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Old February 24 2013, 09:17 AM   #1
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RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

Ron D Moore recently gave an interview to a personal military blog for veterans: https://www.weaponizedculture.org/20...-the-military/

It doesn't really cover any new ground; just some fans who are veterans, nice of RDM to drop in; so it focused on how the show tried to capture the realistic aspects of a military vessel -- i.e. how their mission statement was literally "this is going to be like a realistic portrayal of life on a military ship -- so realistic, filmed with shakey handicams with bad lighting cinema verite style, that the hope is that non-viewers randomly flipping channels and coming in halfway, who only see interior shots and don't instantly see it's a spaceship...will be honestly convinced they've stumbled upon a real-life documentary about an aircraft carrier."


Reading through all 4 parts (again they don't say anything not said elsewhere), in particular when Ron says how important his month in ROTC was and how much he always wanted to be part of that world of Hornet jets taking off and landing from a carrier, the "esprit de corps" of the fighter pilots and lower decks and commanders...

...well, this wasn't RDM's choice, but the interviewer points out fanmail that says that even Trek inspired people to be in the military.

Fundamentally, Starfleet is not "a military" in that sense. They're more like modern-day NASA astronauts: explorers, scientists, and diplomats.

On this point I must stress very strongly. Starfleet does have defensive duties, but it *isn't* that "esprit de corps" feeling of military honor and such. Spock is a scientist, McCoy is a doctor/scientist. Geordi is more of an astrophysicist than a military engineer.

Starfleet does have protocol, rank structure and such, people who break the rules might be court-martialed, but they simply don't equate to that world.

My point is that I think Picard's sense of honor, restraint, diplomacy, and "command"....are not based on his capacity as a "military ship commander". Picard frequently stressed that he is an explorer and diplomat and became angry when accused of being a "warrior".

Let's even leave out the question of violence; I mean even compared to a military vessel on purely peacetime patron duty today....Picard's mission is simply different from that.

Picard, and Starfleet, the whole standard of "command", "masculinity", "honor" whathaveyou that they presented....was more of a "Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird" style of restraint and idealistic belief in the capacity of human beings to be good and rationally overcome problems.


Of course, on a related note, a thing that RDM mentions once again in the interview is that he can't handle logistics, i.e. the large amount of paperwork and reports the military needs. Ron didn't know how to keep on a schedule, he's always had that problem: Movie 7 ate up all of their time so he frantically wrote "All Good Things..." in a handful of weeks, yet surprisingly he turned out so great he won an Emmy -- from how he keeps talking about it in interviews, I think this really validated in his mind that he's capable of working to the last minute -- which as anyone who listened to the podcasts knows is what kept happening in Seasons 3 and 4; frantic re-writes up to the last possible moment, instead of getting things done on time.

I've said before that I think that fundamentally, what happened to BSG starting with Season 3 is that:

  1. Ron Moore has an intentionally loose command style, as a reaction to the restrictive writing environment on TNG under Berman and Braga.
  2. This extends to how "command style" in the writers' room; he openly admitted that he'd keep incorporating new subplots from other writers or even actors, without ever trying to tie them all together coherently.
  3. Literally HALF of the core writing staff left under mysterious circumstances between Season 2 and 3 (i.e. story editor Tony Graphia) and yet Ron & Eick never so much as mentioned their departure publicly.
  4. The network forced them to drop their running storylines in season 3 because "standalones will hook new viewers" -- which only revealed more quickly that they weren't planning out the core direction of the show. Either way, Ron never really admitted that they dropped the running storylines until season 3 was over the dishonesty was what made it worse.
This interview made me think over "Point 2" again in particular: I think the other writers thought that if Ron accepted their idea for a new subplot, he'd also figured out how to make it fit into existing storylines, when in fact he didn't (hey! Let's have a hybrid baby! etc.) In the podcasts, Ron frequently praises how he loves it when actors and directors ad lib on the set, or how he just generally has a "hands off" approach and lets writers shape an individual episode.


