Should I even bother watching BSG?
September 17, 2009 12:29 PM   Subscribe

You are a seasoned fan of the new Battlestar Galactica. I am a seasoned fan of Deadwood, The Wire, West Wing, Mad Men, 24 (as guilty-pleasure narrative crack), Lost (love/hate), but skeptical about the whole pulpy SyFy sub-StarTrek smell I get from BSG. Convince me to watch it.
posted by Hugobaron to Media & Arts (52 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's fantastic through the middle of the 4th season, after which point it wraps up in a fairly unsatisfying manner. Up to that point though, it's a wonderful blend of West Wing-style politicking with 24-esque ticking-time-bomb scenarios. In space.
posted by Oktober at 12:31 PM on September 17, 2009

Spoiler Alert.

When BG first came out, rightwingers loved it, because they felt it parallelled our endless stuggle against the "Ay-rab." They stopped liking it when humans under Cylon control resorted to suicide bombing. Man did it piss them off.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:31 PM on September 17, 2009

Simply put, the new BSG is pretty much entirely not about the sci-fi. There's not really anything about it except the whole personality shifting thing that couldn't be set in any other environment.

It's simply really good drama that happens to happen mostly in space.
posted by ydant at 12:32 PM on September 17, 2009

the sci-fi is incidental.
posted by violetk at 12:33 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

The sci-fi is incidental for the first few seasons, at least. It's mostly political, but about deep political questions, like the necessary balance between authority and liberty in any free society.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:35 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: Having watched all of BSG (and with no small amount of relish at the time), I can assure you that there is nothing particularly sublime about it. It had moments that were well-crafted sci-fi, and it was certainly exciting. But to hold it up against the Wire is a joke. While I firmly believe it is the best U.S. sci-fi I've seen in some years (and it is a parable of our times, yawn), it is not the best in serial television. Watch it if you have nothing else to do for, what, 45 hours. It's good for the gym or a commute.

If you are looking for truly fantastic episodic television, I would advise you investigate Six Feet Under and Twin Peaks (which definitely had its big-time ups and downs, but was extraordinary in many respects).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:36 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: Suppose I said to you: "You are a seasoned fan of Deadwood. I am a seasoned fan of BSG, but skeptical about the whole pulpy wild-West sub-Gunsmoke smell I get from Deadwood. Convince me to watch it."

You might reply something along the lines of "Deadwood may be a western, but try to see past the fact that other Westerns have been shlocky, cliche-ridden exercises in American nostalgia. If you can, you will see that it has immensely rich characters and an allegorical depth that busts the very conventions that initially might turn you off."

I will similarly say to you: "BSG may be sci-fi, but try to see past the fact that other sci-fi shows have been shlocky, cliche-ridden exercises in oogelah-boogelah monsters & aliens triviality. If you can, you will see that it has immensely rich characters and an allegorical depth that busts the very conventions that turn you off."
posted by googly at 12:37 PM on September 17, 2009 [8 favorites]

Best answer: There's a lot of West-Wing style walk-and-talk. There's a lot of politics and wonkiness. There are hot women in uniform; there are hot women in skimpy dresses; there are hot men (uniforms only, sorry). The special effects are gorgeous. It tangles with the effects of torture on the tortured, the torturer and on the system that condones/orders it. It's a great big journey that has its moments of W.T.F., but is overall one hell of a ride.
posted by rtha at 12:37 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: Great question. As a '60s Trek fan, god knows I have tried, but the earnest "Wing Commander cinema scene" vibe has always challenged my efforts to get into it, so I too would like to hear what the hooks are.
posted by Kirklander at 12:37 PM on September 17, 2009

Watch the pilot and the first season. Maybe through the second season. It's highly entertaining and well written. After that...well...Let's just say you start to see signs that the train is about to fly off the tracks.

