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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Battlestar Galactica: Make out!

So I've been looking forward to Galactica for about a year now, and guess what? It didn't really disappoint. In response to some of the crit I've seen so far, some spoiler-filled thoughts:

  • The Sexpots, And These Women: So. Yeah. I've seen many different sci-fi series in my lifetime, populated by strong women making tough choices. But there's always been this token feel to it, this "Lookit! Girls rule! They really do! ::Now go get into your catsuit, Nana Visitor::" vibe that occasionally drives me up the wall. Not to mention the fact that so many strong female characters became, for lack of a better phrase, walking wombs near the end of their series -- Scully and Aeryn, I'm looking in your direction.

    The first time Apollo called Madam President sir, I expected a too-precious ST: Voyager bit ("What should I call you? Sir? Ma'am?" "Captain will do fine."). And... it didn't come. Starbuck flew a Viper and punched a superior officer and did push-ups in her jail cell and grieved her lost lover. Boomer made out with the Chief and fixed her ship and saved any survivors she could. And it wasn't a big deal.

    I understand the crushes on the original Starbuck and childhood icons changed and made different and strange. If someone remade Babylon 5 and made Marcus a chick, I'd probably be upset. But these women? These women are fine by me.

  • In space, no one can hear you go boom: I loved Firefly very much indeed, and its gritastic take on space battles, with the whip-pans and the silent explosions, were a lovely palate cleanser after a lifetime of Star Wars. It occasionally felt strange, however, sacrificing key dramatic tension at the altar of authenticity, and I liked the cross-pollination here - some sound effects, but still with the grit - and the visceral impact that sound can bring.

    (Trivia note: Zoic Studios, who also did the visual effects on Firefly, did a great job here -- and allegedly, Serenity can be seen in the Cylon attack fleet. I'll have to do some TiVo work to confirm.)

  • In the navy...: Despite my fuzzy-wuzzy liberal tendencies, I tend to drift towards military-oriented narrative fairly often -- the Boys' Own Adventure, high-class heroism of Nicholas Meyer Trek films and so forth has a certain amount of appeal for me. Grand and lofty tales about sacrifice and duty and loyalty that just happen to be about the military -- but probably couldn't exist without them.

    Vee asks, does space exploration always have to have a military bent? And I waver on the subject, because ideally I'd like to think so. But military systems are designed to maintain order in extremely chaotic situations. And what's more chaotic than floating through space in a tin can, with every breath you take dependent on technology and your hull straining against the vacuum outside? NASA may be a civilian organization, but it does have a military bent, with Commanders and Missions and tough life-or-death choices. Farscape went the opposite path with this concept, and in the end proved the same point; they elected a captain to make the tough decisions, because Moya couldn't handle the chaos anymore. Whether it did any good or not is beside the point -- they recognized the need, and gave into it.

    If Galactica is picked up as a series, the conflict between civilian government and military chain of command will probably play a large role, and that's really where Vee's question will be answered. Mary McDowell vs. Edward James Olmos. Looks like the first round started last night, but the title bout is still to come. What kind of compromise will they pull together, is the question, and a fascinating one at that.

  • Not exactly over the moon: I did think there were some major pacing problems, especially in the first half, because if you're going to base your entire series on the death of a society, you really do need to go for it. That first explosion over the city was key, but completely underplayed and disconnected from anything I'd seen previously, and while they did a good job of humanizing the impact -- the reactions of people were great, especially Madam President's assistant -- I can't help but feel like they chickened out, pulled back from really making the impact of the attacks felt. Maybe I'm grateful for that -- the trailer for The Day After Tomorrow was a more visceral two minutes than the first hour of Galactica. But that trailer messes me up something fierce.

I'm looking forward to the next part, even if I may not get to see it until tomorrow (going to see Cirque du Soleil tonight -- wheee!). I just can't believe that I don't have to wait another year to see it. That there will be more dark human science fiction on my TV, very soon.

Ronald D. Moore, I'll say this much. You don't disappoint.

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