Stephen Speicher

Battlestar Galactica (2004)

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38 posts in this topic

I'm really enjoying this show, and I don't even watch that much TV. Anyone else like it?

I enjoy it also. I have heard some Objectivists criticize it by saying that the characters are naturalistic. But I don't see that much naturalism. I think Apollo is am independent and heroic character and Comander Adama is likewise heroic even if a bit stoic. There are interesting themes on the show, both philosophic and political. I know religion plays quite a role but I am interested in seeing where they go with the Cylons searching for God theme. And the effects are awesome. They are done in the same style as the original Firefly series. Overall, I would say that it is very entertaining. Not Objectivist, but entertaining nonetheless.

And the babes are hot too. Especially Grace Park.

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I'm really enjoying this show, and I don't even watch that much TV. Anyone else like it?

I am also really enjoying the show FC. Definitely a 9! I can't wait until the next season comes on in mid-July.

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I really like this show, I gave it a 9. It's science fiction at its best, as far as TV productions go. I think the acting is excellent overall.

And for suspense, the last episode of the first season was the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers.

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I really like this show, I gave it a 9. It's science fiction at its best, as far as TV productions go. I think the acting is excellent overall.

And for suspense, the last episode of the first season was the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers.

***Major Spoilers Of First Season***

I second that. Adama taking two rounds in the chest at close range, the President in the Brig for treason, Apollo held on charges of Mutiny, Galactica Boomer exposed, Helo and Starbuck on Caprica with a prgnant Boomer clone, the ground team stranded on Kobol, and the fleet in the hands of alcoholic Commander Tigh whose wife may or may not be a cylon. Wow!! Talk about cliff hangers!

If your a sci-fi fan, I think it was one of the best cliff-hangers since Reiker gave the order to fire on the Borg cube with Borg infected Picard in it at the end of season 5 (I believe).

I can't wait to see how things turn out. I'm almost thinking of Tivo'ing all 10 new episodes and watching them all at once during a Battlestar Galactica marathon, like I did when I saw Firefly for the first time.

I don't know if I have the discipline though. The 2nd season premier starts in a week!

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The political dimension to this show, especially as unravelled in the last episode, is truly gripping and incredible.

-- SPOILER --

Who would have thought that this show would turn into a gripping drama of a new and struggling free society, that appeared to have its army under firm civilian leadership, only to discover that the military kept its hands off only as long as it deemed necessary? The fact that Adama is portrayed as a noble man who nevertheless follows the shameful path of Caesar is a profound statement. His son, who could before look forward to having his father as the most heroic man of the fleet, and a perpetual example for himself to admire and live up to, will now be forced to live in shame of his father's downfall and even self-doubt. It's doubtful that Tigh will be a more noble man where even Adama could not stand tall.

-- END SPOILER --

Things like these of course only add to the other great aspects of the show, to make it a true treat! As in all other TV shows under discussion, I will hold off voting here until the end, but so far this looks like it's deserving a 9, a worthy successor to Babylon 5.

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*** Spoilerish Discussion ***

Free Capitalist:

You know, I have been thinking about whether I liked Adama's decision to arrest the President and take controll of the fleet. I too at first thought he had secumed to power lust. But I am not sure if that is accurate. At the least, I think it is debatable if he has fallen like Ceaser. He has repeatedly stressed that there needs to be a seperation of civilian and military control. And, from his perspective, the president made a decision to interfere with military authority by recruiting Starbuck to go to Caprica to get the arrow of Apollo; and to make that decision based on religious inspired visions!

So I think he had a legitimate reason to take control. Also, you could view this as one big emergency scenerio which required temporary control and leadership by the military. This is a time of war after all and humanity is facing extinction. Also, I know that as a specialist in Roman history you are aware of the the way the "dicatator" was used during the Roman Republic. Adama could be viewed here as a Cincinnatus or a Quintus Fabius Maximus.

So I am going to cut Adama some slack. Geez, the man has two nine millimeter slugs in him as we speak!

I look forward to your response b/c as I have read all your historical and film commentaries and they are brilliant to say the least. You always find a way of extracting a theme that I may have missed.

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-- Spoilers --

bmcgreggor, glad to see someone familiar with the Roman constitution! Yes the position of the 'dictator' could be analogous here, but let's not forget that a dictator was appointed by a duly elected repersentative, from within the citizen body; the dictator did not appoint himself like Adama did!

