13 March 2009

Battlestar: just 2 episodes to go

The presence of Battlestar Galactica Series 4.5 (which would more sensibly be known as "Series 5" given the gap between the first and second halves of Series 4 due to the 2008 writers' strike) on iTunes means that it has been possible for those of us who don't want to pay subscription money to Rupert Murdoch to watch the shows without having to wait months for the DVD release, or resorting to P2P sites.

Given that I'm pretty busy with work, allotment gardening, music and writing stuff like this, it's got to the stage where Battlestar is pretty much the only thing I watch regularly on TV (well, actually as a download on a monitor, but the only thing intended for TV that I watch anymore.) And I will sure miss it when it is gone.

I won't say much about series 4.5 due to not wanting to give away spoilers for those of you who haven't seen it yet. But, overall, this is up to the standard of the rest of the series and I can't wait to see the final two episodes (Daybreak Part 1 airs tonight in the US and on Tuesday in the UK, with the double-length Daybreak Part 2 airing a week later). I'm not giving much away by saying that the mood of these final episodes is pretty grim - this show started dark and has gradually dimmed to pitch black. Star Trek it ain't.

If there's been one slight problem with the final run of episodes (and I'll return to this in more detail once the whole thing is out on DVD and I'm less worried about spoilers), it's that there has often been so much plot to get through that some of the episodes have had to rush certain things and keep certain elements of the story more offscreen than would be ideal. It's a huge contrast to Season 3, where the second half in particular seemed to be stretched out to turn 13 episodes' worth of material into 20. This time round they could have probably supported 13 episodes rather than 10 in this half of the season. I guess budgetary constraints and network programming were the reasons they decided to stick with 10 (although if you include the prequel The Plan which will air in a few months' time and the fact that Daybreak Pt 2 is double length, Season 4.5 is effectively 13 episodes long anyway...)

The slightly rushed feel of this season is a minor problem but it's been a bit compounded by weird editing decisions. One recent episode (I think it was "Deadlock") featured around six or seven shots of Admiral Adama walking round a particular part of the battlestar (I won't say what's being done in the scenes as it gives away too much about the likely conclusion of the show). But it was extremely repetitive and a weird use of scarce screentime when there were more important things that could have been shown instead, but presumably had to be cut for time (or maybe there wasn't the budget to film them?)

Series creator Ron Moore's podcast commentaries (also available from iTunes or from the website at SciFi.com) suggest that several of the episodes from this final batch will be extended when the DVD is released later in the year, and that should help a lot.

The main 'problem' with Battlestar, if one can call it that, is that other recent sci-fi series look extremely mediocre in comparison. I tried watching a couple of episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise on Virgin 1 the other day and they were almost unwatchable - it looked so clunky and plastic next to BSG, despite being only a few years older. Partly that may be just because Enterprise was crap from the word go - I dunno. Maybe it was Scott Bakula - Quantum Leap always sucked as far as I was concerned, although Dean Stockwell was great (and he's great in Battlestar too.

Certainly the trailer for Star Trek XI which I saw when we went to see Watchmen earlier this week (and more on that in a later post hopefully) looked good, although a good trailer is absolutely no guarantee of a good movie (and indeed vice versa).

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about Battlestar - I just HAD to blog about something other than the global economic crisis just for a change, to stop myself going nuts.

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