I do not suggest you watch it through to the series finale. Worst series ending of the modern age.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:39 PM on September 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I hate sci-fi more than I could possibly express here. I returned a box-set of BSG that someone gave me as a gift. I begrudgingly, and with loud and obnoxious whining, sat through the miniseries that started the series while staying with friends one weekend. After the first hour I completely forgot that the show was even composed of so-called sci-fi elements - it is THAT GOOD through the first three seasons. It is actually a show about humanity - the good, the appalling and everything in-between.
posted by meerkatty at 12:40 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I agree with Admiral Haddock. It's a good show, occasionally great, but it isn't nearly as consistent as most of the shows you mention.
posted by Bearman at 12:41 PM on September 17, 2009

With Deadwood and The Wire, I often found myself watching a few episodes at once. The first season of BSG had the same effect, in that I kept watching to find out what the Cylons' plan was. I haven't watched Lost but I imagine it's the same sort of serial, in that the writers keep stringing you along with open plot lines to keep you watching. They promise to resolve plot lines, while opening new ones, etc.

For me, the series was compelling up to the first three episodes of the third season. It seems to get hit and miss thereafter. The two Gaeta-focused episodes of the second half of season four were well worth the wait, but it's difficult for me not to be disappointed with the remaining episodes.

BSG is nowhere near as smartly written as Deadwood and The Wire. Their writers had several golden opportunities to ask what makes us any different from the machines we make, and squandered it on silly, cult-like religious tropes that ended up being so jarring they broke suspension of disbelief.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:42 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A while back I saw a chart of several TV shows indicating the relative quality of each season. Some kind of went up and down, some had one bad season, and some just got gradually worse or better. The graph for BSG had a loop in it.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 12:44 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm with Meerkatty. And I too loved BSG. Just to add a little more depth to the points already brought up here, after I finished the series I watched some of the extras. One of them was a "making-of" documentary that contained an interview with Edward James Olmos (Commander Adama, pretty much the moral compass (rightly or wrongly) of the BSG world) in which they asked the fairly boilerplate "how did you discover/want/get the role of Adama?"

He told a story about getting the script, having his wife read the first part and telling him it was good, and auditioning. At the audition, or maybe it was when they started filming, Olmos turned to the director and said something to the effect that "If you start introducing pointy-headed aliens into this show, I'm gone. I'm serious. I'll just faint in the middle of a scene, someone can carry me off, and you can figure out what to do next because I'll have nothing to do with it".

So yeah, it's sci-fi, but it's sci-fi in the same way that Firefly was sci-fi. Well worth watching, even through to the finale in my opinion.
posted by pdb at 12:48 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: When it was first broadcast, I was horrified - it was such a departure from the original that my mind closed it off.
Coming back to it later (TV repeats, mostly) I've realised how good a story it is - how well planned it all seems to be, and how much you are able to empathise with the characters. The fact that it is set in space and has robots and lasers and stuff is almost incidental.

Plus, my wife would sit with me and avidly watch each episode (sometimes 2 or 3 in one night) is a pretty good testament, as she isn't normally one for action or sci-fi stuff.
posted by Chunder at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2009

I wouldn't say BSG is science fiction the way Star Trek is science fiction. I mean, they ARE both science fiction, but Star Trek is like an Andre Norton story, and BSG is like a Ted Chiang story - both enjoyable, but operating on entirely different levels for entirely different purposes. I'm not saying BSG is the best show on TV, but if you enjoyed Deadwood then I think BSG plays with the medium in a similar way.
posted by muddgirl at 12:50 PM on September 17, 2009

People seem to be awfully hung up on genre here. As if saying something is both science fiction and good is a huge unbelievable contradiction.
posted by kmz at 12:50 PM on September 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

I had no idea that the new BSG even existed until I was introduced to it by a friend earlier this year. He lent me the kickoff miniseries and I was hooked. I am embarrassed to say this, but I watched all 4 seasons in about 3 and a half weeks....and I have a full time job. Hah. I do agree that the quality of the episodes and story-line fluctuates over the seasons. I was especially annoyed by 'the boxing episode'. You will find that there are a variety of opinions about how the show ended. I personally thought it was kind of a neat twist.....but there is room for improvement. If you have the time, give it a try.
posted by mockjovial at 12:51 PM on September 17, 2009

The first 2 1/2 seasons I really enjoyed, when the show was about people surviving against a relentless pursuing enemy while trying to preserve what was left of their society.