See, that's the main problem with what Adama's decision. He said that he now judged the President to be incapable of performing her function, or something like that, and was relieving her from her office -- but he has no right to evaluate the President on whether or not she's acting in accordance with her office, and it is not his place to relieve her from office. See, the division between the civilian branch and the military does not mean the two are independent and equally potent. Quite the contrary, while there may be a division of duties, the military is always supposed to be subservient to the civilian branch, which is a tradition and principle inherited from the Greco-Roman political genius. The "commander-in-chief" always ought to be a civilian, i.e. someone who is duly elected, and whose primary task it is to perform the peaceful executive management of the state. So whatever the differences and disagreements there were between Adama and Roslyn, it can be safely assumed that the political tradition they inherited from their home world was that he was supposed to be in control of all of the army, and she was supposed to be in control of him; they were not equally powerful, their friendly discussions and arguments notwithstanding. She was elected, and he was appointed by someone who was elected -- that is the fundamental difference. So it is not his role or his place to determine what the president's job ought to be.

Imagine if General Myers, our current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (I think), and thus effectively the top military official in the government, would not only deem it his role to evaluate Don Rumsfeld's effectiveness (the civilian directly in charge of the US military), or even G.W. Bush's (the civilian in charge of everything), and overthrow them whenever he felt inclined to do so! Simply having an army under your control ought not be an indication that you are the master of the country, at least in a free and properly governed society; that's the inheritance we carry from 2,000 years ago. However, let's assume that President Roslyn lost her mind, and that if she was left in office to only be accountable to the citizens upon re-election many months later, that the damage she would do would be inestimable. While Adama did not have an explicit right to depose the president, nor did he have a moral prohibition from doing so; but in taking that path he would still have to relinquish the control of the government after her deposition, and stand trial before the citizens so that they would adjudicate whether his action was justified, and whether he was was to be commended or punished for his choice. Would Adama relinquish his new control of the government and submit himself to the trial and possible dishonor from the citizens? I don't know, but it can at least be safely assumed that he would be extremely inclined not to do so. He was a military man, who got things done, not someone who was very comfortable with the history of political tradition and thought much about his place and the overarching rights of the citizens that he was potentially infringing upon.

However, suppose we give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume Adama was going to lay down all of his new powers to the adjudication of citizens, and was not a military general (even a decent and moral one) who simply deemed the civilian control of the military to be too meddlesome with the his military decisions. So let's assume he was a moral man and did a moral decision after all, taking upon his shoulders a potentially disastrous responsibility -- he still died, meaning that his next in command would now be in charge of the government, and would not necessarily be the same moral man as Adama was. Make no mistake, Tigh is now the president of the colonies! Adama may have trusted himself when he usurped the power, but did he trust Tigh? So not only did Adama destroy the constitutional government, even if we say it was justifiable and permissable in our knowledge of his character, but he also made it possible for a man whose morality is far more questionable to take unlimited charge of the government! That is a problem with Adama's decision that cannot be excused, even if his initial decision can find extenuating circumstances. By usurping power and then being unable to stay alive, Adama has effectively undercut the entire government and rule of law that was keeping the colonies together. In the commercials we have already heard Tigh declaring Martial Law. That's why what Apollo did, by standing up for the President in the 11th hour and possibly qualifying for capital punishment with his mutiny, was heroic and something truly to reflect on.

All of this is what makes Galactica such a great show -- it allows us to have these discussions that are not narrowly limited to some sci-fi universe, but are universal and are as applicable to us, and history of Western civilization, as they are to the actual events of the show :D. Remember something else in parallel to this: L. Junius Brutus had executed his own sons for plotting against republican government. How proud he would have been for having a son like Apollo, and conversely how ashamed he would be for himself being the one who plotted against republican government. (I know I said Adama could have the benefit of the doubt and I did like him for most of the show, but by the end I personally find it easier to condemn him than to forgive him :D)

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Free Capitalist:

As I said, your analysis is always a pleasure to read. And I agree with it. I wanted to give Adama the benefit of the doubt because I felt that the whole scenerio that the fleet finds itself in is one huge emergency situation. In their context, a bad decision can mean the end of humanity. In *that* context (which is probably unrealistic from a fully reality oriented perspective), I would risk a benevolent dictator who could keep me alive over a duly elected representative of the people who was making decisions based on revelatory visions (and here, I hope the show does not descend into mysticism).

