Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Admiring The Beautiful Texture On The Final Curtain

It's been a while since I've been around here. Sorry about that, if you are easily offended by an absence of words. If you are, may I suggest you avoid this Chopin nocturne which is both nice and hilariously histrionic towards the end, and contains no words at all?

Anyway, I've been busy recently both with the very occasional article for rather lovely TV blog Watch With Mothers (and, of course, spending most of my working days lurking around its comments section with devillish intent and Jeremy Paxman's face) and also with my aim for this year to do one exciting thing a week. So far, and I tediously list this purely for my own personal records, I've seen: Stefan Golanszewski, Stewart Lee, Richard Herring (solo), Collings and Herrin (duo), Tim Key in Slutcracker, Tim Key and others in Party, the films Exam and The Hurt Locker, done the big scary box in the Turbine Hall (well, not really. I was, and I say this as a fully-fledged grown-up who is actually running out of time to reproduce, too scared to go in the big scary box. Even holding someone's hand, like a five-year-old), done the National Portrait gallery (bottom floor, celebrities, only - to my untutored eyes, Hello! on canvas and a head made of blood) and been to see a gig in a vintage furniture shop in Hoxton with about 12 other people, one of whom I randomly follow on Twitter, although we didn't know we knew each other until after the event (Hello Breeks!)

I have also found time to hoover up five series..es...eses of the peerless Battlestar Galactica. Which was great, until it ended. For those of a nervous disposition, look away now, I'm about to shout in bold: HERE BE SPOILERS. HERE BE SPOILERS. I AM ABOUT TO TALK IN DETAIL ABOUT THE END OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. SPOILERS! SPOILERS! DO I MAKE MYSELF PERFECTLY CLEAR?!


Let's get this straight: I absolutely loved Battlestar Galactica. I loved the plotting, I loved the politics, I loved the characterisation, I loved the way no-one was perfect and your allegiances swayed from episode to episode to support the religious nuts, the other religious nuts, the military guys, the civilian guys, the robots and the other robots. I loved the way someone obviously decided on a whim to cut the corners off paper in the pilot to make it look futuristic and stuck with it doggedly for five years, despite the fact that there's no way such a laborious paper production process would ever evolve in a functioning society. I loved the Final Five stuff, I loved the "Kara Thrace: Saviour of the Universe" stuff, I particularly loved that Hoirish lawyer guy with the dark glasses and the imaginary cat and all his stuff. But then, after five seasons of being sensually massaged to a simmering boil, the final episode was like a jackboot to the teeth.

I guess all you really want from a long-running and impressive show like BSG is that they will have the slightest clue where they're going with it, so even if they are suddenly given the TV equivalent of a P45, a rapidly signed leaving card and a gentle shove out of the front door, they will be able to write a satisfactory ending to their saga. And the kernel of the good idea, presumably there from the start - that after their search for "Earth" came to naught, the fleet would find Earth, and eventually become us, so we are all Cylons - was quite a nice one. But herein lies the first problem, which I shall label the "We Get It" problem.

Here's how the episode went: fight fight fight, cylon cylon cylon, fight fight fight. Oooh, look, swimming out of the inky blackness of space: it's Earth! Oh, we get it. They're us! Cool! Wait, there's half-an-hour left.
OK, now they're on Earth. Look, neanderthals. Yeah, OK, it's a long time ago, all this has happened before and it will all happen again. Very nice. We get it.
Right, they're going to spread out across the continents and settle, and thrive, and we're going to be their descendants. WE GET IT.
Whh...? Modern-day New York? Cos Mitochondrial Eve was in fact Hera, and look, THAT was THEN, and THIS is NOW? Yes! WE GET IT!
Gaius and Caprica Six visions appearing and patiently explaining all of the above to us?!?! Jimi Hendrix on the radio?!?!?! The Honda Asmio robot on a TV?!?!?!?!! WE! GET! IT!

It's just a shame that something that was subtle and nuanced and somehow made broad, grand, sweeping statements about America and its attitudes to race, in a completely alien world, without saying anything at all, felt the need to take a plot point like that and smash it repeatedly round our faces like a fetid flatfish. But maybe they went so overboard on that because of the other weaknesses in the finale, which I shall label the "Really? Really?" problem.

1. Crikey, we've found Earth! Er, somehow. Really? Really?
2. That was all to do with Kara Thrace, who came back from the dead, with a brand-new Viper, saw visions of her dead father, and from a song she had learned as a kid on a piano (long line of keys) typed in the co-ordinates onto a standard keypad (narrow block of rows of keys). Really? Really?
3. Having lead the fleet to Earth, and not having explained what she was or where she'd been, she vanished into thin air. Really? Really?
4. As the fleet observed the neanderthals they would eventually be responsible for shouldering out of the evolutionary history of the Earth - you know, just like at the end of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - they decided to disperse around the planet and start afresh, Galen, for example, going to Lapland where he hung around growing his beard for a few millennia and became Santa Claus - and foreswear all technology. What, really? This random collection of military and civilians who were used to a transient mode of living that was entirely artificial and man-made and reliant on technology beyond OUR wildest dreams could survive more than one winter? Really? Really?

Ah, well. It's merely a teeny crack in what was otherwise a marvellous road of entertainment. (A teeny crack that caused a car to spin straight into the central reservation killing all the occupants, but never mind) I will still have all the good times; and the moment when Saul sank into the wall and muttered "Said the joker to the thief..." is still hovering near the top of my "Ow, my chin!" jaw-drop moments chart.

Talking of endings...

This has broken my heart into a thousand pieces. The arguments from every angle have already been made, so I won't bother myself, if only to say: there is no commercial alternative. It's not the same as Last FM or any other music recommendation engine because in an hour it'll cover at least 50 genres I know nothing about and I'll enjoy it all. It won't be the same if the presenters go elsewhere because they'll still be slaves to playlists. And my washing-up will never be appealing again.

Save 6 Music!


bree said...


FawnDoo said...

I thought they explained how Kara was able to relate the musical score to the jump co-ordinates? She took the notes, assigned each one a number and tried to analyse them that way. It all went towards the big miracle that was finding Earth: the co-ordinates she typed in would only have resulted in a jump to Earth from the Colony's location.

Excellent writeup and I'm glad you've enjoyed the show so much - I have liked seeing your Tweets about it and working out how far along the story you were at the time. I had my issues with the finale as well, and agree wholeheartedly on the way the robot/cylon/cycle thing was hammered into us in the last 10 minutes or so.

As for the technology abandonment that was just out-and-out weird. What happens when someone gets toothache? If Helo's gunshot wound gets infected? The first time someone needs a knife, a bag or a pair of boots?

Now go watch Caprica and see it all start up! :-)

justrestingmyeyes said...

Ooh Breekoms! Hevvo!

Fawndoo - thank you very much! And good work on the Kara thing - I think you're quite right on that one, I stand corrected.

I am getting nicely into Caprica. Unfortunately, Mr JRME recently got the boxset of Rome starring the lady who plays Sister Clarice, and now cannot watch Caprica without surreptitious giggling because he's seen all her bits. *tetchy face*

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