After that, the show veered off into crazy land and got all tangled up in bullshit mindfuck mysticism and writers just generally fucking with the story.

posted by Fleebnork at 12:52 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

nthing that it was a somewhat inconsistent show, but it really shares very little with Star Trek or pulp sci-fi.

Let me put it on my personal scale for you: on the crime-drama scale, Law and Order is a C/C- and the Wire an A+. On the sci-fi scale, Star Trek is a C/C- (sorry trekkies, not my thing) and Battlestar is a B, with a couple of A+ and D episodes thrown in.

You would probably feel the same about BSG as you did about Lost, once you get into it (though Lost still has an opportunity to wrap things up in a neater package).
posted by Benjy at 12:57 PM on September 17, 2009

What meerkatty said. Except I like well done sci-fi but that doesn't counter meerkitty's point. BSG is drama about humanity. Sci-fi is incidental.

You should watch it through the end too. I didn't like everything they did on the way to the conclusion, and in the conclusion, but some it was amazing.
posted by Silvertree at 12:59 PM on September 17, 2009

You should watch it. It's not The Wire or Deadwood, but it's only a small step down. I ignored it for years but finally gave in, and I am glad I did.

It is critical to watch the pilot movie first, and to not start with episode one, which will confuse the hell out of you if seen first.

It has a lame ending, yes (the episode that should have ended the series is halfway through the last season; everything after that is why-are-they-bothering)... but so does almost every other TV series.
posted by rokusan at 1:03 PM on September 17, 2009

People seem to be awfully hung up on genre here.

Because the OP's specific objection to the show is that they are "skeptical about the whole pulpy SyFy sub-StarTrek smell I get from BSG."
posted by muddgirl at 1:03 PM on September 17, 2009

...and I hate Star Trek, so my BSG endorsement is, um, extra-sincere or something.
posted by rokusan at 1:04 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: I agree with everything said about the series being great through the first few season and at least watchable up through season four.

Since you refer to BSG as "sub-Star Trek", here's an interesting bit of trivia for you. Ron Moore (producer/writer for the new BSG) was the producer for the first two episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, but left the show because of creative differences over how the ship and crew were supposed to evolve over the course of the series. If you've watched Voyager, you know that the ship somehow stays shiny and basically keeps its original components throughout the series. Moore wanted the ship to become, over time, battle-scarred and cobbled-together as befitting a vessel stranded over a galaxy away from home base. BSG allowed him to include that element.

I would have enjoyed Voyager at least a little if Moore had gotten his way.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 1:05 PM on September 17, 2009

I found that it jumped the shark somewhere in season 3. But prior to that by far it was one of the best sci fi things I ever saw, period. The special effects are also all amazing, and not in the "it's the biggest BOOM" way. ( I think the same guys that did those fx are the same guys who kicked ass for Joss Whedon ) but in terms of writing and character development.

I also think that after season 3 and up 'till the end, the writers MUST have had something in mind with several of the plot devices a la Lost that make you go "wth is up with that? I must know!" but were ultimately trounced as to where that was actually going by the desires of the director. Unless of course that's what he wanted all along, in which case I say "dude, really?"

