February 11, 2005

Guilty pleasures

Okay, I admit it -- I'm hooked on the remake of Battlestar Galactica. Yes, it sometitmes drives me nuts. In one episode, when the survival of the human depends upon a dangerous mission to get water, it is decided that free men are incapable of taking such risks (no blood sweat toil and tears for this show), so prisoners are enlisted. Another episode had the opportunity to teach a hard lesson -- that sometimes it's better to sacrifice the character played by a comely Hollywood starlet when the survival of the human race hangs in the balance -- but the producers chose the easy way out. Everyone gambles on the longest of odds and -- hooray! -- it all pays off in the end! As an old Boomtown Rats song put it, "in the end there's lots of dancing songs and smiles -- you need lots of smiles..."

But I truly like Edward James Olmos, one of only two actors in the show who seems able to express the existential crisis of humanity. No, he's not the epitome of existential cool (an old Theater of the Living Arts catalog applied that phrase to Mel Gibson in Road Warrior and Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon -- right BOTH times!!), but rather the epitome of existential burnout.

Tonight's episode was disappointing in so many ways -- lies are a fascinating phenomena, but I don't think normally honest liars would act in quite the way the Galactica crew acted. The most pertinent question (how was it that cylons managed to fly those jets into the World ... er, how was it that the cylons managed to kill billions of people?) was never asked, and Olmos' Adama, who correctly shut down the inquisition, refused to offer the obvious alternative to the inquisitioners questions: Having lost at Pearl Harbor, at Fort Sumter, having lost the battle of New York in the 18th or the 21st century, what is our plan for winning?

Yet you can't help feeling that Olmos' character, burnt out as he is, is obsessed with that question, and doesn't know the answer, and worries that it can't be answered... and, despite his burnout, despite the horror, despite the "specicide," refuses to give up. And you can't help but root for a man like that...

Posted by Ideofact at February 11, 2005 11:19 PM

I have so far not been enticed into watching this show - I rarely get into a show in its first season (as I mentioned here). But I think it's because it takes a while for really interesting characters to develop. It sounds like Adama might actually make Galactica worth sitting down and giving a try. Thanks!

Posted by: Alexandra at February 12, 2005 11:50 AM

I've also been drawn into that show, not being a member of the generation of the original. Sure, sometimes the 'hollywoodness' of it gets annoying but it's a great show nonetheless.

Posted by: Michael at February 14, 2005 10:28 AM