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BSG Backlash?

Not too long ago, Battlestar Galactica was everybody’s darling. But then ratings slipped until, last month, the show was moved to Sunday nights to attract viewers. Although the show has been picked up for another season, it’s a partial commitment for 13 episodes.

The show started going downhill for me last season and I’ve only been watching sporadically since then even though others still seemed to enjoy it. But I’ve been noticing that posts have been appearing in the blogosphere recently opining the suckiness of the show.

Maybe it’s time to have another Has BSG Jumped the Shark poll?

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.

11 Comments on BSG Backlash?

  1. I think the problem is that the producers think they’re making an HBO show in the manner of the Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome, or Oz. Whereas the network and indeed, a large number of viewers, think they’re showing/watching an SF show in the tradition of Stargate, Trek, B5, or Firefly. In an HBO show you can get away with a character-study show like the recent boxing episode, where the main relationship is ugly and wrong (between Lee and Kara) and gets no real resolution except that it will continue to be wrong and ugly. In an HBO show such an episode isn’t a filler – its a necessary piece of character development. In a more traditional SF show the relationship would reach some kind of resolution and the episode would be an effects-light filler episode to pad out the arc storyline which fans could dismiss as such.

    But then I’m still enjoying BSG – it’s still my favourite of all the recent SF shows (although I accept that if Firefly was still running it’d be up there).

  2. BGS jumped the shark when the Cylons decided to try to live in harmony with the humans. Read that sentence again, realize the wrongness of it, and you can’t help but agree.

  3. For me, the problem isn’t the character episodes. It’s that they’ve made all the characters so incredibly unlikable. I used to like these people. Now I think almost all of them are a**holes. For a lot of TV viewers and critics, shows that are full to the brim with unlikable characters are “sophisticated”. I personally don’t enjoy them and I stopped watching Galactica in January.

    I also think the Cylons, who used to be very threatening, have become a joke. A whiny, annoying, confused, new age philosophy-spouting joke. And they never had a plan.

    It’s a shame really. Season 1 (other than the episode that brought Tigh’s wife into the series) was as perfect as a season of TV can get. The first half of season 2 was great as well. Season 2.5 started getting flabby and season 3 has been, IMHO, mediocre to downright terrible.

  4. Fred Kiesche // February 13, 2007 at 10:02 am //

    Could part of the problem be similar to what affected X-Files? They came up with the “mythology”, but did not seem to have thought it through at the beginning. Every time Chris Carter had to do more “mythology”, holes appeared, so he added another layer of spackle (more kinds of aliens, more government agencies, more supra-national alliances). Eventually the whole thing came crashing down.

    With Battlestar you have three potential layers of spackle.

    First, the quest for Earth. Maybe that whole thread should have never been re-used, it should have just been a quest for survival, leaving you guessing if the story took place in our past, our present or our future or if it had any connection with us at all.

    Second, you have the need by the producers to do allegory. BSG is Pearl Harbor. BSG is 9/11. BSG is the Iraq War. BSG is the battle between fast food chains. Some of the allegory gets pretty tired, pretty fast.

    Third, there’s the whole Cylon thing. Making the lookalike Cylons added some interesting plot twists, but did they really think through the whole religion thing? Go back to X-Files and the “mythology”. Do I hear more and more creaking and the slapping of more spackle over the holes?

    I’ll keep watching it for the episodes that get above the problems. But they are coming fewer and fewer.


  5. Yeah, I have the new season on my DVR, but I’ve lost interest somehow. I keep them there if I somehow get bored with my other shows.

    Maybe its time I delete them?

  6. “They came up with the “mythology”, but did not seem to have thought it through at the beginning. “

    I think this is a real part of the problem. For example: The writers never came up with a “plan” for the Cylons. We have no idea how their “government” is run or how decisions are made. We have no idea how they are in contact with each other or how they can apparently keep secrets from each other, even through the rebirth process. We have no idea what their religion really is, other than a bunch of new age gobbledygook. We have no idea how their bio-technology works or who created it (it’s a good bet the Centurions didn’t). I was willing to suspend disbelief and accept that the skin jobs were impossible to tell apart from humans until they proved to be way stronger than humans, have antibodies in their blood that humans don’t (or vice-versa), were more resistant to radiation, had fiber optic jacks in their wrists (!!!), etc.

    I don’t understand how shows like X-Files, Lost, and BSG get the green light without someone at the studio saying, “Okay, tell me how this all works and how it all ends before we even start”.