Start with the mini-series, tho.
posted by bitterkitten at 1:07 PM on September 17, 2009

I love Mad Men and Deadwood and The West Wing too--haven't watched the other shows on the list. BSG is nowhere near as good as those shows. In fact it is actually kind of bad. I watched it because there are aspects of it I really like, but the dialog is cringe-inducing and the plot is worse. However, it's not bad because of the sci-fi-ness of it--and I say that as somebody who doesn't like sci-fi--but more because of the melodrama. You don't necessarily need to bother.
posted by phoenixy at 1:12 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: To say that BSG is a show about humanity proves too much, I think. BSG is no more revealing about the human condition than Lost is, which is to say not very. To be certain, BSG had some great characters (Commander Adama, President Roslin and, to an extent, Baltar) and a touching romance (Adama & Roslin, I think, had one of the more compelling romances I can recall seeing in any genre of television). And yes, it echoed the zeitgeist of post 9/11 America. (Effects were great, and the dogfights were really well done, as well.)

But there was nothing particularly great about it. It was entirely adequate television. Better than most. I love sci-fi--and if you're looking for good sci-fi, look no further. And to be honest, if you're simply looking for good television shows, you probably would not be disappointed (assuming you get over the sci-fi aversion).

But if you are looking for intelligent drama about the human condition like The Wire or Six Feet Under, you would best be served by looking elsewhere.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:15 PM on September 17, 2009

I've not seen the entirety of Deadwood, but there was (for me) a mind blowing scene where Al (Ian McShane) was getting a blowjob from one of his whores while talking about his mother/family or something like that. It was insanely powerful. There's a scene in BSG where Adama is drunk off his ass and reflecting about the whole situation, and another where he gets his ass kicked in a boxing match.

Moments like that is why you should watch BSG. Great writing. Great performances. Not that either one of those series dont have their slow points, but still ....
posted by elendil71 at 1:15 PM on September 17, 2009

I've watched all four seasons of BSG (over the course of a few months)--I've also watched all five seasons of The Wire and the first two seasons of Deadwood.

My opinion--season one is very good. Season two is... pretty good. Season three--hit or miss. At the end of season three, a series of arbitrary plot twists occur that are designed solely to shoot the plot up with enough drugs to limp through its final season before collapsing. If you are willing to buy that plot twist (and many people with equally valid opinions were--I wasn't) you may enjoy season four. But none of it matches The Wire or Deadwood for me.

Pros: The production design is top-notch throughout--it only gets better from one season to the next, even as the writing starts to fail. And the music is, in all honesty, one of the best musical scores you will ever hear for television. I would rank it with Angelo Badalamenti's score for Twin Peaks, Shirley Walker's for Batman: The Animated Series, or Jan Hammer's for Miami Vice.

There isn't a strong control of character development from one episode to the next. If you watch several episodes in a row (and this is the case even for season one) character behavior seem bizarre to you (and this differentiates it from The Wire or Deadwood, where each season has clearly defined arcs for all the major characters). Characters in BSG will sleep together, and seemingly forget about it. A character will die, and his or her lover will not demonstrate any real, lasting grief.

If you like 24, at one point one of the writers for 24 (Anne Cofell Saunders) starts writing for BSG, and her episodes feel a lot like episodes of 24, in space--people work against the clock; people engage in morally ambiguous behaviors to serve an ill-defined greater good; people get tortured. If you like Whedon-ish things, then at one point Jane Espenson (Buffy, Angel) starts writing for the show, and those episodes can feel a little Whedon-ish (in a way that felt out of place to me. "Now is not the time for a snarky one-liner," I'd sometimes say to myself when watching her episodes).

If I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I'd start watching from the beginning, stay with it up through the episode early in season three called "Torn", stop there, and imagine the show had gotten cancelled prematurely, leaving me to wonder how great it could have been if it had been given a chance.
posted by Prospero at 1:18 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Edit to fourth paragraph: "...character behavior will seem bizarre to you..."
posted by Prospero at 1:22 PM on September 17, 2009

I loved the Wire, and BSG is, IMO, almost as good. The main reason is that the characters are great and most importantly, I really can't predict what's going to happen next. I've stopped even trying to guess what is going to happen. The Wire is the only other show where I stopped mentally thinking "Okay they showed a gun under the bed in the second scene, character A is going to use it to kill character B by the end of the show." In both The Wire and BSG, all bets are off.
posted by np312 at 1:29 PM on September 17, 2009

I tried to watch BSG two or three times every season. Couldn't do it. And I loved me some Farscape, just so you know I'm not averse to loose, soapy sci-fi shows.

