Thursday, October 05, 2006

Battlestar Voyager

My favorite television show, Battlestar Galactica, made the cover of Entertainment Weekly. The article compared it favorably to 24 and Lost and other mainstream continuing storyline series. The third season of BSG starts this Friday at 9 pm and I am psyched to see last season's stunning cliff-hanger resolved. Since I didn’t start watching it until the second season, it’s immune to my show killer curse.

Previously, my favorite science fiction show was Deep Space Nine. Ronald Moore, the producer of BSG, worked on DS9 as part of his tour of duty in the Star Trek factory and was responsible for many of its grittier story arcs. Moore got lured from DS9 to Voyager by his former writing partner Brannon Braga, where the two split in a very public acrimonious falling out over the direction of the series. Moore’s side of the story is here. Brannon Braga was too busy running Enterprise into the ground to comment.

With this backstory in context, Battlestar Galactica can be read on the meta-level as a huge “Frak you!” as Moore schools the world in how to do a show about hopelessly lost spaceships. A side by side comparison shows how BSG has it all over ST:Voy.

A sinister being strands a rag-tag group of space travelers on the wrong side of the galaxy and they have to spend several seasons searching for Earth.Sinister robots destroy all of humanity except for a rag-tag group of spaceships that have to spend several seasons searching for Earth.

The Leader
Captain Janeway tries to hold together separate factions while upholding the sacred values of the Federation like obeying authority and wearing tight spandex.President Roslin, the former Secretary of Education, tries to hold together separate factions while upholding the values of democracy like torturing enemies and fixing elections.

Tattoo-faced Commander Chakotay redefines wooden.Craggy-faced Commander Adama redefines stoic.
The difference between stoic and wooden is an Emmy and an Oscar nomination.

Hottie Robot With A Number For A Name
Seven of Nine is part robot and doesn't relate too well to humans.Number Six is all robot and relates all too well to humans.

Hot Shot Pilot
Tom Paris is a renegade pilot with long-standing issues with his military dad.Lee “Apollo” Adama has long standing issues with his military dad, the captain.

Hot Tempered Tom Boy
B’Elanna Torres, a former Maquis rebel, has a hard time following Federation rules.Kara “Starbuck” Thrace has a hard time following anyone’s rules.

The Doctor
A hologram that can’t understand human feelings.A traitor that doesn’t have any human feelings.

Comic Relief
Neelix is a rogue trader that can’t ever close a deal.Ellen Tigh is a floozie that has closed way too many deals.

Most Abused Button
No matter how many aliens Voyager encountered, by the next episode, the ship was shiny and clean again.Pay attention to those time stamps at each commercial break or you will never know when or where the story is taking place.

My personal theory is that Ronald Moore, after being fired from a great franchise in decline, found the challenge of taking a silly franchise (and face it, the original Battlestar was cheesy beyond belief) and making it great too wonderful of an "I told you so" chance to pass up. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: What is your favorite science fiction series, past or present?


Dave2 said...

I never cared for Star Trek: Voyager and rarely watched it (I never even saw the series finale!). All the things that could have made it such a departure from what we had seen before were ignored or discarded.

Of course, the show did give us Seven of Nine, which made up for a number of other sins! :-)

Interesting aside here... I was surprised that I hadn't noticed this entry in my feed reader. A quick check showed that your feed hadn't updated in my reader for over a month! Hmmm... don't know what that's all about, but I've re-subscribed and everything seems to be working now. :-)

Impetua said...

When I was a child I had a hopeless crush on Gil Gerard, "Buck Rogers". Of course the show also featured an adorable midget child-like robot "Twiki" and the smooth-talking makeup-mirroresque computer, Dr. Theophilus. These things appealed to pre-pubescent girls, Gil appealed to post-pubescent girls, and then there was the Spandex Goddess whose name I can't even remember anymore but who I would find even more appealing at this point in my life. There was also the bird-headed Hawk Guy who was meant to appeal to who? Native American science fiction fans?

Currently I am a huge fan of "Firefly" though it only lived one tiny season and a feature film. I was bored silly with the unpleasantly effete doctor and his annoying drama-queen sister, but they did further the plot somewhat. And although there is somewhat less Spandex in this show, there are plenty of attractive women (if that's your thing) and the inimitable Jayne and his hat. A little something for everyone.

trusty getto said...

I was a huge Star Trek: TNG, but I must admit that I am a little embarrassed about it when I see re-runs. It certainly seems a bit cheesy in retrospect :D

Mooselet said...

Impetua, that was Erin Gray's character, wasn't it? Can't remember her name but boy were her outfits tight!

I loved all the old sci-fi series - the original Battlestar Galactica (which I have on VHS), Buck Rodgers - and the slightly newer ones like ST:TNG. I liked ST:Voyager in the beginning but it quickly deteriorated. And for really cheesy, nothing beats the original Star Trek. I just saw an episode last weekend and you could see the strings on the puppets (I think the ep. was Cat's Paw) which looked like they were bought at the Dollar Store! Sure, I'd love some wine with my cheese, thanks.

