Because I'm mad with power.
Could be worse, I guess.
Just a quick note for anyone who hasn't checked out Battlestar Galactica: Scifi.com has an option now where you can watch whole episodes, including a full-screen option. It's a flash player, a little bit lower quality than the iTunes version.
Right now, they're playing Scar--which, granted, is probably one of the three weakest episodes from season two, and it might be a little hard to get into mid-season. But even at its worst, Galactica's still better than anything on network TV. Take a look.
Near the end of the Galactica miniseries, Commander Adama gives a speech to rally the troops, since the loss of a couple thousand people more after all of interstellar civilization gets nuked tends to be depressing. It's a good effort by Ed Olmos, especially considering that he apparently improvised about half of it, but it comes across feeling a bit like a standard sci-fi series premiere. And that's what it basically is.
I'm noticing these things after picking up the season one DVDs and watching the miniseries again. What stands out is that it doesn't really feel like Galactica. The basics are there--complicated interpersonal relationships, byzantine power struggles, characters with tragic weaknesses--but at the same time they are toned down in favor of more standard plot elements. There's a lot of technobabble in the three hours, considering this is a show that consciously avoids that kind of thing. What struck me the most is how clean and young everyone looks. The grime and constant stress of the actual show isn't present yet.
So what we're left with is a miniseries that's not bad, certainly very good by Sci Fi Channel standards. It seems like it might turn into a good, but not great, post-Star Trek series. Then it's followed by "33," which was suddenly leaps and bounds above that level, ratcheting up the tension and the premise--and I don't think the quality ever dropped until season 2.5. I'm a little amazed that I actually stuck around after the premiere, frankly. But looking back, it's such a great metaphor for the story arc across seasons one and two--an optimistic, hopeful beginning that then drops its characters into the machine and observes the changes that result. Watching (as I did, since I started late) the entire two-season arc in only 4 months only accentuates the experience.
I'm glad that the box set comes with the miniseries. But if you haven't seen Galactica and you'd like to give it a shot, don't see it as mandatory to spend three hours on it. If the premiere doesn't get to you right away or you don't have the time for it, try the first episode instead. It's the best show on TV. I don't think you'll regret it.
Television shows should stop mucking around with broadcast and just go straight to DVD, available every month at a local TV Store. Thanks to Netflix, I've been catching up on the television that I never watched when it was live, and the experience is simply much better. The lack of commercials creates a better flow, the picture is sharper, and I can watch as much as I want whenever I want. Perhaps the best part is that the uninterrupted versions run 22 or 43 minutes (depending on its original length), which is a perfect bite-sized chunk of entertainment. I can't always find the time to watch a movie--but I can usually set aside less than an hour to watch some Battlestar Galactica or Arrested Development.
Speaking of Galactica, there's only one bad part to it: thanks to this show, I will either have to reserve my Fridays or get a Tivo. I've watched the previous two seasons over the last couple weeks, and it is phenomenal. The acting is uniformly quality, the production doesn't cut any corners, and the themes are more subtle and human than most science fiction--or most television, period--ever manages.
In contrast, (sacrilege alert!) I don't understand the fuss behind Firefly. I'm only a few episodes in, but I doubt I'll make it through the whole series. These are stock characters placed in uninteresting moral dilemmas, and the whole western theme is gratuitous (cheap production values don't help). I think Firefly makes a mistake common to sci-fi television: it assumes that we are more interested in clever devices and hypothetical problems than the people in front of the camera. Galactica's greatest strength is that its conflicts don't usually revolve around fighting Cylons. They involve power struggles, love triangles, and opposing philosophies--the kinds of bricks that great drama has been built from for centuries.