Elster's World

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sc-Fi With A Side Order Of Life's Lessons - Galactica's Final Flight

So I'm not sure what exactly it says about me that the only thing that can drag me out of my quasi-retirement from blogging is not the depressing US economy, the depressing state of the housing market, the depressing state of Israeli politics of the depressing state of anything else in the world - rather the series finale of one of my favorite tv shows of all time - Battlestar Galactica.

The truth is I've started and abandoned at least half a dozen posts since I last wrote some such nonsense about the Jets - and I've written a dozen more in my head that I never even started typing. I simply don't have the juice to write these days; real life seems to have changed me to the point where I lack the creativity I once had - or at least thought I had.

But enough about these depressing things. Tonight I just want to blog about my thoughts on BSG. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FINALE - OR ARE CONTEMPLATING WATCHING THIS SERIES ONE DAY (WHICH I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE ANYONE READING THIS TO DO), PLEASE STOP READING THIS POST.

When they first announced a re-imagining of the BSG series I was mildly excited and skeptical. I loved the original, campy BSG - right down to the silly Daggit (fake dog). I certainly had no thoughts of watching it. Any any such thoughts were out the window when they announced Starbuck was going to be a chick. Starbuck? A chick? How is that going to work?

But a friend got me season one on DVD and told me to give the pilot a whirl. He said I'd be hooked and I'd thank him forever. Well I watched the pilot. I got hooked. And I'll be thanking him forever.

In its first season I blogged about how the remake was better than the original. But praise like that simply doesn't do this series justice. The show morphed after the first season - from a wonderful drama that just happened to take place in space - to a true morality play - tackling all the tough issues - drugs (remember the pilots taking speed in 33 Minutes to keep awake) to questions of abortion, terrorism and the morality of suicide bombing to in its end, the existence of god and the idea of a master plan.

While the creators of the show have no insights into the nature of god - they do raise some excellent points. The show ends with a warning and a lesson - man (and Cylon) is, by nature a destructive animal. When left to his own devices, man will eventually be destructive. This is the pattern of the world of Galactica, from Kobol to the colonies, from Earth One and New Caprica - eventually man finds a way to destroy himself. The show ends with a positive message - that, perhaps this time (Earth Two) things will be different - that maybe, just maybe, the pattern of destruction, even by accident, won't repeat.

Look at our history - world wars, Holy Roman Empires, death camps - is the show so far off on its message? Is man simply a destructive machine destined to destroy everything he creates?

Further - Is BSG's god - the god who builds and walks away - only to move the pieces in the right direction towards the next rebuild - the real version of god? Blaspheme of course - but I have met many a smart person who held this belief. All pretty heady stuff for a sci-fi clanker.

The funny thing about me is I usually prefer shows that don't require me to think. While I'm no dummy, I like my entertainment to be an escape from using my brain. But BSG (and Lost) are highly worthy exceptions. Never well received by the masses, but highly critically acclaimed, BSG raises all the hard questions - and often even sares to answer them. I have a tremendous respect for that.

Yes, just a tv show. But so much more.

My last plea - to anyone who might read this. Go get your hands on the pilot and watch it. If it grabs you like it did me (and many other people who got sucked in based on my recommendation), you'll thank me for it later.

But be prepared to learn a thing or two along the way.