Monday, March 23, 2009

I welcome our robotic overlords

Last Friday night's series finale of Battlestar Galactica was good. I won't say it was great (to me) just because I found some choices confusing, spun out of pure luck, and--one or twice--a bit heavy-handed.


For instance:

1. While I welcomed the lengthy and quite impressive battle sequence that took up much of the first hour--the type of realistic space maneuvering and insanely quality CGI that made me love the show in season 1--I found it remarkably convenient in the end that when the truce went horribly wrong . . . Cavil suicided. How does that fit his character? To my mind, it does not. But it sure was a convenient way to remove the last member of the Cylons that would have stopped at nothing to keep hunting down the rag tag fleet.

2. And what are the chances that the nuclear missiles that launched--by random crashing of battle debris--managed to be targeted directly at the colony, thus ensuring the vast majority (all?) of the remaining Cylons and centurions were vaporized, never to be heard from again. Lucky that, wot?

3. But of course, as the nukes are going off, the Galactica has to get out of there, right? And luckily, Starbuck just happens to use the mysterious musical notes from "All Along the Watchtower" (I know, if you haven't watched the show you've got NO IDEA what I'm saying right now.) to use as space coordinates. And lucky for humanity's sake, those coordinates bring the fleet to our own little blue marble.

4. Yep, their fabled Earth was a nuked-out husk. So, when the deus ex machina of Starbuck's musical talent saved them and brought them to our end of the Milky Way, well then, they'll just call this hospitable place Earth. Isn't that convenient? Entirely so, yes!

5. And Katee Sackhoff's frustration at how her character (Starbuck) was "explained?" Justified, I think.

6. But wait, did I say deus ex machina up there? Sorry. We learned from the Head Batlar/Head Six "angels" in the coda that "It" doesn't like being called "God." Really? 

7. And then there is the coda itself. I don't mind Ron Moore's cameo. I applaud him for his years of hard work and celebrate him for accomplishing his vision on his own terms. But I will say that warning us, the modern 21st century TV viewers that robots are among us and maybe, just maybe, they'll rise up against us if we aren't careful. Well, yeah that kind of stuff is out there right now. And certainly our military is more robotic now than it has ever been. But it just seemed a bit . . . unnecessary.

8. In the end, the amount of reliance upon divine forces as an explanatory out for all of the writer's loose ends just seemed out of place and off tone to me. Yes, I know that the Cylons' have always been showed as a monotheistic group. And the Colonials invoked their gods at every turn, especially when they were cursing. But Ron Moore didn't strike me as especially religious. And since he brought the show to a conclusion on our Earth and the final scene was set in our time and it was provided as a bit of a warning to us, well, then it seems less likely to shrug all the religion off as just fictional storytelling.

All that said, Battlestar Galactica provided excellent televised entertainment (for free) for over four years. And that is something to appreciate. I never loved the show with the unreserved abandon of the first season--and I don't think any episode outside of the original miniseries approached the excellence of the first series episode "33," but the characters were rich and the topics they tackled were thought provoking.

Not many other shows can dare make a similar claim.

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