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Old September 5 2012, 04:48 PM   #1
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My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

I hadn't seen BSG when it was airing first-run, so my viewing experience of it was different. I watched it all in a much shorter period of time after hearing things about how great and ground-breaking it was. So here are some of my observations after completing the series.

1. The story was what kept me interested, because the characters did not. I have seldom encountered a TV show with so many unlikeable characters. By the end of the series, the only characters I still liked were either peripheral guest-characters(Dr. Cottle, Romo Lampkin) or dead.(Dualla, Cally, Billy, Gaeta) Adama is a tyrant, as is Laura Roslyn. Baltar is a slimy, self-centered traitor, most of the rest are bland or forgettable. Wait, I guess Saul Tigh was still pretty cool. Which brings me to my next point...


2. Starbuck. Ugh. Worst character on the show. Fingernails-on-chalkboard annoying. An abrasive, obnoxious, bitch with a massive chip on her shoulder and a sense of grievance and entitlement. The idea that someone like her would last five minutes in any organization that is even remotely military in style is laughable. What's worse is the obvious love that the writers had for her, so she was so often front and center.

3. Lack of humor. I get that the show was going for gritty and dark. But BSG probably had the least amount of humor of almost any show I'd ever seen. Even when the series was drawing me in with the stories, the almost total seriousness of the show made it almost a chore to watch sometimes. Sitting down to watch it, I knew I was in for forty-five minutes of no jokes, no light moments, etc. Dark and gritty is one thing, revelling in misery as you beat the audience over the head with how sober and serious you are is another. Whedon is an example of a writer who can combine dark themes and shows with tons of humor.

4. The unrealism of a "realistic" show. So RM set out to make BSG realistic sci-fi. Well, the way characters acted in a supposed military setting undermined that. Characters routinely turning guns on one another, and then the next week it's forgotten. Fights breaking out all the time. I found the actions of the various characters to routinely come out of left field.

5. It's a different show by late season 3. I've seen this point brought up a lot about the show. BSG goes from being a show about the survivors of Humanity making their way to Earth and fighting the Cylons to being dominated by angels, prophecies, and gods. You can really see the parallels to DS9 here, where the "Prophets" and Sisko as emissary arc became increasingly prominent whereas early DS9 was more politics-driven. Your mileage may vary on whether these elements made BSG a better show or not.

6. Adama and Roslyn-so Roslyn is appointed president twice, never elected, in fact losing the only election she ever fought after trying to rig it. Tom Zarek who was elected to a position, is ignored by Adama as is the quorum, while Adama carries out a totally inappropriate relationship with Roslyn that makes it seem that the civilians are being governed by a lovers' coup. To make it more absurd, Lee Adama, Bill's son, is appointed later. So... the civilians are being governed by a triumvirate of a military dictator, his girlfriend, and his son. And... we're supposed to side with them when Zarek gets frustrated with this state of affairs? It's a good thing they had to make Zarek a bloodthirsty thug otherwise fans might start to wonder...
We also got Adama threatening to shoot strikers and their families rather than negotiating with them, after he was so disturbed by Admiral Cain's dictatorial tendencies in season 2. By the end of the series, I really couldn't stand Adama or Roslyn.

7. Cylons-so... by the end of the series, what's the difference between a Cylon skin-job and a Human? Medically, psychologically, there doesn't seem to be one. They act, talk, walk, and have sex like Humans. The only difference seems to be that they can "resurrect," but I thought it odd that they made them virtually indistinguishable from Humans, yet tried to act like they were different, like how "extraordinary" it was to have hybrids. Why? Cottle seems to be able to treat them medically just like Humans.

8. The story-as I wrote, the story kept me coming back. It was clever the way they kept bringing up mysteries to solve to bring you in-where is Earth? Who are the Final Five? Who is the Final Cylon, etc. Even when I dislike or was neutral about the characters, I thought the overall story was good. Until...


9. The resolution. It's interesting to compare this show's mythology and story arc to a show like Babylon 5. You can tell that B5 had its story mostly mapped out and that BSG didn't. Because many dangling threads of BSG were red herrings or dropped completely. Hera's destiny? To be a one-line joker 150,000 years later. The Opera House vision? Meaningless. Kara Thrace? An unexplained mystery. The Cylon Plan alluded to for years? Also meaningless. Turns out "God did it" is the answer to most of the story issues, and that the characters were puppets being led to one point so Kara Thrace could make that jump. The "cycles" idea of repeated conflict was an interesting one, but the "shaggy God" story of the BSG crew as Adams and Eves was cliched rather than clever. The series finale was a big disappointment.

