March 23rd, 2009

drinks, beer

A slightly disgruntled BSG followup

I’ve gotten a few comments, on the journal and off, that are along the lines of, “Oh, that sucky ending for ‘Battlestar Galactica’ makes me feel glad I never watched it. It must have really sucked. The Sci-Fi Channel sucks. Suck suck suckity suck.” You know, in direct response to me writing that despite its problems I think it was the best science fiction show that’s been on television.

Setting aside the question of what problems the show had in its second half and to what PSI the finale did or did not blow, to me this is kind of like saying that because so many people threw tomatoes at the series finale of “The Sopranos” it must not be worth watching, or that “M∗A∗S∗H” devolving into self-indulgent moralistic drek for its last few seasons negates the mostly brilliant writing of its first few seasons.

Anyone who actually cares about science fiction on television should watch at least the first season of “Battlestar,” because not having done so is like claiming you care about science fiction in the cinema but having no interest in seeing Blade Runner and Alien. You might see them and think they’re overrated and flawed, but just not bothering to see them is, for that field, like being a literature student who’s never read Hemingway and Faulkner. Sure, you can hate Ernie and Bill after you’ve read them—but you’d better damn well read them.

Did I just compare the first season of BSG to Blade Runner? Yes. And I’d do it again. Bite me. Maybe you’ll think the show lost its way (a very defensible position), and maybe you really won’t like it much from the start. (Although if you really come away thinking that none of the writing and none of the acting and none of the story was worth engaging with, you’ll probably have to remind me just what it is we have in common.)

If you haven’t watched it, though, don’t tell me that the presence of religion or providence or Bob Dylan demonstrates that you don’t really “need” to see it in order to know how terrible it was. Because you know what? If I ever got a TV show on the air and it only “failed” as badly BSG did, I would be unimaginably ecstatic.

Now back to your regular programming, whatever the hell it is you kids are watching these days.