Meanwhile, it sunk in about just how little control Ron was willing to exert and ultimately the show spun out of control and they painted themselves into a corner.


And it hit me: above all, this was a TV show about command structures and the responsibility of command....and Ron himself turned out to be a bad commander.


Think about it: even as they were writing Season 4, with Admiral Adama - this character on script pages - trying to keep disciplined command structure on his military vessel.....Ron Moore, the lead writer, was leading a markedly *UNdisciplined* writer's room. This was a show ABOUT the pressures of command!


Consider that the villain captains on the show all tended to be martinets and tyrants: Admiral Cain was a tyrant, Commander Garner on Pegasus -- while a good episode -- his whole episode had the moral that he was a martinet who tried to control his crew too tightly.


Never was there a circumstance where the "bad" commander was someone who had too LOOSE of a command style. But either extreme is ultimately bad. (Yes, Fisk was in the Black Market and such...for the opening act of one episode and then he was killed; they didn't really dwell on it).



So just the contrast is really ironic; they're writing characters set on a military ship, and they're supposed to be creating stories about characters making "command decisions" -- when Ron himself was indecisive, frequently working until the last minute, throwing out and revizing subplots at the last minute, and showing an overall unwillingness to assert control over the writing staff or even himself.
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Old February 24 2013, 09:52 PM   #2
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

When war breaks out, who fights it? Starfleet. They're the Fed military cuz nobody else is.

RDM should get some military space opera show back on TV, something along the lines of the Honor Harrington series. Instead, he's working on something that sounds like historical romance with a small time travel component, blah, too girly for me.
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Old February 25 2013, 04:27 AM   #3
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

BSG was an excellent TV series, and Ron Moore was an excellent executive producer. There's no basis for the continual criticisms and insinuations to the contrary; they cannot be justified.

OTOH, the interview linked to by the OP does underscore the continuing high regard in which Moore is held by people who know what they're talking about - in this instance, military people.
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Old February 25 2013, 05:17 AM   #4
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

Yeah, Temis...it struck me as odd that given RDM's interest in military scifi....and how he had a great "feel" for military characters....why have his recent projects really been nothing like that?

"Precinct 17" and "Virtuality" weren't military. He tried to make a western show.

Now he's doing period pieces?

in the interview about in part 4 he does talk about how he thinks a historical fantasy or military scifi are both truly "period pieces".

....there's a line I like from "To Kill a Mockingbird" - "Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing you're beat before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

I do like how BSG promoted a positive image of the military, much as Stargate did, instead of trying them as stock villains or something.

At the same time, I'm kind of annoyed at how in both Trek and BSG, "it respects the military" becomes an argument killer - yeah, BSG seasons 1 and 2 did that, I liked them for it; it has no bearing on comparing seasons 3 and 4. But by the end of the show it was weird how there was a mini-fandom within a fandom who were latching onto the military stuff.

...this probably deserves a better explanation. I've known truly awful people in my life who demanded respect and admiration because they were veterans - intellectually, I later came to realize that these people would be repugnant to other veterans, not everyone's like that, etc. Later on, around when I was about to leave High School, my shop teacher who I'd known for years remarked to me that he was actually a Vietnam medivac pilot (picking guys up with incoming fire, etc.) -- the point is that he NEVER mentioned this in the four years I'd been there. And he explained that his whole mentality was that he felt part of service was humility, so he didn't want to walk around bragging about what he did. That really stuck with me.

I'm all over the map here, sorry: the point is I'm not questioning that BSG promoted a "positive image of the military" -- it's that this is irrelevant to discussing the writing flaws of the second half of the show.

But in the end, can we really call a show about angels a "military scifi show"?

BSG an excellent TV series, and Ron Moore was an excellent executive producer. There's no basis for the continual criticisms and insinuations to the contrary; they cannot be justified.
I can understand if you disagree with criticism, embrace it in spite of it, but "no basis" for criticism?

