Monday, September 29, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0

I haven't been posting like I should, partly because I'm working on other writing projects and partly because I get lazy on my days off after a ten-day stretch in the field. However, on this, my last day off, I'm just about to head out the door to the library to get some books to help me finish an essay for the blog. Really.

Also, I haven't been posting because I'm captivated by Season 2.0 of Battlestar Galactica. I said before that I liked the first season, and then I offered up a round of criticism, but I love the second season. This show is amazing!

Back in grad school when I was catching about every other episode of Season One, I was saying that I really thought the show wasn't living up to its potential. I wanted to see riots. I wanted to see desperate soldiers shooting rioters. I wanted to see lots of gun battles. I wanted to see the fleet getting angry at the military. I wanted to see stress piled on stress until characters started totally freaking out. I wanted to see mutinies and political conniving. I wanted to see Starbuck doing a dual-wield with machine pistols. All of that seemed to me the stuff the basic premise was made out of, something the original show never managed, and which I thought the new show wasn't managing either because it was trying to hard to be West Wing In Space.

That's all changed. The second season has all the stuff I said I wanted to see when I first watched the first season, all the tension and melodrama. Now instead of watching Miss Happy President being popular, we get to watch Adama (Edward James Olmos) painting his boat while talking in his gravelly voice about The Rage. Heck yeah! We get to see Adama choking Boomer, Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan) power-tripping while hitting the bottle, Cali flipping out with a gun, the president claiming to be a prophet and dividing the fleet...even Number Six (Tricia Helfer) is almost tolerable this season. If she'd just lose that damnably ugly dress, I might even be able to stand looking at her.

Admittedly, the show has some fixation on seductresses--besides Number Six, we have Boomer, who's having Helo's (Tahmoh Penikett) baby, and we have Tigh's social-climbing, weak-husband-manipulating wife (Kate Vernon). But since two out of three of those aren't annoying, I'll give this a pass. Also, I have a slight schoolboy crush on the character of Cally (Nicki Clyne). I guess I go for the sweet, cute, innocent type who can bite your ear off, slug you in the face, or maybe gun you down if you try to mess with her.

My only remaining complaints are that that those CGI Cylons still look fake, and Boxey is still absent, apparently because most of his scenes got cut. Curses!

The religious content of the series is still ambiguous at the point I'm at. The humans are still polytheists and the Cylons are still monotheists; the nature of the Lords of Kobol, whether they are gods, superhumans, an alien species that lived with humans, or something else, is still up in the air. Number Six tells us that humans practiced human sacrifice on Kobol, indicating, if she's telling the truth, that everything wasn't as peachy as the humans generally believe. There is indication that the Cylons are quite familiar with human history and know something of the Lords of Kobol, though the relationship between the polytheistic human religion and the Cylon monotheistic one is still unclear.

What's really great, though, is that we've learned the Cylons are an organ-harvesting cult bent on creating human-Cylon hybrids. This appears to be another use of the old "V'ger must evolve" trope, the artificial intelligence that can only get so far in improving itself before it needs to mesh with a human. The series is certainly handling the old idea well, with just the right amount of grostequeness. The question of whether or not robots are people, though one that's been practically done to death in sf of late, is also getting a good, if not especially sophisticated, treatment.
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