10. Lack of re-watchability factor. The lack of humor, unlikeable characters, intense serialization of storylines, and the nature of the series relying so much on "mysteries" means that it doesn't have a high rewatchability factor to me. The storylines were very good, and it kept me interested, but I would never buy this series in any format, because once you've seen how the mythology and story does(and doesn't) resolve, there's not a lot of enjoyment to get over it.




Many of these points seem negative, but I don't want to give the impression that I didn't think it was a good series. This is an example of a show or movie that I can say was "good" and "well-written" but that I didn't really ENJOY watching. It's a dark, depressing show filled with unlikeable characters doing nasty things, and there's very little comic relief. That, as I wrote before, makes it somewhat of a chore to watch. I got through it, I'm glad I saw it, it's thought-provoking and clever, with many good plots and storylines, but I don't think it's likely that I'll watch it again. I enjoy sci-fi/fantasy shows like Star Trek, Buffy/Angel B5, Doctor Who, etc. far more, because as I've written, they're funnier, have more likeable characters to root for, and aren't as dependent on grand mystery mythology to draw you in.

BSG was like a mystery novel to me where I just had to keep going to find out "whodunnit," but was disappointed by the answer, and I don't want to read it again.
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Old September 5 2012, 05:00 PM   #2
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

I find it funny the different reactions people have to the same thing. I, personally, have re-watched BSG at least 5 or 6 times, and I still completely love it. Yeah, a lot of the characters are awful people. Some started off that way, and others became awful people throughout the course of the show. I think we have to remember just how hard their lives had become. Hell, most of them only had one or two pairs or clothes to wear, and they didn't even have the resources to bathe regularly. That alone would make me a very cranky person.

I think Lee Adama's speech at the end of Season 3 does a good job explaining the political situation. They're not a civilization anymore; they're a gang, and they have to fight to survive. Unfortunately, sometimes that meant throwing democracy out the window.

I thought the show was great. Behind "Lost," I think it has the greatest series finale I've seen.
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Old September 5 2012, 05:13 PM   #3
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

Yea, the complete lack of humor to break the tension is what I too figured out weighs it down so much.

As far realism, that's my one complaint, is that they went so far in making the show gritty and realistic and avoiding any kind of joy, it became unrealistic because even here on Earth in Wartime, while your fellow soldiers are getting killed around you, the Soldiers still take time out to unwind, enjoy themselves and just have fun, no matter how bad things get.

I've just watched Charlie Jade, which gets every bit as dark, gritty and graphic as NuBSG does, and I think one arc in particular, goes even farther than NuBSG did, and yet, it doesn't feel as weighed down with doom and gloom, because there is one character, who while doing awful things, brings a little levity.

I did enjoy NuBSG, and do own it, and will one day get around to rewatching it, and I wouldn't even mind another Series coming out in the same tone, but, it would be very disappointing if that tone dominated the landscape, and there was no other degree of SciFi available for watching.
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Old September 5 2012, 05:20 PM   #4
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

That was the best review of that overrated piece of shit I've ever read Sonak. I completely agree on all points.

If I took anything away from New Galactica, it's that Brannon Braga was a a great writer.
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Old September 6 2012, 03:31 AM   #5
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

sonak wrote: View Post
I hadn't seen BSG when it was airing first-run, so my viewing experience of it was different. I watched it all in a much shorter period of time after hearing things about how great and ground-breaking it was. So here are some of my observations after completing the series.

1. The story was what kept me interested, because the characters did not. I have seldom encountered a TV show with so many unlikeable characters. By the end of the series, the only characters I still liked were either peripheral guest-characters(Dr. Cottle, Romo Lampkin) or dead.(Dualla, Cally, Billy, Gaeta) Adama is a tyrant, as is Laura Roslyn. Baltar is a slimy, self-centered traitor, most of the rest are bland or forgettable. Wait, I guess Saul Tigh was still pretty cool. Which brings me to my next point...
I think each of the characters takes his turn being unlikable, there is no single villain, you can never count on any of the characters to do the right thing all the time, and sometimes by seeming to do the right thing at the moment they sometimes do the wrong thing, like trust Boomer for example, one never knows when she is going to be the good gal or the bad gal.

2. Starbuck. Ugh. Worst character on the show. Fingernails-on-chalkboard annoying. An abrasive, obnoxious, bitch with a massive chip on her shoulder and a sense of grievance and entitlement. The idea that someone like her would last five minutes in any organization that is even remotely military in style is laughable. What's worse is the obvious love that the writers had for her, so she was so often front and center.
Hey, that's what happens when you change a character that was originally a man into a cigar smoking woman, at times she tried to act like the original series Starbuck.

3. Lack of humor. I get that the show was going for gritty and dark. But BSG probably had the least amount of humor of almost any show I'd ever seen. Even when the series was drawing me in with the stories, the almost total seriousness of the show made it almost a chore to watch sometimes. Sitting down to watch it, I knew I was in for forty-five minutes of no jokes, no light moments, etc. Dark and gritty is one thing, revelling in misery as you beat the audience over the head with how sober and serious you are is another. Whedon is an example of a writer who can combine dark themes and shows with tons of humor.
I think Baltar was partially played for comic relief, just because of his name there is an audience expectation of him to act villainous, and sometimes he is despicable, but most of the time he is just a selfish coward, much like Dr. Smith of Lost in Space, but sometimes he doesn't meet our villainous expectations of him and he does the right thing, even if it was for the wrong reason. For instance in the miniseries he implicated someone as a Cylon who actually turned out to be a Cylon, even though he didn't know for sure.

4. The unrealism of a "realistic" show. So RM set out to make BSG realistic sci-fi. Well, the way characters acted in a supposed military setting undermined that. Characters routinely turning guns on one another, and then the next week it's forgotten. Fights breaking out all the time. I found the actions of the various characters to routinely come out of left field.

5. It's a different show by late season 3. I've seen this point brought up a lot about the show. BSG goes from being a show about the survivors of Humanity making their way to Earth and fighting the Cylons to being dominated by angels, prophecies, and gods. You can really see the parallels to DS9 here, where the "Prophets" and Sisko as emissary arc became increasingly prominent whereas early DS9 was more politics-driven. Your mileage may vary on whether these elements made BSG a better show or not.

6. Adama and Roslyn-so Roslyn is appointed president twice, never elected, in fact losing the only election she ever fought after trying to rig it. Tom Zarek who was elected to a position, is ignored by Adama as is the quorum, while Adama carries out a totally inappropriate relationship with Roslyn that makes it seem that the civilians are being governed by a lovers' coup. To make it more absurd, Lee Adama, Bill's son, is appointed later. So... the civilians are being governed by a triumvirate of a military dictator, his girlfriend, and his son. And... we're supposed to side with them when Zarek gets frustrated with this state of affairs? It's a good thing they had to make Zarek a bloodthirsty thug otherwise fans might start to wonder...
We also got Adama threatening to shoot strikers and their families rather than negotiating with them, after he was so disturbed by Admiral Cain's dictatorial tendencies in season 2. By the end of the series, I really couldn't stand Adama or Roslyn.
Also there is a recognition that Democracy can sometimes lead to bad results, for instance Baltar should not have been President, and After that, they wouldn't even consider Zarek being President.

7. Cylons-so... by the end of the series, what's the difference between a Cylon skin-job and a Human? Medically, psychologically, there doesn't seem to be one. They act, talk, walk, and have sex like Humans. The only difference seems to be that they can "resurrect," but I thought it odd that they made them virtually indistinguishable from Humans, yet tried to act like they were different, like how "extraordinary" it was to have hybrids. Why? Cottle seems to be able to treat them medically just like Humans.
Saves on costumes and special effects, and they don't have to put on that white face paint like Brent Spiner playing Commander Data.

8. The story-as I wrote, the story kept me coming back. It was clever the way they kept bringing up mysteries to solve to bring you in-where is Earth? Who are the Final Five? Who is the Final Cylon, etc. Even when I dislike or was neutral about the characters, I thought the overall story was good. Until...


