few detractors have long accused the 2003
Battlestar Galactica reimagining of "jumping the shark" as they say -
veering into plot ridiculousness - probably from around the ending of either
the second or third season onwards.
We've never subscribed to this point of view.
the show was simply too fracking awesome to nitpick. This
Battlestar Galactica may (ironically)
have been inspired by a 'Seventies Star
Wars rip-off, but it became so much more than that. It was everything
that science fiction could be - that is, if it was intelligently handled and
some time and effort was spent on characterization, the one aspect which
both written and celluloid sci-fi often neglects in favor of action.
Battlestar Galactica may have a reputation for misery (how would you
feel if all of humanity were wiped out by misanthropic robots who are now
out to get you too?), but the show had loads of action too, plus the sort of
special effects and production values usually found in big budget movies.
Simply put, Battlestar Galactica was
the best science fiction television series since
Babylon 5. No argument there.
Take episode 4.11 with which this collection of the final
ten episodes kicks off for example. It is titled Sometimes a Great Notion,
which is the title of a novel by Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest, one of episode co-writer David Weddle's favorite books.
The title of Kesey's novel is in turn inspired by folk singer Lead Belly's
song Goodnight Irene in which he sings that "Sometimes I get great
notion / To jump in the river and drown."
Probably the bleakest ? but also the
most powerful episode in the entire series ? the title cleverly ties into
the theme of suicide and despair running throughout the episode in question,
one which is notable for its particularly shocking suicide by a major
character in the series. The point is though that more thought and
intelligence goes into your average Battlestar Galactica episode
than, let's say, your bog standard
StarGate - Atlantis
To our mind Battlestar Galactica has never jumped
the shark ? that is, until the very last episode at least . .
The original 1979 Battlestar
Galactica series ended its first - and only - season with an episode
entitled The Hand of God. (The show was "followed" by
Galactica 1980, which featured different actors
and had the Galactica crew discovering 1970s Earth!) The 2000s
Galactica ends with a three-parter (the final episode is double the
running time of your average episode) titled Daybreak. Hand of God
would however have been a far better title.
It is not because a whiff of deus ex machina permeates the proceedings. After all, everything that
happens in the episode neatly ties in with what has happened before, all of
which proves that the show's writers and producers pretty much had a good
idea of how everything was going to play out in the end.
SPOILERS AHEAD - Do not read any further if you haven't seen any of the
episodes in question yet.] No, it should have been titled Hand of
God because previously "unexplained" events are explained away as
literally the work of a supernatural god and his angels!
Battlestar Galactica has always riffed
on religion and it was intriguing in the sociological way that sci-fi fans
find descriptions of faraway alien planets interesting. Sure, religion has
always played a part in science fiction. Take the later works of Philip K.
Dick and Walter M. Miller as examples.
But explaining away previous loose
plot strands as, yes, literally the work of God and His Angels is like
having the cast of Touched by an Angel stroll onto the set of an
Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke movie adap.
It feels wrong and out of place
in what is basically a piece of hard military SF. Come on! This is one of
the few TV shows that actually feature Einsteinian relativism as a major
plot point! More than that, it feels like a cop-out on the part of the
writers (even though in fairness we have to admit that the final few frames
- featuring Jimi Hendrix's cover of All Along the Watchtower - are
Also to be fair we always thought that the original 1970s
Battlestar Galactica should have ended on the same Erich von
Daniken-lite vibe as the new series does here. (It turns out that the
Galactica crew and the fleeing colonists ultimately find Earth and in
fact turn out to be our ancestors.)
Yes, we're quite glad to be vindicated
this way. The episode does however suffer from
Lord of the Rings: Return of the Kings syndrome: the screenwriters never
seemed sure on which final shot to conclude the episode and decided to
include them all instead! [END PLOT SPOILERS!]
THE DISCS: The best way to view this disc would be
to first check out the What the Frak's Going on with Battlestar Galactica?
segment on the fourth bonus disc. It humorously sums up the events of the
past three seasons and serves as an excellent refresher course. After this,
check out episode 4.11 on disc one, but don't watch episode 4.12 (A
Disquiet Follows My Soul) on the same disc.
Instead insert disc four again and watch the lengthier and
unrated version of this episode. Now you can watch the rest of the episodes
in their chronological order again.
WORTH IT? Yes. After the terrific build-up of the
previous episodes it was only a given that the final episode was bound to be
anticlimactic. This however shouldn't distract from the reality that this
DVD box set contains some of the best episodes yet from the series.
strand involving a mutiny aboard the Galactica is particularly action-packed
and thrilling. Some genuine surprises are also in store. Still, it is a
bittersweet goodbye to a fantastic series ? television viewers are truly
fortunate that it got made in the first place! Sure, we thought that the
pilot for the Battlestar prequel Caprica
were promising in spite of what attention deficit types who liked
Transformers 2 might think. Still,
Battlestar Galactica will be
sorely missed . . .
RECOMMENDATION: Fracking buy it!