Well, how do you address:
  • They hyped up "there's a Cylon plan!" for years, putting it in the opening credits no less, only to later reveal in the last season that there was never "a plan" and it was just a marketing gimmick.
  • They never planned out why the hybrid baby messiah was important. To the point that they had to shoot for the bleachers by implausibly making her Mitochondrial Eve in the last episode (I mean, they thought of that while writing the last episode)
  • Picking the Final Four Cylons for shock value, picking implausible people such as Tigh, Tyrol and Anders?
  • The massive plot holes this introduced, leading to ham-fisted retcons such as saying "well I guess Nicholas can't be Tyrol's baby then, it wouldn't make sense to have 2 hybrid babies"
  • At the end of Season 3, Mary McDonnell literally walked into Moore and Eick's office and asked what the heck her character arc on the show for the past SEASON was....and dumbfounded, they admitted they lost the character.
  • The Love Polygon of Doom.
  • Tigh and Caprica-Six having sex and her getting pregnant (1), then losing the baby but utterly forgetting about it by the next episode (2).
  • Killing off and resurrecting Starbuck - a cheap comic book death and resurrection -- as basically a stunt at the end of Season 3 to be "watercooler TV" -- even though it was never really explained and really unnecessary when you think about it.
These aren't idle questions.


I'm not talking about the fond memories you have about Seasons 1 and 2.


What do you defend about Seasons 3 and 4? Once they left New Caprica the show ended.
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Old February 25 2013, 05:40 AM   #5
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

V wrote: View Post
What do you defend about Seasons 3 and 4?
You're not asking me, but I'm defending them because I enjoyed them.

Once they left New Caprica the show ended.
No, it really didn't.
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Old February 25 2013, 05:47 AM   #6
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

V wrote: View Post
Well, how do you address:
I wouldn't. Because if I had complaints about the show, I would've gotten over them when it ended four years ago.
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Old February 25 2013, 06:44 AM   #7
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

You know, I love BSG but I can't deny how clueless Ron Moore and company were when it came to the storylines of the show. He wanted to address topical issues with BSG and he did but had no idea what to do for a long-term storyline and it showed big-time. Everything V listed as criticism is 100% spot on. They had no plan for the Cyclons, they used the line because it sounded cool. It made absolutely no sense for Tigh and Anders to be Cyclons because they would have long histories in the Colonies, the lack of a plan for the hybrid baby, etc.
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Old February 25 2013, 03:03 PM   #8
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

The continual psychoanalysis of Ron Moore by the OP is more than a little creepy.
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Old February 25 2013, 04:34 PM   #9
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

V wrote: View Post
I can understand if you disagree with criticism, embrace it in spite of it, but "no basis" for criticism?

Well, how do you address:
  • They hyped up "there's a Cylon plan!" for years, putting it in the opening credits no less, only to later reveal in the last season that there was never "a plan" and it was just a marketing gimmick.
  • They never planned out why the hybrid baby messiah was important. To the point that they had to shoot for the bleachers by implausibly making her Mitochondrial Eve in the last episode (I mean, they thought of that while writing the last episode)
  • Picking the Final Four Cylons for shock value, picking implausible people such as Tigh, Tyrol and Anders?
  • The massive plot holes this introduced, leading to ham-fisted retcons such as saying "well I guess Nicholas can't be Tyrol's baby then, it wouldn't make sense to have 2 hybrid babies"
  • At the end of Season 3, Mary McDonnell literally walked into Moore and Eick's office and asked what the heck her character arc on the show for the past SEASON was....and dumbfounded, they admitted they lost the character.
  • The Love Polygon of Doom.
  • Tigh and Caprica-Six having sex and her getting pregnant (1), then losing the baby but utterly forgetting about it by the next episode (2).
  • Killing off and resurrecting Starbuck - a cheap comic book death and resurrection -- as basically a stunt at the end of Season 3 to be "watercooler TV" -- even though it was never really explained and really unnecessary when you think about it.
These aren't idle questions.