Once humanity had freed itself from the Cylon threat and established a fully human (as opposed to a terror-struck and panic-ridden) civilization on either Kobol or elsewhere, the threat of extinction would cease and republican government would resume. I was having this discussion w/ a friend (also an Objectivist) and it was interesting b/c he argued as you did and I respect that line of reasoning. But I was stressing the fact of their imminent extinction which put this "on a lifeboat" in my thinking. I actually said that the whole fleet could legitimately be placed under a permanent Marshal Law until such time as a normal human existence was possible. Until then, it might be better to have the entire fleet under military control.

We debated and we came to the conclusion that it really depends on how you want to view the show. Is is to be taken literally or metaphorically. If the latter, I completely agree with your analysis as I think it accurately describes the traditions of republican government that we inherited from our Greco/Roman ancestors. But IMO if the show is to be taken at face value, I don't think that in *that situation* you could afford the 'politiking' inherent in what seems to be a somewhat flawed republic. (If it was an Objectivist governent that might be a different story, but then again an Objectivist government would never have let the Cylons put them in that situation.)

So I actually feel a little torn on what to think. I really liked Adama for most of the first 13 episodes; and I loved the way Almos played him. At times, given what they were facing, I found myself frustrated with the time I fealt they were wasting on the politics of the 12 Colonies. And yet, I realize that from a philosophical and historical perspective, the themes that were raised were of crucial importance to our own world.

Anyway, its a tribute to the show that it is so compelling on so many levels. Its has the potential to be the best sci-fi show ever.

And on top of it all, I think Grace Park is really hot!

Oh and one final thing. I don't think that Adama is dead. Almos is signed on for the second season. He said in an interview that he loves the show but if they get corny he wont want to do it. I believe his quote was that the first three eyed alien they meet, he's gone!

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Well, think of it this way: in an action movie, if you don't spend time on character development, all the explosions in the world won't matter. That's why I appreciate the politics, it makes the human colonies more 'real' to me, and makes me view everything else as that much more relevant.

And oh yes, Grace Park is pure hotness. One magical day, Episode 13 will hopefully be released uncut and uncensored!

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I really like this show, yet every review I read of it refers to it as "naturalistic". In fact, it is being heralded as the turning point of Sci-Fi away from the "unrealistic" heroism of the past and towards a "new paradigm" for the future in "the post 9/11 world". The Left is really embracing this show. Even the writers have said that they deliberately avoided a "star-blazing male" as that has been "done before". Also, it seems that critics are interpreting the series as one which "is not afraid to critisize our own culture".

As I said, I really enjoy many aspects of the show but its a shame that its being applauded for all the reasons that I would condemn it for.

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This is one show in which I can find absolutely no redeeming value. If you can stand the annoying photography of bouncing the camera around and constantly changing the zoom, then the characters will make you sick. The major characters are a psychotic, a drunk, a slut, a criminal who still should be in prison, a coward, a schizophrenic, a liar and cheat, and numerous assorted scumbags. The only one who seems to have any heroic characteristics at all is Adama, and he is just not pleasant to look at. The military people are the most undisciplined, unmilitary rabble I have ever seen depicted in film, (and Hollywood has always been bad about this).

I find the religious crap intolerable, especially since presumably logical machines tout it.

The most confusing aspect is the fact that the robots have now become organic life forms, which one cannot tell from a real human. This makes their, "Kill All Humans!" crusade especially bizarre. (It is funny when Bender on Futurama says it, but in this case, since the Cylons are now humanish, it makes little sense.) Perhaps I missed that portion of the show where this was explained. I was told by a fan of the show at my work that the Cylons became organic because they wanted to more resemble God!?! This just gags me.

I have noticed some of the people who praise the show note that it is "dark", and seem to hold that in regard. This high regard for the 'dark' is especially prevalent in some religious people I know. I welcome you to find your own connections.

This is one show that I cannot disavow more. If you want romantic fiction with heroes and man's achievement held high, stay away from this show!

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This is one show in which I can find absolutely no redeeming value. 

I emphatically disagree. I do not want to say that the show does not have major aesthetic or philosophical flaws, because it does, but I think the show is good and I enjoy watching it. The characters are not at all depraved; at least a few of them are generally heroic, and most of them are mixed (which is very different from depraved). The plot and the characters are interesting and well-crafted.

