Monday, January 09, 2006

TIVO Alert - New Battlestar Galactica Season

I saw this review on Salon this morning:
Like many others before me, I assumed that "Battlestar Galactica" (10 p.m. EST Fridays on the SciFi Channel) was just another space show meant for science fiction buffs and people who loved the '70s version of the show. Like many others, when I was a kid, I considered "Battlestar Galactica" a cheap knockoff of "Star Wars," which I loved. . . .

What's strange is that, even when people told me, very directly, that the new "Battlestar Galactica" was a really smart, character-driven drama that just happened to be set in space, I didn't believe them. That's how insidious the layers and layers of crappy space-show buildup can be. Even though I heard "dark" and "smart" and "unpredictable," all I could picture was Captain Kirk in a toga.

It's all been said before, but I'll say it again: "Battlestar Galactica" is much, much better than you can possibly imagine. The battle scenes are claustrophobic and paranoia-inducing, with the enemy always hidden from view but omnipresent in the imagination, thanks to closely framed, hand-held shots. The power struggles are complicated and nuanced like the ones you find on "The Sopranos." The soundtrack is odd and moody and completely unique as far as TV soundtracks go. The stakes are always high, and there's an incredible amount of action in each episode -- you never feel like the characters are just spinning their wheels, or the situations are repeating themselves, as you do with so many other dramas. The show takes a deeply ambivalent approach to religion: The Cylons attack in the name of their god, which makes them a little bit like fundamentalist Christians or Islamic extremists, but the president of the humans also embraces some pretty odd beliefs and so-called ancient prophecies.

What's most remarkable about "Battlestar Galactica" is that it's populated by distraught, fallible characters who fumble around in the dark and make big mistakes, but never lose our sympathies. Many of them aren't likable or even easy to understand, but we're offered some way of seeing the world through their eyes. . . .

Friday night, the breathtaking return of the series certainly didn't disappoint. . . . Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) and Commander Adama continued their bone-chilling stand-off, with Cain sharp-tongued and scary enough to make you stand up and boo loudly - while secretly cheering on the best frackin' female villain in recent memory. Of course, this show has so many strong female characters in it, where do you begin? Roslin, Starbuck, Number Six, Boomer... And unlike network TV's lead females, who so often veer into the realm of fragility and Teri Garr "Forget your job and come to bed, honey" moments, these characters - particularly Roslin and Starbuck - are presented as just as confident and as flawed in interesting ways (Take note, "Commander in Chief") as their male counterparts.

There are plenty of chances for those flaws to come to the surface, too, with so much on the line for the colonial fleet. I mean, sweet Jesus, how many jolting scenes were there in this episode? With such insanely high stakes and so many fast-moving storylines, "Battlestar Galactica" may just be the anti-"Lost."

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