I'm not talking about the fond memories you have about Seasons 1 and 2.


What do you defend about Seasons 3 and 4? Once they left New Caprica the show ended.
I don't dispute alot of that, but, I definitely disagree that Tyrol, Tigh and Anders were random choices for Final Five Cylons.

Tyrol was so set up to be revealed as a Cylon practically from the beginning, that it would've been an epic failure if he wasn't a Cylon when all was said and done. I haven't done a rewatch of NuBSG, I only saw it in first run, so, I don't remember the details of why, but, Tigh and Anders were also on my list of Final of Five Cylons, it was only Tory and Ellen that surprised me.

Yes, I realize it probably is coincidence, and luck there were hints for Tigh, Tyrol and Anders being Cylons, since they didn't decide who they would be until the last minute, but, those three absolutely were not, IMHO, random choices that came out of nowhere, they made perfect sense to me at the time
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Old February 26 2013, 01:23 AM   #10
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

It doesn't bother me that a show doesn't have a set storyline to be followed as if they were orders from god. The new BSG was an amazing show and kept me interested throughout its entire run. There were some rough patches, but there isn't a single show that doesn't have them. In the end, it became one of my favorite shows and I hope to be able to see more of that universe. Caprica was great, Blood & Chrome was decent (although I didn't care for the second half when it turned into BSG without any brains).

Also I loved the ending, it was a satisfying conclusion to the series and couldn't have hoped for anything better. I know some people don't like it, but some people are just haters and can never be happy. That's why they try to ruin it for other people. I don't like Glee, but I don't bitch about it constantly and tear apart anything said by the creator like a stalker ex-girlfriend.
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Old February 26 2013, 02:08 AM   #11
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

V wrote: View Post
Ron D Moore recently gave an interview to a personal military blog for veterans: https://www.weaponizedculture.org/20...-the-military/

It doesn't really cover any new ground;
Then why bring it up at all, other than as an excuse to rehash more old ground in the form of anti-RDM rants?

Fundamentally, Starfleet is not "a military" in that sense. They're more like modern-day NASA astronauts: explorers, scientists, and diplomats.
Horseshit.

NASA is a civilian agency. It's run by civilian engineers and its crews are made up of astronauts that are either civilians or retired or reserve military pilots. The crew structures are informal in terms of rank, with titles like "Mission Commander" and "Mission Specialist" the only real symbols of authority.

Starfleet has a rigid, pyramidal, rank-based command structure, based on that of a true military organization (The United States Navy) which means it's "like NASA" in terms of only one of its functions...and it's arguable whether that function is its primary one.

On this point I must stress very strongly. Starfleet does have defensive duties, but it *isn't* that "esprit de corps" feeling of military honor and such. Spock is a scientist, McCoy is a doctor/scientist. Geordi is more of an astrophysicist than a military engineer.

Starfleet does have protocol, rank structure and such, people who break the rules might be court-martialed, but they simply don't equate to that world.
The term "court-martial", by definition, equates it with the military world.

My point is that I think Picard's sense of honor, restraint, diplomacy, and "command"....are not based on his capacity as a "military ship commander".
Dude, his sense of command could only come from being a commander, and the military structure of Starfleet makes him a military ship commander. (It amazes me how self-delusional some trekkies can be on this point...)

Picard frequently stressed that he is an explorer and diplomat and became angry when accused of being a "warrior".
Yep. The characters could delude themselves about it too.

Let's even leave out the question of violence; I mean even compared to a military vessel on purely peacetime patron duty today....Picard's mission is simply different from that.
Naval ships have been used for diplomacy and exploration since the invention of navies. The only siginificant difference in Picard's mission is that his ship travels in space.

There are books that don't have the trek logo on them. Try reading a couple...

Picard, and Starfleet, the whole standard of "command", "masculinity", "honor" whathaveyou that they presented....was more of a "Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird" style of restraint and idealistic belief in the capacity of human beings to be good and rationally overcome problems.
^^This has to be the most meaningless part of your rant.


