Short Television Review: Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica‘s “re-imagined” series is winding to a close, and I say one part good bye, one part good riddance. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed lots of individual pieces, such as the first season-as-mini-series, the short “occupation” arc in season 3, the odd episode here and there, and the finale. Unfortunately, there was a lot of material in there that just shouldn’t have been there. Filler material is to be expected on TV, but I was more bothered by the twists and turns that ended up becoming plot holes so deep even the writers themselves can’t seem to answer many common questions clearly. A lot of the twists in the show’s story feel out of the blue and insufficiently foreshadowed, probably in large part because the writers went into it without enough an overarching plan and just made stuff up as they went along. Fans allege this of TV writers all the time, but it’s not just speculation in this case; Ron Moore himself has mentioned in interviews about how certain decisions were made well into the series, such as the oft-maligned “these humans turn out to have been cylons all along” revelation(s). This can be chalked up to the fact that they didn’t actually envision it as a finite, self-contained series from the outset, but as an “open ended adventure,” according to executive producer David Eick. (Shortly thereafter they announced a definitive end in sight, though one gets the sense this was due to negative response following both the “open-ended” comments and some really rotten filler episodes.) Overall, I think this show is a great example of both how great TV can be and how stupid and pointless it can be. Overall, Battlestar Galactica could have been a truly, singularly excellent thing in sum if only they’d planned it that way from day one.

[…] I applaud the creators with letting their imaginations run wild. As with many serial dramas—Battlestar Galactica comes to mind—the real interest in Life on Mars turned out to be in its journey, not its […]

Having had some time to work up a bit more critical distance to Battlestar Galactica, I think I could make my short review a lot shorter. This is what I wish I had written:

This show has some interesting political critique and some nice character drama. Unfortunately, it eventually collapses under the weight of its own gaping plot holes, poorly thought-out plot twists, and vapid religious/mystical themes. I can recommend the first two seasons, the beginning “occupation” arc of the third season, and about the first half or so of the series finale, mostly for the rock-em-sock-em robots fight scenes. I’ll remember the series more fondly if I forget the rest of it ever happened.