2.28.2009

CYCLE: RINSE, REPEAT

If the brain-trust of Battlestar Galactica is going to tie up all the story threads by the end of the series they must explain the oft-used refrain, "All of this has happened before and all of it will happen again." We have also been told that the same people will play different roles in future cycles.

So maybe Cylon Centurions will look like this at some point? And the Final Five will all end up like Crispy Kara?

The major conundrum I've found with BSG reimagined creator Moore's approach to the story is his insistence that the characters and their relationships are central to the story. If the mythology of the story is that people are interchangeable as each new iteration unfolds, is this not an inherent contradiction?


You wo
uld think that one of these people trapped in this cycle would attempt to break it, to create an anomaly in the waveform. Oop, she got written out.

STWOM - REVIEW

Why am I left feeling exhausted? I dreaded even playing back the recording of Someone To Watch Over Me. How did this happen? I so loved this show and now I just wonder what sucker punch is coming next.

STWOM was a good ep, it was extremely well-made, and showed superior direction and some wonderful performances. The problem, yet again, is in the writing. I don't blame the two best writers from the show - Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, who did this ep - I sadly must conclude - after taking time to give some thought to what I'd seen - that I had witnessed some of the most self-indulgent story direction I've ever witnessed - and that comes from Ron Moore. These are his choices.

With so few episodes remaining, so little time to give dimension to the grand story we've experienced up till now, it is not just baffling to have an art-house film for an episode they way we did tonight, it seems the height of arrogance. Moore is trumpeting loudly that he doesn't give a damn what the audience wants, or that he feels the least bit constrained by what has come before - and he's going to do it his way. He's said repeatedly it's about the characters and their relationships. To many, if not most, of the fans, it's about the story we've been told and the mythologies behind these cultures - the hows and the whys. We want to understand the grand design, for if the cycle repeats and people play different roles next time around then the story is the thing, not the people, eh?

In a nutshell, Boomer is the ultimate agent provocateur and has now fulfilled the plan Cavil set in motion long ago - to get Hera to him.

I won't give a blow-by-blow of the ep because it's worth watching more than once, but I will give a basic run-down: Kara spends a lot of time at the bar on Galactica and interacts with a piano player and it's at the end of the ep we learn it's all been an hallucination - or she's been Cylon projecting? Hera had earlier given her a drawing of dots and it turns out it is the musical notes for the song that triggered the awakening of Tigh, Tyrol, Tory and Anders. Ellen, Tigh, Tory and Tyrol spend some time at a table at this same bar. Again, where the hell does all this alcohol come from? No one ever pays. Why so empty of people? Wouldn't everyone want to be at the bar drowning their sorrows or trying to get some since the great quest all came to nothing?

Anders' brain-monitor still shows the same scroll of heightened-activity, but Doc Cottle (in yet another fresh lab coat) says it's nothing. We all know better and it's annoying waiting to find out. Ellen and the other Final Fivers seemed diminished, like Romo the second time around. All this hoo-ha about how important they are to the other Cylons and they seem all but useless. The Sixes and Eights seemed a lot more substantive this ep, at least they were doing something - and why are there no Leobens (2s) slapping the Cylon goo (still) on the beams? Was Callum Keith Rennie beyond the budget? Sonja Six is elected to the new Quorum, so the blending continues and we even see several Sixes in the pilots' ready-room and we get the exposition about how the fleet is looking for a habitable planet [the star patterns for several eps, according to galactica-science's MHall, have shown that they are already in the Earth solar system, so how are they missing it?].

Tigh just stays drunk, and Adama just suffers as the lights flicker and Galactica shudders menacingly all through the ep since they want us to believe it is dying. The first reaction shot of Eddie Olmos conveying his heavy heart at the ship's decay is just a moment but illustrates once more what a terrific actor the man is - the weight of the moment and what it means just cascades through his face and body. Tyrol remembers how much he loved Boomer and embarks on a crusade to save her - Roslin says no way and signs her death warrant (her extradition to the Base Ship where the 2s-6s-8s want to put her on trial for treason for siding with Cavil in the Cylon civil war). Adama is almost mute this ep, Roslin is weary and thank heavens no lame Baltarsubplotzone at all.