Of course, on a related note, a thing that RDM mentions once again in the interview is that he can't handle logistics, i.e. the large amount of paperwork and reports the military needs. Ron didn't know how to keep on a schedule, he's always had that problem: Movie 7 ate up all of their time so he frantically wrote "All Good Things..." in a handful of weeks, yet surprisingly he turned out so great he won an Emmy -- from how he keeps talking about it in interviews, I think this really validated in his mind that he's capable of working to the last minute -- which as anyone who listened to the podcasts knows is what kept happening in Seasons 3 and 4; frantic re-writes up to the last possible moment, instead of getting things done on time.
That's happened in every complex, high budget show since the dawn of television. Again, read a book...

I've said before that I think that fundamentally, what happened to BSG starting with Season 3 is that:

  1. Ron Moore has an intentionally loose command style, as a reaction to the restrictive writing environment on TNG under Berman and Braga.
A production studio is not a military organization, and the guy solely responsible for that studio's content ought to be able to work in whatever way he finds comfortable that still gets the job done.

  1. This extends to how "command style" in the writers' room; he openly admitted that he'd keep incorporating new subplots from other writers or even actors, without ever trying to tie them all together coherently.
Doctor Who's writers have been writing like that for decades. Nobody seems to mind when they do it.

  1. Literally HALF of the core writing staff left under mysterious circumstances between Season 2 and 3 (i.e. story editor Tony Graphia) and yet Ron & Eick never so much as mentioned their departure publicly.
Writer turnover. Yet another age-old television tradition. You keep blaming RDM for things most every production goes through.

  1. The network forced them to drop their running storylines in season 3 because "standalones will hook new viewers" -- which only revealed more quickly that they weren't planning out the core direction of the show. Either way, Ron never really admitted that they dropped the running storylines until season 3 was over the dishonesty was what made it worse.
Why would it be necessary to reveal they'd dropped the running storylines when it was patently obvious to anyone actually watching the show during season three??

And, news flash, not everybody plots out the "core direction" of a given series. It's not required by federal law. To whine about the dishonesty of RDM not doing something he's under no obligation to do is asinine, asi-ten, as-eleven and asi-twelve!

This interview made me think over "Point 2" again in particular: I think the other writers thought that if Ron accepted their idea for a new subplot, he'd also figured out how to make it fit into existing storylines, when in fact he didn't (hey! Let's have a hybrid baby! etc.) In the podcasts, Ron frequently praises how he loves it when actors and directors ad lib on the set, or how he just generally has a "hands off" approach and lets writers shape an individual episode.



Meanwhile, it sunk in about just how little control Ron was willing to exert and ultimately the show spun out of control and they painted themselves into a corner.
How in the hell could you know the show didn't end exactly the way he wanted it to? There's a half season blip where he followed the network's advice. That is not the same as "spun out of control."

Again, RDM was the boss. He's allowed to run his operation however he chooses.

And it hit me: above all, this was a TV show about command structures and the responsibility of command....and Ron himself turned out to be a bad commander.


Think about it: even as they were writing Season 4, with Admiral Adama - this character on script pages - trying to keep disciplined command structure on his military vessel.....Ron Moore, the lead writer, was leading a markedly *UNdisciplined* writer's room. This was a show ABOUT the pressures of command!
No, it was about the end of civilization.


Consider that the villain captains on the show all tended to be martinets and tyrants: Admiral Cain was a tyrant, Commander Garner on Pegasus -- while a good episode -- his whole episode had the moral that he was a martinet who tried to control his crew too tightly.


Never was there a circumstance where the "bad" commander was someone who had too LOOSE of a command style. But either extreme is ultimately bad. (Yes, Fisk was in the Black Market and such...for the opening act of one episode and then he was killed; they didn't really dwell on it).