I tuned into the finale to give the series one more chance at redemption before it went away. Turned it off when the first twenty minutes (literally, I timed it) was three women sitting on a couch talking about a bridal shower.

I physically could not press the Power Off button hard enough. YMMV.
posted by Aquaman at 1:33 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: The Wire and Deadwood are my two favorite shows. I LOVED West Wing, and am still enjoying Mad Men (even though the first two eps of this season were not very good.) I have watched BSG, and while it isn't as good as Deadwood or The Wire, it is still so, so much better than most tv. And the sci-fi elements have very little to do with it.

And I have to say, see the whole show. Even though it has disappointed many people, at least it ends. The disappointment you may feel w/ the ending of BSG is nothing compared to the disappointment you'll feel at the "end" of Deadwood. (Plus, honestly, I liked how BSG ended. It wasn't entirely satisfactory, but it answered very close to every question it asked.)
posted by nushustu at 1:50 PM on September 17, 2009

The whole pulpy SyFy sub-StarTrek smell you get comes from the show's origins: Battlestar Galactica suffers from there having been a very very crappy show thirty years ago with the same title, the same names for a few of the characters, and the same general premise. Expectations for the remake were, how shall I say, low. It startled people by knocking it out of the park.

The 1978 show begins, as does the 2004 show, with the near-genocide of humanity. By the second hour of the 1978 show, they are hanging out at the space casino with the space hookers and have more or less forgotten about the bad guys.

To take an example: the fifth episode of both series is Starbuck-centric. In the newer version, Starbuck is stranded on a planet with a hostile atmosphere and is in danger of dying of aspyhxiation when her oxygen tanks run out; meanwhile Adama weighs the risks of extending the search for her and putting the entire fleet in possible jeopardy. In 1978, the fifth episode sees Starbuck piloting a ship with an experimental computer program called C.O.R.A. as a copilot:

Lt. Starbuck: Computer, back to normal track.
C.O.R.A.: Your wish is my command, honey.
Lt. Starbuck: The, uh, name's Starbuck
C.O.R.A.: Don't be a bore. My name is C.O.R.A. Short for Computer Oral Response Activated. I'm programmed to respond instantly to all your needs. I'm also to keep you amused over the length and duration of our prolonged voayage.

Anyway, I will cast my vote with the teeming millions above who have advised you that it is a good if uneven show that largely loses its way towards the end of the run. Consider how wobbly The West Wing got immediately after Sorkin's departure. That is what the final year of BSG felt like to me.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:00 PM on September 17, 2009

I like the same shows you do and after much goading from friends I finally watched BSG.

It was awful. Like really, really bad I want those hours of my life back awful.

Unlike the shows you listed, the characters are paper thin. They have no motives of their own, they are props that exist only to further the radically ever shifting political alliances. A lot of the actions they take make absolutely zero sense. One day someone will be die hard for some sub-plot point and the next they are on the other side of the fence with no explanation. After making it through several seasons thinking it was going to get better at any moment I finally said fuck it and moved on to better things.

I'm not opposed to scifi but if this is the best it has to offer.... count me out. I actually thought it could have been a great show if the writing had just been better, as it is it's a trainwreck that I think you have to be overly in love with space and aliens to look past the flaws.
posted by bradbane at 2:25 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: Watching Deadwood, I loved the way my affection grew and grew for Al Swearingen. I really grew to love that mean, dirty, violent son of a bitch.

Battlestar's Colonel Saul Tigh did something similar for me. At first, he seems pretty despicable: an old cynical alcoholic who's waaay past his prime. Eventually, though, I felt a tremendous amount of sympathy and even pain for him.

