Another pic for BSG.
Saturday, March 22, 2008

Battlestar Galactic—Season 3

I continue to find BSG underwhelming. My wife and I are watching the third season DVD in preparation for the final season of BSG. I’ll be updating this as we watch. So far we’ve done 9 episodes, so I’ll give my reaction to each.

Occupation–I’ve got to say that I think this one verges on a crypto-anti-Semitism. Suicide bombing is not a Western terrorist tactic. I can’t think off the top of my head of a single instance of a Western terrorist who was a suicide bomber. The only fictional instance that I can think of, again off the top of my head, is Veronica Lake’s character in So Proudly We Hail, which I’ve discussed here. The people associated with suicide bombers are Muslim terrorists. The practice was, I think, first associated with Palestinian terrorists, and at least one of the attacks mentioned in this episode struck me as paralleling the attack on the pizzeria a few years back. So I think that’s casting the good Colonials as the good Palestinians, and the bad nasty Cylons as the Israelis. I found a similar dynamic at work in ST:TNG, and almost stopped watching because of that.

Precipice–This includes a shot for shot homage to the execution scene in The Great Escape.

Exodus–Unlike The Great Escape, many of the characters survive the execution. This is a two part episode. Number 3, the Lucy Lawless character, gets to hold Hera, the human-Cylon hybrid in her arms, and this keeps her from setting off a nuke. Somehow the denizens of New Caprica are evacuated, and even though there 8,000 people less than when they started conditions seem more crowded.

Collaborators–Vigilante justice. Ultimately Roslin decides to end the vigilante justice that’s being meted out, and to establish a Truth and Reconciliation commission. This may have worked out okay in South Africa, but I wouldn’t trust something like that. Everyone goes out, tells the truth, and nothing happens for a while. Then the squads go out, and kill everyone that testified before the commission. I’d sooner see a replay of Reconstruction.

Torn–A Cylon virus infects a basestar. Both Cylons and humans get a pointer towards earth.

A Measure of Salvation–Okay this one is problematic for me. The humans have a chance to exterminate the Cylons by infecting them with a virus, and the Cylons will eventually become extinct. The purely practical part of me says, “Go for it.” The more rational-philosophical part of me says that the Cylons are human by at least one definition. That definition is that man is made in the image and likeness of God. That likeness consists in having intellect and will, which the Cylons exhibit. There’s another part that simply has the hots for 6, and would hate to see her go.

It is decided to release the virus, but the attempt is frustrated, and finally abandoned.

Hero–This has a male fantasy. A threesome with Lucy Lawless and Tricia Helfer (3 and 6, respectively). A pilot returns from Cylon captivity after 3 years. It turns out that he and Adama were part of a covert mission across the Cylon frontier. There is enormous guilt over the possibility that the incident, which included Adama firing on the stealth ship to prevent its capture, precipitated the war.

Unfinished Business–The cable was having problems so we watched the extended version to give them time to wise up and fix it. That was 70 minutes of my life that will knock time off my stay in purgatory. One of the worst, most pointless episodes made. This is a boxing movie that is supposed to show character or some such deal. As a boxing movie it sucks. Rocky had better fight scenes. Heck even movies of the 30s and 40s had better fight scenes. As far as drama, it was incoherent, and not well written. There was no excuse for a 44 minute version, and certainly none for a 70 minute version.

Also, it didn’t have 6. Why would anybody in their right mind watch this except to see 6?

March 24, 2008—It struck me the other day that in addition to the flaky science that I lamented in my original post on Galactica that there was even more wrong with the science than I’d previously thought. The 12 colonies are in orbit around a single star. Now how did that happen? Most of the extra-solar planets that are known to exist are “hot Jupiters,” large gas planets that are in close orbits around their stars. Somehow these guys have 12 earth type objects around their star. Heck, our solar system has exactly 1 planet that is capable of supporting human life. It could be that they’ve managed to terraform twelve planetary objects, but that’s never been mentioned as far as I know.

They set out from Kobol several thousand years ago, and appear to have had a uniform culture then. Now, despite having FTL, and being close in the culture is seriously fragmented, e.g., different colonies apparently have different religions and different value systems. I don’t think the differences would be as great as they’re made out to be, but divergence is possible.

Why, in 3,000 or 4,000 years have there been no advances in FTL flight or communications? Why no fractional light speed weapons? Why don’t they have advanced treatment for cancer? Why are they still using chemical weapons, i.e., ones based on gunpowder, and gunpowder derivatives?

Well, on to the episodes.

The Passage—The fleet has to reach a planet full of algae that will be used for food. Here they have the classic problem of troops who are cut off from their supply lines, and have to forage for food. So they are in the same situation faced by Xenophon, and by Sherman, and by all the other commanders in between and after who are far in advance of resupply. This brings up another interesting question, why are Cylons and humans the only beings in this universe? If they can have twelve habitable bodies around one star, surely there must be other stars with other beings on them.

There is some conflict with a pilot named Kat, and some flight scenes. The flight scenes in this episode were not particularly well done in my view. There are shots of Kat’s Viper on fire, but we were told the danger was from radiation in space. Is Kat in atmosphere around the planet, or in space, where there would be no fire? The yellow fog is not clear either. Is that space, in which case it wouldn’t be so dense, or is it atmosphere. I’m sorry, but I don’t think the flight scenes worked at all.

The Eye of Jupiter—Baltar gets to pay a visit to Galactica. The McGuffin in this case is the eye of Jupiter, which will show the way to earth.

Rapture—Three finally gets to see the Final Five, which are not to be confused with the Final Four because one is a group of strange beings with arcane rituals, and the other is a group of human/cyborg hybrids. Three is turned off before she can identify the Final Five.

Take a Break From All Your Worries—Baltar gets tortured and drugged. As if we care. I suppose this is supposed to be Guantanamo, and torture, etc. I didn’t care in fiction, and in real life I’ve got no sympathy for the prisoners at Guantanamo either.

March 25, 2008

The Woman King—Once again we have a major problem where common sense is thrown overboard. You’ve got a fleet that started out as slightly less than 50,000 people, and has lost about 8,500 people due to combat, disease, starvation, whatever. You get an influx of refugees, some of whom are from one planetary group, and the members of this group are infected with a disease that is spread by contact. What do you do? If you’ve got the brains God gave a flea, you confine the people who are possible vectors in isolation. you medicate them, and you let the disease run its course in the isolated population. This spares the remainder of the population from infection, and allows you to focus your efforts containment and treatment. So what do we get in this episode of BSG? A bunch of people who object on religious grounds to medicine, and a nutty doctor who is killing members of this planetary group, the Sagittarions. If I recall correctly, there’s a passing reference to race prejudice, which is nonsensical since the discriminant is religious, not racial. Now, bearing in mind that we’re losing population every week, and that as leaders of our civilization we have a duty to preserve it, what should we do with people who object to medicine? Our duty is to medicate them, and preserve our population, we can save the regrets for later.

A Day in the Life—Another case of rampant idiocy. Two people, in a ship traveling through the vacuum of space, go to work on a broken airlock, and are not wearing pressure suits. What bozo wrote their SOP for airlock maintenance while under way in space? Then we have the blather about Baltar’s trial. They’ve got a colonial system with no overriding legal code, and each planet has its own legal system? This group has a 4,000 year history? Sorry, that’s not the way it works. Our Articles of Confederation served for less than a decade, and then had to be replaced by a strong federal system. How can we seriously expect that the Colonial government lasted 4,000 years without a strong, unified government?

March 27, 2008

Has anyone ever commented on the quality of the lighting in this show? Every scene is lit in what is supposed to be noir lighting, or maybe its supposed to be naturalistic lighting. If it’s supposed to be noir, it’s not working. Most noir films were lit well enough that you could tell what was happening. Galactica isn’t. (I’m watching this on a large HDTV, have normal vision, with glasses, and half the time I can barely see the people, and what they’re doing. If it’s supposed to be naturalistic lighting, how is it that an advanced civilization can’t figure out how to light a ship decently?

Dirty Hands—Once again we have a failure of imagination on the part of the writers. After 4,000 years of social development in an advanced technological society, you’d expect to see a high degree of automation, and a highly cohesive social organization. Instead you get 19th century working conditions, and a fractured social organization that’s marked by class warfare. Plus in addition you get Baltar writing a political book. Now people have written stories, poems, and books in prison. Some have even become classics, such as Boethius and The Consolations of Philosophy, and some have been evil books, such as Mein Kampf. So rather than having Baltar grow, and write the equivalent of Boethius, they go with Hitler, but leave out the anti-Semitism, and insert 60s jargon about “the underclass.” We also have the chief leading a general strike. The chief, as a member of the military, should not have been a union member, nor should he have had a leadership position. We then get some politcal kerfuffle, and Roslin negotiates with the union. Assuming that Roslin still had loyal troops, she should have taken the position that Coolidge took during the Boston police strike, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time.”

Maelstrom—Pseudo-mysticism and the disappearance of Starbuck.

The Son Also Rises—It seems to get off to a good start with Baltar’s lawyer getting killed, but overall is rather boring.

Crossroads, Part I—The admiral is chosen as a member of the court trying Baltar, and Lee becomes part of the defense team. I would think that in the US a similar situation would result in the judge recusing himself, and the trial proceeding either with a new judge, or with 4 judges, instead of 5.

Crossroads, Part II—Standard Hollywood type speech by Lee on the rights of the accused. Naturally the judges are moved to acquit Baltar. Four of the Final Five Cylons are revealed. Ron Moore’s podcast seems to indicate that the series was not written with this in mind from the beginning. The whole Final Five thing was a season 3 idea. Starbuck returns with the location of earth.