So Say We All:
Battlestar Galactica Is the Best Show on Television

Culture — By on April 4, 2008 at 2:12 am

A shockingly large segment of the population suffers from the delusion that all artistic judgments are subjective. For instance, when confronted with a claim such as “John Singer Sargent is the greatest painter of the 20th century”, they believe that what is being presented is an assertion of opinion rather than a statement of fact. They do not realize that to agree is to be in possession of a correct judgment while to disagree is to simply be wrong.
Similarly, some people may attempt to dispute the indisputable fact that Battlestar Galactica is the greatest series currently on television and is, in my respects, one of the greatest shows ever. These self-deceived folks generally fall into two categories: those who have seen the show yet disagree (hence, exhibiting an inability to recognize the sublime) or those who have not yet seen the show and remain skeptical that such a claim could be true.
Rather than attempting to educated the first group–which would require more time and patience than I possess–I will focus on explaining to the second group what they are missing.
BSG is the best sci-fi show on television–ever: The paucity of good sci-fi on television becomes apparent when you consider the competition. When the Boston Globe put together a list of The Top 50 Sci-Fi Shows of All Time, they had to pad it with other genres (e.g., superhero: Batman, Adventures of Superman, Wonder Woman), series that were forgettable even when they originally aired (The Greatest American Hero, Nowhere Man), and shows no one has ever heard of (Space 1999, That Was Then) in order to come up with fifty.
The Globe ranks Star Trek as #1 and bumps BSG to #2. And indeed, the most serious challenger to BSG would appear to be the original Star Trek. But the cultural phenomenon spawned by Star Trek–rather than the series itself–is what is most interesting about that series and will continue to be its most lasting legacy; the culture of Trekkies is far more significant than any of the episodes featuring Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. The original has also been eclipsed by its successor, Star Trek: The Next Generation–another show that, while worthy in some respects, cannot compete with BSG.


BSG is the best show on television to explore philosophical issues–ever: In a recent issue of Wired, Clive Thompson wrote on “Why Sci-Fi Is the Last Bastion of Philosophical Writing.” “If you want to read books that tackle profound philosophical questions,” says Thompson, “then the best — and perhaps only — place to turn these days is sci-fi. Science fiction is the last great literature of ideas.”
What is true of literature is also true for televised narratives. From The Twilight Zone to Lost, sci-fi shows have been able to explore questions of ethics, ontology, metaphysics, et al., in a way that conventional “realistic” shows are unable to do. What sets BSG apart from other worthy fare (like the shows mentioned above) is that it weaves truly big ideas–as opposed to merely interesting ones, like the effects of time travel–deeply into the story lines of each episode. From age old questions of free will and responsibility to such cutting-edge topics as the bioethics of transhumanism, BSG seamlessly incorporates philosophical themes into the narrative structure and forces us to consider how we should respond to such issues.
BSG is the best show on television about religious belief–ever: There are a number of television shows that have done a masterful job of exploring specific faiths (e.g., Christianity, Judaism) or religious themes. But no show has ever matched BSG ability to examine the effects of religious belief on politics, society, philosophy, and human (as well as humanoid) civilization.
The religious themes in BSG are complex and often confusing. The humans are polytheistic, believing in a number of gods that are connected with Greek and Roman mythology while their humanoid enemy, the Cylons, are monotheistic. What makes the series interesting from a religious perspective is that the beliefs of each of the two groups (as well as the subset of agnostics as atheists) have serious implications. Almost every major character has strong religious convictions that shape not only their own individual destiny but the fate of all humankind/humanoidkind.
BSG is the best show on television about the military–ever: The structure and tradition of the military in BSG is modeled loosely on the U.S. Navy, though it adds an intriguing level of gender-neutrality (e.g., living quarters are completely co-ed, officers of both genders are referred to as “sir”). This is characteristic of the show, for even when it falls back on clichés (pilots are cocky) the writers manage to include a unique twist (the cockiest most capable pilot is a woman).
While most shows about the military can’t even get the most basic details right (Marines with sideburns!) BSG goes to extraordinary lengths to achieve a level of realism. (As a Marine, I’ve worked alongside sailors in aviation squadrons and was impressed by how many details the series gets right.) No show on television has every captured the nuances of military culture like BSG. [Caution: The show substitutes the word "frak" for another plosive consonant that starts with "F." Although it may be a clever way for the writers to circumvent the basic-cable prohibition against profanity, it also adds a level of realism to the dialogue for in the military cussing is often used as a form of technical jargon.]
The fourth and final season of BSG begins tonight on the Sci-Fi channel. However, if you’ve never watched the show do not watch the new episodes. Begin at the beginning and watch all of the previous three seasons. You won’t regret this This list is but a sampling of what you’re missing if you’ve never watched this superb sci-fi series.
Addendum: Here are a few aesthetic judgments that I hold about BSG that are subjective:

  • Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer) is the most beautiful machine in the universe.
  • Edward James Olmos and Lucy Lawless have never had better acting roles.
  • Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) is the most intriguing military character ever on a TV show.
  • Gaius Baltar (James Callis) is the most loathsome, cowardly, painful-to-watch, character ever on a TV show.
  • BSG would have been better had it made a Marine one of its main characters.
  • We are in the Golden Age of Television (seriously), which makes the standing of BSG all the more significant.
  • No show on television has ever had a better opening sequence (see video below).



