Friday, January 12, 2007

Catallarchy Roundup I - Television

Via a link in the comments on Samizdata, I was brought back to Catallarchy for the first time in nearly a year. The look has definitely improved - now one of the cooler-looking blogs on the web!

I also wanted to recommend a couple of their posts.

First the not-so-serious. On a roundup of 2006 they list Battlestar Galactica as "Shark-jumping television show of the year." Hear, hear! In fact, I was about to post that BC actually jumped in the second half of season 2, but then I realized that that started in January 2006 - so indeed, Battlestar tanked in 2006. Their last watchable episode aired on 23 September 2006. I guess the Resurrection Ship two-parter was also good - though the first part was definitely better than the second. They aired as part of season 2.5 - on 6 and 13 January 2006.

I first noticied Battlestar getting shaky in Final Cut - 9 September 2005. This was the first episode we met D'Anna Biers - nee "Number Three." The episode was one of those "montage" episodes. Well, not really, because it was all new footage. But the basic story is that Adama and President Roslin have allowed a reporter full access to Galactica to film a documentary on the daily lives of the crew. Lots of people are suspicious of this because this reporter (Number Three) has caused them some trouble in the past. But her final film (the titular "Final Cut") is both honest and fair. Adama calls it "perfect."

Sounds like a dud of an episode, no? Well yeah. Usually employing this kind of trick is a sign that the writers are running out of ideas. I mean, an honest montage would have been worse, but this is the runner up. At the time, it worried me. But on watching it through again (I've seen it three times now), I appreciate it. True, it's a "time filler" trick for a plot, but the meat of the episode is very well-written. I especially liked the scene with Gaeta (of course). Somehow, everything he said in that scene struck me as being exactly what that character would say, if the whole thing were real. Good job.

But there were definite cracks. The doozy - we're introduced to D'Anna Biers and already by the end of the episode we know she's a Cylon. BIG giveaway that they were starting to improvise! If they had planned any of this in advance, surely they would have had her show up in earlier episodes - both so that they could convince us that there was tension between her and Roslin (after all, we've seen scenes of press conferences before, and she was never there. Now all of the sudden she's the top annoying reporter?) and also so that the revelation that she's a Cylon would actually be shocking and not just seem like an obvious device. Worse still, they had the option of waiting till a later episode to tell us...why didn't they? But worst of all, the final scene shows her in a movie theater (presumably on Caprica) with the other Cylons watching her documentary - specifically the "deleted" scene showing Sharon's baby. How did this video make it to Caprica??? Surely Galactica would notice any unauthorized transmissions or launches? Maybe we're meant to believe that she slipped away from the fleet? I didn't really notice it at the time - but it's definitely a plot hole.

The next episode was Flight of the Phoenix - not one of my favorites, and another one that contributes almost nothing to the overal continuity, but this one seemed like normal Galactica, so I just assumed that Final Cut was a fluke (and as I said, the middle parts of Final Cut are very well-written - the masterful character portraits that once made Battlestar great). Pegasus came next, and this one was, I have to admit, a bit too intense on the first run through - especially, somehow, the way that Lt. Thorne dies during the rape scene. They lay it on just a bit too thick with the Pegasus crew being afraid of their commander and just generally assholes (and where are the women on Pegasus anyway? Aside from Cain, that is). But the intensity made the episode in a lot of ways too, and it was definitely typical Galactica - taking things just a notch beyond comfort level, as it sometimes does - and it was certainly thematically interesting. I went into the cliffhanger thinking the best days were ahead of us. And the Resurrection Ship two-parter that they started 2006 with (after a 3-month hiatus) was good. But after that - a bit in Resurrection Ship Pt. II, but especially starting with Epiphanies - the show was just crap all of the sudden, with almost no warning. And they never looked back. It's been horrible since. The clouds have lifted a couple of times (as noted on this blog), but for the most part Galactica has been a steady stream of shit dribbling out of the writers assholes since Epiphanies. It hit absolute bottom with Black Market (which followed Epiphanies). At least they haven't sunk quite that low twice. But neither have they been up to par either. They're hovering at C-.

So yes, it's a classic example of jumping the shark. We got a year of stunningly good TV, and then it was just gone. And I hadn't noticed it before I read it on Catallarchy - but yes, it was pretty much the whole of 2006 that stunk. I guess because of the season break (between seasons 2 and 3) over the summer I had it in memory as two different years, but no.

Other good observations: that Lost was the television disaster of the year. There will be an entry about that on this blog soon - but I saw Season Two and it really pissed me off. What a total waste of my time. I mean, I can't get too angry about it, because I went into Season 2 knowing that it was going to piss me off - but man oh man what a horrible show! Well, not "horrible," I shouldn't say that. For some inexplicable reason it's fun to watch. It wasn't painful wading through season 2 by any means; I had fun doing it (and Ana Lucia is hot, so there's always that!). But I won't be back for season 3 (when it comes out on DVD) - and that's because Season 2 really drives home how completely pointless the show is. It's a show about nothing - which worked for Seinfeld, because that was the whole point. Comedies aren't meant to be taken seriously - and even so, Seinfeld has that same kind of zen quality to its humor that made Beavis and Butthead truly great. But a drama can't be a show about nothing - it wouldn't work even if someone tried it seriously. And Lost isn't even trying to be about nothing - the writers clearly think it's about something, but it's not. There is no content. There are no characters. There are just stupid puzzles that aren't even really puzzles, because you can't work them out yourself anyway. It's a thoroughly pointless show, and I competely agree with Catalarchy calling it the "Television show disaster of the year."

Actually - I think I won't post about this again. Everything above pretty much sums it.

Other highlights - giving awards for "best pornstache."

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