Also I Did Things In November
By Dwip November 22, 2012, 2:35 am Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

All of which keep me busy, but almost none of which are actually worth talking about. There’s only so much Mass Effect 3 multiplayer or dental horror stories you can really bear on one blog, and I’m pretty sure I’ve hit my legal limit on both topics, which means this place is currently less the ravings of demented rabbits and more the existential wasteland of bored rabbits.

Which may be slightly overstating the case, but nevertheless, the lack of content may continue until morale improves. Or something.

That said, I have been, and thanks due to Rema for this, watching a fair amount of television lately, catching up on a decade full of what appear to be a bunch of amazing shows scattered in amongst the tragic banality of realty television.

So maybe I should talk about that some.

The Wire:

I should probably start out here by noting that the entire crime drama genre pretty much bores me to tears. Wasn’t a really huge Matlock fan back in the day, and it hasn’t got much better since. And, assuming you’ve just stepped off the ship from Alpha Centauri and aren’t really up on current Earth culture, The Wire is at least nominally a crime drama. You have cops, you have robbers, you have various and sundry criminal acts, &c, &c.

The Wire is also what amounts to a five season long televised novel filled with grey characters living in a grey world – good and bad cops, lovable yet evil villains, the whole bit – that attempts to examine the dynamics of the city of Baltimore. There’s plenty of time spent on the day to day operations of the drug war and the interactions between the police and the criminal underclass, but also with the addicts, the poor working class, teachers, politicians, and reporters.

Far from being a run of the mill cop show, The Wire also spends entire seasons examining dock workers, political power, inner city schools, and the plight of the modern newspaper. This isn’t the usual sort of morality play – there aren’t a lot of easy choices or answers, the characters feel completely human and true to themselves (oh so important in a show driven primarily by character interaction), and I’ve read enough on the subject to know there’s a fair bit of truth in reporting here, and that the producers know what they’re on about.

There have been a lot of glowing reviews of The Wire over the years, and to my mind they’re completely justified. The story never ceases to be anything other than completely gripping (and I watched all of season 3 in a single day), the acting is completely top notch at all times (I can’t think of any off moments at all in five seasons), and while the show lacks the usual musical score, what there is is so good I haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack since.

Put shortly, I think The Wire is one of the best things I’ve ever watched, and I think you should watch it too, even if it’s not necessarily something you’d otherwise think to pick up.

Battlestar Galactica:

On the other hand, I’m slightly more ambivilent about the new Battlestar Galactica. I mean, here we’ve got the survivors of a massive nuclear holocaust driving around in space on a really long journey to the promised land, full of great characters, hard decisions, extremely grey morality, and frakin’ sweet space battles among other generally epic and excellent occurences (“They look like us now!”). And the only reason I didn’t watch the entire fourth season in one night is because I couldn’t justify dropping 3 hours to watch the series finale starting at 5am.

Also, I totally dig the soundtrack.

However, and I am about to drop a fraking ton of spoilers here so be warned, I ultimately have some reasonably large thematic issues with the whole excursion.

First, I don’t know how better to say it than that precisely none of the second Earth part of the ending makes a damn bit of sense. Based on the entire arc of the series, “Well, Lee Adama thinks we should stop fighting to be a civilized culture and spread 40,000 people out over the whole planet and party like it’s 199,000 BC” just isn’t anything that makes any sort of sense, except if you’re a writer contriving to fit everything into that “150,000 years later” epilogue. Which also doesn’t really work, but whatever. I realize they were trying to fit things into the whole “all of this has happened before” cycle theme, but it would seem to me that God invented the Atlantis myth for a reason. But I guess not.

Second, apparently the whole thing was some sort of deus ex machina, in the literal sense of deus, and…ok, I guess. The whole series basically built that up the entire time, so it wasn’t particularly a surprise when Gaius Baltar and Caprica Six figured out they were actually touched by angels, but I didn’t find it particularly satisfying as a resolution to anything, nor did I find it a particularly good examination of faith, precisely because of the lack of resolution, which is to say that after four seasons, just dropping the massive, massive plot between the old gods, the Cylon God, the Sons of Ares, the nonbelievers, all of that was…kind of a cop out.

Put shortly, as an examination on the nature of faith and the lack thereof, I found BSG to be rather lacking, and as it’s a main plotline that’s slightly problematic.

Finally, and both of my previous two gripes are symptoms of this, BSG has a problem with writing the characters to fit the plot, rather than writing the plot to fit the characters. There are an awful lot of moments over the course of the show where a character you’ve seen for multiple seasons suddenly does something completely out of character for transparent plot reasons (why, yes, clearly everything in Cally’s nature and fixation on Chief Tyrol make it so obvious that she would apparently hook up with Hot Dog of all people for a resolution to the whole baby plotline. Uh-huh. Right). This leads to a duality where 90% of the time the characters are all incredibly human and believable, and 10% of the time you can see The Plot jerking the puppet strings. These moments, when they happen, are jarring and not altogher palatable.

All that having been said, BSG is a hell of a journey, and while the things it does wrong are pretty bad, they only seem that way because the things it does right were done so very, very right.

Well worth the time.


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