They overdid it with the Galactica in its death throes - since it hadn't happened at all before this ep - just a few cracks in one or two previous eps. We get the countdown clock dramatic device again since we were told by Tyrol that the FTL drive only has a few unknown number of jumps left in it. What could be happening is the Cylon Gloppy Tar is causing the shudders and it will be reborn anew, but they seem to be foreshadowing for now an ugly end to the old girl. If it's in such a state, why are the Cylon gals willing to keep hauling goo over from the Base Ship and spend their time painting it on? Wouldn't they say they've got better things to do?

Tyrol gets played big time by Boomer - this is her ep and Grace Park has never been better - she got to play about eight different 8s and brought depth and texture to the multitude of copies of her character. The fight where Boomer knocks out and binds Athena and then makes love to Helo in front of Athena was terrific. Great direction and camera work. My key fault with this scene and the whole ep is why the ship is so empty of people. [Images below this point from Islanded In A Stream of Stars] We were not shown or told that so many had died or been hauled off to prison ships as a result of the mutiny (podcasts, etc. don't count - it has to be onscreen).

Overall, I feel like I've had another session on the rack - the show is like a grinding torture now and the emptiness I feel compared to the elation I used to get from each episode leaves me sorrowful.

This was a much higher caliber ep and there was real entertainment value to it, and the story progressed - Boomer is truly evil (or a compliant instrument of evil), is on the loose, kidnapped Hera, severely damaged Galactica with a too-close FTL jump, Kara is closing in on who and what she is with her Daddy flashback, music plays a central role, Roslin has collapsed and may be dead, and Sam has a larger role to play when he regains some kind of consciousness, and Ellen is gearing up for her showdown with Cavil.

The buzz is that the next ep Islanded in a Stream of Stars is going to answer a lot of the remaining questions. I hope I don't get beat up again next week.

2.26.2009

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME - PREVIEW

Boo! Kitchy-kitchy-koo Kara ... it's me, your dead burned body ... here for gratuitous appearances [like Romo's last two eps anyone?]


Ooh, and Barry SLickalo is going to serenade you (my hollow eye sockets can see the future!) "At the Co-pa, Copa-Gal-ac-tica ... you'll learn secreyeyets ...."

Oh, oh, and look who's here at the bar!
The Fab Four ... "Reunited and it feels so good ..." It's just so great that so soon after an attempted coup that Cylons can sit openly at the bar/lounge and have some algae booze and just, you know, talk. (Hey, is that a black guy? They're rarer around here than Cylons!)

And later, there's some Cylon girl-on-girl action ... those 8's all look alike don't they?

And then poor Boomer is going on trial, but I hear they got her a really great old-model lawyer and the judge is kinda slow but reliable.





Oh, and Kar, thanks for the lipstick ... I neede
d to doll it up a bit.

WHO TO BLAME? RON MOORE'S BRAIN

Even David Eick seems a bit skeptical in this moment ... Battlestar Galactica reimagined was Ron Moore's baby. But we all know that television and film is a "collaborative medium" blah blah. Now that BSG has gone so terribly wrong, we have the right to ask just how much is it Mr. Moore's fault? He's almost gloated how he let the writers' room run itself at times and been so busy with other projects, etc. News flash=you'll probably never work on another show that was as special as Battlestar Galactica from the mini through Rapture.

If we could get into that brain of Moore's and find out which part malfunctioned ... which part made the choices to cheapen the story and make pathetic such a magnificent show and when it all went so wrong, it would be interesting to know.

Does he even deserve many of the accolades bestowed upon him for the mini and the early seasons?

Did that executive, Michael Jackson, who suggested the Cylons have their own god and to play up the religious conflict, really make the key decision that made the show so interesting?