That's the biggest thing I can say: anger, despair, longing . . . BSG just made me feel more profoundly than I would have thought possible.

posted by General Tonic at 2:27 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

The last season of Battlestar Galactica is a kind of a letdown from the heights of earlier seasons. As was the case with Deadwood (only because they were setting things up for a fourth season that never happened*), The Sopranos, and The Wire.
* Hey, how are those movies coming? D'oh.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:27 PM on September 17, 2009

Worst series ending of the modern age.

I disagree. Stargate Atlantas took that title, hands down.

I didn't want to watch BSG. I'd seen parts of a few episodes and was annoyed by the gratuitous use of "frak." After a year and a half of begging, my boyfriend convinced me to sit down and watch the miniseries that kicked it off and I was hooked.

Fortunately, I started watching AFTER it was all over so I didn't have to wait for the next episodes. I adored the show, despite my reticence to watch it to begin with.

I'd say give it a try. Nothing says you have to continue watching if you don't like the first episode or two.
posted by Aleen at 2:39 PM on September 17, 2009

I was a BSG addict, and no way is it as good as The Wire, even in its best moments. Still, I loved it for a few seasons. However, if you don't handle disappointment well, don't even start.
posted by Mngo at 2:57 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: Why not just watch the miniseries that kicks off the series and see if you like it? You should be able to get the DVD for five bucks or so, so you're not losing much if it turns out to be your sort of show.

Personally, I thought BSG was pretty good, if not up to the standards of Babylon 5, Farscape and Firefly. As the show went on it felt like it was trying too hard to be topical, and it got bogged down in philosophy and pseudo-religious imagery. I also felt the finale ended up contradicting the messages the show had previously promoted.

If you're looking for a show more similar in tone to the series you listed, I would recommend the anime Planetes. It's a very realistic portrayal of space development, with more emphasis on politics and street-level characters.

By the way, I don't agree with the implication that having sci-fi elements somehow precludes a show from being good drama or reflective about the human condition. All sci-fi is about humanity in some sense. The very best examples of the genre use sci-fi elements to interestingly comment on and allow further insights into human existence, rather than succeeding in spite of the fantastical elements they contain.
posted by fearthehat at 3:07 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Watch the miniseries. Just sit down and do it. If it doesn't grab you, don't bother with the rest. But I would bet that it will grab you. I went on and on about BSG to a friend, who eventually, grudgingly, agreed to watch the miniseries...and then watched another four episodes in the same session. For a while (especially the first season), it really was the best show on TV, an honour I have awarded in my own personal awards show to very few shows ("Homicide:Life On The Street" and "The Wire" are two of them). As others have said, the sci-fi is mostly incidental, it just allowed the writers a lot of freedom to explore things without attendant preconceptions and prejudices. Also, the writers were very, very clever about how they handled the story arcs, and how they influenced the viewers' opinions. Yes, it got hit or miss toward the end, but when it was brilliant, it was seriously brilliant.
posted by biscotti at 5:58 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Except for 24, our list of favourite shows is pretty much the same and for what it's worth I loved BSG.

Also, I am quite open about my geekiness to my friends. When I was originally watching BSG years ago I was the brunt of many jokes directed at me because watching it, to them, somehow crossed into a new level of nerddom. Slowly though they all eventually watched the mini-series and, naturally, fell in love with the show. Now the (ex) chief hater tells me about how she's had BSG dreams to vivid that she wakes up in the night and has to ask her boyfriend if he's a Cylon.

Watch the show.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 6:16 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: I loved this show. Loved it to death. Then it, um, died.

I agree with those who suggested starting with the miniseries. You'll know whether you love it or hate it after that. The mini and the first two seasons are absolutely worth watching -- BSG was really great as a claustrophobic, post-apocalyptic, morally-ambiguous military drama, and that's pretty much where they were going with it during the first two seasons. The characters, setting, and acting were top-notch, and while the writing was sometimes a little inconsistent, they managed to keep it together most of the time.

Unfortunately, the problem got worse. The show went downhill during the second half of season 3, picked up speed during season 4, and then finally burst into flames and crashed into a fundamentalist luddite church, killing several bystanders including narrative believability, self-consistent themes, and my respect for Ronald D. Moore. Obituary printed in the Caprican Times, 3/20/09. Please address flowers or donations to Weddle and Thompson, formerly of Gemenon.
posted by vorfeed at 8:07 PM on September 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

Try the pilot. If you don't like it, your investment is small. It's nowhere near as good as the Wire, but what is?

There are some shitty "character backstory" soap-opera-ish episodes, but they're mostly one-off filler for shows that play out a larger narrative arc (you can actually skip them without missing any of the story). The "frack" instead of "fuck" is extremely off-putting (sorry, it sounds SO FRACKIN DUMB), but you get used to it by the end of the first season.

I guess what's frustrating is that storyline starts to lose its way a bit in the midst of the second season, and doesn't really pick up the pace of the first season ever again (yet you feel compelled to watch out of closure). Then again, you watched Deadwood, so you probably know how that goes.

Personally, if you want great sci-fi, watch the underrated Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (which sadly, will never see a conclusion).
posted by fishfucker at 8:56 PM on September 17, 2009

Best answer: The reasons that I loved Battlestar Galactica were: more deep a focus in on the relationships between people than you'd get from most tv right now, and its examination of philosophical, moral, political, structural/systemic, and religious themes. Those things really do feature more prominently than any sci-fi or other genre-based flavors. I was similarly reluctant to start watching it because it looked insufferably "military" to me. But as it turns out, I loved it.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:25 PM on September 17, 2009

Thanks, vorfeed, that was awesome. My sentiments exactly.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:40 AM on September 18, 2009

Response by poster: Anything that inspires such a range of love and scorn must be watched.

Thank you so much, hive-mind.
posted by Hugobaron at 12:48 PM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Imagine you're a small boy. One day, a magic genie appears. He gives you ice cream. He takes you on a roller coaster. He gives you a lightsaber. He gives you the power to fly and turn invisible. Then he takes you into a woodshed and sodomises you with an axe handle.

Yeah, that's what watching all four seasons of BSG is like.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:49 PM on September 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I missed this question when it first came around so essentially my answer is pointless, but I'd be very curious to know what you thought of the show if you watched it. I love Deadwood and think that it is easily the greatest television show ever created--and I write that without hyperbole.

I watched the first season of BSG and thought very little of it. I discussed it with several friends who really liked it and could not really put a voice to what it was about it that I found boring. Then, another friend, who also disliked it, made concrete what was sort of an itch in the back of my mind.

My recollections of the show and the conversation are kind of vague, but here's how I remember it.


There's an episode where young prodigy captain character gets his leg or foot injured and he can no longer fly. But someone needs to do some fancy flying or the fleet is toast. They sub in Starbuck or whatever her name is, who we've been repeatedly told is not as good a fighter as the lame guy.

However, without much effort (ie, within the context of a single episode) she rises to the task and is victorious.

Frankly, this is BS. This is writers with crutches. Writers who are willing to throw away everything they've built over X episodes about not just one character but at least two and fall into cliche and admit that these characters are completely interchangeable. "No one can defeat the enemy except Captain X". Repeat ad nauseum for X episodes, then have his girlfriend defeat the enemy in 10 minutes. It's an insult. Deadwood never does this. In Deadwood, when someone attempts something that we've been told repeatedly is outside their depth, they pay for the attempt, usually dearly.

BSG is very average television that happened to be broadcast at a time of serious political nonsense within the USA. The producers fucked with analogy in order to make the show relevant to the times and threw pretty much everything else that makes good storytelling out the window. They dismissed their own characters characteristics in favor of cliche bullshit and the 42 minute timeline.

There are plenty of shows/movies that do this kind of shit. Often, it's passable. Often, it's fine. Often, when it is, it's 2 hours of your time. 45 hours? Fuck that. Watch Deadwood again instead. Spend the saved 10 hours thinking about Deadwood.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:05 PM on November 3, 2009

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