9. The resolution. It's interesting to compare this show's mythology and story arc to a show like Babylon 5. You can tell that B5 had its story mostly mapped out and that BSG didn't. Because many dangling threads of BSG were red herrings or dropped completely. Hera's destiny? To be a one-line joker 150,000 years later. The Opera House vision? Meaningless. Kara Thrace? An unexplained mystery. The Cylon Plan alluded to for years? Also meaningless. Turns out "God did it" is the answer to most of the story issues, and that the characters were puppets being led to one point so Kara Thrace could make that jump. The "cycles" idea of repeated conflict was an interesting one, but the "shaggy God" story of the BSG crew as Adams and Eves was cliched rather than clever. The series finale was a big disappointment.

10. Lack of re-watchability factor. The lack of humor, unlikeable characters, intense serialization of storylines, and the nature of the series relying so much on "mysteries" means that it doesn't have a high rewatchability factor to me. The storylines were very good, and it kept me interested, but I would never buy this series in any format, because once you've seen how the mythology and story does(and doesn't) resolve, there's not a lot of enjoyment to get over it.




Many of these points seem negative, but I don't want to give the impression that I didn't think it was a good series. This is an example of a show or movie that I can say was "good" and "well-written" but that I didn't really ENJOY watching. It's a dark, depressing show filled with unlikeable characters doing nasty things, and there's very little comic relief. That, as I wrote before, makes it somewhat of a chore to watch. I got through it, I'm glad I saw it, it's thought-provoking and clever, with many good plots and storylines, but I don't think it's likely that I'll watch it again. I enjoy sci-fi/fantasy shows like Star Trek, Buffy/Angel B5, Doctor Who, etc. far more, because as I've written, they're funnier, have more likeable characters to root for, and aren't as dependent on grand mystery mythology to draw you in.

BSG was like a mystery novel to me where I just had to keep going to find out "whodunnit," but was disappointed by the answer, and I don't want to read it again.
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Old September 6 2012, 04:27 AM   #6
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

sonak wrote: View Post
6. Adama and Roslyn-so Roslyn is appointed president twice, never elected, in fact losing the only election she ever fought after trying to rig it. Tom Zarek who was elected to a position, is ignored by Adama as is the quorum, while Adama carries out a totally inappropriate relationship with Roslyn that makes it seem that the civilians are being governed by a lovers' coup. To make it more absurd, Lee Adama, Bill's son, is appointed later. So... the civilians are being governed by a triumvirate of a military dictator, his girlfriend, and his son. And... we're supposed to side with them when Zarek gets frustrated with this state of affairs?
This x1000. That really pissed me off. We were supposed to feel good about this political backstabbing? The world has ended, we're left with 47,000 people, and we STILL can't have a non-corrupt government?
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Old September 6 2012, 01:07 PM   #7
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

tighr wrote: View Post
sonak wrote: View Post
6. Adama and Roslyn-so Roslyn is appointed president twice, never elected, in fact losing the only election she ever fought after trying to rig it. Tom Zarek who was elected to a position, is ignored by Adama as is the quorum, while Adama carries out a totally inappropriate relationship with Roslyn that makes it seem that the civilians are being governed by a lovers' coup. To make it more absurd, Lee Adama, Bill's son, is appointed later. So... the civilians are being governed by a triumvirate of a military dictator, his girlfriend, and his son. And... we're supposed to side with them when Zarek gets frustrated with this state of affairs?
This x1000. That really pissed me off. We were supposed to feel good about this political backstabbing? The world has ended, we're left with 47,000 people, and we STILL can't have a non-corrupt government?
This raises an interesting question, if an evil man were to be elected to high office and you had the power to stop him, should you? Hitler was elected Chancellor in 1932, should someone in the military have staged a coup to stop him, would he be condemned by historians for doing so? How many lives might he have saved?
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Old September 6 2012, 01:20 PM   #8
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

Mars wrote: View Post
This raises an interesting question, if an evil man were to be elected to high office and you had the power to stop him, should you? Hitler was elected Chancellor in 1932, should someone in the military have staged a coup to stop him, would he be condemned by historians for doing so? How many lives might he have saved?
That only makes sense if the person in the military to overthrow Hitler didn't subsequently start sleeping with Hitler.
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Old September 6 2012, 02:03 PM   #9
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

I personally cared for the characters myself.
True they were sometimes bit too edgy,
but honestly they felt often more real, than people in many other Tv-shows.
I also really liked the Adama-Roslin relationship. It showed nicely the more caring and tender side of Adama( yes, he had that side).

