Sunday, January 08, 2006

So, this past Friday night brought with it the return of new episodes to SciFi Friday. Stargate SG-1 was a little more enjoyable than I remember it being when it took its mid-season break. Maybe the new characters have all settled comfortably in my mind by now. Maybe it's just that the flaws in the formula, which had seemed so apparent as they approached the mid-season break, have been turned over and over so thoroughly in my head that they don't really bug me so much any more. Whatever. And Stargate Atlantis was pretty much as good as it's been throughout most of the season. Not counting the first half of the mid-season two-hour block, which just felt like a lame episode of Star Trek: Voyager; what's up with that?

And then there's Battlestar Galactica. How is it possible that this show is called Battlestar Galactica, spawned from the loins of the lousy 1970s version? How is it possible that this show is on SciFi? How it it possible that this is a science fiction show, even?

By that, I don't mean that science fiction shows can be good. But I mean that obviously science fiction shows, as in set on a space ship or going to other planets or whatever, so often seem made using the exact same playbook, and they all have a certain stench of cheapness about it. And it doesn't just show in the small casts or limited special effects or whatever, but in the very traditional, unimaginative camerawork, the relatively stiff acting, the humorless writing--and when there is humor, it's because someone has obviously tried very hard to put a joke in--all that. It's like most science fiction shows are afraid to deviate from the template set by Star Trek: The Next Generation almost 20 years ago. And none of it could possibly be confused, stylistically, with contemporary drama on network TV.

But then there's Galactica, which throws the rule book out the window, and dares to be compelling drama that just happens to be about spaceships and robots and stuff. And it sticks out like a sore thumb, because it doesn't have the low-budget feel that so many other shows like that have, and it isn't coy about what it is, like Lost or Invasion, with their real-world settings and focus on human drama and character over the more outre elements. (Not saying that one is better than the other, mind.)

And at the end of the day, the thing I say the most is this: thank goodness it's on.

No comments: