Battlestar Galactica Season 1 Review
I'll make some general comments first. In general the SciFi channel seems to go for the "shock" factor with many of their shows. I am all for a good sex scene. I do own X rated films. That being said, many of the shows I've seen on SciFi deliberately insert porn or near-porn material just to "titillate their viewership" rather than for any meaningful plot reasons. It's the giggle factor, sort of like inserting fart jokes. It really disappoints me a great deal. There were MANY scenes in this first season of Battlestar Galactica that were overly sexual for no reason at all other than to jolt the audience. To be honest I don't need dangling eyeballs or shots of men masturbating to involve me in the story. It turns me off rather than turn me on. I really wish SciFi wouldn't do that. I imagine some people must enjoy that - maybe they aren't old enough to buy real porn - but I am really hoping that SciFi doesn't feel the need to resort to such cheap tricks in future seasons.
For shows like this we always try to not watch or hear anything at all about the series while it's playing, then get the DVDs once the series is done. In our MTV culture it is really disappointing how badly commercials interrupt shows, and how much the week-long breaks in between episodes damages the continuity of feeling. I have literally seen episodes where someone was crying and angst-ful, then a commercial break had happy people singing, then they went back to the angstful emotion again after the commercial break. It's just an awful storytelling situation. I'm not sure it's any better to have obvious product placement IN a TV series to pay for the show. I'm not sure what the solution is. I suppose it is to do what I do, that is get the DVD version and not deal with that problem :)
The mini-series has all of the usual mini-series / pilot issues. I have found with almost every pilot I've watched in the past few years that they overly exaggerate the characters in order to catch your attention and help you distinguish them. The women are not just sexually open, they are sluts. The men don't just like to drink, they are violent alcoholics. The same is true here. I stayed with it, and sure enough, the characters mellowed to something more reasonable over time. I wish screenwriters would give us the benefit of the doubt that we can appreciate and tell apart the characters without over-inflating them at the start.
I really dislike the "forward glances" that they do at the beginning of each episode and literally fast-forward through them. I do NOT want to see what is going to happen before I see it in context! I want to watch the episode fresh and new, without "waiting for a certain scene". I dislike previews for the same reason.
I do very much like that they made this version of the situation (compared with the original TV show) a dark and gritty one. I am all for realism and dark grit. Mankind is on its last breath. This is a rough situation. People have different reactions to near-death and I think they do a very good job of balancing the people who want to "regain what was lost" vs the "people who just want to survive no matter what it takes". I love the mix of old and new technology and that there is a real reason for it.
I do NOT like that as part of this grittiness they have people smoking everywhere! I'm not sure who told the writers that smoking = gritty! I am not some sort of new-age "smoke pollutes the soul" person. However, there are many ways they could have chosen to show that hardness of character. Smoking is one of those cliche things from the 20s that surely they could have done without. Heck, why not show them all doing opium or something? Why use nicotine as the drug of choice? Why not invent something like Space Dust? These people are performance based high end athletes. I'm sorry, but I don't know any solid athletes who smoke. This seems like a poor cheat to me by the writers.
Much has been written about the use of "frak" as a swear in this show, how it replaces of course the regular "F" word and sounds about the same. It's even becoming a "regularly used swear word" in many circles. It does give the down and gritty feel of a world filled with anger. I have mixed feelings on this one. I don't tend to swear a lot myself, because I find ways to express my feelings rather than just spitting out an "anger word" whatever it is. You could say that, if you feel angry, you should let it out. Yes, that is true! But long term it is far more healthy to express what you want to do, not just spew venom as a way to keep from killing someone. That all these well trained regimental military people go around just venting anger bothers me. To me that veers towards loss of control, which is the opposite of what I think of when I think of say fighter pilots, knights, those sorts of trained individuals.
In general I found the first season very heavy handed, almost insultingly so. The good guys were very good. The bad guys were very bad. They almost were playing "evil music" when bad guys were around and "good music" when good guys were around so that you identified strongly as you were instructed to. Scenes were very clearly lifted from No Way Out, The Incredible Hulk, Top Gun and more. Characters would do things for plot reasons vs for character reasons.
That is not to say that I hated the season. We are definitely moving on to watch Season 2. However, I have to say I was disappointed. I had been told by many people that this was the best series ever created in the history of humanity. I have *several* other TV series that I feel have better acting, much better dialogue, much better plot lines. I really think the issue here is that my hopes were too high going into it. Compared with other sci-fi series, this definitely does very well. I am really hoping with season 2 that they settle down and really concentrate on original plot lines and on characters who act true to their personalities.
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