Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Battlestar Galactica

Not sure how many Meow readers are Battlestar Galactica fans, but there's got to be one or two, so I'm going to feel free to write about it-- not the dated but nostalgic version of the seventies, but the new edgy, pushing-the-envelope version that the Sci Fi channel has been bringing us for the last couple years. Ked and I are always willing to give anything sci fi a try, so we have watched Galactica since its pilot episode, and have been very impressed with the quality of the writing, acting, production, you name it. "Sci Fi Friday" has kept us watching thus far, although, we have been a bit shocked at times, I confess. We don't watch R rated movies, and are rather un-desensitized to the sex, violence, and language that Battlestar's writers seem to think necessary. (They've come up with new swear words, but, please, who can't figure out what "frak" is supposed to mean?) We've let some of the things we don't like slide, because Battlestar crew have created such a believable and interesting world, and the quality has been so high. It's always been on the outer boundaries of our limits, though, and we are aware that, if it keeps pushing, the show may soon get to the point where we are no longer able to overlook our discomfort as it seeks to walk the bleeding edge.

The season premiere was last weekend, and we wondered again whether we will be able to watch the show much longer. The season opener was intense and very graphic, but more than that, it seemed far too interested in addressing things which are going on here on Earth, instead of in space, by the approach they are taking to the current plot line. Most of you will remember that the earlier series was all about these humans fleeing the Cylons (robotic machines), and searching for Earth. Well the new one is a similar premise, except the Cylons now look human, and during the course of the last season, the human refugees found an inhabitable planet and many of them settled on it. This is where they get a little too close to current events.

The Cylons, of course, discovered the human colony, and now the settlers are carrying on a resistance war against a Cylon occupation. The Cylons claim to be benevolent, but are oppressive, with human collaborators arresting people in the middle of the night, torture chambers, suicide bombers forming the resistance, and a puppet government. Remind you of anybody's view of Iraq? It wasn't all black and white, however. The good and bad characters were pretty well mixed amongst human and Cylon alike, and true to previous Battlestar form to date, it stayed away from pat answers and platitudes. I'm willing to give the producers the benefit of the doubt that they're not trying to shove a particular view of Iraq down anyone's throat, but it does make me wary.

I don't mind politics to some degree, but I do hope the show doesn't get too agenda driven. I can't continue to watch a series that continues to push my "I can't watch that" buttons, in terms of sex and violence, and then also pushes an agenda that I can't agree with. I sometimes can ignore one or the other, within limits, but not both, and not for any length of time. So, we've been in debate. We have one friend who has told us she will no longer be watching the series. Ked and I have been willing to give it another episode or two. When the series began it starting out at level of "I can't watch that" that backed off after the initial bid to snag viewers. We are hoping it will do so again. If the whole suicide bomber theme continues, and "Cylon" become a code word for "the Bush Administration and its evil military hordes," however, it will lose us altogether. To quote a line from As Good As It Gets, some things are just a little too much reality for a Friday night-- somebody's version of reality, anyway. Not mine.

I read a piece at National Review Online that gave me a little hope, though, that the series may not go down a path we're not willing to follow. Jonah Goldberg discusses the season opener, and the next few episodes coming down the pipe, and it looks like the show isn't going to follow the Iraq parallel as it progresses. Good. There are a lot of loyal sci fi fans out there who are also loyal Americans, and don't see our role in Iraq as a Cylon occupation. Now if we can see them back off the graphic visuals, we can salvage our ability to watch one of our favorite shows. Intelligent science fiction is a balm to some of us who can't stand sitcoms, night-time soap operas and propaganda dramas, overblown documentaries about the "real Jesus", and all the other common fare that television has to offer. They've already taken away Firefly. I hope we don't have to abandon ship on Galactica.

Hat tip: IMAO