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Friday Night SciFi and Nothing is Happening

March 8, 2009

On Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles Ourselves Alone, 40 minutes pass by of people talking to each other or mostly not talking to each other, Cameron being wierd, and the Connors being incredibly oblivious, until Riley suddenly snaps and tries to kill Jessie having realized that she was meant to be a lamb to the slaughter.

On Battlestar Galactica Islanded in a Stream of Stars we get treated to more hysterics and histrionics, with Adama and Tigh turning into mean drunks (again) over the prospect of trashing Galactica, an extended trip for Boomer and Hera in which they sorta bond, and Baltar running tests to confirm what we already know about Starbuck, and delivering one of his usual cynically insane speeches about it. Only by the end of the episode does Boomer make it to Cavill. Meanwhile Starbuck keeps crying over Anders, the guy she only married to get over Adama Jr, and whom she cheated on and didn’t care about, until you know like 5 minutes ago.

Finally on Dollhouse, Gray Hour,  Echo gets hired to run a break in team to steal the Elgin marbles. At least it’s a slightly more plausible use for a Doll than as a sex toy or a midwife, which is what we get shown at the beginning. Because you know how hard it is to get a good midwife, that you have to rent a blank mindwiped one for six figures. Naturally Alpha manages to screw with her once again, remotely mind wiping her, in order to try to force her to form a composite like him, whether to turn her into an enemy or a girlfriend, who knows. Ballard stomps around some more acting tough, and accomplishing nothing, and the episode ends with Echo using the tunnel that was there all along to escape.

It’s telling really that the old Angel and Firefly writers can’t do much to make Dollhouse interesting, no matter how hard they try. It’s the difference between writing for a good concept and writing for a bad one. There’s not much you can do to elevate 90210, by contrast writing for a show with a great voice and concept is a whole lot easier.

Battlestar Galactica and Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles have a lot fewer excuses, because they did have a great concept and a great voice, and they’ve become soap operas running on characters breaking down and lying and betraying each other. Occasionally that may make for a good story, but mostly it’s cheesy and boring. The Riley thing on TSCC has dragged on forever, and will run well into the final episodes of the show, despite Riley being dead. We can choreograph the whole tedious journey with Sarah accusing Cameron, John setting out to clear Cameron, discovering Jessie and the whole tedious goulash of it all.

Battlestar Galactica is even more immobile. The show that used to be about humanity on the run, has just turned into people wallowing in their own misery. Now with most of the cast turned into Cylons or part Cylons, and the Galactica itself failing, the show is more self-involved and pointless than ever. Ron Moore thinks it’s art. I think it’s crap. And showrunners who admire it and try to imitate it hurt their own shows. Dollhouse suffers from BSG envy with the whole “Name the Dolls” thing that reeks of the “Name the Cylons” reveals that BSG does. TSCC has gone down the BSG road with episodes that amount to nothing, characters who pursue their own bizarre tangents and tie the whole thing together with a song or some biblical metaphor. And the damn thing of it, is that it doesn’t work. It won’t ever work.

And it’s Friday Night SciFi again, and nothing is happening.

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