Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shock And Awe

No, this isn’t about yesterday’s inauguration of Super Barack. I caught part of it, including Aretha Franklin getting the words to God Save the Queen wrong before the swearing-in ceremony and Elizabeth Alexander’s rather unusual “poem” after it. As a pal on facebook wrote, “The only way for her to have followed Obama’s speech would’ve been to put on some kind of Tijuana show with a donkey and the surviving members of The Beatles.” Which I guess was one way of summing it up.

Anyway, good luck and God bless to the guy. There’s a steaming great mountain of shit left behind, both at home and abroad, by the idiot that has just been given his marching orders that he’ll have to roll up his shirtsleeves and dig his way through before everyone can see a brighter future. With that in mind, if I was in his shoes I’d hit every inaugural ball and get absolutely shit-faced before settling down behind that desk tomorrow.

Of course the day didn’t turn out well for everybody. Anyone who crowded into The Mall expecting Super Barack to walk across the surface of the reflecting pool once he had delivered his speech obviously went home disappointed. Worse, senator Ted Kennedy collapsed at an inaugural luncheon. According to the BBC news website

A congressional aide said Mr Kennedy had been evacuated by medical staff, apparently suffering from convulsions.

That’s got to be not only painful but embarrassing for Kennedy unless they moved his to a private room and rather off-putting for anyone hoping to finish their meal. (Anyone who has seen the opening episode of The Wire’s fifth season will obviously understand what I’m getting at).

That aside, the seriously big news for merry old England was the return of Battlestar Galactica on Sky One. From the 2003 miniseries that served as a backdoor pilot, through to the current fourth season, the show has grown into a giant amongst pygmies in the dwindling landscape of television drama. For anyone still unsure of its merits, Sometimes a Great Notion, the first of the final ten episodes, sealed the deal without question.

As one utterly shocking revelation followed another and everyone and everything started to fall apart, rather than fall back on hysterical empty spectacle to carry the story on as the show’s competition is prone to do, the episode once again relied on William Faulkner’s adage that the only subject worth writing about was “the human heart in conflict with itself”.

Obviously few specifics can be mentioned in plain sight before some little weasel starts banging their fists against their temples and screaming, “No fair!” But just how beautiful were those simple, virtually wordless reveals expressed by the various characters, whether it was Roslin unable to face the Galactica’s crew, then later silently burning the scriptures, Leoben backing away from Starbuck after their shared grim discovery on the planet surface, or the look in Dualla’s eyes as she co-pilots the Raptor, deciding that in the face of such hopelessness to make do with one more perfect day?

If you like science fiction and are past the age of worrying whether you’ve got your homework done on time, you really should be watching this show. If you’re passing on it and instead simply watching the more obvious home grown genre programmes then you urgently need to go look in a mirror, finally admit to yourself that you’re a gormless fucktard who exists on the same intellectual level of a monkey throwing faeces, and grow the fuck up. It’s really that’s simple.

If my artless badgering isn’t enough to get you on board, Variety recently rounded up a number of commentators to give their opinions about Battlestar Galactica and sing its praises in the lead up to its return to the SciFi Channel last week. They make for an interesting read, especially since all together the people chosen actually have an intimate knowledge of the ideologies that the drama expertly weaves together.

It certainly makes for a far more refreshing change from the approach usually taken in this country when it comes to discussing media-related subject matters; hauling in someone hopelessly unqualified to talk on a given topic, rather than going to the handful of very knowledgeable media commentators and cultural historians like Christopher Cook and the BFI’s Dick Fiddy, who should actually be one of the first ports of call when an article or television segment needs a talking head to drop in a react quote.

After you’re done with the Variety piece, if you want to know more about last night’s episode then head straight over to the great Maureen Ryan’s TV blog for her interview with series creator Ronald D. Moore, along with comments from the episode’s writers, David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, and Sometimes a Great Notion’s director Michael Nankin. If you haven’t watched either the series or this specific episode, obviously don’t go there. You’ll learn things you shouldn’t know yet, get all worked up, and I’m not coming to change you.


At 4:05 pm, Blogger qrter said...

The new episode is a belter, isn't it?

I love how BSG does what something like Survivors can't - see an idea through completely, however bleak the outcome may get.

If you read the interview you link to, Moore says Sci-fi Channel execs were getting a bit angsty over this gritty thoroughness, thinking people wouldn't tune in. As Moore notes, the people that are tuning in to see the second half of the fourth series are there for the duration.

Also love that they answered one of the big questions in this (sort of) opening episode, so that that question doesn't overshadow other more interesting questions (although the answer has spawned many more questions, ofcourse, this is BSG, afterall).

At 5:50 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Mate, it’s an absolute cracker!

Seeing all the characters go to pieces like that – having a drunk Adama try to goad Tigh into shooting him, D’Anna just giving up and deciding to stay on the ruined planet, and Tigh looking like he was about to follow the fox out to sea.

But the whole thing with Dee was the real heartbreaker. She had been the strong, level-headed character who had told Adama to put the fleet back together in season two. If Dualla gives up, what hope is there for anyone else.

Mo’s put together a fabulous interview and thoughts from the writers. I loved the fact that it was filmed during the WGA strike so everyone had absolutely no more help, a tight budget, and pulled it out of the bag.

I like that Moore says: “we wanted to shock and we wanted to change the game plan,” when asked about revealing all these things now. No doubt the next nine episodes are going to be belters as well.

At 7:09 pm, Blogger Lee said...

Podcast commentary is up too, and I think it's fair to say Ron Moore (quite rightly) loves this episode.

At 8:32 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Thanks for pointing that out, I'll scoot on over.

It’s not surprising he likes it. In the interview it seemed like, having missed the shoot because of the strike, coming back for post flew him away.

At 9:33 am, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

I can't wait for the space monkeys... ;-)


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