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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Out of this frackin' world

So I was a bit behind but I finally caught up with the rest of season 3 of Battlestar Galactica this week after several 'stay up until 3am watching it' nights. How is this show not the biggest thing on television? For the past three seasons, it has continually raised the bar for both science fiction and episodic television itself (its series 2 finale has only been matched by the recent conclusion of series 3 of Lost for narrative daring).

No other television show has engaged so much with our troubled, fucked-up (or should I say "fracked up" to use BSG terminology) modern world as BSG. In telling the story of how a scattering of human survivors must battle with a robotic enemy - of their own creation - that's out to annhilate them and their way of life, BSG takes the post 9/11 world and refracts it through its own ingenious sci-fi prism.

The War on Terror, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel and Palestine all cast an oblique shadow over BSG, as does America itself. In fact, when TV historians come to analyse this golden age of television, they will pick BSG as the definitive television show of George W. Bush's and Dick Cheney's America. Just look at some of the major themes and topics that are recurrent in the show: terrorism, torture, invasion and occupation, insurgency, state security, religious fundamentalism, revolutions, coup d'etats, witch hunts, paranoia, imperialism and imperial presidencies, assasinations, political corruption, suicide bombings, mutiny, military dictatorships, civil war, love, marriage, infidelity, sex and sexuality, gender politics, abortion, racism, xenophobia, existentialism, political philosophy and what it means - literally - to be human.

A brilliant ensemble cast, led by Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell (all hail President Roslin!), Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, and Grace Park, only add to the quality of the show. And while BSG remains a cult hit, slavishly, devotedly obsessed over by people like me, critics have been falling over themselves to praise the show (don't get me started on how the Emmys have blanked it every year). BSG won a highly prestigious Peabody award last year, MSNBC and Entertainment Weekly named it as the Best TV Show of 2006 and the New Yorker, New York Times and Rolling Stone all carried rhapsodic cover feature reviews of the show throughout last year.

As for the series 3 finale - I was left stunned. I'm still processing the shattering twists and revelations so if any fans out there want to help me out, it'd be much appreciated. As for the rest of you, please get watching. As another BSG-loving friend of mine says: if you're not watching Battlestar Galactica, you don't deserve a television. In fact, if you don't love BSG, you just don't love television.

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