I wrote this a week ago, and forgot to post:
When the series finale to Battlestar Galactica aired two weeks ago, I was worried when everyone started twittering and blogging their resentment at how it ended. I don't watch the show when it first airs; I watch it on DVD, and I didn't want anything spoiled. So I rushed through the Season Four, Part 1 on DVD -- and then downloaded the remaining episodes from iTunes. Thus, at around 1 AM, I finished Battlestar. In true hypocritical form, now that I've seen it, I feel perfectly okay with blogging about it myself. I would recommend not reading this blog post until you've seen it yourself. (Josh Howard also has a good commentary on the finale.)
I'll admit when someone tells you "You need to watch Battlestar Galactica," the last thing you want to do is watch something called "Battlestar Galactica." I can't think of a more geeky pairing of words. Fans, step back and listen to yourself: "Battle. Star. Galactica." This is the burden we bear: great series, geeky name. In contrast, the show's concept is very cool. Humanity has been wiped out by robots (aka cylons), and the surviving remnant of the human race is looking for a new place to call home, while being chased by the cylon forces. Add to it some interesting scenarios: A prominent scientist, a traitor responsible for naively giving important security codes to the cylons, is among the survivors. Many of the cylons look like humans, and can live among the humans undetected. The education secretary, by way of constitutional succession, is now the President. She's also dying of cancer. The fleet is protected by a recently retired "battlestar" vessel where most of our main characters live. What I like best about this series is the procedural stuff, i.e. how are they going to survive out in space, produce food, find fuel, rebuild the government, manage the balance of power between the military and the government, deal with unruly citizens, religious zealots, mutiny, and a host of other social issues associated with people trying to survive on a journey. Think Noah's ark, Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert, the Trail of Tears, and Grapes of Wrath. Battlestar Galactica never strayed too far from its original premise. Something I cannot say about another show that I love, namely LOST. In the first season of LOST, they were continually worried about hunting for food, building shelters, fishing, and scavenging for supplies. As of LOST's fifth season, these people are not too concerned about hunting wild boar or basic health issues. I miss that. The second best thing about Battlestar Galactica is that the stakes were always insanely high. People died, often -- men, women, and children. They were always on the verge of their entire civilization being wiped out. There was always a new crisis to deal with. Even something as simple as food and water rationing had me absolutely entranced. The third best thing about Battlestar Galactica is the emphasis on military procedure, terminology, chain of command, etc. It feels more like a documentary about life on an aircraft carrier than science fiction.
That's not to say the series was flawless from beginning to end. If I could play "guest writer" to the series, I'd recommend a few changes:
* Laura Roslin's cancer. It's a great subplot, but that whole hybrid-blood-transfusion thing as a cure for her cancer was dumb. You wrote yourself into a corner by giving her a deadline (literally). You wanted to keep her around, and this transfusion was a convenient way to do that. Then of course, the cancer came back. I would've gone without a deadline, and make her cancer's progression move slower.
* The Starbuck/Apollo love affair. Thank the gods the writers were smart enough to move away from this storyline in season four. It was annoying. I could've lived without it.
* Dr. Gaius Baltar, a great character, but his role shifted around too much. Scientist, president, convict, revolutionary, banished to live among the cylons, and messiah -- I would prefer a more focused approach to this character as a corrupt soul searching for redemption. Gaius the Revolutionary was most engaging. Also, the Number Six in his head. It was cool in season one, but it got a little nutty after awhile -- especially with Caprica Six dealing with a Gaius in her head.
* Too much mutiny. The mutiny in season four, led by Felix Gaeta, was easily the coolest thing to happen in the series. However, we've had too much deception within the fleet, too much going against William Adama's direct orders, and then everything being forgiven. It becomes a bit of a pattern. Galen Tyrol has made a career out of royally messing up the fleet, especially in season four. It was a little much. Boomer needs to kidnap Hera? He's your guy. Nice truce between human and cylon? Tyrol chokes Tory Foster to death, and ruins it, which turned out in their favor. (Tyrol seems to have issues with violence against women. End of season two? He viciously attacks poor crazy Cally.)
* Not enough of the good stuff. The Felix Gaeta mutiny could've gone on for a few more episodes. It resolved a little too quickly. Likewise, their cylon occupation on New Caprica, that could've lasted much longer. It was exciting, and it didn't last.
* The relationship between Colonel Tigh and Caprica Six, what was the purpose? It did nothing. We could've skipped that without much lost.
These personal gripes are still minor within an otherwise flawless TV show. Let's get to the finale. I loved it. The rescue of Hera was a heroic moment to unite the fleet after the crushing disappointment of a scorched Earth. It was no surprise that the "New Earth" would be our planet, but primitive. I could've done without forwarding thousands of years to the present -- seemed a little forced. Scott Kurtz's PvP had a good response. Other than that, I felt the finale tied up loose ends, offered a few surprises, and had a good pay off for the fans. Maybe a little rushed, I would love another episode or two of them settling Earth, but it would've been anti-climatic.
From The Onion: "Obama Depressed, Distant Since 'Battlestar Galactica' Finale"