Full disclosure: I love Battlestar Galactica. It’s the second-best sci-fi series on TV (after Lost) and the second-best series on TV (also after Lost). And in my mind it could overtake the top spot at any moment. If you haven’t watched it, and you like sci-fi at all, you have to watch Battlestar Galactica. It makes all of the Star Trek series (except DS9) look embarassing. It makes most other TV seem boring and trivial.
The first two seasons of BSG were shockingly good. I came at them skeptically, the memory of the 1970s and 80s BSG seared, seared into my memory. But this BSG isn’t those BSGs by a long shot. It shares the basic storyline and a few characters with the earlier series, but that’s about it. Where those ealier series were made for the pre-teen and teen Star Wars generation, the current BSG is made for the kinetics and sensibilities of that Star Wars generation grown up, a little jaded, sick of smarmy George Lucas and the bureaucratic Trek and weak, humorless, inhuman sci-fi in general. It’s a series made by and for grown-ups. Who like to see epic space battles and robots and really big explosions.
All of that said, I really didn’t like the much anticipated premiere of BSG season 3, which aired last Friday. It was an overreach into current headlines, and worse than that, it was dull. Dreadfully, ponderously, hopelessly dull.
If you haven’t watched I don’t want to spoil too much, but basically the human race, chased and hunted across the first two seasons by its own mechanical creation (the Cylons, some of whom look human) to the point of extinction, votes in a peace candidate for president whose personal and ideological weaknesses bring on doom for the surviving humans. Soon humanity finds itself subdued and occupied by the Cylons on a miserable rock, its military fleet of two battlestars and assorted smaller ships keeping a safe distance from the overwhelming might of the occupying Cylon force. BSG had set itself up for a potentially inspiring third season as humanity struggled to prevail over its toaster overlords.
But. Had I known going in that that two-hour premiere would be as mind-numbing, irritating and unentertaining as it was, I wouldn’t have bothered. I don’t need yet another Hollywood lesson on warfighting and morality, or a Barbra Streisand diatribe dressed up as a sci-fi series. I don’t need a debate on the ethics of suicide bombing. My position on that is set (I’m against it). I have to go out of my way to watch any TV these days, so it’s easy to delete bad shows from my schedule. If BSG season 3 continues on in a similar vein from its premiere, it will ruin the show and a majority of the audience will turn away. I know I will.
Fortunately, it sounds like BSG season 3 won’t descend into a distracting deconstruction of the Iraq war. The producers have managed to keep the show relevant to headlines without letting politics drive the story for the first two seasons, and they have managed to pack enough twists and turns into the characters and story arc to keep it very fresh and interesting, no matter what your politics are.
So if you’re a fan of BSG and you disliked the season opener as much as I did or more, don’t give up yet. The first two seasons were phenomenal and the third may get there too. And if you’re K-Lo, let Jonah blog BSG. I hope that as time allows I’ll blog about it a bit here. I won’t promise a post after each show, but I’ll do my best. It’s one of the few shows on TV right now that even tries to be worth your time.