurately I think — what felt wrong about Star Trek: Voyager, on which he briefly worked. In many respects, the BSG universe was created in opposition to it:
The premise has a lot of possibilities. Before it aired, I was at a convention in Pasadena, and Sternbach and Okuda were on stage, and they were answering questions from the audience about the new ship. It was all very technical, and they were talking about the fact that in the premise this ship was going to have problems. It wasn’t going to have unlimited sources of energy. It wasn’t going to have all the doodads of the Enterprise. It was going to be rougher, fending for themselves more, having to trade to get supplies that they want. That didn’t happen. It doesn’t happen at all, and it’s a lie to the audience.
I think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is not true. Voyager is not true. If it were true, the ship would not look spic-and-span every week, after all these battles it goes through. How many times has the bridge been destroyed? How many shuttlecrafts have vanished, and another one just comes out of the oven? That kind of bullshitting the audience I think takes its toll. At some point the audience stops taking it seriously, because they know that this is not really the way this would happen. These people wouldn’t act like this.”
The show engages an array of issues — consciousness, mysticism, will, evolution, politics, social hierarchies, and more, with an underlying existential absurdism throughout — just the way I like it. Most episodes have crisp story arcs, which also fit nicely into a compelling four-year narrative. And the show doesn’t pander: When the network pressured the writers to lighten up the atmosphere a bit — scripting in a party for a crew member’s birthday was one suggestion — they begrudgingly obliged: by setting off a bomb during the raucous celebration of a pilot’s hundredth mission. The network took the hint…
Tonight at 10pm on the SciFi network — And that time slot is all the more evidence that they have a good read on who their audience is.