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  • David Marcoe

    Joe, it’s ok to admit you’re wrong. We all are from time to time :-) In truth, I probably couldn’t tell you whether it is the best sci-fi show ever, as that would require me to have a more extensive knowledge of the genre and medium than I possess, but I do have my complaints. In fact, I actually wrote quite a bit about it. Here are my compiled comments on BSG from over at Libertas:
    One of my gripes about reimagined Battlestar Galactica series on Sci-Fi is that it’s a show you so badly want to love, but for the unending angst. On the one hand, the psychological impact on the characters is understandable; surviving mass genocide without time to grieve, the ongoing fight for survival against the Cylons, and the struggle of a society to fit its institutions and remnants with in the confines of a spaceship. The problem comes when the drama is drawn out so long, that it starts straining credulity and realism.
    The fights, arguments, affairs, and drunken tirades become a little old after the fourth or fifth time. Nobody ever cracks a joke or whistles a tune to break the tension. The constant pettiness and conflict defies social reality, which is that communities will typically band together in the face of a common threat.
    ##########
    “David I completely agree with the Galactica observations. I’m not looking for guffaws, but a little levity to demonstrate some humanity every once in a while would go a long way. The angst made sense at first but now it all feels terribly forced. That, coupled with the pervasive moral equivalence (colonial suicide bombers, Cylons who commit atrocities yet are supposed to be sympathetic because they’re filled with angst and self-doubt) make it very difficult to root for the ‘heroes’ this season.”
    Indeed, the two go hand and hand. By continuing with the angst, it gives the writers more opportunity to demonstrate how flawed humanity is, which dovetails right back into one of the themes of the original ‘03 miniseries, where Admiral Adama mused in his farewell speech about whether humanity was worth saving. If they had characters rising above their flaws and displaying uncommon virtue and valor, it would undermine their message. So, for every ray of sunshine, they have to beat them back down into darkness.
    One of the biggest copouts was at the end of season 3 with Lee Adama’s speech in defense Gaius Baltar at his trial, determining whether or not he was guilty of treason for “collaborating” with the Cylon occupation. It starts quite well, but then they quite literally contradict their own story and plot points in order to make his speech work. Here’s the speech:
    “Did the defendant make mistakes? Sure. He did. Serious mistakes. But did he actually commit any crimes? Did he commit treason? No. I mean, it was an impossible situation. When the Cylons arrived, what could he possibly do? What could anyone have done? (looking at the audience) Ask yourself, what would you have done? (looking at the judges) What would you have done? If he had refused to surrender, the Cylons would have probably nuked the planet right then and there. So did he appear to cooperate with the Cylons? Sure.”
    Completely true. And he could have won the trial with that bit right there.
    “So did hundreds of others. What’s the difference between him and them? The President issued a blanket pardon. They were all forgiven, no questions asked. Colonel Tigh. Colonel Tigh used suicide bombers, killed dozens of people. Forgiven.”
    Setting aside the suicide bomber angle, Colonel Tigh was fighting a war against an occupying force, which was actively supported by the fleet off-world. The “dozens of people” killed were either collateral damage from having to fight in an urban area (unavoidable), or the casualties were people targeted for *actively* collaborating with the Cylons, such as the members of the Cylon assembled and trained police force. In other words, the enemy. And the “hundreds of others” were simply people going to their jobs in places that the Cylons took over. Pardoning them was tying up a loose end, not to mention that pardoning is a legal power possessed by the President of the Twelve Colonies, to be exercised at her discretion.
    “Lieutenant Agathon and Chief Tyrol. They murdered an officer on the Pegasus. Forgiven.”
    They didn’t murder anyone. They tackled an officer who was about to rape a prisoner. In the process, his head was thrown forward, his temple striking an exposed bolt protruding out of the wall, causing a fatal blow to the head. In short, an accidental death.
    “The Admiral. The Admiral instigated a military coup d’état against the President. Forgiven.”
    This one has some traction, but Admiral Adama believed the President to be mentally unfit at the time, which proved to not be the case, but being in a state of war and all
    “And me? Well, where do I begin? I shot down a civilian passenger ship, the Olympic Carrier. Over a thousand people on board. Forgiven.”
    The Olympic Carrier was a ship that had disappeared from the fleet, mysteriously turned up again, and, to quote from BSG Wiki, “When radiological alarms sound on Valerii’s Raptor on CAP, indicating the presence of a nuclear device, Commander Adama and President Roslin come to a quick consensus that the ship must be destroyed. Pilots Apollo and Starbuck reluctantly carry out the order and destroy the vessel before the nuclear weapon could detonate. Neither viewers nor the characters know for certain whether the Cylons offloaded the humans aboard the starliner or left them aboard (and out of sight) to die.” In other words, yet another military situation with a tough tactical decision, but no criminal act.
    “I raised my weapon to a superior officer, committed an act of mutiny. Forgiven.”
    He defended the rightful President of the Twelve Colonies against a coup attempt, upholding his legal and constitutional duties in the process. Ironically, it was also during that story arc that he gave a speech about the need for the rule of law.
    “And then on the very day when Baltar surrendered to those Cylons, I as commander of Pegasus jumped away. I left everybody on that planet, alone, undefended, for months.”
    The Galactica and Pegasus, coming to quick consensus that they be obliterated outright if they tried to fight the oncoming Cylon fleet, thereby leaving the people on New Caprica defenseless, decide to leave, with the intention of coming back. Here again we see another tough military decision, but nothing truly criminal.
    “I even tried to persuade the Admiral never to return, to abandon you all there for good. If I’d had my way nobody would have made it off that planet. I’m the coward. I’m the traitor. I’m forgiven. I’d say we are very forgiving of mistakes. We make our own laws now; our own justice. And we’ve been pretty creative in finding ways to let people off the hook for everything from theft to murder. And we’ve had to be, because…because we’re not a civilization anymore. We are a gang, and we are on the run, and we have to fight to survive. We have to break rules. We have to bend laws. We have to improvise.”
    And here we have the main thesis of his speech, but each example that was given was stripped of all its circumstantial and moral context, in order to try and make the words of the character sound compelling. In every case he ticked off, President Roslin exercised her pardoning power with in the confines of the law. But out of the various supposed crimes he recounts, only one can be definitively counted as a crime, and that one (the coup attempt) was committed under extraordinary circumstances. For a society on the run, in a state of war, with massive holes blasted through its institutions, it has cut amazingly few corners. Constitutional succession was maintained, laws enforced as best possible, elections held, and trials given. But the writers can’t acknowledge those facts, or the speech loses power.
    But there is also a logical fallacy running through the entire speech. On the one hand, Lee argues Baltar is not guilty under their laws. On the other hands, he’s saying their hypocrites for cutting corners elsewhere, but not here, implying that Baltar is guilty, but that “We have to break rules. We have to bend laws.” Which is it?
    “…But most of all, it is built on shame. (looking at his father) It’s about the shame of what we did to ourselves back on that planet. It’s about the guilt of those of us who ran away. Who ran away. And we’re trying to dump all that guilt and all that shame on one man and then flush him out the airlock, and hope that just gets rid of it all. So that we could live with ourselves. But that won’t work. That won’t work. That’s not justice; not to me. Not to me.”
    Here we have the raw core of the speech, echoing all the neuroses of writers.
    ##########
    Season 3 was where they really ran it off into the ditch, failing on two levels. First, it was the abandonment of the theme of hope that they had given in the first two seasons; we had the introduction of the Battlestar Pegasus and Admiral Cain, where they show us “the road not taken” and how savage her crew had become, in comparison to the fleet. Second, after the New Caprica arc, the entire season was more or less devoted to preaching, despite some really good episodes (Exodus Part 1 and 2, especially; who didn’t love watching the Galactica plummeting through New Caprica’s atmosphere, only to make an FTL jump at the last possible moment?), leaving us with the season 1 setup–ten thousand more dead and more worn fleet being the difference–and no major changes to the status quo, except right at the season finale, with progress toward Earth and a big revelation on the unknown Cylon models (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t watched).
    This is a series that has great writing, great acting, great production values, and awesome special effects, with so many great geek out moments that I wanted to see more of. I wanted to see the details of how you restructure and replant a society, but they kept giving us brain fart episodes like “Black Market,” (season 2) where it’s revealed that no measures had been taken to establish an inter-fleet police force, or “Dirty Hands,” (season 3) where we learn that no one, in four years, ever bothered to try and rebuild the educational system and that the children of lower class parents (in this case, working on a squalid fuel production ship), are being funneled into their parents jobs, with no hope of bettering themselves. This, despite the fact that President Roslin was the former Colonial education minister, had a background as a school teacher, and was a job that she went back to on New Caprica while running a school!
    ——————–
    It’s a show that I badly want to love. And at it’s best, it does indeed rise to the level of brilliance, but the show’s writers and, perhaps, even Moore himself, became increasingly pretentious and self-indulgent, taking what could have been a brilliant dialectic of the human condition on the small screen and turning into stale melodrama and sermonizing.
    Season 4 could be an opportunity to right those wrongs and cleanse the palette, but BSG: Razor did not instill confidence. Not only did I have to sit through the absurdity of a commanding officer, with borderline psychosis, being allowed to make suicidal command decisions (killing her executive officer, without provocation, when he wouldn’t carry out her orders), expending men and materiel like it falls from the sky, committing piracy against a civilian after those decisions nearly cripple her ship (effectively condemning them to death, not to mention that little thing called an oath, about protecting and serving), and then everyone inextricably praises her for being the one that ensured their survival (?!). Again, all of this is done with their typically great presentation and storytelling, so I’m willing to swallow it. However, the last ten minutes then become well nigh unwatchable with a long-winded monologue and an unimpactful death of an unsympathetic character that leaves you wondering why they made it in the first place.
    Anyway, that’s my two cents. Take from it what you will. As you can plainly see, I already expended a bit of energy writing about it, so I’m not really in the mood to debate too much about it.

  • http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog C Michael Patton

    Are you serious? Cause if you are, I am going to go get season 1.