Don't be thin-skinned, Mr. Moore, the controversy David Chase manifested with his bold ending for The Sopranos is nothing compared to the tempest you've whipped up with your choices to skip a 5th season, play that Dylan song, make Ellen the Final Cylon, and make a pretty crappy final season. The criticism is going to come in waves for quite a while if and until you r
edeem yourself with some other project. It's too late for Battlestar, regretfully.

I've created a little song (to the tune of The Brady Bunch) to sum up what went wrong:

THE LAZY BUNCH

Here's a story of some lazy writers ... led by their guru Ron Moor
e

Their goal was to reima
gine
Battlestar Galactica for today

It started great - the mini rocked
and they won lots of terrific awards

Then they ran into plotline trouble ... far too many of to keep track
So they dumped them, or let them dangle
and then decided to cut the series short

SciFi screwed the fans ... and made us wait
and wait and wait ... and wait, and wait and wait and wait

This presented real problems for the ending
... to the rescue came guru Ron Moore
Now it's a story of a slutty lady
who worked with four others in a lab


They didn't know that they were robots
till just before their "Earth" went KA-BLAM
Smartly they had a spaceship waiting
with Goo Tanks so they could resurrect

Then they left for the twelve colonies
to warn them to treat their flesh-bots right
This once grandiose and complex story

has now been rendered trite

The Lazy Bunch ... The Lazy Bunch
That's how true fans were screwed.


I would love nothing more, Mr. Moore, than for you to prove me wrong - and for the
final 3 eps to be brilliant and make whole this lovely thing which has fractured. I'm ready to be served. Can you do it?

2.21.2009

DESCENT INTO THE RIDICULOUS



It was a great run while it lasted, but one can only fondly remember the passing of a once great show and endure what remains.

RIP reimagined Battlestar Galactica





T-Shirt to commemorate the series:

DEADLOCK - REVIEW

Sonja Six for some reason is walking through a large holding bay area where it looks like dried beans are being distributed and does a lame job covering up and an even lamer fight ensues. Then we cut to Tigh and Caprica Six back in medlab for another Ultrasound and we find out the baby's name is Liam - awwwwwwbleccchhh

Cut to Hoshi announcing Dradis contact, a Colonial Raptor - it's Thelma and Louise, er, I mean Ellen and Boomer! "We log it as lost over a year ago," Hoshi exposits. Vipers and a Cylon Heavy Raider go in tandem to see it and in a cool shot we see a Six piloting (with the cool red graphics reflecting off her face), and the Roslin "Oh my god(s)" moment is finally at hand. Funny these things never happen at 3am, everybody's always dressed for a day at the office. Tarty Ellen says, "Aren't you going to help a lady down?" If she were a lady, they might have offered. Tyrol goes over and smells smartly-dressed Boomer (the Cylon flight suits are way cooler) and tells everyone it is Boomer, to which Adama orders, "Marines!" Like it fucking matters now. She is taken into custody. First groan of the ep and we're less than ten minutes in. A stupid Hot Dog line (why hasn't his character been splattered yet? Oh yeah, EJO wants to see him working) which is so bad I won't repeat it here. Tigh-Ellen kissy-kissy.

Later, Ellen is interrogated - gently ... and asks for Adama's flask (contrived moment). Ellen asks them to imagine if there were only 5 survivors instead of 50-thousand and requests to see the other Final Fivers. Adama says, "We'll see what we can do," as if there is any reason not to!? Ellen and Tigh are left alone in the room and they start a sex session on the table and Tigh's eye patch goes flying and he sees (projects?) Caprica Six in that sleek outfit Ellen's sporting. Cut to Caprica Six in Tigh's quarters eating what looks like oatmeal (what, no algae?) and she has a stomach pain.

Onward to the dreary useless Baltarsubplotzone where his main groupies are saddling up with guns for their posse (these actresses bore me to tears). Baltar groupie #2 now is skeptical of Baltar.

