Battlescar Galactica

June 2, 2012

Battlestar Galactica artwork, Season 4, October 12, 2008. (Halil Gökdal via Flickr.com/iTunes TV). Battlestar Galactica Prologue (2003)

I’m a sucker for an epic story in any form. A book, a movie, a TV series, even the occasional epic poem. It really doesn’t matter. I’m also a late bloomer, one who discovers the stuff of life late, but probably enjoys the stuff I discover more because it’s on my own time, without necessarily being part of a crowd or trend.

That convergence has hit me once again, at the ripe old age of forty-two, in the form of the revisioned series Battlestar Galactica (2003, 2004-09). I had planned to watch the original miniseries for this drama when it came out in December ’03, but with so many things outside the realm of then newborn baby Noah, writing and work that year, my watching Battlestar Galactica fell to the side.

I already had a lineup of shows to watch — Six Feet Under, Queer As Folk, Law & Order, CSI. I didn’t need a new thing on my screen, especially something that was based on such an old and goofy series from the ’70s with Lorne Greene, Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch. “What are they gonna do next, redo BJ & The Bear?,” I said to my wife when I first heard about the Battlestar Galactica miniseries in September ’03.

But as with so many events in my life, I stumbled on the miniseries, thanks in no small part to my wife. It was one late Friday night this past Easter weekend. I woke up about a quarter after three, having only been

Cylon Raider Scar screen shot, September 16, 2009. (Skier Dude via Wikipedia). Qualifies as fair use under US Copyright laws due to image’s poor resolution.

asleep about three hours, to my wife dosing off to the TV in our bedroom. I woke up to the sight of Cylon Raiders in flight, to a strange scientist seeing visions of either a skinny angel or his dead Cylon girlfriend, and Edward James Olmos playing the mercurial Commander Adama. I could tell in ten minutes that this series was way different from the Battlestar Galactica series of my ’70s youth.

The miniseries was on BBC America, so I watched it until 5 am, and then discovered that they had skipped two full seasons ahead to a random Battlestar Galactica episode. I was fully awake by then, so I went on Netflix to find the entire Battlestar Galactica series available on streaming video. I watched season one that day, and season two Easter Sunday and that Monday.

In fact, I watched all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica in six days. I found the story engrossing, the acting intense, and the series an in-depth exploration of the worst features of the human condition under the most difficult of stresses and circumstances. It was so unlike the original series that after a few episodes, I didn’t even think about the differences anymore. The story of a flawed, destructive race of humans fighting each other while fighting for their survival against their more destructive yet more rational creations. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the series.

After that week, I finally read and watched the reviews and the comments about the series. They fell into two categories. There were plenty of folks who refused to watch the new Battlestar Galactica on principle. They saw the recasting of Starbuck as a woman an insult, the ability to make Cylons as human-esque machines blasphemy, and the revisioning of these humans as ones with many of our worst features multipled by a factor of ancient Greece, Rome and Persia an abomination. Oh well! I never liked the original series, with its idealized version of humanity, with its archetype good and evil characters, and with its goofy atmosphere in the midst of potential extinction, the ultimate epic crisis (“All Along The Watchtower” notwithstanding).

The other group was just like me. Fascinated by the lengths to which the producers and writers for the show went to present humanity at its most monstrous, between violence, selfishness, lust, greed, avarice and strive. Mesmerized by the cast’s ability to explore our worst and deepest fears, to hold out hope against hope, to take us into the depths of despair again and again.

The battle-scarred Battlestar Galactica finally reaches Earth (orbiting over the horn of Africa, March 21, 2009. (http://graphic-engine.swarthmore.edu).

I had to watch Battlestar Galactica a second time, this time more slowly and deliberately. So, through the second half of April and first half of May, I watched again, to find something remarkable. Despite their deep flaws, many scars and scabs, and twisted minds, there was something noble and redeemable about these humans, about the Cylons. Even the fact that the Cylons were a human creation didn’t matter. And to top that all off with a divine hand, a guiding force as the prime mover for the 50,000 humans that survived the nuclear annihilation of their twelve planets by the Cylons.

That really is an epic journey. One that heals as much as it scars. The story of my life the past thirty years, not to mention a reference in three of my posts over the past month. A commentary on the state of humanity in the early twenty-first century. What more can a late-bloomer ask for?


Celebrity Deathmatch Meets Brave New Media

November 15, 2010

 

A screenshot of Beavis and Butt-head as seen on ''Celebrity Deathmatch', November 15, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Deathmatchb%26b.PNG. Though this image is subject to copyright, its use is covered by the U.S. fair use laws, and the stricter requirements of Wikipedia's non-free content policies, because: The image is being used in an informative way and should not detract from the show.

If MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch were still on the air, how well would it play in our uncertain and fear-mongered times? As an occasional betting man, the hilariously gruesome claymation standby would play well these days, especially if it were done as a SNL skit or as part of a Comedy Central routine. We’ve had so much furor recently over the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Juan Williams and FOX News and Muslims, Keith Olbermann not asking permission to make campaign contributions from MSNBC, Rachel Maddow interviewing Jon Stewart in a black ops room. It seems to me that we need a new Celebrity Deathmatch series. Except that this one should just have journalists, commentators and politicians.

 

The theme music should be Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry,” with a two-pound, barely seared steak slammed down on a pearly white china plate, just so the blood can splatter and flow freely. The words “If it bleeds it leads — whether liberal or conservative!” scrolling across the screen. Let the folks who host

Pic of Bloody Rare Steak, November 15, 2010. http://davidwadegourmet.com/images/rare_steak.jpg. Though this image is subject to copyright, its use is covered by the U.S. fair use laws because this photo is only being used for illustrative purposes.

WWE or MMA do the play-by-play for the matches, with Alan Colmes in as a more than occasional analyst.

 

It would be a spectacle well before the actual matches. Who would be the big draws? I’d start with Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. The pre-match taunts would be beyond funny. Olbermann: “By the time this match is all over, the world will know that Bill-O The Clown really doesn’t have a brain!” O’Reilly: “That sonofabitch wouldn’t stand a chance against a working-class stiff like me!” But then the fight would begin. O’Reilly would get in a few punch, before Olbermann would turn on a gigantic fan with a stack of 20,000 pieces of paper in front of it. The thousands of paper cuts would gash O’Reilly so much that the top of his head would come off. Then, lo and before, the world would learn that Olbermann was right — O’Reilly really doesn’t have a brain!

Other draws for me would be Jon Stewart vs. Bill Maher, Rush Limbaugh vs. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Glenn Beck vs. Rick Sanchez or Ed Schultz. One not-so-under undercard I wouldn’t mind seeing would be Rachel Maddow vs. Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN).  That would be a rolling-on-the-floor-with-laughter event. Maddow would wipe the floor with Bachman — literally face-first. But not before Bachman would make Maddow angry by breaking her geeky glasses early in the match.

The one thing that I would change about this Celebrity Deathmatch format is that there would be a playoff system, where there would be a final eight, leading to seven matches worthy of the Highlander series award known as “There can be only one.” An epic struggle that would involve boring opponents to death with speeches and monologues, with endless questions about media and objectivity, along with participants smashing each other in their heads with dictionaries and microphones.

I think that this version would sell. I can see it now. Millions of viewers gathering in front of HD TVs and iPhones, at bars and in arenas, watching week after week and season after season. Heck, I’d watch it even if FOX News was the home of this series. Even if it meant watching Joy Behar beat Nancy Grace to a pulp!


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