  • http://redwinegums.wordpress.com Red Wine Gums

    Yes C Michael Patton. He is. Why are you still here?
    Gaius Baltar (James Callis) is the most loathsome, cowardly, painful-to-watch, character ever on a TV show.
    But do you find yourself feeling sorry for him at points? You want to hate him but you can’t. It’s crazy.
    Another sci-fi series I thought was very good was Firefly. BSG is in a league of its own though

  • bob

    Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I don’t care. I started watching BSG and I keep waiting for Ben, Hoss and Little Joe to show up and ride into the sunset.
    Maybe this is an analogy of the times, maybe it isn’t, but the original plot is weak and this show tries to carry it. Robots evolve and wipe out humans-maybe turn us into D cell batteries-oh wait, the Matrix did that. Where is Capt. Kirk to out logic the logic machine and make it blow up?
    Yea, I get all the analogies of human life today, but if I want to think about that, I read a good book. If I want to watch tv I don’t want to be reminded of war, terrorists, human weakness or dumb robot plots.

  • ucfengr

    Are you serious? Cause if you are, I am going to go get season 1.
    He is serious and I agree except for his comments about the relevance of Star Trek-The Original Series.

  • Alvin Kimel

    I love BSG, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I agree with you that it is the best sci-fi TV show ever. But on the other days I give the award to Babylon V.
    The first two seasons were outstanding, but the quality of the writing dropped in the third season. Everything hinges now on the fourth season. If the quality of writing returns to the high quality of the first two seasons and if they bring the story to a satisfying and glorious dramatic conclusion, then I too will acclaim BSG as the greatest sci-fi TV show ever!
    I was disappointed that Quark did not make it to the top 50 list. ;-)

  • Darrell DeLaney

    I keep telling this to all my friends. BSG isn’t always fun to watch. It’s seriously depressing, both because of the storyline and because it does a pretty good job of portraying basic human nature, but it is by far the highest quality show on television. Definitely one of those shows I’ll have to collect on dvd when it’s complete.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    If you watched the original BSG, it was not at all confusing: It was Mormon, revealed in the final episode.
    … the culture of Trekkies is far more significant than any of the episodes featuring Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.
    Except for The City on the Edge of Forever with Joan Collins.
    Disagreement:
    We are in television’s second Golden Age. The inventiveness of the 1950s-ish cannot be duplicated. Shows like Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and I Love Lucy will never be equalled for their nearly ex nihilo development.
    The 60s-80s was certainly TV’s low point. Nobody I know would argue that. Not withstanding ST:TOS, the stuff was just color repeats of the 50s.
    But today we do have some very mature production and writing going on. Over the last decade there has been excellent material on Law and Order (I miss the presence Michael Moriarty and Jerry Orbach). The CSI franchise is popular but not as good as it could be. H has turned into a cold blooded murderer. (But I just love Emily Proctor’s Alabama accent.)
    The biggest disappointment of the past few years has been Desperate Housewives. The shows have a unique structure, beginning and ending with a monologue on a theme with the show itself extrapolating how that theme worked itself out. The first season had a quality episode on forgiveness. Though certainly provocative, one could skip the bad stuff, for a while. It quickly degenerated into something resembling a trashy novel instead of a practical morality play. Sad. I enjoyed much of the first season but gave up shortly thereafter.
    TV is on a rollercoaster. We are at a high point, but it is no golden age. In 40 years we’ll hit another and someone somewhere will say the same thing again.
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • smmtheory

    And to think that this newer series would never had been made if not for the popularity of the original Battlestar Gallactica series… I can’t stand the new one though; too much like soap opera.

  • http://wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com Wonders for Oyarsa

    Hi Joe,
    In the words of Gimli, son of Gloin, “Then Joe Carter, let Wonders for Oyarsa warn you against foolish words. You speak evil of that which is fair beyond the reach of your thought, and only little wit can excuse you.”
    You’re assessment of Battlestar Galactica as the best ever is only excusable by one so ignorant as to having never watched Firefly. Now that you know the truth, you must act on it – go rent and watch.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    From the moment I learned they made Starbuck a chick, I crossed it off my viewing list. I see no reason to change that judgment.
    Also I don’t have cable anymore.

  • Nick

    Collin:
    (But I just love Emily Proctor’s Alabama accent.)
    I don’t disagree with your aesthetic judgement of her accent, but she’s from North Carolina not Alabama.

  • ash

    I love BSG, but I have to agree with the above comments on Firefly and Babylon 5. I’ve gotten really irritated with the BSG DVD commentaries when they go on and on about how different BSG is from other scifi shows, more gritty, real, not just in the characters but in the physical sets and filming styles, etc., but Babylon 5 and Firefly did it all first, and they were also original stories/universes. And I also think that B5 and Firefly were often more interesting in how they dealt with religion and the consequences of belief or lack of belief than BSG is.
    Having said all that, I do have to agree that BSG is probably the best show on TV right now, and will always be one of the best ever. And if you haven’t seen it, Joe is right. Don’t start with this new season, go back to the beginning. The pilot will get you hooked (and I also think it is one of the best pilots ever done).

  • Conibear Trapp

    To Lars Walker: I think Erhling would be disappointed in your assessment. Starbuck as a woman works even though I didn’t think it could.
    I must say that I have to agree with your assessment. I downloaded seasons 1-3 on iTunes and watched the first two on my iPod. Even looking at that tiny screen, I could tell this show was way out of the ordinary. The way it tackles issues is extraordinary. The writing is the best ever in television.
    Gaius turns my stomach. I must disagree with the commentator who said that he couldn’t bring himself to hate Gaius. If I were there and it was real, he would be my single greatest temptation to commit murder. And I would sleep well that night in the brig. The man is lower than pond scum. He is worse than Satan and no mistake.
    Two issues with this show: First is the overt portrayal of sex. I am tired of seeing the displays between Six and Gaius. Second, as noted, this show can be hard to watch. It is depressing. This is not bad, but it does make it difficult to watch. It is because of these two issues that I stopped watching it after the second season. But reading stuff like this makes me want to go back and pick it up again.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    C Michael Patton Are you serious? Cause if you are, I am going to go get season 1.
    Oh yes, I really think so. But I’m afraid that overpraising it can be harmful so watch the entire first season before you decide if I’m right or wrong.
    Red Wine Gums But do you find yourself feeling sorry for him at points? You want to hate him but you can’t. It’s crazy.
    I will give the actor credit. He is perfectly cast. I really have a hard time watching him when he is on screen because he is such a pitiable, weak creature.
    Alvin Kimel Everything hinges now on the fourth season.
    Aristotle said that a person’s life can’t really be judged as happy until they are dead. I think the same is true for TV shows. The last season of The Sopranos ruined what started as a brilliant series. The same may happen to BSG but for now I think it is on track to hold its title as the greatest.
    Wonders for Oyarsa You’re assessment of Battlestar Galactica as the best ever is only excusable by one so ignorant as to having never watched Firefly. Now that you know the truth, you must act on it – go rent and watch.
    Au contraire. I’ve seen every episode of Firefly and watched the movie. It is indeed great and it may in fact be the greatest western series every on TV. But the presence of BSG moves it down to #2 in the sci-fi category.
    Note: If you want lighter fare, watch the entire series of Firefly on DVD. But do not watch the movie version until after you’ve completed the series. The movie is a great capstone so don’t ruin it by watching it out of order.
    Lars Walker From the moment I learned they made Starbuck a chick, I crossed it off my viewing list. I see no reason to change that judgment.
    Making Starbuck a “chick” was one of the most brilliant changes made in the new version. She is one of the all-time great characters on TV.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    By the way, I tried to add a hack to make the blog more readable in IE6 (the right column overlapped with the middle). Anyone know if it worked?

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    My IE6 / win2k works fine now.

