I haven’t been watching much TV lately — as in for most of 2008, and now into 2009. There are several reasons:
- I don’t want to watch too much — I have plenty of things to do in my life; I don’t need TV as a time-filler.
- Since I discovered audio and video podcasts I’ve enjoyed a much wider variety of intelligent material that fits with my interests.
- Shows available on TV have enormously declined in interest and quality. There’s an enormous amount of ‘froth’ and very little of substance. I despise reality shows. I can’t stand the endless pseudo-meaningful deeply shallow shows such as Lost and Alias. I abandoned both very quickly.
- There’s little to no new sci-fi around. There’s little to no old sci-fi around.
- In summer New Zealand TV (and radio) abandon all pretence of providing anything new that might be worth paying attention to. If there is anything worthwhile it’s a repeat, not a new series. If I’ve already seen or listened to it, then I probably don’t really want to go another round.
All summer I’ve been promising myself to watch Season 3 of the new Battlestar Galactica (ie, not the series from the 70s or 80s). I have it on DVD, bought ages ago, but somehow never found the time to watch.
Now, finally, with my holiday almost over, on a windy, rainy, cool day I made a start.
Wow! I don’t know how I can forget between times just how engaging this series is. The music, the characters, the story lines are enthralling. My problem now is to disengage: to make dinner, walk the dogs, write blog posts.
I’m hooked. I just want to watch one more, and one more …
As I think about it, the power of this series is in the character development. Storylines are pretty realistic (given the sci-fi premise), but in each episode we find out more about the characters, their lives, what has brought them to their current position.
The characters aren’t just good or bad, but instead they are complex, conflicted, trying to do their best with what life gives them. They make strange, wrong decisions. They make well-founded good decisions. They struggle with what they should do. They confront difficulty, and they avoid it. Good people do awful things for the best of reasons. Villains turn out to be, perhaps, just like us.
Underneath it all the series explores what it is to be human: both for the human characters and the Cylon machines, all of whom have feelings, dreams, doubts, hopes and loves, even religion.
Battlestar Galactica (reimagined) is top-notch storytelling, top drawer sci-fi. Start with the Mini-series, then move on to the main seasons. But set aside some good chunks of time: you may find it hard to tear yourself away.