After last night's season 3 opener, I'm a little concerned about my favorite show on television, "Battlestar Galactica." The show is starting to resemble "Lost," which from my perspective is not at all an improvement.
I'm not just talkling about the tents and stress monkeys in the jungle. It's the whole arbitrariness that comes across in sequence after sequence of surprises with very little tension. The show used to be terrific at building tension. Whether it's seizing the ore on a hostile asteroid or finding water or holding red alert for several days while Cylons continue to find the fleet within 33 minutes of arriving anywhere or two strong military commanders poised to take their ships into full battle against each other, the show built great anticipation of what was going to happen next.
Now we get surprises, not suspense. This happens, then this happens, then this happens. We see very little planning and feel very little of what the characters want -- which is very un-Battlestar Galactica. The show had been great at portraying all sorts of fascinating, complicated characters, which made for messing up the clean Good Guys/Bad Guys kinds of delineations that can make such shows boring. No, you found yourself sympathizing with a villain at times, disliking a hero at times -- because these were people. Even some of the Cylons were interesting people.
The Cylons have gotten boring now. Now, except for the Sharons and the now-deceased-soon-to-be-resurrected Caprica Six, they're one-dimensional Nazi caricatures. They're not even interesting interacting with each other, which strikes me as a missed opportunity.
Baltar is getting interesting again, though. (There's one villain who can be sympathetic.) I find myself wondering what he's going to do, now that he's gone and signed the death warrants of just about all of the rest of the cast.
On the upside, though, the performances are very good, despite the dull script. Oddly, it's the special guest stars who are most disappointing. Lucy Lawless' Number Three is truly despicable without really doing anything, which speaks to her talent as an actress, and Dean Stockwell is his usual charismatic self on screen, but his role is rather one-note as Cylon grand inquisitor, and Lucy has little to do but sneer at people. Here are these big stars, at least for the scifi/fantasy television realm, and they just don't seem to have much to do besides act as plot points and scenery.
Ultimately, though, what really bothers me is all this time spent on "New Caprica." Sorry, but just because "Lost" does the tent city thing doesn't mean Battlestar should emulate it.
Please, Ron Moore! It's not "Tent City Galactica"!
I'm not sure about this turn in the Starbuck storyline, either. Her love affair with the sports star was pretty boring, yes, but this mommy-prison stuff with the Cylon who has the creep sweats is on the dull side, too. Starbuck needs to move. Let her move! (Read IGN's Katie Sackhoff interview.)
I just hope Adama can mount a rescue and save the show. The first two seasons, which are now out on DVD, get better and better with each viewing. Galactica doesn't need to go back to the Twelve Colonies, but in my view the show needs to go back to its home, in space, in fascinating characters, searching for Earth.
For some other takes:
DougMcHone at CoffeeSwirls had his first viewing of the show:
So I sat down and expected some space battles, some intrigue, something entertaining. What I got was a heavily politicized show, with the Cylons being seen as an occupying force and the humans seen as the heroic insurgency. There was talk of torture and rape against the insurgents and the Cylons said that they just wanted the humans to accept their way of life so everything could be better for all parties.
He blames "the liberal media." For more amusingly silly political takes, there are PostWatch's outrage at DCBlues' equally silly take on the new season, and Devilstower's interpretation that Americans are Cylons. Really, in this day and age of cracking the human genome, if there's a "bigger message" to take away from Battlestar Galactica, it's the question of what makes us human (though I confess that the torture that's been used in many episodes throughout the show, by heroes and villains alike, has proven to be rather timely, alas). As for New Caprica standing in for Iraq -- sorry, I just don't see it. But if you look at the posts out there, there seems to be a lot of political angst about his show. It's a political season, I guess.
Laura Scott is a designer, tech geek, fiction editor, and author.