#*$*%^@&* THIS IS WHERE HEAD-SIX RETURNS ??!!?? Not when Baltar lay dying on rebel Base Ship during the attack on the Hub. Not on cinder Earth? I want my money back

Get your vomit bag handy. Back to Ellen and Tigh after sex and Ellen launches into the most ridiculous daytime soap opera dialog you can imagine, with this real winner from the show's weakest writer: "I was your mental porn?" since Tigh explained he thought of Ellen when he frakked Caprica Six.

Any true believers still out there after that? Stand up, be counted. Fools should stick together.

Adama watches as generic Sixes paint black Cylon glop on the rotting metal struts and Athena (or a generic 8?) goes to visit a recovering Anders in the sickbay. In walks Ellen for the Final Fiver brain trust. She gently strokes the cheek of Tory and then Tyrol and says of Anders, "You poor boy." Vomit bag nearly full. A Sharon and a Six suggest that the Cylons belong together and should all jump away and start a new life on the rebel Base Ship (why did they want to go to Earth in the first place?). Cue another momentous reveal just tossed off with a line: "Hera is the hope, for a new blended future." Thud ... then Tory lets her know about the new "pure" Cylon baby, "Caprica Six is pregnant?" Ellen asks. Cannot restrain contemptuous laughter

Get ready for more plot contrivance. Ready? They bicker and bicker and the Six present says of the Final Five leaving with the rebel Base Ship after Tigh says he won't go and they are reminded Anders said to stay with the fleet, "It's all of you or none of you." Who appointed this Six boss? And WHY does it matter if one or any of them go? Cylon democracy devolves into a petty hissy fit by the slut, er, Ellen. Vomit bag full.

Back to Tediousville, the Baltarsubplotzone, and the girl groupies are spewing exposition about how they now don't hide down below with their silk pillows and instead trade, blah blah. Baltar sees a pretty lady and starts hitting on her and then turns the tables on Groupie #2 and offers the food they've accumulated to the poor in this holding area (looks like where Sonja Six got roughed up, oh wait, it has a name - Dogsville - I know, you want to laugh). Cue pathetic speech by Baltar. Cannot wretch anymore, only yellow bile.

Roslin finds Caprica Six walking in a fairly busy corridor (still no lingering tensions after the attempted coup?), Roslin references their shared visions and C6 exposits that she's had none since she's been pregnant. They sorta girl-bond.

Cut to another of the lamest subplots ever: The Galactica bar. Kara is there and mentions the need for a piano, hitting we poor defenseless audience members with Thor's Hammer of foreshadowing. They drink clear liquor (Adama's is always brown for bourbon or scotch or some such) ... I guess no more antifreeze-colored neon green algae booze! Look closely and you can see composer Bear McCreary sitting blurred in the background - since he will figure prominently in the next ep with the whole piano player thing.

Adama checks the fuscia web of disease on his support struts again and notices there are cool little lights where the Generic Sixes have tarred them.

Get ready to cough up your liver through your mouth: Ellen shows up at Caprica Six's room and looks in the cabinet and sees a straight-razor. Oh dear, this is an hullicination, yes? The show hasn't fallen this far has it? I'm not really seeing this, right? Ellen says Tigh has to choose, but then tells Caprica "You've won." Where are the tampon commercials, this is daytime TV, right?

Back to Black Market, er, I mean Baltarsubplotzone and he's giving away the GroupieGirlz' food, and cue dumb gun standoff with dirty thugs. It's like watching fungus grow under a homeless man's toenails it's so bad. Later back in the down-below Head-Six makes another appearance, wearing a bizarre Sea-nymph outfit and shorter hair. So while Ellen is mixing it up with Caprica Six, Head-Six is provoking Baltar to bring down Groupie #2. The pettiness and smallness of this ep's story is just about unbearable. Yet another tedious speech by Baltar.

Adama's quarters, and Tigh and the now boozy-pill-popping Adama (looking a little Captain Nemo) are getting a real drunk on. He makes the big admission that they need the rebel Cylons (I wish there was a cymbal I could crash). Then back to check the work in that same corridor (the budget was that tight?) - we got it already: Cylon goo on Galactica metal for chrissakes.

