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Is Battlestar Galactica in a Slump?

Before the remake…er, I mean “re-imagined”…Battlestar Galactica aired, I subscribed to the general consensus that it was going to suck. Much to my surprise – and the surprise of many – it didn’t suck. Gone was the corniness of the original Star Wars rip-off series. In came the dark, gritty space opera that audiences were willing to watch. Yay for scifi fans.

I’ve seen all of the episodes since the start of the series and I’ve mostly been pleased; pleased enough, at least, to keep watching. There were some low points but they were few and far between. The sf crunchy dramatic goodness was prevalent enough to keep it on my meager watch list.

I felt this way at least up until the “Pegasus” episode, the one where the Galactica finds a new Battlestar thought destroyed in the Cylon attack on Caprica. This was the episode that ended the first half of season 2, the episode that ushered in the “WTF?” practice of mid-season hiatus. It was a great episode and one whose cliffhanger ending ensured my return.

The 2nd half of the season did return with the two-part “Resurrection Ship“, episodes which I found too much of a tease to be called good. The dramatic buildup of the simultaneous assassination, for example, was circumvented through most un-dramatic means. The only thing that could be more annoying wa if (like NBC does with ER) the episodes are each billed as the “must-see” episode of the season when all we get is another run-of-the-mill episode.

It turned out that “the tease” proved to be the prevailing technique used by the writers on the subsequent episodes. I kept getting the impression of good things to come – things that were ultimately never realized. In the end, the remaining episodes of Season 2 were a big disappointment for me.

In the midst of this disappointment (and maybe because of it) I started seeing other things that annoyed me as well. For example, the presidential race between Roslin and Baltar sees reams of flyers promoting Baltar for President. Is it common for a military Battlestar to have the printing facilities and resources to do so, especially when they were caught with there pants down at the time of their escape? Maybe if they explained it away like they did the water resource issue, it wouldn’t have bothered me so much. As it stands, things like this just seem to take away from the atmosphere of desperation that has come to be one of the show’s appeals.

Another episode, “Downloaded“, shows the birth of another set of Number 6 and Boomer cylons. Cool stuff! But what’s up with the new Number 6 having her own Baltar that nobody else can see? Methinks there is a serious flaw in the Cylons’ clone-making ability! I can see that the writers were trying to make a parallel set of characters (possibly good Cylons amidst all the bad ones) to the bad Cylons amidst the Galactica fleet – I just don’t like how they got there. (Also, the whole Baltar seeing Number 6 thing – still largely unexplained – is beginning to wear thin.)

I don’t necessarily thing that Battlestar Galactica has “jumped the shark”, but I do think they are in a bit of a slump.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

10 Comments on Is Battlestar Galactica in a Slump?

  1. Anonymous // March 19, 2006 at 3:30 pm //

    I think they might have jumped the shark with the finale. I mean, that was gutsy… espcecially considering that they’re only at 2 seasons so far. Character development and arcs and all that are great, but I think they rushed it a bit. Personally, I could’ve dealt with Apollo still being a fighter jock, and I liked them being on the run. I’m not saying the series had to stay that way forever, but the changes in the second half of season 2 are huge, and (just my opinion) too soon.

  2. I, too, thought he last half-hour of the season 2 finale was gutsy. But based on my impressions of the several shows before it, I wonder if they also sensed a Slump and were taking measures to recover.

  3. To be honest, the one thing that came to mind was, “so this is how they decided to top themselves”. I mean, how do you do one better than having a main character (who’s also a leader) gunned down?

  4. I think Battlestar has a *lot* of story to tell, and I think we’ve only seen a small glimpse of some really great writing. I think a lot of the things you talk about will be addressed in the next season.

  5. Yeah this season really sucked compared to the first season which was amazing.

    I really enjoyed Downloaded, especially the alt.Baltar for the War Hero 6. I thought it was fitting, and kinda cool. Maybe the nuclear detonation imprinted their psyches on each other, and that lasted through the rebirth.

    I’m not sure about the season 2 finale. When I first read the reviews/summaries and spoiled myself before watching the ep, I also thought “Jump the Shark”, but I gave it a chance. I think maybe it’s just a way of rebooting the series, and now there will be a completely new dynamic to the series. I have some issues with the events during the year-long break, but we’ll see.

    I’m also wondering what the cylons will think when they discover Sharon’s baby is alive and kicking, since they decided to change their plans.

  6. joshua corning // March 19, 2006 at 10:39 pm //

    Another great episode towards the end of season 2 was “scar”. The others tended to be lack luster. Though I had the feeling in the second half of the season that they had a smaller budget having spent most of it early on with “resurection ship” pt 1 & 2 on cgi work.

  7. I had one take-me-out-of-the-action moment in “Scar” and that was the line defiantly uttered by Starbuck with the Cylon hot on her tail. “What’s the matter? You want my a@@ so bad you can taste it?” Ewww! :O

    As to the smaller budget comment, I’ve noticed that the last several episodes featured one main character instead of the usual ensemble. (Either Starbuck or Apollo or, in case of “Downloaded” neither!) It was as if less face-time for the actors meant they could save some cash. It wouldn’t surprise me if these “cameos” were filmed during an “on” week for the actor and they didn’t need to bother coming to the set the next week.

  8. Apparently Olmos and some of the older actors have been showing up on set even when they’re not gonna be on camera, and that has set a good example for the younger cast members. For example, Olmos will show up and sit off camera to deliver his lines for phone call scenes with Laura Roslin. I’m having deifficulty believing there coulb be budget constraints popping up on a show that is “hot”. I doubt thier budget has shrunk at all; hell, it may have gone up. If anything, the writing has changed direction, or cast members are enjoying what success has brought them and are doing other things (tv, film) which means they can’t be on set all the time.

    I doubt they’d cut back on an actor’s exposure for cgi. Actors, not matter how “nice” they are, won’t stand for that. Cutting back on an actor for cgi/money is a threat to thier career. Give them a reason like story, and the “nice” ones will go for it. I think a lot of cgi in one episode will mean a lot less in another.

  9. Bleat on you sheep. The fact that you can be “let down” by season 2 means you are all still hooked. šŸ˜€ So hooked you are disgruntled. :-@

    Let the analyzing happen when you either stop watching or the whole thing wraps up.

    I am enjoying it still (me sheep too!) and will let the art wash over me for now.

    Now if they go a pull a “Lucas” and dumb the whole thing down for merchandising then I’ll “bleat on” with you guys. But thankfully that hasn’t happened….. yet….

  10. The only place they “jumped the shark” (and I posted on this a while ago) is with the half-season DVD set. What a rip, especially if the other half either isn’t going to be filled with lots of goodies or at a significantly lower price point.

    A bad day on Battlestar is better than a good day on any network television I’ve seen in quite a while. So, I’ll keep watching the new episodes.

    Baaaaaa! Baaaaaa! Baaaaaa!


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