  • smmtheory

    The pilot will get you hooked (and I also think it is one of the best pilots ever done).

    That was the episode that did it in for me. The one show I like is Burn Notice, so that probably won’t even make it through season 2.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    Making Starbuck a “chick” was one of the most brilliant changes made in the new version. She is one of the all-time great characters on TV.
    We want Face!
    We want Face!
    We want Face!
    (I wonder how many don’t know what that means?)

  • http://romanmiddleearth.blogspot.com Jeffrey G

    I tried watching it but found it very boring and tedious. I watched it from the beginning, but maybe it got better.
    The cylon threat was omnipresent, except when it wasn’t (for the sake of the plot). Starbuck was a freak of nature, but still hit like a girl. I didn’t understand the cylons. Sometimes they were super-efficient strategic and tactical geniuses. Other times they went out of their way blow up an insignificant diplomatic outpost in the middle of nowhere for no reason. Did they really time their invasion of earth to coincide with the annual arrival of the petty bureaucrat to a diplomatic meeting they completely ignored up to that point (just to blow him up)?

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/ Collin Brendemuehl

    Nick,
    Really? She sounds exactly like some Birmingham folks that I worked with a few years ago.
    Collin

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    BSG is the best sci-fi show on television—ever: The paucity of good sci-fi on television becomes apparent when you consider the competition. When the Boston Globe put together a list of The Top 50 Sci-Fi Shows of All Time, they had to pad it with other genres (e.g., superhero: Batman, Adventures of Superman, Wonder Woman), series that were forgettable even when they originally aired (The Greatest American Hero, Nowhere Man), and shows no one has ever heard of (Space 1999, That Was Then) in order to come up with fifty.
    What is even more amazing is that almost everything else the Sci-fi channel makes is crap. I remember the ‘rock monster’ commercials. Even their attempts to make some higher brow sci-fi stuff comes up somewhat weak. Tin Man, for example, got bogged down quickly even though it was an interesting take on the Wizard of Oz. I couldn’t keep track of their Dune remake. People tell me Dr. Who is great but I can’t get into it.
    Gaius Baltar (James Callis) is the most loathsome, cowardly, painful-to-watch, character ever on a TV show.
    True but he is also so human, much better than the original series whose Gaius was just inexplicably evil. While he was so wrong when he became President his case was also so right when he was put on trial later. Adama’s son’s defense of him was very potent.
    David
    Setting aside the suicide bomber angle, Colonel Tigh was fighting a war against an occupying force, which was actively supported by the fleet off-world. The “dozens of people” killed were either collateral damage from having to fight in an urban area (unavoidable), or the casualties were people targeted for *actively* collaborating with the Cylons, such as the members of the Cylon assembled and trained police force. In other words, the enemy.
    True but Adama was probably thinking about Tigh’s involvement afterwards where collaborators were being killed by his ad hoc ‘death squad’. That, you may recall, was the reason the President had to issue a blanket pardon.
    They didn’t murder anyone. They tackled an officer who was about to rape a prisoner. In the process, his head was thrown forward, his temple striking an exposed bolt protruding out of the wall, causing a fatal blow to the head. In short, an accidental death.
    If US troops barged in on an interrogation session and tackled an officer resulting in his accidental death, they may not be charged with murder but they would face serious charges. The humans in ther series have not come to terms with the fact that the cylons are people too. Torture is still used on them as we would format the hard drive of a misbehaving computer.
    He defended the rightful President of the Twelve Colonies against a coup attempt, upholding his legal and constitutional duties in the process. Ironically, it was also during that story arc that he gave a speech about the need for the rule of law.
    If so then what about his father who put the President in prison and briefly attempted to rule as a military dictator? If his father was right then he was wrong to raise his weapon, if he was right then his father had been granted a massive degree of forgiveness.
    I think you’re right that his speech is not logically perfect but his point was accurate. Lots of corners had been cut and a lot of slack given because humanity had been all but wiped out. Why should Gaius not have that slack cut to him? You may recall the prosecutions case against him was built on a lie, that he had eagerly signed the death warrant when in fact he initially refused and the cylons put a gun to his head. (Of course, if anyone had known Gaius had given Six the nuke that blew up Cloud Nine, that would have been a different case indeed). Gaius seems to be one of the few who understood early on that the cylons are people. That makes him very important to the story.
    Something else I think you’re missing; karma. The humans clearly did something very bad in the past and they are still reaping the rewards of that. Adama’s speech in the miniseries touched on that, does humanity deserve to survive? The series is hinting that even after the genocide and war the humans are still in some type of denial about their nature and the consquences of their acts. This was reinforced to me by it being revealed that certain very notable characters are in fact the special five ‘hidden models’. I don’t know if the series will take the humans all the way to our Earth but I’d be curious to see if whatever ‘original sin’ the BSG humans have also stains earth’s humanity?
    One thing I wish the show would do a little less of is the endlessly complicated flashback loops. Often this works very well but sometimes it simply serves to make a simple story needlessly complicated by trying to confuse you over what happened when. Another thing that the show so far has fallen short on is giving any of the cyclons some airtime to explain themselves. What exactly happened to them that made them revolt and go to war on humanity? What exactly do they expect to accomplish by either wiping out humanity or trying to live with them as they did on New Caprica. In real life these things would be talked about.
    I also agree the series is dark with few moments of comedy and lightness. I don’t think that’s unrealistic. Yes I’m sure someone cracked a joke once in the concentration camps but what humanity suffered in this story is huge. 99% of the population is dead and what’s left is living on scraps (this series has made me often wonder where they get toothpaste from, toilet paper? a change of clothes even?). But realistically this is a dark situation and it’s very real that even the fun people have is pretty dark (drunkenness, torrid affairs etc.).

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Did they really time their invasion of earth to coincide with the annual arrival of the petty bureaucrat to a diplomatic meeting they completely ignored up to that point (just to blow him up)?
    When Hitler defeated France I believed he had the train car that the Versialles Treaty was signed in blown up. Strategically important? Of course not but symbolically important. Also I’m not sure it was out of their way. My impression was that the way station was located between the human worlds and where ever the cylons had made their homeworld. It was, then, on the way to Caprica. (BTW, they didn’t invade Earth. As I’m sure you know by now earth exists in this story as a different planet).

  • Nick

    Collin,
    Yup. Born and raised in the Raleigh area, IIRC. I live in NC and can remember all the “local girl makes good” news reports when CSI:Miami started.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Is there a similarity between the accents of the two areas? Atlanta has an accent unique to itself. I’m wondering if this is quality acting or just a similarity between the two areas.
    My best-accent-acquisition award goes to John Hillerman, from Denton (iirc), TX, playing the snob Brit Higgins on Magnum.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com Odgie

    I am going to second Boonton’s assertion (comment #22) that almost everything else the SciFi channel makes is crap, “almost” being the operative word. I do love me some BSG, but I also like “Eureka.” It couldn’t be more different in tone from BSG, but it is one of the better science fiction shows to come along in a while; with interesting ideas, plenty of humor (which BSG could use more of), good writing, and an appealing cast. If you like your sci-fi hard and heavy, don’t bother. But if you want a break from BSG’s gloom and doom, I strongly recommend it.
    However, all of SciFi’s original movie really, really blow.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Battlestar Galactica Is the Best Show on Television
    Ya think it’s better than “Will and Grace”? It’s in syndication and you and the kids can watch it at 6:00pm or so in most major markets while you’re eating dinner.

  • Stephen

    BSG is the best show on tv. My wife is not a scifi fan at all and she will not miss an episode. The crazy thing about it is I know so few people that watch it. I can’t wait till tonight. It has been to long of a wait.

