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Sorry Battlestar Galactica Fans, but you’re watching a bad Soap Opera

March 1, 2009

General Battlestar Galactica Hospital and One Cylon Life to Live

If you want the definition of self-indulgence, look no further than BSG, or the poster on top here. The pseudo-religiousness, the painful seriousness, the characters who have no sense of humor and are constantly having mental breakdowns. And yet somehow, by some miracle, neither Battlestar Galactica nor its idiot fans realize that the whole damn thing is a soap opera.

Don’t believe me. What was BSG Someone to Watch Over Me about?

That’s right, The Chief meets his old lover whom he hated, but now likes, she seduces him, he helps her escape, she steals Athena’s baby, and escapes Galactica. Meanwhile Starbuck has visions of her father to help resolve her daddy issues.

Yes Virginia, you’re watching a soap opera, and it’s not a very good one.

Still don’t believe me?  What was the episode before that about. Right. Saul Tigh is torn between two women, one is his old lover whom he killed, and the other is carrying his baby. He has sex with his old lover, even while worrying about his pregnant girlfriend’s baby. When his old lover confronts his new girlfriend, the whole thing spins out of control forcing him to choose, and causing his current girlfriend to lose her baby.

There’s a place you can get brilliant storytelling like that. It’s called One Life to Live or General Hospital. Or just about any soap.

Still not convinced? What was the episode before that. Right, Starbuck’s husband, whom she repeatedly cheated on, goes into a coma while trying to relay a whole bunch of revelations. Meanwhile we learn that Cavill began the whole war against humanity and sent out the Final Five into their current bodies, because he’s a whiny brat who has mommy issues. Big mystery solved. Aren’t you impressed?

It’s amazing to me how many geeks will ridicule their girlfriend’s soaps, while running each Friday to watch the same soaps, except set in space.

Now there’s nothing wrong with liking soap opera, just as there’s nothing wrong with having a fridge full of 7-11 Slurpees. It’s your right as an American, Canadian or Mexican Finn-Slovakian Eskimo to like whatever you like. Just so long as you don’t try to pretend that it’s something deep, unique and brilliant.

If you want to call yourself a gourmet, then stop shoving slurpees at me and telling me they’re the product of a rich heritage of gourmands. And stop shoving Battlestar Galactica at me, and telling me how amazing the storytelling is. Not when the show is cribbing stories from your grandma’s favorite soaps.

With Battlestar Galactica, Ron Moore proved that a SciFi showrunner could get critical respect by sticking absolute raving nonsense on the screen that’s a waste of a good 40 minutes, and getting away with it for years.

The thing to remember about BSG is that it’s on the SciFi Channel and it’s the only space based SciFi Series on TV. That means it’s like the only kid in a Detroit public school who knows how to read and write. There’s not a whole lot of competition here. Which is why Battlestar Galactica Someone to Watch Over Me rips off the title of a Star Trek Voyager episode and then uses DS9 vets Thompson and Weddle to churn out another bit of self-indulgent treacle set around a familiar tune and lots of self-indulgent histrionics. But that’s what the series has been doing all along.

The only difference is that they ran out of playing Guess Who the Cylon Is, and wrapping up the show is turning out to be a real bitch. And maybe in these final episodes, Battlestar Galactica fans, much like Admrial Adama, will come to terms with a difficult revelation, one that they’ve denied all along. They’ve been doing nothing more intellectually uplifting than watching a damn soap.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. dudewhere'smyshirt? permalink
    March 3, 2009 3:21 am

    I agree with you that the last two BSG stinkers were no better than daytime soap episodes. This season definitely lost some steam after the whole mutiny story arc finished up. However, I won’t condemn the entire series just because of the weakness of it’s two most recent episodes. I watch more sci fi than any other genre, so I know how bad most sci fi movies and tv shows suck. BSG doesn’t suck. It’s not a great show, but it’s actually pretty solid as far as sci fi goes.

    Good blog by the way. Your opinions are well reasoned and you come strong with it.

  2. drnormalblog permalink*
    March 3, 2009 4:15 am

    BSG fizzled out long before this season. After Exodus it was all downhill from there. The Cylons stopped being a threat and by the end of last season we discovered that just about every character besides Roslyn and the Adamas is a Cylon. Starbuck possibly included as a half-Cylon or whatever.

    And BSG has always been soapy, What The Frak manages to unintentionally hit on many of the problems

    Thanks for the blog props

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