The show ought to be dark...the whole premise is that humanity is ever so close to being annihilated. But I think the show takes advantage of that premise to show something about humanity's capacity to keep fighting.

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I emphatically disagree. I do not want to say that the show does not have major aesthetic or philosophical flaws, because it does, but I think the show is good and I enjoy watching it. The characters are not at all depraved; at least a few of them are generally heroic, and most of them are mixed (which is very different from depraved). The plot and the characters are interesting and well-crafted.

I've gotten to the point where discussing works of art with other Objectivists is almost pointless. Just because we have a philosophy in common doesn't mean we share a sense of life or other values, or integrate or essentialize the same facts in the same way. So two Objectivists can watch the same TV show and have completely opposite reactions.

That said, I want to chime in here in defense of the show. I agree with Daniel, and last night's season finale was particularly good.

The show really stands out for its stylization, drama, suspense, plot twists, and portrayals of heroism. The acting is good, but not stellar, and the characterization is often lacking. More often than not, the dialogue needs work.

***** SPOILERS **********

One point worth mentioning is that one fountain of suspense has been the uncertainty surrounding the cylons, who destroyed all but 50,000 of the human race at the beginning of the series. An ongoing plot has been who among the survivors may be a cylon. Another has dealt with a captured cylon who was pregnant(!) with a human's child, and whose side she was really on. Then there's the conflict within the cylon community over whether attacking the humans was a good decision or not. And whether a high-ranking politician collaborated with the cylons, allowing the initial attackers to slip past defense systems.

That's good plot work and worth the price of admission.

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Friends have been hounding me to watch this (relatively) new version of Battlestar Galactica, but I haven't been able to fit it in alongside my preferential shows. With the season quieting down now, I finally recorded the last show, "The Eye of Jupiter." Starting with the third season finale is probably not the best way to see the show ( :D ), but, with mentally filling in the gaps I enjoyed the episode very much. It was particularly nice to see Edward James Olmos again, and the character he plays appeared to be made for him. I will not give up any of my other shows to watch this one regularly, but whenever I have a single opening I will try to fill it with Battlestar Galactica.

SPOILER AHEAD

It was so nice to learn that since the original TV series almost three decades ago, the Cylons have "evolved." Looking at some of those beautiful women is much more enjoyable than always seeing those metal hulks! :D

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Well, technically, it's just the fall finale, like a number of other serialized shows. Season 3 resumes in January.

Also, I highly recommend (if you're a Netflix person) renting seasons 1 and 2. I got caught up earlier this year. For season 3, I have used a combination of TiVo and, while I was in Australia, iTunes.

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Also, I highly recommend (if you're a Netflix person) renting seasons 1 and 2. I got caught up earlier this year. For season 3, I have used a combination of TiVo and, while I was in Australia, iTunes.

There are also the crucial pilot episodes - I forget if they were included as part of season 1.

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There are also the crucial pilot episodes - I forget if they were included as part of season 1.

If you buy (or rent) the 1st season DVDs, the 4-hour miniseries is included.

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I'm just starting watching this show (thanks to Netflix & iTunes), and I really enjoyed the 4hr miniseries. The following epiusodes aare not as good, but still very good and I give it a 10. I'm barely 3/4 through season 1...

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I've been a fan of Battlestar Galactica from the start of the new series, but unfortunately I think the quality has been declining. Also, practically speaking, they are way too slow in producing the series and have surely lost momentum and viewer interest.

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I enjoy the show, although the religious themes never appealed to me. I think there are two parallel stories to the series, and both share the same pro-man theme. There is the literal fight for mankind against the machines that all but exterminated them. On this (virtually) no one is an appeaser who argues that the machines have an equal right to live, or that maybe a compromise should be reached. According to "Razor", a special that aired recently, the humans already attempted an armistice, which the Cylons broke. So no conflict about the value of human life is prominent in the show.

In fact, when several members of the crew discovered earlier in the series that they were in fact inactivated Cylons, they rejected their origin and continued to fight for the humans.

The second story is the internal struggle to restore human society, to maintain the rule of law. In many episodes, the main characters uncover corruption among their own, which they fight to expose and resolve at great personal risk. The humans are defeated and on the run, but it's a theme throughout the series that these are not excuses to devolve into savagery. Yes, there are many shady characters on the show, but I don't think we are expected to withhold judgment (as we are often asked to in our own nihilistic culture).