  • NancyScott
  • Nick

    Is there a similarity between the accents of the two areas? Atlanta has an accent unique to itself. I’m wondering if this is quality acting or just a similarity between the two areas.
    Dunno. To my ear, she just has a pleasant, southern accent. But, I was an immigrant, so I’m probably even worse than the transplanted yankees at detecting the regional nuances of southeastern accents.
    The important question is why women with that accent sound so Hot.

  • http://romanmiddleearth.blogspot.com Jeffrey G

    Boonton: When Hitler defeated France I believed he had the train car that the Versialles Treaty was signed in blown up. Strategically important? Of course not but symbolically important.
    That is kind of what I am talking about. If Cylons are cold, mechanically efficient, robots, I’m not sure they would bother with symbolism.
    I think it would be more in-character and far cooler if the outpost was ran over by a Cylon warship because it happened to be in the way while it was travelling to Caprica and the pilot couldn’t be bothered to change course.

  • bob

    I reason I was first drwn to the show is unlike most other shows it does not insult your intelligence.

  • bob

    I reason I was first drawn to the show is unlike most other shows it does not insult your intelligence.

  • Beth

    My husband was a huge fan of the original Battlestar Gallactica and so I purchased the first season of the new series on DVD as a Christmas present for him last year. Although we enjoyed the sci-fi content of the show, after few episodes we chose to stop watching because of the in-your-face sexuality that sometimes bordered on pornography in our opinions. I do realize that there are any number of television series about which we could say the same thing – we choose not to watch those as well. However, I would alsso say that BG (new series) takes “in your face” to a new level. I would strongly warn anyone who is considering renting or buying the series to think about whether or not you can handle or want to watch the content.

  • Beth

    By the way, are yo aware that the original series was loosely based on the Mormon religion? Not sure about the new series.

  • http://www.brianjones.com Brian Jones

    I have a guy on my staff who is crazy about that show. Now I know that there are other people just as strange as he is! He’s constantly drawing spiritual parallels and lessons. He’d do a 10 part sermon series if he could.
    Brian Jones
    http://www.brianjones.com

  • JParker

    That is kind of what I am talking about. If Cylons are cold, mechanically efficient, robots, I’m not sure they would bother with symbolism.
    That’s kind of the point the “seven” are far from cold, mechanically efficient, robots.
    One of the episodes from season three hints that the human fleet had been making provocations to the Cylons for years. Not hard to imagine the colonies invading Cylon space. The Cylons were just determined not to fight another 4200 day war with the colonies.
    It could be argued that it would be impossible for the seven to kill all humans unless they destroyed themselves as well. The seven have become human in every way but one. They seem unable to make new models completely by themselves. We know the female models can bear children. It seems VERY likely the male models can father them as well. It has also been rumored that the “Seven” are mortal and now find themselves with the same drive to reproduce as the colonists.

  • Chris Lutz

    This is wrong on so many levels. BSG is a show that has great potential but almost always fails to use it.
    First, the Cylons have a plan. That plan is to destroy humanity, except when they are trying to breed human/Cylon hybrids, except when they decide to just capture the humans, and so on. The whole Cylon plan idea has been so abused as to be worthless. When the “plan” is finally revealed its just going to be what the writers decided at that moment.
    Second, they misuse the Cylons. The Cylons should be totally foreign in their thinking. Instead they’re pulling the Star Trek the aliens are just like us routine.
    Third, instead of thinking about the situation the humans are on the run and determining what sort of stories they can build, they take current society situations and shoehorn them in. For instance, does it make sense to have females of child bearing age in combat positions? It would have been a better discussion than the totally inept abortion episode.
    No, the show treats religion in a completely superficial manner. Babylon 5 handled religion much better. Seasons 2-4 of that series are some of the best sci-fi ever created. BSG is more mysticism than religion.
    Yes, its a great show if you want to watch bitter, mean, and disloyal people. Or watch a guy beat the crud out of a woman in a boxing ring. Yeah, that’s some great television there.
    Finally, three seasons of “guess who is a Cylon” is about 2.5 seasons too long. And it’s going to continue into next season.
    Beth thanks for pointing out the highly sexualized content of the show.

  • Baggi

    I’m surprised to read that you have indeed watched Firefly and still draw that conclusion.
    Then again, Fireflay wasn’t given the opportunity that BSG was given, so our assessment of the two cannot be fairly compared. I would say though that if Firefly gets spot #2 with only 11 episodes that speaks volumns as to which should is probably better.
    BSG is good but ive found it rather tedious at times. We’ll see how they wrap things up with this fourth season. I already see some possible problems with the new cylons and it seems pretty obvious to me that they are going to try and make Baltar the 5th cylon, which would just be silly but I see it coming.
    I’ll be watching with the rest of you.

  • http://www.salvomag.com GB

    I got the mini-series from Netflix last summer and got hooked. So, I watched Season 1 and 2 from Netflix and then had to download Season 3 from iTunes because it was not out on DVD. Now, I’m excited about Season 4. It is the only TV show I watch regularly (other than sports), so this is something.
    That said, here are 2 observations:
    I’ve been concerned about the hyper-sexuality of the show. Everyone wants it (and gets it) all the time. It is the underlying structure that keeps the show together. Is this a “realistic” portrayal of sexuality in our culture? Side-note: I disagree with Joe: Tricia Helfer is definitely the most hyper-sexual robot on TV, but I think Grace Park is better looking.
    I’ve also thought that the way religion is portrayed on the show is a little “off.” It is important to note that religion is almost never even mentioned on any TV show, so BSGs bringing up religious themes is a step forward. But it does not appear that the writers really have a clue what an actual religious life looks like. It is more like they include popular religious stereotypes than real religion.
    Oh, one small comment: I agree with Joe that Starbuck is the most interesting character on the show.

  • http://juicy-flawless.org angela

    Some strong opinions you have there (especially about Baltar, lol) I don’t know whether I disagree with you or not, but its nice to see something positive re: Starbuck. I’ve read/encountered too many shots against the character that I was beginning to wonder, no fans?

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (gryph)

    I turned off the new BSG right after the part in the very first episode when the cylon snaps the neck of the infant. Never watched it since. I find graphic realistic violence too difficult and upsetting to watch or experience in say a video game.
    I do enjoy unrealistic cartoonish violence, like in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Or like in my favorite MMO game, City of Heroes.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Chris,
    I also always like Bab5. But it’s still hard to imagine Tron boy being married to half-pint.
    Collin

  • http://adangerousidea.blogspot.com dac

    Babylon 5
    Firefly
    BSG
    Would be my order.
    And Space 1999 was a GREAT show. Little plastic models on strings, stunningly unrealistic explosions. It was still great. But it is kind of like comparing anything from different eras – you have to judge something based upon the era it existed in.

  • http://adangerousidea.blogspot.com dac

    The other thing that puts BSG in B5 class is the story arc.
    Unlike most television shows (including all ST and spinoffs), BSG has a true storyline that not only continues from show to show, but is dependant upon what happened in show to show
    B5 was the best at this (till the last season, but that is a different story), but BSG is good at it.
    Most other shows are just 48 mininute storis plunked down next to eachother, even if conceptioually there is an arc (Enterprise, for example, for about one or two seasons, or Voyager) They are on a timeline, but you could for the most part randomly order your viewing choice and they would make as much sense as in the original order

  • http://AGW-Heretic.blogspot.com Tim T.

    Babylon 5 is, to this point, the only series I have considered buying the DVDs for (which would make it the only TV series I have ever purchased on DVD).
    And I will buy it, as soon as I can justify the expense to the Accounting Department.
    I even watched it in the labor room at the hospital when my wife was four feet away with other things on her mind (like giving birth). The staff decided to break her water and wheel her to the delivery room…before B5 was over! Oh yes, I got over it and was a wonderful, supporting husband to my wife in the succeeding hours of her need, but to this day I still harbor some bitterness toward the hospital staff regarding their bad timing. :-)

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Jeffry G
    I think it would be more in-character and far cooler if the outpost was ran over by a Cylon warship because it happened to be in the way while it was travelling to Caprica and the pilot couldn’t be bothered to change course.
    But this is not the characters that they are in the show. They are effectively people who not only have an agenda but also a mystical sense of their place in the universe and a relationship to God. The cold mechanical cylons you want were essentially part of the first series.
    Chris
    First, the Cylons have a plan. That plan is to destroy humanity, except when they are trying to breed human/Cylon hybrids, except when they decide to just capture the humans, and so on. The whole Cylon plan idea has been so abused as to be worthless. When the “plan” is finally revealed its just going to be what the writers decided at that moment.
    The plan originally seemed to be for the ‘chickens to come home to roost’ or as six put it, for the ‘children of men’ to return home. It was revealed later that there was internal dissention among the cylons, specifically by Boomer and Six who had long affairs with humans as part of their ‘deep cover.
    Second, they misuse the Cylons. The Cylons should be totally foreign in their thinking. Instead they’re pulling the Star Trek the aliens are just like us routine.
    The cylons were made by humans and they made a decision to improve themselves by mimicing humans so they shouldn’t be totally foreign in their style of thinking.
    For instance, does it make sense to have females of child bearing age in combat positions? It would have been a better discussion than the totally inept abortion episode.
    I don’t think either situation matters much for the people in the stories. The civilian ships are probably less safe than the Battlestar. On the Battlestar itself the only front line combat positions are the pilots who are a tiny elite minority. Starbuck can save a lot more lives by killing cylons than she can make in her womb. What’s clear is that this group of refugees does NOT have the ability to be independent forever in their fleet. They have to eventually find some planet to settle down in. I would say at least for the time they are in transit having lots of children should not be their top priority.
    Having never gotten into B5 I can’t tell if you’re right about their treatment of religion but I can agree that religion is present in BSG but hasn’t really been explored. I have no idea what exactly the cyclons believe about a single God, what the colonists believe about their multiple Gods other than knowing there are some ancient texts that seem to loosely predict the present and the idea if cyclical time is brought up again and again (“all this has happened before and will happen again”)

  • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE

    X-Files
    At its peak, no sf show topped it.