Would The X-Files be considered sci-fi? Some classify it as such with its paranormal aspects. I loved that show. Still do.

Sadly, I get none of these new shows here. We don't even have the Sci-Fi Channel on our cable. :-(

Elizabeth said...

I'm a big fan of Firefly too! When I was little my brother who was 5 years older than me loved the origianl Star Trek. Our TV was set up on a high bookshelf and he was tall enough to change the channels, so I've seen all the Star Treks many many many times.

Anonymous said...

Why is there a big blank space at the start of this blog? Maybe it's the deep space you have to travel through to get to the story.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Even though it may not qualify for your question, one of my favorite SciFi series was always MST3K.

Anonymous said...

I loved ST;NG; I was in bible college at the time and every Saturday night, a group of us would be holed up in the oasis (small student lounge) with our dinners, hooting over data, drooling over Riker and loving every minute of it. I even read the novels. If you like to read (as you said to Geekwif earlier) and you liked NG, you have to pick up "Q-Squared" by Peter David. Priceless. Q is stripped of his powers and marries Lwaxana Troi. It is the funniest book I think I've ever read. Check it out, and if you do, let me know you did, ok?

yellojkt said...

I started watching ST:TNG about the third season and got hooked. But in my mind, DS9 was the pinnacle because the whole mythology got so involved. I've seen Serenity but feel I'm missing something, not having seen the series.

X-Files definitely had a lot of SF elements, but was too goofy for me to latch onto.

The whole book tie-in phenomenon is amazing. There are just so many that it makes finding the good ones impossible. Q marrying Lwaxana would be hilarious. She was one of my favorite TNG recurring characters.

You are using Internet Explorer on a screen set to too low a resolution. For the very graphic intesive posts you need to use Firefox or get a bigger monitor. Sorry, that's why Microsoft sucks. Or at least one of the reasons.

trusty getto said...

Now that it's been mentioned, I must say I loved Serenity, but I haven't seen Firefly. I was a big BtVS fan (I've seen every episode at least twice), but I haven't had the time to buy Firefly and watch it.

Having seen a few Battlestar episodes, I may pick that up on DVD and find some time to watch.

Jennine said...

I almost named my son Nathanael "Chakotay" which translates "Mmmm Hottie" in my dictionary... but I was keeping my sci-fi thing in the closet for fear of being teased by my girlfriends.

Remember "Earth 2"?

I loved that show. I might have been the only one, though. It was cancelled soon after it began.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised not to see "Babylon 5" in the comments to date. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th seasons were dynamite. The sweeping politics, the dazzling adventure, the cosmic mythology. Grand stuff.

I'll also say "Firefly", even though my blood pressure rises dangerously when I think of the poor, half-season of its existence.

On the other hand, I can't stand "Battlestar Galactica". I loved the mini-series premiere/pilot. That hooked me for a season and a half. Then the unrelenting slog thru humourless, hopeless angst and misery became too much. I enjoy a good drama, but BSG is an hour of inane despondency.

yellojkt said...

I never much watched B5, but I respect its fans and acknowledge that DS9 probably is a rip-off, but that is an analysis for another day. I just found the acting in it awful. When you bring in Bruce Boxleitner to raise the quality, you are in trouble.

One of Star Trek's good points is the habit of putting under-employed Shakespearean actors in bad make-up and costumes.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Yello... just dropped by to thank you for your comment on my phone search. Verizon has been faring pretty well in my unofficail poll. Funny, I never compared the cost of internet before, since I never bothered with my phone. Of course, if I were using a treo, I would, but how sweet - and how overkill - would that be for me? I do need a new palm pilot though....

Anonymous said...

Yikes, I've seen 'em all, even "Quark".

This is a nice blog item, yellojkt.

And thanks for buying drinks the other night (even though I couldn't make it).


Anonymous said...

Great post. Good use of images, I wish I had your talent with them, they appear exactly where they ought to and they add so much to the story line.

I had a crush on Captain Jean Luc Picard, still do. I particularly loved the episodes where he get's female attention...

There's a Brit blogger who writes a great blog called Captain Picard's Journal. He is very creative in his original story lines. If anyone needs a Star Trek fix you might want to check it out. Comments are really "Starfleet Transmissions"!


PsychoToddler said...

I never even noticed the similarities until I read this. You make some good points. Clearly, Moore brought some of the structure of the show over from the Star Trek franchise.

I agree that BSG (at least in the first 2 seasons) was pretty much the "anti-Trek."

I watched most of Voyager (heck there wasn't much else on) but thought it was stupid and they totally lost me when Janeway and Chakotay turned into lizards one episode and had their hairstyles back to normal by the time it ended.

There was a lot of potential there to do something original but it just reverted to the alien with the stupid nosepiece of the week, much like Enterprise did.

It really kills me because Joe Straczynski showed what could be done with a continuing story arc on a TV budget (Babylon 5).

But so far season 3 of BSG is disappointing and his constant attempts to force comparisons to Iraq is turning me off. I bought the first two (and a half) seasons on DVD, but I'm not planning to but the third.