    It’s also clear that open-ended shows like these are padded way too much. The writers get one or two good ideas and instead of doing those and then coming up with more good ideas (which is hard work) they drag those one or two ideas out way past the audience’s tolerance or patience. When I’m made king of my own TV studio no show will be allowed to drag a story out past the end of a season and no !@&$#@ season-ending cliffhangers. Wrap the storyline up with a big bang in the season finale. Tie up all the loose ends and start over with something fresh next season.

  7. It *is* a problem with shows like BSG (which I haven’t seen, and therefore cannot comment heavily on) and shows like X-Files. You’re than willing to follow the writer for a while as he taps the side of his knows and says “Ohhh, this stuff’s important. Later on.” Because a good mystery is fun, and you’re willing to trust.

    When you get to season 9 of the X-Files, and the truth is still, you know….out THERE! then it starts to not work. It gets silly.

    On the other hand, if the writers had to justify their storylines to the studio, we wouldn’t get a lot of shows. The problematic assumption there is that the studios are within shouting distance of their right minds. Besides, unless they’re writers, then explaining “And at the end, it turns out that the whole thing is The Smoking Man trying to keep the Truth About His Mother away from his son, Fox Mulder.” then the studio’s going to go “Er. That’s very silly.”

    Certainly, we’d never have gotten shows like Babylon 5.

    I think it’s important for the WRITER to at least know the answers to the big questions he poses to his viewers, or readers, though. If Chris Carter wants to be coy through nine seasons of the X-Files, that’s fine…so long as HE knows the answers to the questions, or at least will know them by the time he gets there. Otherwise, the series doesn’t strive toward an ending, and that leaves it going in circles eventually.

    (Much to the shame of my friends, I haven’t seen BSG. I’m told this is my loss, and it probably is.)

  8. Add Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin’ Blog to the list of malcontents.

  9. Problem #1 – The show changed. We all liked the first season a lot, but the writers decided to change it. Maybe it’s still a good thing because if it were still the same as the first season – a chase through space we might be complaining how we’ve seen every possible plot already. I thought the new Caprica arc was a bold move, but …

    Problem #2 – I don’t think the writers or the Cylons has a real plan. The writers revealed what they had planned too quickly, and now I am just amazed that the Cylons have not decended into anarchy already. We know too much about them now; it might have been better if we did not see their side so much because now I find it harder and harder to believe the Cylons are capable of the organizaed attack they orchestrated in the mini-series.

    I’m still watching, but I am less excited that I was season 1. I lasted until season 7 or 8 of the X Files so I do have a history of persistance. These problems can be solved by getting the writing staff together and coming up with a coherent direction for the rest of the series with certain plot points that must be met at certain times. They should not be afraid to end the series before it has been driven into the ground. I still watch because I am hopeful that something like this might happen, and the show will return to something closer to it was in season 1 than what it is now.

  10. Fred Kiesche // February 15, 2007 at 8:00 pm //

    Season One rocked and it was only 13 odd episodes long. Seasons Two and Three are of a more “normal” length. Maybe the production team has gotten tired due to the longer seasons. Maybe the fourth season will be better, as they won’t feel the need for “filler”.

  11. dingosatemybaby // February 17, 2007 at 9:30 pm //

    I actually got my non-sci-fi-watching wife to watch the PILOT movie with me waaay back and she liked it. We made it a weekly thing to watch BSG together (our “date night”) and she became as addicted as I was – until the last 2 episodes of Season 2 and pretty much all of Season 3.

    After last week’s show she announced to me that our “date night” would have to be Heroes on Mondays – she’s no longer interested in BSG. I had to agree with her. Im not giving up on the show completely, but after listening to just about every podcast from Ron Moore after watching the show, its clear that they make this stuff up as they go with only the vaguest of ideas of where they want to be at the end of the season.

    So when they flash “And they have a plan” up on the screen in the opener, I have to wonder – is having no plan a plan itself? When I discuss the show with my co-workers and friends who watch, there’s a billion holes in plot and consistency (here’s one: whatever happened to Baltar’s Cylon Detector? Wouldnt someone have fired that puppy up after they realized what a chump he was?)

    Whats worse, they seem to have gone the way of many many other TV shows on these days – create a mystery, spoonfeed the viewers and dont ever really pay off with any of the dangling crumbs of mythology (because they themselves dont know the whole truth beyond the next 2-3 episodes).

    I’d love for them to blow me away again with the excellent, top notch episodes they used to bring out, I just dont think that’s going to happen anytime soon.


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