Sunday, October 08, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Finds Earth.

Battlestar Galactica's two hour episode last night struck very close to home. After a year of occupation by their Cylon overlords the human insurgency is now resorting to suicide bombers, blowing up police graduation ceremonies, and targeting civilians. The Cylons are rounding up suspected insurgents, transporting the "detainees" in shackles and canvas hoods, and torturing them in prison while the human puppet president denies it happens.

Hmmmm. Does any of that sound familiar?

BSG, or the best show on TV, as we fans refer to it, has flirted with contemporary wartime events over the past two seasons. This was successful in the past because the writing hinted at current events more than paralelling them. With this new season it looks like the writers may have decided to tell stories "ripped from today's headlines" as those awful unoriginal shows on broadcast television do.

It's too soon to tell from one episode whether the show will turn preachy and convey an overt message about the war. To date the show has avoided that temptation and that's one reason it is so good. Good fiction doesn't preach. Good fiction tells stories that let the viewers or readers come to their own moral conclusions. Time will tell if the writers remain committed to producing good fiction or if they have decided to produce sermons.


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So... do you think the episode was too political in a sense? There is no question the recent situation on New Caprica can be seen as a parallel to Iraq, however the humans are Iraqis, resorting to insurgency and suicide bombings.

Personally I'm liking this turn in events; it shows the producers have some guts.
The problem is not if the show is for or against Iraq. The problem is that the show is political, period. Marketing 101, never ever bring up politics and religion if you want to keep your audience. What made the show great is now gone, replaced with images readily available on CNN or FOX News.
To Webomatica: I think the show was too political in that it was so directly parallel to our current situation. By borrowing so heavily from current events the show risks becoming no longer about its own story and instead about our times. It risks be viewed more as political commentary and less as fiction and art. As for the politics I suppose someone could argue that BSG's episode is not a complete parallel to today because the Iragi insurgents are not like the BSG humans and the Cylons are not like the US. And that could be the show's salvation. By reversing the good guys and the bad guys, the show might actually end up having something to say. I'm reserving judgment on the show because this is just one episode and the creative people behind BSG have done a good job avoiding the temptation to make the series be directly about us today. Not only that, I'm a complete sucker for anything with spaceships. Finally, I just have to remark on your comment about guts. It would take no guts whatsoever to do a parable against the American situation in Iraq. Just as it would take no guts to do a show that favors any position that leans liberal in American politics. The show might lose some audience but it would gain more respect among Hollywood peers, critics, and intellectuals for being so "brave" to speak truth to power and to court the wrath of American "yahoos." No artist ever lost critical credibility for purporting to challenge the conventional beliefs of the average American.
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