Tigh and Ellen "meet" BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Tory! Tyrol! Sonja Six(?) An 8! and .... preggars Caprica Six. Showdown at the Machine Room Corral! Ellen votes with the Cylons who want to join the Base Ship and take off for points yonder, but Tigh draws the line and says frak it, you all can go to which Ellen provokes Cap6 and says, see he really loves Bill Adama and the ship and the uniform blah blah ... cue STOMACH CRAMPS! What an absolute shock ( ...... that it took this long for this contrived plot development) ... Later - with Doc Cottle in sickbay - Tigh is seeing to Cap6 and who's right there hovering? Why Ellen of course, spreading her venom because it's badly written that way. INTERCUT yet another shot of Adama watching the work on the struts (they keep tightening the frame so it doesn't look like the same shot that it is).

Back to Cap6's bedside and Tigh and Ellen hold vigil. "He loves
you" says Ellen ... "Cut it out!" screams Cap6 ... and you'll NEVER GUESS what happens.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

"Baby's cryin'" (oh wait, that's a Dave Chappelle sketch) This little Liam be dead, muthafucka.

Finally, at the end of the ep we get an interesting scene for about 30 seconds: Baltar pitches to Adama, Lee and Roslin that a blended ship will not be accepted and revolution is in the air - not just a mutiny (but it's so many expository words - we didn't SEE any evidence of this). Cut to Baltarsubplotzone in the down-below and he unboxes a nice cache of high-power weapons. WTF ??? WTF ??? WTF ??? Suddenly Adama, Roslin and Lee want to arm the
religious fanatics to take out the Cylons on Galactica? This is one the most stupid developments of the entire series. Someone pulled this outta their ass.

We finish with Tyrol watching a sleeping Boomer in the brig and Anders' little brain-monitor blipping just a wee bit more and then a veritable symphony of Cylon synapses begin firing and the monitor goes topsy-turvy! Then man-hug as Tigh cries on Adama's shoulder over Liam's passing. Cut to space shot and we see lots of greenery in the agro-ship. I guess the crops came back? Final shot is a Six contemplating lost brethren in the memorial corridor, where the Cylons have put up their own pictures (they take pictures? they have 24-hour photo labs?). "It's already happened" Adama and Roslin conclude ... the blending.

This episode is one of the worst, for sure Woman King is worse, but it may be the second worst. This reimagined series of Battlestar Galactica is dying a very undignified death right before our eyes.

2.20.2009

SIXTY SIXES STYLING

The SciFi website Battlestar page has a Sonja Six dress for sale ... so I guess in addition to Natalie, Gina, Caprica, Shelley, etc. etc. etc. now there is a Sonja Six. Well, in that spirit I created a few more I think they forgot about - especially the redhead and afro gals, and note the Twiggy Six:

2.19.2009

THE CENTURIONS' "ONE TRUE GOD"

These guys worship this:

... and it's 12 Apostles
GRACE PARK SPOILAGE
io9 quotes GP about The Plan "It's more about the Cylon perspective, and so we went back and we dealt a little bit more with Boomer and some with Cavil. And that kind of threw me for a huge loop because there are a lot of scenes that aren't explained, so as actors we fill them in ourselves as best we can. And somewhere along the line, I think it was when I got the script for The Plan, they offered a bunch of new information that really didn't fit with what I had sort of built everything else on for the last four or five years. So I kind of feel like I've built a stick house on a pile of rocks that can all just fall down."
All fall down indeed ... what's that line you say on MadTV Bobby Lee?

NO WISDOM AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

Many of us simply loved the complexity, sophistication, sleek style and nuance to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, but season 4.5 has made clear that all that came before has been abandoned like an unwanted child left by the side of the road. Big Daddy (Ron Moore) just wants to move on. Forget letting the story unfold at a natural pace with a fifth season, Caprica and other projects beckoned. Wrap it up.

