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David

Glad to see you've discovered this show, and your comments are pretty much on the money. I didn't follow the political debates surrounding the show, as I didn't start watching myself until the second season, but the only people who could see this show as espousing right-wing - or left-wing - ideology are those who see the world in the narrowest, most black-and-white terms. One of the things that makes the show so good is that it doesn't take that easy route. And although the humans are ostensibly the "heroes" and the cylons the "villains," those roles tend to shift and blur as the show goes on. That's because there are few, if any characters on the show who are simply good or evil. Rather, they're people - humans and cylons and both - with differing motivations and agendas and morality, and they often make mistakes and act out of pettiness and anger and selfishness and weakness even when they're trying to do the right thing, and sometimes there are no "good" options, just a bunch of bad choices, just like real life.

Also, two other major ways in which the show contrasts with Star Trek is that problems which arise often aren't neatly resolved by the end of the show, and things that the characters do, and which happen to them, have consequences which reasonate for long afterwards, and which often change those characters. There is no "reset" button on this show, and Adama, Tigh, and Lee don't share a hearty laugh over some amusing quip while jaunty music plays in the background at the end of the episodes.

She-who-must-not-be-obeyed

The male-female-tomboy dynamic becomes a bit more of a male/non-traditional female dynamic as the show progresses. That's actually one of the things that the conservatives don't like about the show now. The "Dangerous Book for Boys" crowd feels like the show is emasculating.

I thought that Starbuck and Zak's relationship was explicit by episode 5, but I could be wrong. Starbuck is definitely straight, but she goes after men in a way that is normally reserved for men chasing women in this sort of show, without any sort of implication that it makes her some sort of a whore (she's unhappy, but her relationships are more an effect than a cause).

I highly, *highly* recommend listening to Ron Moore's podcasts after you have already seen episodes and formed your own opinions about them. They are really well done, and it is always interesting to hear what he was going for, whether or not that is actually what was accomplished on screen. When you get into later seasons, it is entertaining to listen to his reactions about the rigt-wingers first loving the show and the villifying it because they decided it was an anti-Bush allegory.

She-who-must-be-obeyed

One more thing:
You made all of those Trek contrasts (which could be boiled down to the fact that one show is idealized while the other is relentlessly gritty and as realistic as a science fiction show can be), and then commented that you aren't yet sure if you like Starbuck and Apollo. Not liking them is fair--you haven't seen anything yet--but in this sort of show, does one need to like the characters to enjoy the show and/or individual story arcs? I would say no, assuming that the characters are interesting, although I know many people would disagree with me. Just as an example, though: I disliked many characters on the Sopranos (Carmella would be my first example), but I loved the show. I think that I loved it in part *because* I didn't like so many of the characters.

Karen

SO pleased you've discovered BSG! I had to be talked into watching the miniseries for nearly a year before I finally gave in, and then zoomed through it and all of season one in about a week. FEED ME!! It is addictive. So, don't feel bad that there's only one season left: it just means that you'll have more material already on DVD to frolic in.

I don't know if the Cylons are the good guys (and I can't believe anyone would say that after the opening of season 3, frankly), but they are the monotheists who are most convinced of their absolute righteous motives.

What I love most about BSG--as referred to by David, in the comment above--is that no decision is ever absolutely right, but usually merely the right one at the moment. The viewer is absolutely able to see both sides of every decision, and how in war and in politics no decision is ever a simple one. It's those greys of BSG I love so much.

I also love the way it deals with the role of religion in politics, in ways that are complex and nuanced.

I've not managed to get more than one person hooked yet (despite hooking, like, 7 people on Veronica Mars season one), but that person is hooked like a trout now.

I'm glad it's going to end soon; I'd be terrified to see this brilliant piece of work be degraded over time. I just wish it got some real recognition, instead of just being a critic's darling, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Genre TV gets no respect.

Vir Modestus

The other element that is very important to the storylines is the religious one. The remnants of the colonies are, by and large, polytheistic while the Cylons are monotheistic. Both groups feel they are being led to do what they do by their god(s) and so are bound to succeed, etc. The religious elements are very important to the show and you will not have the full experience if you think they are added just for a bit of world-building. It is a driving force.

What I love about the show is that it isn't easy to say who is on the side of good and who is bad. All the characters have actual goals and wants and desires and seek to fulfill them. Sometimes it is selfish and all hell breaks loose. Sometimes they do the "right" thing for the "wrong" reason or in the "wrong" way. They are complicated, misguided, fallible. Wonderful.