NuBSG was not a perfect show, but it is a damn good one.
Lots of good drama, interesting characters, plot twists you don't see coming..and some cool action,too.
Plus the cast was very talented and so was the writing
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Old September 6 2012, 02:52 PM   #10
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

The question is how would we expect people to react when practically speaking, their entire civilisation has been wiped out?
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Old September 6 2012, 03:06 PM   #11
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

MacLeod wrote: View Post
The question is how would we expect people to react when practically speaking, their entire civilisation has been wiped out?
I think alot of it would play out as shown in NuBSG, but, I don't believe everybody, all the time would be so depressing. I believe there would be lighter moments, there would be some fun and some moments of joy. Now, maybe we can say those happened off camera, but, they went overboard with the "real Grit" removing the lighter moments/fun/joy, so, the "reality pendulum" swung over to the other side and became unrealistic
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Old September 6 2012, 03:58 PM   #12
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

Sindatur wrote: View Post
MacLeod wrote: View Post
The question is how would we expect people to react when practically speaking, their entire civilisation has been wiped out?
I think alot of it would play out as shown in NuBSG, but, I don't believe everybody, all the time would be so depressing. I believe there would be lighter moments, there would be some fun and some moments of joy. Now, maybe we can say those happened off camera, but, they went overboard with the "real Grit" removing the lighter moments/fun/joy, so, the "reality pendulum" swung over to the other side and became unrealistic

exactly. In dark and depressing situations, it's even more important psychologically to have humor to relax and deal with the tension of the situation.

The show needed more moments like Tigh joking about how the crew wasn't eating paper because there was a paper shortage along with all of the other shortages.


And yeah, looking back I guess Baltar and Head Six were supposed to be providing much of the comic relief, but it wasn't enough. And even then, that was only for the early part of the show, before Head Six turned more serious.
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Old September 7 2012, 10:03 PM   #13
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

sonak wrote: View Post
Lack of humor. I get that the show was going for gritty and dark. But BSG probably had the least amount of humor of almost any show I'd ever seen.
Consider putting yourself into this very apt analogy:

You're locked aboard a commercial airliner, say about the size of Colonial One. You have no real possibility of ever EVER getting off. You can't open the door and leave. You can't open a window for some fresh air. You can't bathe properly; a sponge bath is likely the best you'll get. Everything you eat is made from algae.

There is no real government anymore. There is no military for that matter. You and everyone else pretend that such things still exist because psychologically you must. But the ugly truth is that the rules are being made by the people who have the guns, and most of the time they're making it up as they go. There are no heroes, not really, but in spite of it all there remain a small few who actually try to do the right thing--when they can.

And above all, you're being hunted. Relentlessly, with no hope of anyone coming to your rescue, because you and your fellows are completely alone, and will be for the rest of your lives.

I think humor would be one of the first casualties.
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Old September 8 2012, 01:34 AM   #14
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

Dark Gilligan wrote: View Post
sonak wrote: View Post
Lack of humor. I get that the show was going for gritty and dark. But BSG probably had the least amount of humor of almost any show I'd ever seen.
Consider putting yourself into this very apt analogy:

You're locked aboard a commercial airliner, say about the size of Colonial One. You have no real possibility of ever EVER getting off. You can't open the door and leave. You can't open a window for some fresh air. You can't bathe properly; a sponge bath is likely the best you'll get. Everything you eat is made from algae.

There is no real government anymore. There is no military for that matter. You and everyone else pretend that such things still exist because psychologically you must. But the ugly truth is that the rules are being made by the people who have the guns, and most of the time they're making it up as they go. There are no heroes, not really, but in spite of it all there remain a small few who actually try to do the right thing--when they can.

And above all, you're being hunted. Relentlessly, with no hope of anyone coming to your rescue, because you and your fellows are completely alone, and will be for the rest of your lives.

I think humor would be one of the first casualties.

I think you'll find that even in desperate and horrible situations people still use humor, even if it's dark or gallows humor. Folks wrongly convicted spending years in prison still use humor.

It's a defense mechanism and a way of showing solidarity and relieving stress.
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Old September 8 2012, 01:48 AM   #15
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Re: My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

Honestly, I'm surprised it managed to be as light-hearted as it was. Given the situation, I would have expected to see a lot of suicides and mental breakdowns.
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