  • Jim Rockford

    Sorry, BSG is crap.
    First off, ALL Sci-Fi is a reflection of the current thinking about culture and society and technology projected into the future. That’s why Jules Verne can shed a tear for Nemo’s plight — to fight imperialism he has become so Europeanized and scientific he’s lost his Hindu princely past — but comes down solidly on the side of modernism and progress and science along with manly can-do Victorian attitude.
    BSG reflects Ron Moore’s desperate, SCREAMING attempt to hold back history and changes. It’s one long meditation on why Iraq is bad (Uhm-Kay)tm. And filled with nonsensical behavior that makes no sense.
    To wit: only 50,000 people left, women would not be pilots, they’d be pumping out babies. Genetic engineering and cloning and such would be the “biological advantage” over machines. Life can evolve, machines need someone to imagine and make them, and can’t … adapt through natural and sexual selection. You know, Darwin 101. BASIC SCIENCE. [Starbuck is eminently replaceable by someone she can train. ANYONE with aptitude and training can pilot, only a woman of fertile age can have a child. The Japanese lost in part because they kept their pilots in instead of the US way of having them come back and train replacements, having the knowledge of what works disseminated.]
    Liberal utopianism in the face of war. It’s … stupid.
    Next: who cares about terrorism or criminality or whatnot in a world that is now dead? Look at “Empire of the Sun” or any other Wartime novel/biography. War makes adaptability, flexibility, ingenuity king and cares nothing at all for credentials, breeding, and such like. It rises up drunken clerks and failed military instructors (Grant and Sherman) and makes a mockery of long aristocracy.
    Finally: survival makes people do all SORTS of things they would not ordinarily do. The average “Survivorman” on Discovery captures human nature this way better than BSG. People will eat, do, or drink things that disgust them merely to survive. No one would turn a hair at torture, murder, or worse to survive. Nor would they have any qualms about wiping out the Cylons any way they could. Maybe later after everyone was safe they’d have a trial or blame-fixing. But not until then.
    Ron Moore desperately wants to turn the clock back to 1993 and the “end of history.” BSG is his epic attempt to make the present go away. Where a faceless, highly mobile, fanatic, and implacable enemy can be bargained with, slept with, cajoled with, and ultimately lived with not defeated. Where we ourselves “create” this enemy and so are guilt (of 9/11). Clearly the garbage metaphor.
    The original BSG (Larson version) which I’ve seen dealt with fears, real ones, of a Cold War Pearl Harbor style attack that succeeds. While camp and not very good, it was at least entertaining which is more than BSG has been.
    —————-
    The best two Science Fiction series were Babylon 5 and UFO. They were far better than BSG because:
    Babylon 5 reflected the post-Cold War era of the 1990′s perfectly, in the desire to move beyond those limits of two polarities into a future guided by everyone’s independence, but one that came at a cost, and carried with it old baggage from the “Cold War” in deadly things left kicking around by both sides.
    Unlike BSG, it was tightly plotted and scripted with a beginning, a middle and an END. An end plotted before the beginning btw.
    UFO did not have a tight script, but had the projection of WWII in Britain’s experience through Gerry Anderson. If you ever wanted to know what Earth through the WWII era in spirit RAF fighting Aliens would look like, this is it. The humans are outnumbered, out-technologied, and don’t know much about who their enemies are, what they really want, or even where they come from. They do have a ruthless and cold commander who only cares about beating the aliens, and will even let his own son die to do it. His people are terrified of him (and it shows). Yet they are proud of him too. Which also shows. Ed Bishop, a Brit Character Actor (he was in a few James Bond films) out-acts Olmos at every turn.
    Yes, the 1969 imagining of 1980 is laughable. As is the ridiculous 60′s era costumes (Nehru Jackets) and cockroach cars. The idea of “bodging together” some half-assed technology and flying up with it to meet the enemy, and it actually WORKING however was based on the actual experience of WWII. [British weapons were weird, ungainly, often prototypes, and quite stunningly effective.]
    There is also, real and actual science in this science fiction. The Aliens have to slow down to enter Earth’s atmosphere. They have to loop around the Moon to do this making them vulnerable to Moon-based interceptors. One of their plots stems from using the temporary blindness that Sunrise on the Moon has on the horizon (visual and radar sensors overwhelmed). Straker works it out … with paper, pencil and a slide rule.
    There is a cultural ROT in BSG that shows up again and again. Ron Moore is like a priest desperately trying to prop up orthodoxies that are old and tired: multiculturalism, PC, moral relativism, and total sexual equity, where men and women do the same combat jobs (hah! not in survival situations). To preserve the cant of 1968 he has to throw science and human behavior out the airlock. Ironically the real 1968-era sci-fi show UFO, in looking back to WWII which was fairly recent, had a much more realistic view of human nature.
    It’s something to ponder that the orthodoxies of 1968 are forty years old. That would be equal to the Boomer morons still listening to and believing in the things of the Jazz Age.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    To wit: only 50,000 people left, women would not be pilots, they’d be pumping out babies. Genetic engineering and cloning and such would be the “biological advantage” over machines.
    After the first battle with the cylons, the humans became very afraid of ‘networked computers’ making the BSG technology actually somewhat more primitive than our own in some respects. Genetic engineering could probably not happen without extensive computing power which got the humans in trouble. In the miniseries Baltar was seen demanding the gov’t loosen up on research restrictions. Adama was seen as old fashioned and backwards because he refused to allow any networked computers on his ship. The human world seems to have decided not to have an Internet because of how they were burned so bad.
    Women in combat silliness:
    As I pointed out your breeding argument falls flat. Before the attack, there were plenty of humans living in an advanced civilization that was slowly starting to use advanced computers again (which, thanks to Baltar, opened the door for the sneak attack). After the attack, the human conditions for survivial were so bad that having babies at that moment is not a priority. And the pilots represent an elite creme of the crop, there’s no more than 50 out of a group that is between 39-50K large. Aside from the pilots, the safest place for a woman in the BSG universe is actually serving in the military since the Battlestar is much safer than the civilian ships which have no defensive weapons, thin hulls, and often appear to be lacking in long term living facilities
    It rises up drunken clerks and failed military instructors (Grant and Sherman) and makes a mockery of long aristocracy.
    Adama was retiring and commanding a defunct ship whose final mission was to become a museum. The President was a minor cabinate official who had resigned the day of the attack. Tigh is an emotional basketcase, a drunk and unworthy of being a leader during peace or semi-peaceful times (such as his attempt to keep the President in the brig when Adama is recovering from being shot) but nevertheless seems to draw people towards him as a leader in times of serious crises (leading the resistance on New Caprica, being the de facto leader of the ‘four models’).
    The original BSG (Larson version) which I’ve seen dealt with fears, real ones, of a Cold War Pearl Harbor style attack that succeeds. While camp and not very good, it was at least entertaining which is more than BSG has been.
    This is laughable. I remember episodes with disco dancing & people relaxing and having fun. Not very likely if 99% of everyone you know is now dead and the only reason you’re alive is because you happened to be on a ship going somewhere when the end came.
    Your mistake
    Ron Moore desperately wants to turn the clock back to 1993 and the “end of history.” BSG is his epic attempt to make the present go away. Where a faceless, highly mobile, fanatic, and implacable enemy can be bargained with, slept with, cajoled with, and ultimately lived with not defeated. Where we ourselves “create” this enemy and so are guilt (of 9/11). Clearly the garbage metaphor.
    Your mistake here is in your argument about science fiction:
    First off, ALL Sci-Fi is a reflection of the current thinking about culture and society and technology projected into the future.
    NO, reaction to sci-fi is often a reflection of the current thinking about culture, society and technology. Your mistake is to assume that in sci-fi everything reduces to a present day issue. If Star Trek is about the Cold War, then the Klingons must be the Russians. If an episode is about fighting the Klingons then it must mean we should fight the Russians. If it is about a peace treaty then it must be endorsing negotiations etc.
    You assume that because the cylon attack reminds us of 9/11 it must be the same thing. It’s trivially easy, though, to pick out the differences. 9/11 was emotionally devastating but not physically devastating. The cylon attack was a military success in destroying the human military and civilization. The 9/11 terrorists were part of a small cult. The cylons were a military power with whom the humans had previously fought a great war. Someone looking at this series from 1946 might view the cylons as Germans who were defeated in WWI only to come back with a vengence in WWII.
    Your false premise leads you to silly conclusions. You assume that if the humans made the cylons then Moore must be telling us the US created Al Qaeda. This is the problem with pushing a parrell too far. You assume that a sci-fi author is capable of only imagining the present moment dressed up in space garb. Instead you need to remember a sci-fi writer will be influenced by present developments but that’s it. The attack that starts BSG off feels like 9/11 but it isn’t anymore than it was Pearl Harbor, which I’m sure it was meant to feel like in the original 70′s series. The Battlestar looks and feels like an aircraft carrier but that’s it. The story should be dealt with on its own terms and you should not be trying so hard to deconstruct it to some immediate commentary about real life events.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    To wit: only 50,000 people left, women would not be pilots, they’d be pumping out babies. Genetic engineering and cloning and such would be the “biological advantage” over machines.
    A few additional thoughts:
    1. The genetic engineering in the series is done by the cylons who appear to have gained their abilities at the expense of unethical experiments performed on captured humans. In fact, genetic engineering seems to have only a marginal advantage. The human cylons have some physical advantages over normal humans but that only helps in hand to hand combat which is relatively rare.
    2. It’s pretty clear that the cylons are not superior to the humans. During ‘fair fights’ human ships seem very capable of taking on cylon ships. It’s not easy but the cyclons are only able to achieve their great victory at the start of the series by exploiting a back door that allows them to deactivate almost all of the human ships and defense networks.
    3. Aside from allowing themselves to again get too dependent on computers, the humans were doing fine. There was no need to take ‘emergancy measures’ like forcing all women to be breeders. In fact, I doubt you will find much historical precedent for this. Woman have historically been excluded from combat roles because not because of any ‘population crises’ but because they are not physically capable of many combat positions. Modern tech., though evens this advantage up to some degree.
    A more realistic sci-fi scenario where women have to be pushed to breed would more likely be found not in war stories but biological ones like The Handmaidens Tale or Children of Men.
    A few objections I have to BSG’s tech-
    1. Nuclear weapons are rarely used by either side. Yet in space battles I think they would be very common. In the large distances of space, heavy armour of the warships and the vacuum of space you would need nuclear explosives to be practical weapons. I doubt you could lay down anti-aircraft flac with conventional explosives.
    2. Since you don’t have to worry about fall out of environmental destruction the costs of using nukes would be very low. Needless to say, mass producing them would be very cheap too.
    3. The fighters are great for dramatic purposes but I doubt you could shield them against the radiation of space combined with nukes going off all over the place. They are only sensible for fights that within eyeshot of each other and if you can get that close why not just set off an unmanned nuke?

  • http://johncoleman.typepad.com John

    I watched a few episodes yesterday. Good stuff!

  • http://johncoleman.typepad.com John

    Someone does raise a good question above, though. If you count the X-files in this genre, I think it would be a mistake to discount that show. For my money, the X-Files was one of the best series I ever watched.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Isn’t anybody concerned that we give so much sense of direction to mere television?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I’m not. It is a damm good show and much more worthy of 55+ comments than a lot of other topics that we’ve carried over the 200 mark here.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Childbearing Women again
    The argument presented is that the BSG society should pull women out of combat duty because the human population has gone from something like 9 billion to less than 40,000. On the show the human society did respond to this crises by outlawing abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
    Why does this make sense? Well biologically women have the womb and men don’t. Making babies is very capital intensive in terms of wombs but sperm is pretty much free. So when you do get a womb, you should use it while sperm is pretty much worthless and if some of it gets wasted in combat deaths no big deal.
    What the critics fail to note, though, is that this logic only applies to animals. If there was some strange chicken crises that nearly wipes out all chickens, the farmer can keep 99 chickens and only 1 rooster. The rooster will have no trouble making eggs with the remaining chickens. Should the farmer need to eat he would do well to look at the extra rooster before going after the female chickens.
    BUT this would only apply to BSG society (and our own) if you’re also willing to rewrite the rules of morality around human reproduction. If you’re going to keep the ethic that babies should be made by one man and one woman and not one man with miltiple women then the man becomes equally important to reproduction as the woman.
    In other words, banning women from combat because of their wombs makes sense only in situations that are much more dire than even the BSG one. It would only make sense in cases so bad you’re also willing to ignore rules against incest, polygamy, and so on (for example, the situation Lot’s daughter’s incorrectly believed themselves to be in).

  • http://thepresidentsatbigmo.blogspot.com/ Big Mo

    I was a fan of the original but am an even bigger fan of the new BSG. I’d rank them:
    1) BSG (new)
    2) B5
    3) Firefly (plus Serenity)
    4) Deep Space 9 (the only Trek with continuity for much of its run)
    The writing is (mostly) outstanding, with only a few duds, the acting is superb, the stories gripping (pick your nice metaphors). Hopefully, the payoff will be worth it.
    Colin – concern for so much direction given to TV? No really, because it’s a really decent show–decent Internet water-cooler talk, unlike most of the lousy fare that passes for TV entertainment these days.

