Sandpanther (sandpanther) wrote,

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Larger Than Life/Smaller Than Life

Where to start...?

I remember a time, back when cheesey wasn't fatal to anything that wanted to be taken "seriously" where heros were larger than life. They embodied the higher ideals of society, and acted... Well, they acted like we all wished everyone would. Wise and polite, but able to take action and yes, even get angry when the cause demanded it. But always working for the greater good.

The original Battlestar Galactica was like that for me. Yes, Apollo was an uptight prig. And Starbuck was a womanizer. Adama needed to get out and let his (non-existant) hair down. But at least their hearts were all in the right places. And you didn't look at them and wonder why anyone is letting them wander around in public without their medication.

Fast forward to today, and the new version of Battlestar Galactica. I know the fleet is supposed to be rag-tag, but it seems that now our heros are pretty ragged as well. Apollo is still a prig, but now he needs to be hit with the "get over it" stick. Starbuck is reborn with the ultimate case of karma, as a woman with permanent PMS. Boomer looks like she will break down crying every time she encounters any conflict -- why is this person in the military? And Colonel Tigh is a lush with marital problems. These people should not be held up as heros, they should be poster children for the Psychologists of America.

It's not that I'm so stuck on the old ways. I was looking forward to seeing what they could do with a female Starbuck. I think even now, Starbuck is probably my favorite character. But I like my heros a little more... functional. I know the goal here was to portray them as "human". But humans in my world can actually cope with difficult situations without being imbeciles. Perhaps it's because most humans in my world are not very, very broken.

Frustratingly, the themes in the series -- like the changes in the characters -- had a lot of potential. Man's love/hate relationship with technology shows up frequently. Alas, it never actually says anything. Are the people who insisted in staying backward paranoid? Or are they visionaries? It's difficult to say.

I think the creators of the series itself had issues with technology. This series is set in a technologically advanced world. Interstellar travel is common and unremarkable. And yet they have not advanced enough to cure breast cancer? Even today, that particular form of cancer has a 70% cure rate. The weapons they use -- despite being technologically advanced -- are all very current day: projectiles, nukes. Fourty years of war tends to produce innovation, and innovation produces more advanced weapons. Anyway, what's the point of doing a science fiction show if you aren't going to play with pretty, shiny, deadly lights?

Still... I think I could deal with the strange choices on technology, and even the smaller than life characters if it wasn't so obvious that the creators were boldly going where everyone has gone in the past year or two. The hard, gritty reality of war... If I wanted to see that, I would have watched images from the Iraqi war. Even now, if I want to see blood and and pain and suffering, I will turn on the evening news. And because we can see this kind of thing just by turning on the TV, it isn't really shocking any more. It's not forbidden to see, it's not hidden. Using the "drama" of "reality" isn't cutting edge any more, it's bread and circuses.

But the thing that got me the most was how obviously they were trying to tap into the current world situation. The Cylon lady does it because "God told her to". Well, isn't that a refreshingly new motivation. We have the widespread destruction of our heros' homes. But somehow our heros seem to deal with it less like real people dealt with the collapse of the Twin Towers and more like how... well, like how a TV dramatization deals with it. Heart-rending, tear-jerking, and over the top. No quitely trying to deal with your pain here. No, we must make sure to have dramatic, angst-filled moments. The writers try so hard to get the viewer to care that it's enough to almost drive one into apathy. Make a blatant ploy for my emotions will you?

I suppose it is unfair to condemn overly angsty fanfic writers when all the rage in Hollywood now is for the tear-jerk.

The one thing I will say is that I found the "docu-drama" camera work style to be interesting. I can't completely praise it, since it stood out to me in and of itself (and therefore in the grand scheme of things is bad -- no single element of a dramatic work should stand out by itself, since in doing so it distracts from the overall work.)

I've only seen the first episode so far. We will see what they do in the second. Though I don't hold out much hope that the characters will become any less broken, or that the tugs on my heartstrings will become any less apparent.

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