Sunday, May 10, 2009

Items of Interest (Dumbest Space Operas, Superheroes and War, MacLeod on the Surveillance Society, Ryman on the BSG Finale)

As usual, io9's providing a lot of interesting items, with two of the more noteworthy its list of "Dumbest Space Operas of All Time!" and a "rant" asking the question "Have War Movies Become Superhero Flicks?" (My answer to that question is absolutely yes-and as it happens, I actually discussed some of the reasons for that in a January article in the Internet Review of Science Fiction, "Science Fiction and the Post-Cold War.")

Also worth a look is Ken MacLeod's recent posting on the handling of the theme of the "surveillance society" in science fiction, and Geoff Ryman's thoughts on the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica.

As you might guess, Ryman is no exception to the disappointment felt by so many other viewers, feeling himself to have been proved right in a dismaying way.

I was left feeling proved right in a dismaying way myself, though the things that really bugged me weren't the same ones. In my May 2008 IROSF article, "The Golden Age of Science Fiction Television" I referred to the writing on the show as often being
silly, sensationalist, muddled and inconsistent (especially in its running post-Nine-Eleven commentary), its gimmicks more derivative than casual viewers of science fiction generally appreciated, and the theory of "naturalistic" science fiction touted by the writers really much ado about nothing.
In that regard, the finale lived down to my lowest expectations, reminding me what utterly mediocre SF the show was, espousing an astonishing number of terrible genre cliches at its core, not the least of them a lame pseudo-religiosity (all the things that didn't make sense before still didn't make sense, thereby proving it was all God's plan!) and a "Frankenstein complex" Luddism that was already tired when Isaac Asimov coined that term seventy years or so ago.

So why was there all that hype about what a great, ground-breaking show BSG was? My guess is that the response was due to its catering to the skewed standards of TV critics, who overvalue pointless head games, "crisp" filler dialogue, unlikable characters (provided, of course, that they're unlikable in the "right" ways), homage to the political pieties of the moment, and the tendency to take oneself far, far too seriously, something this show always did.


Jonathan M said...

No, I think that the first series (where the reality of the religious stuff was still in doubt) was superb and it perfectly captured the rift between the faith-based and the reality-based thinkers in the US at the time.

However, as the show went on it not only said that religion was correct, it also then created this whole secondary Cylon-centric religion and the quality of writing spiraled downhill at an alarming rate (by the end of season 2 the series had jumped the shark and landed halfway up the beach).

for me the question isn't why did people heap praise upon it but why did they KEEP heaping praise upon it?

Nader said...

Agreed up to a point. Many of the things I disliked hadn't yet become unambiguously part of the story-and the rift between faith and reality-based thinking did have some interest.

Yet, much of what I didn't like already was, particularly the cheap pushing of political buttons. In any case, after the show's end, we're far beyond giving the point where the creators can reasonably be given the benefit of the doubt.

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