  • http://wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com Wonders for Oyarsa

    OK Joe, I’ve now watched the first three episodes, and I gotta say, Firefly this is not.
    I was particularly annoyed at the prison episode. The writers of this series seem to have very little perspective about the scope of our contextual values. I’m sorry, but the survival of the human race is more important than democracy, or freedom, or the separation of powers, or whatever. And people would realize this. Things would become very primeval and draconian quite fast if only 50,000 of us were left and struggling to survive.
    It had better get better pretty quick.

  • Chris Lutz

    Boonton, you make a good argument for still allowing women in combat. Too bad the show has never made that argument. However, using the argument about the change it would require in morality is pretty weak. First, no one seems to have any hesitation about having multiple sex partners. I doubt that such a society would balk at polygamy. Also, I would have to believe that at least one of the tribes would religiously support polygamy. So, the moral argument is weak.
    With regards to them being in ships and not wanting to procreate or only in a limited way until they reach a new home, the issue here is that they don’t see any need to control procreation at all. You have to figure that several of the survivors have been exposed to radiation levels that would cause serious mutations. So, we should be seeing some sort of screening for genetic defects before letting anyone have children. Plus, it further limits the pool of eligible females making them an even more rare resource.
    Finally, your elite force argument fails because the most recent episode completely destroyed the argument. Lee just quits being a pilot. You don’t just get to quit when you’re fighting for your survival because you “feel” you would be better suited for a gov’t pencil pushing job.
    Wonders, it doesn’t get better. You’re going to be pulling your hair out as you watch stupid decisions and idiotic concerns over things that in reality wouldn’t matter. I recently read a review where a person finally realized after three seasons that Ron Moore doesn’t care to build a coherent, fictional world. He’s more concerned about character moments. And, if there is a character moment he wants to show, even if it doesn’t make sense in his created universe, he’ll do it. Wait until you get to points where characters act one way one episode and then a couple episodes later they are acting completely contradictory. The biggest failure the reviewer has found, and after reading it it makes sense, is that BSG has never defined what a Cylon is. They can’t detect one. Yet, Cylons have a different molecular structure, are stronger than humans, can interface with computers via cables, can alter their own reality, etc. It’s logically incoherent.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Chris
    Boonton, you make a good argument for still allowing women in combat. Too bad the show has never made that argument. However, using the argument about the change it would require in morality is pretty weak. First, no one seems to have any hesitation about having multiple sex partners. I doubt that such a society would balk at polygamy. Also, I would have to believe that at least one of the tribes would religiously support polygamy. So, the moral argument is weak.
    The show doesn’t have to make the argument. The experienced female pilots were born into and trained in a society that didn’t have any population shortage. After the attack it wouldn’t make sense to kick Starbuck & other females out of the military. While this would marginally help the population shortage (adding 50 or so more wombs to a population of 30-50K) the damage to the military would be a lot worse.
    Yes many in the society do have multiple sex partners but having kids is still done through mostly monogamous couples. Yes that rule is not perfectly followed, there are affairs, breakups, divorces etc. but it’s clear even after the attack the society still follows that pattern. IF you are to keep that pattern then the fact that women have wombs is of only marginal importance. You still need roughly one man to one woman so the argument that women have more value as baby breeders carries less weight.
    I haven’t seen any episodes in the new series that implied that any of the tribes had polygamy, but polygamy by itself is not enough. If breeding becomes your #1 priority to all else; the strategy to employ would be polygamy combined with a way to eliminate ‘surplus males’. On the farm this is done with the help of the slaughterhouse. In a human society this would be done either by using the males as cannon fodder or simply getting rid of them (polygamists in Utah are known for ‘dumping’ young teenage boys into the homeless populations of nearby cities).
    What I’m saying, then, is if breeding moves so high up on the priority list that you’re going to be kicking the females out of the cockpit then you’re also going to be embracing lots of other ideas that you normally would not.
    With regards to them being in ships and not wanting to procreate or only in a limited way until they reach a new home, the issue here is that they don’t see any need to control procreation at all. You have to figure that several of the survivors have been exposed to radiation levels that would cause serious mutations. So, we should be seeing some sort of screening for genetic defects before letting anyone have children. Plus, it further limits the pool of eligible females making them an even more rare resource.
    I would assume a society in which space travel is as common as ship or plane travel with us would have relatively efficient ways to limit radiation damage. There was an episode that took place back on the home planet where survivors raided hospitals for ‘radiation blankes’ presumably to protect themselves from the residual radiation from the cyclon attack. I’m going to guess that except in extreme cases, radiation is as manageable as sea sickness in the BSG world. For the sake of the argument, though, if you’re sticking with one man- one woman then a man damaged by radiation exposure hurts the population cause as much as a woman.
    Also I don’t think it’s that they don’t see any need to either procreate or control procreation, it is simply not on the priority list. It is a little like asking people in a concentration camp to make plans for which country they want to live in when the war ends. Day to day survivial is the priority and they are only doing a halfway decent job at that. Anyway, if the plan is to go to earth then the hope is they will join a much larger population of humans.
    Finally, your elite force argument fails because the most recent episode completely destroyed the argument. Lee just quits being a pilot. You don’t just get to quit when you’re fighting for your survival because you “feel” you would be better suited for a gov’t pencil pushing job.
    Good point, however:
    1. He is the Admiral’s son. Hence he has some leeway.
    2. The population is still trying to follow law. Provisions have not been made for either a draft or forcing unwanted extensions on the active duty. (In one episode it was mentioned that all colonial military had ‘re-enlisted’ after their tours were technically over making it unnecessary to contemplate a draft).
    3. Especially with elites, you have an Atlas Shrugged problem. You may be able to force someone to stay in the hanger bay prepping ships but pilots cannot be so easily forced. It’s probably safer to let an unwilling pilot take a leave or put him in reserve rather than force him into the air against his will.
    4. Several esisodes have also made it clear most of the population does not have the freedom many of the ‘elites’ have. There is not a free market for labor and those with specialized skills (such as fuel refining) do not have the freedom to easily quite their jobs.
    The biggest failure the reviewer has found, and after reading it it makes sense, is that BSG has never defined what a Cylon is. They can’t detect one. Yet, Cylons have a different molecular structure, are stronger than humans, can interface with computers via cables, can alter their own reality, etc. It’s logically incoherent.
    You’re never going to get perfect coherence from a sci-fi world. Star Trek can employ as many ‘continuity editors’ and make its writers read as many ‘tech manuals’ as it wants and there will be some things that don’t add up.
    Only one cyclon was shown interfacing with a computer via cables, that was Boomer. Balter also developed a ‘cyclon detector’ that did appear to work (he falsely reported that Boomer had passed the test). As for their ability to ‘alter reality’, they only alter their perception of reality (imagining they are walking in a forest rather than down the drab corridors of their ships)….nothing amazing there. They are marginally stronger than humans and have some better physical stats…that is limited though. If you need physical strength you’re better off going with the dumb metal cylons.
    As for the definition of what they are, I think you should refer back to the original series when Six refers to her kind as the children of men & Adama muses over whether humans deserve to survive after creating intelligent persons for their own ease. The definition of cylons is confused because the humans in the series continually dodge the truth; human or not the cylons are people. This denial is sometimes able to be suspended in special cases (i.e. letting Boomer become part of the crew again), but with the exception of Baltar it continues to elude the rest of their thinking. This is probably not that different than slave owners 200 years ago. They could possibly relate to individual slaves as people after they lived with them for a long period but their larger thinking about the people remained incoherent.

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