Some stories, more than others in fiction, are about the reveals - the motivations and histories of characters, the significance of places our characters have been or are trying to get to, the hidden knowledge which will allow our protagonist(s) to complete their journey. If Battlestar Galactica, this version, were a trip up a sacred mountain to find the hidden knowledge - held by the aged monk living in isolation at the remote temple at the top, with the No Exit episode we learned that the hooker we got a blowjob from in the alley at the halfway point where we resupplied is actually the person with the answers and we don't need to bother going to see the old dude with the white beard on the mountaintop. There is no special knowledge he has to illuminate our journey of self-discovery. We can continue on up for a nice view, the exercise and perhaps a ponderous conversation, but he has nothing to offer us - the hooker has the "wisdom."

From a structural standpoint, Moore and his writers made some terrible choices [jumping the story ahead 18 months, Baltar messiah subplot, Head Baltar, Lee civilian leader subplot, Caprica pregnancy, Cylons wanting to find Earth, Ellen as the Fifth, etc.], but the superior nature of the drama smoothed those over again and again, until No Exit - which was simply a story-killer. There is no recovery from a mortal injury like No Exit. Finding "Earth" at the halfway point of Season 4 was bad enough - isn't the journey the thing? [Especially in an exodus story!] But the backstory exposition explosion from a minor character brought back as the fulcrum upon which the conclusion will pivot is beyond absurd, it was insulting and cheapened the story and the drama which came before beyond repair. Of all the choices the creative team had to choose from for the direction of their final season and the climax and finale, this is what they chose? They could have gone with the Lord Iblis subplot and a true confrontation between good-and-evil. They could have introduced the Seraphs from the original storyline. They could have chosen Roslin, Baltar, Adama or Lee as the Fifth. So many better choices.

We know because they'll told us that Moore and the writers' room had no grand design to the overall story arc and just made stuff up as they went along, and then found themselves boxed in to corners at times and thus just dropped things [glowing red spines during sex, Head-Six, etc.] ... but it is possible to do stand-alones and veer stories offtrack and keep the overall story moving forward in a series. The brilliant, campy series Lexx was able to do this. If you watch the entire series from beginning to end it is all-of-a-piece. When Kai sees the Higgs-boson calculator figure out the number in the final moments of the final episode it is infused with ironic meaning and is the fitting end to his character and his journey. It's just perfect. Lexx dealt with repeating cycles of time and didn't feel the need to spend an entire episode explaining it.

If Moore and the writers w
ere really ambitious they would have an ironic ending about how religion is a joke and nothing means anything - an especially bitter outcome for our characters who invested so much in their respective mythologies and the sides they took in the conflicts. When done well, as in one of the final lines of Zardoz, "Bred and led from the start," it rings out with realization and the irony is rich indeed, the bitterness almost sweet it is so complete. But I don't expect anything so grand now, instead we will get contorted and contrived resolutions which are not resolutions since there is a new show to hype and a new storyline - a backstory that came after the current story in its creative timeline - so conclusions will really be teasers for the new show and backward linkage to Daniel Graystone and early AI will take precedence over resolving these characters' journeys and the whys of it all.

So many momentous, surreal, powerful moments to the drama of the overall story are rendered moot or diminished with what came out of No Exit. The Kara-Six fight on Caprica. D'Anna's repeated suicides to enter that space between death and resurrection to catch a glimpse of what held such meaning for her: to see the faces of the Final Five - to know them and understand why they are so important to Cylons. The Rapture episode is one of the best, and creates that surreal sense of wonderment as the moment finally occurs and she steps into the starlight. The take-your-breath-away moment when Roslin, Adama, Kara, Lee (and Billie) are transported to Earth in the Temple of Athena and see the Stonehenge-like pillars with the star-pattern representations below the stars themselves. When Roslin saw the snakes and the Opera House and city alive in the recon images of Kobol. When Roslin had the dream on the boat in Faith. So many moments which soared and which alluded to a grand design and a satisfying payoff for the conclusion of the story.

I guess we'll be spending more time with the hooker.
[Note: I think Kate Vernon, the actress, is terrific, and especially like her 90's era Outer Limits ep]