Monday, January 21, 2013

Battlestar Galactica's Reboot Into Darkness

Goodness. Looking back on my post on the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica series, it's as if I knew that every single thing I said could be reversed to an opposite statement for the reboot series. When I posted on the short Galactica 1980 series, it's as if I knew what seeds of change that series was planting into the franchise. Although those posts were back in September, here I am in January barely having finished the reboot series. It's four seasons, yes, but that's still quite a long time for me. If I'm enjoying a series, I'll usually be able to at least watch a couple episodes every night.

But when I started the new series, I went into shock. I didn't like it. I may even have hated it. I had commented on how refreshingly positive the original show was, but "hello, dystopia" became the theme for the new series. Darkness, pain, violence, anger, unsolvable problems, treachery, lies, disguise--everything terrible that you can think of. I didn't like any of the characters and the show wasn't making me feel good. I actually had to purposely start limiting the amount of it that I watched.

I rebelled against this show for its darkness, the opposite of the optimism of the original. I rebelled at the way it relied on suspense, teasing you with action sequences and only the beginnings of answers to all the mysteries.

But even from the beginning, I couldn't deny the production value of the show, also such a stark contrast to the budget-struggling originals. Sci-fi relies quite a bit on effects and design elements, and this show passed on all of that. It always presented itself as a complete world and a story that was unfolding, rather than individual stories for each episode.

I didn't much like the first season, but I did start getting more curious towards the end of it. Season two catapulted into somewhat interesting territory, making season three start off with quite a bit of interest. By the fourth and last season, I was enjoying it. The development and the coming together of layers all came to show that nothing (or nearly nothing) was meaningless, whether or not it seemed important at first. There was obviously quite a bit of planning involved. I also appreciate the involvement of such things as symbols: it isn't becoming too common to casually find them in a TV show or movie.

I did, however, feel like I wanted more answers or finality at the end of the show. But I think these feelings on my part were all part of the theme of "this has all happened before and will happen again." I'm not positive whether or not I liked the note the show ended on, whether I found it encouraging or disconcerting. But I think that also is the point: reality is confusing, and our involvement in the greater chain of events is not always easy to discover. So instead of the bright pioneer spirit, the reboot presents the complexity of seemingly-impossible situations. Although I prefer more optimism and can't quite mark this show off as one of my favorites, I have to admit that it does about everything a reboot should do: it builds off of both the 1978 and 1980 series (sometimes in a rather clever, half abstract way) and recreates just the right amount of the dynamics in order to make it an applicable product of 2003-2008 rather than 1978-1980.

(Oh, yes, and as a side note: the title of this post. No, I didn't name it after the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness, though that was the first thing I thought of after I wrote it out. It's fitting, though: those reboot movies do very similar things for the original Star Trek series as the reboot Battlestar Galactica does for its precursor.)

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