*****spoiler****


At the start of season three you have humans doing suicide bombings against the Cylon occupation, an occupation that is only trying to "help" the humans survive in a hostile place despite their less-evolved status. Makes for a very strange bit of cognitive and emotional dissonance when compared with how suicide bombings are portrayed in the US and just furthers the idea that good people can do despicable things if the feel there is no other option to getting the "right" results.

Holdie Lewie

Lance, welcome to the first TV show in which the primary theme is ambiguity. If BSG is political, that's how it's political: In an age of Manichenism, we have a TV show that insists on pointing out that no one is good or evil, no motives are pure.

As you say, "believing you're the good guys often blinds you to your own evil." If that's what you believe, your appreciation for this show will grow. So, I hope, will your esteem for Starbuck. I want to say more about her, but I won't. Even if you don't mind spoilers, I don't want to spoil things for you.

In the season that ended early this year (Season 3, correct? -- I've lost count), Adama, Roslin and especially Apollo make choices that they believe to be ethical, but they can't be certain that those choices are moral. As for the choice Tighe makes -- well, it will break your heart, and he -- and we -- will never know if he did the right thing.

Back to the ambiguity theme. The characters' fluid identities get murkier and murkier, until ... ah, I'll say no more.

I was terribly disappointed when the most recent season concluded and a title card said the next episodes will come in 2008. Too long a wait for what is, in my opinion, the best show on TV.

Thomas

One more addict! Welcome!

Galactica is a show about putting its characters into the most grinding, punishing situations that it can manage, compressing them like carbon that doesn't become diamonds, but just more tightly-packed carbon. I love that about it. I love that they're willing to make the hard choices: people die, characters do stupid or terrible things, there are consequences. The audience never gets to say "well, that was the right choice." This is not a show where the plot points are engineered to make the characters look good and just.

Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers.

If there are two characters that define the show, to me they are Laura Roslin and Gaius Baltar. Roslin is a political beast disguised as mild-mannered Mary McDonnell. She is utterly ruthless. And yet she's doing it for the best of reasons. You catch yourself being dismayed, both at her slide into totalitarianism and the fact that you're cheering her on.

And Baltar--totally self-serving, but utterly human. He crystallizes during that first miniseries, when Six informs him that it's his weakness that let the cylons in to kill all of mankind, and his first thought is "Where's my lawyer?" It's not that he's a bad guy. He's just a weak man, who has somehow become placed in situations of grave importance, and he keeps deluding himself into thinking that he's up to the task.

Absolutely listen to Moore's podcasts (I don't think they start right away, though). He's basically giving away his whole backroom process that goes into making such a complicated show.

And keep an eye on Tricia Helfer (not difficult advice). As the show goes on, particularly into season 2, she plays more than one copy of Six, and yet each one is complex and entirely different from the others, sometimes heartbreakingly so. It's a magnificent job of acting.

Thomas

I wrote about Season Three and Col. Tigh's center-stage character change here. Obviously, you shouldn't read it until you've finished Season 2.

sfmike

Even though it's cheesier, I still prefer "The 4400" as a philosophical sci-fi series, possibly because it's less militaristic. Still, they're both great ongoing shows with very ambiguous characters who are good in one episode and not so in others. And "Battlestar" really starts coming into its own in the second season (haven't seen the third). Enjoy.

Badger3k

The cylons are the good guys? I hope that was meant as humor (haven't read the link yet). The cylons are the genocidal religious nutjobs (yes, they want to kill or convert for their god, something they clearly state in later episodes). This makes them a little more like Pat Robertson and Osama than anyone I'd call remotely good, although I can see how some wingers can emphathize with them (hell, Tigh eventually does something with people and bombs that are, shall we say, not nice, meaning wingers can see the humans as the bad guys). Very interesting issues raised by the show, even if the writers pretty much wing it some times (ie, they change the script, such as it is, as they go along). Actually, the cylon authoritarian regime, with religion as a central focus, and the cylon ability of virtual immoratlity, might make it seem a paradise to some people (haven't checked if the perfesser, with his dream of cyborgization, likes the show).

Kevin Wolf

I'm going to come back and read this after I get through the set. (Season 1 waits at home; 2 is on the wway.) I don't want the post or comments to spoil anything. I'm hoping to get pretty hooked myself.

Claire

Lance! I love that you've gotten into BSG!! I *love* this show. The characters are so complicated and how great are Olmos and McDonnell? They only get better.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Karen

Lance--I forgot to mention that, for the Thinking BSG Fan (is there any other kind?), an absolute MUST is the recaps at Television Without Pity (http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/). Jacob, the recapper, is a real philosopher, incredibly literate and well-read, and he teases levels of meaning out of the show that will leave you reeling.

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