So just the contrast is really ironic; they're writing characters set on a military ship, and they're supposed to be creating stories about characters making "command decisions" -- when Ron himself was indecisive, frequently working until the last minute, throwing out and revizing subplots at the last minute, and showing an overall unwillingness to assert control over the writing staff or even himself.
They were writing stories in a military setting. The studio itself WAS NOT a military setting. To expect RDM to treat it like one just so the story comes out the way you want is not only stupid, it's narcissistic stupid.
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Old February 26 2013, 02:47 AM   #12
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

The Cylon Plan was to kill all the humans, they just screwed it up because Cavil had issues with the Final Five. He wanted them to be punished and wanted to draw out their punishment as long as possible, but then it was too late. It fits into one of the themes throughout the show that there really wasn't much of a difference between the humans and cylons. Cavil, despite wanting to be a machine, was just as petty and obsessed with revenge as the humans he hated. It isn't the show's fault that it didn't live up to some fans expectations. I don't know what you could have wanted it to be.
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Old February 26 2013, 06:29 AM   #13
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

V wrote: View Post
2. Literally HALF of the core writing staff left under mysterious circumstances between Season 2 and 3 (i.e. story editor Tony Graphia) and yet Ron & Eick never so much as mentioned their departure publicly.

***

In the podcasts, Ron frequently praises how he loves it when actors and directors ad lib on the set, or how he just generally has a "hands off" approach and lets writers shape an individual episode.

***


... Ron himself was indecisive, frequently working until the last minute, throwing out and revizing subplots at the last minute, and showing an overall unwillingness to assert control over the writing staff or even himself.
I see. And this caused the writing staff ... to depart under mysterious circumstances. Because he didn't control them enough.

Obviously he should have shackled them to their desks. You turn your back and those writers will just disappear into the shadows.
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Old February 26 2013, 12:36 PM   #14
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
The continual psychoanalysis of Ron Moore by the OP is more than a little creepy.
The OP's desperate attempts to rationalize the mystery of how the first two seasons could be so great and the last two so bad on one level reflects profound respect for Moore. The mystery is impossible to solve, leading to really peculiar hypotheses. But I think the true answer is obvious, namely, seasons one and two were badly written too, but they were on 9/11 when the supposed 9/11 wars were still popular.

But even if the notion that Moore was competent is true, the OP wasn't remotely as creepy as a multitude of OPs about Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. In fact, the OP isn't nearly as creepy as the idea of "Weaponized Culture." That guy's review of Skyfall is perceptive about the movie's backwardness and how comfortable he is with it. His graphic that fits drug and other police operations into the spectrum of war is pretty symptomatic too. However I thought that Moore's comfort level with the notion of Cylons as "holy warriors" and a "Jihadist people" was much creepier than the OP.
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Old February 26 2013, 03:25 PM   #15
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Re: RDM interview in a military blog (in 4 parts)

stj wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
The continual psychoanalysis of Ron Moore by the OP is more than a little creepy.
The OP's desperate attempts to rationalize the mystery of how the first two seasons could be so great and the last two so bad on one level reflects profound respect for Moore. The mystery is impossible to solve, leading to really peculiar hypotheses. But I think the true answer is obvious, namely, seasons one and two were badly written too, but they were on 9/11 when the supposed 9/11 wars were still popular.

But even if the notion that Moore was competent is true, the OP wasn't remotely as creepy as a multitude of OPs about Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. In fact, the OP isn't nearly as creepy as the idea of "Weaponized Culture." That guy's review of Skyfall is perceptive about the movie's backwardness and how comfortable he is with it. His graphic that fits drug and other police operations into the spectrum of war is pretty symptomatic too. However I thought that Moore's comfort level with the notion of Cylons as "holy warriors" and a "Jihadist people" was much creepier than the OP.
The people who attribute(d) malicious motives to Berman and Braga are just as bad, in my opinion. We're talking about TV shows and movies here. Nobody screws them up to deliberately fuck with the fans. Fans just need to get over themselves.
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