overthinking the idiot box

September 19, 2005

Rejected Column Titles: "Kirk Wouldn't Stoop That Low", "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot," "Resistance is Futile," and "some sort of Locutus pun?" This one goes out to all the nerds in the hizz-ouse.

Holographic wow
"All of This Has Happened Before"

Battlestar Galactica's Season 2 Slump
by Alison Veneto

Warning: Spoilers for Season 2 lurk below!

For those of you not paying attention, the second season of Battlestar Galactica premiered over the summer on the Sci-Fi channel. What better way to kick off SMRT-TV Season 2 than a look at BSG Season 2? With all the episodes having aired but the finale, one should be able to formulate a pretty good overview of the season.

But first, let's recall Season 1. Battlestar Galactica was a breath of fresh air on television. Each episode was thrilling, each character complex, each subplot equally fascinating... It was the show that kept me in on Friday nights and what I looked forward to watching each week.

But Season 2 didn't do nearly as much for me. The fleet was broken up, just to be brought back together; Adama was shot just to recover completely; Starbuck went to Caprica just to come back; some people were stranded on Kobol just to be found. And right now it seems as if nothing at all has really happened. We're where we were mid-Season 1.

Yet, there were two particular developments of note in this relatively slow developing season: Is Starbuck going to have a baby? (If she does, is it hers and the pro athlete's? Hers and Baltar's? Six's and Baltars? Plain old Cylon?). Second, the fleet has the map to Earth — that would imply they might find it soon. But these are seemingly just set-ups for Season 3.

Nothing has changed for most of the characters. The season hardly addressed the most interesting character questions — Is Roslin crazy? Is Baltar crazy? In the episode that was about whether or not Baltar was crazy, the answer was — maybe.

For a show that developed its characters so well in Season 1, there was practically no development at all this season. Lee is still self-righteous, Tighe is still a drunk, Adama is still courageous, Roslin is still maternal and prophetic, and so on and so forth. The only characters I felt I got to know better were Helo and the Chief and I appreciate the turn to focus on them in the last new episode and seemingly in the finale.

The Chief and Helo's love for a Cylon has been the most consistently compelling part of this season. When they fought in the last episode it didn't matter that Sharon was a Cylon, more to the point was the idea that Helo would have tried to take the Chief's girl (before he knew she was a Cylon). And that's just not cool. Also, I like new Sharon a lot. Old Sharon was a bit depressing; she did shoot herself in the head and lacked control of her actions. But new Sharon is all independent and smart and cares about her baby. Further, the Lucy Lawless episode (Final Cut) would seem to prove to the audience that Sharon is as she says — not controlled by the Cylons like old Sharon. Why that would be so, I'm really not sure.

If that to me was the best of the season, let me get to what I think was the worst. Not only did I feel like nothing really happened on a character or plot level (since all big plot points generally became reset as if nothing happened), but there was one episode that I thought was particularly below the usual standards of BSG. And that episode was Starbuck's. She's my favorite character, but her love affair with an extreme sports athlete seemed like it was fan fiction. Was it a shock to anyone when it turned out she was in a Cylon hospital? While I think the pregnancy plotline has the possibility of being the most interesting of next season — the execution of that episode was pretty poor in my mind. I mean, I couldn't get over how much it came off as fan fiction.

Fortunately, it looks like the season might end on a high note. The last new episode reminded me why I liked the show in the first place. It at least had that great scene between the Chief and Helo. And the powerful emotional ending with Laura Roslin. It was truly reminiscent of old shows.

While actress Michelle Forbes does nothing for me (she pops up in every show circa 3rd season it seems like), I really like the idea of an Admiral showing up to boss Adama around.
The preview for the next episode also interests me greatly. While actress Michelle Forbes does nothing for me (she pops up in every show circa 3rd season it seems like), I really like the idea of an Admiral showing up to boss Adama around. And I really like the plot of Helo and the Chief accidentally killing some guy over Sharon. Not to mention, I'd like to see more of what began last episode between Dee and Lee (how cute is that? Dee and Lee...) — with her already having a boyfriend and Starbuck's big giant crush, this pairing could cause operatic emotional outbursts. Yippee.

To summarize: I wasn't thrilled with Season 2 on many levels, although I'm happy that it seems to be picking up in the end. I still look forward to Season 3 in January — but I have some demands.

This is what I need for my BSG Season 3 — First off, more Baltar. They made us all adore him in the first season for him just to become background dressing in this one. Secondly, more answers. This was like Season 1 of Lost but it asked slightly fewer questions — either way, we got no answers about any of the things that left us hanging in Season 1. Thirdly, consequences. Can people's actions have real consequences from now on — no more wiping the slate clean. And lastly, Ron Moore to write some episodes. Ron Moore co-wrote one episode this season! Boo! I disapprove. Ron Moore needs to get some J. Michael Straczynski in him and write all the episodes! The man is denying me his genius and I do not appreciate it.

I very much look forward to Season 3 and hope it will allay my quibbles with Season 2 as simply being the growing pains of the show. After Season 1, I was concerned they couldn't keep up that absurd level of quality but even with some faltering, I'm not ready to give up on them by any stretch. Plus, did you see what else was out this summer? BSG didn't even have competition for the best thing on TV for the warmer months.

I love you BSG, but don't let me down again. I am a sci-fi nerd and I can be as unforgiving as I am fanatical. It's a close call on Season 2, but you still win this round. However, I'm keeping my eye on you...

Correction: This article takes its cue from The Sci-Fi Channel, and refers to BSG's 10-episode summer run as Season 2. However, the second season of BSG is actually twenty episodes long, and will be concluded in January 2006. So consider this column as a look at the first half of Season 2 thus far.

Next Month: A look at all those new sci-fi shows the networks are churning out — are any of them worth watching?

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