I do not think the show is "naturalistic". It presents human conflicts realistically, with all the moral faults that exist in the real world. However, the stories champion heroes, not antiheroes, and the virtuous, not the ordinary and mundane. It's not perfect, I do think the religious themes that surface from time to time are distracting and interfere with the virtues of the plot. However it's definitely one of the better things on TV these days.

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I do not think the show is "naturalistic". It presents human conflicts realistically, with all the moral faults that exist in the real world. However, the stories champion heroes, not antiheroes, and the virtuous, not the ordinary and mundane....

I may not be up to date with all the latest developments, but I've come to somewhat change my old 100% enthusiastic support for the show, precisely because I see something else in it now than what you said there.

What makes me uncomfortable is that the show is really reluctant to overly heroize anybody. Who is there to admire? Adama is a good, reliable man, but he seems limited in his reliance only on military, having mild disrespect for the civilian life; that's why "we must balance him" with the President Roslin, who is the exact opposite extolling the civil processes at all expense for the military, and shocks me as a typical 20th century liberal. Starbuck was great, and could be a great candidate for a heroine of the story, but then they had to go and mess her up so completely that at this point she is so neurotic, has so many flaws, so many problems, that even Apollo can't stand her (that's where I stopped watching). Apollo is the only great guy in the whole show,

and even he got fat and complacent during the Cylon occupation

. Helo's a good guy but too much on the periphery of what's happening; we don't really know much about him, and the show's not interested him, kind of like a good guy on the outside looking in on all the confused and messed-up people in the middle of the story. Gaeta is a mixed guy, Baltar's vice knows no bounds, etc.

But what I miss the most is the republican approach to rebuilding human society. I really expected to see, with time, that the political ideals of at least Pres. Roslin, but hopefully Adama and the other leaders, would be even a little bit republican, very noble and going back in some way to Founding Principles, which weren't a factor of only that 18th century but the same words spoken in all of the even earlier noble times when human nature was laid bare, and virtue was practiced at its nightest. The show did bare human nature, but then said that the noble principles to extol and return to would be late 20th century preoccupations with "civil liberties", distrust of the military, in short all of the trends which are only an accident of our particular time, and not universal or important in any way.

I know some people really find a lot to admire in the show, and my point isn't to dissuade them from that. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I came to the show with preconceived notions of what I wanted it to be.

PS: to the response that expecting what I expect would be too much, I submit Firefly, the principles of which were most certainly fundamental and immemorial, and Babylon 5 where heroes were not one but numerous, and great values were frequently stated and defended. Speaking of Babylon 5, the humanity is pushed around there as well, but the atmosphere on the station (especially in Seasons 3 and 4) is so optimistic and strong that you'd believe humans already conquered the whole universe. And frankly, at some points in Season 4, the Captain even becomes a bit like Leonidas in 300 (roaring, and the like); that's how forceful and assertive they got about their values.

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What makes me uncomfortable is that the show is really reluctant to overly heroize anybody. Who is there to admire? Adama is a good, reliable man, but he seems limited in his reliance only on military, having mild disrespect for the civilian life; that's why "we must balance him" with the President Roslin, who is the exact opposite extolling the civil processes at all expense for the military, and shocks me as a typical 20th century liberal. Starbuck was great, and could be a great candidate for a heroine of the story, but then they had to go and mess her up so completely that at this point she is so neurotic, has so many flaws, so many problems, that even Apollo can't stand her (that's where I stopped watching). Apollo is the only great guy in the whole show,

and even he got fat and complacent during the Cylon occupation

. Helo's a good guy but too much on the periphery of what's happening; we don't really know much about him, and the show's not interested him, kind of like a good guy on the outside looking in on all the confused and messed-up people in the middle of the story. Gaeta is a mixed guy, Baltar's vice knows no bounds, etc.

You're right, I think the writers suffer from the "nobody's perfect" syndrome, and I agree it diminishes the characters. To their credit, though, whenever one character inexplicably does something immoral, another steps up to the plate and becomes the hero.

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Wow. If, a couple years ago, I had decided to imagine the worst possible ending to the series, I couldn't have come close to beating the actual one. Terrible. Terrible. Terrible.

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