Tuesday, December 27

Battlestar Galactica on TV & the Web

Space Opera Targets Audience in Cyberspace
“Battlestar” Hits with Fans & Critics

Now that Santa has dropped off new video iPods to the masses you can expect more and more networks to take a page from
Sci Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica. In addition to selling episodes on iTunes (and marketing the first season on DVD so quickly), the show’s producers broke ground when they started regular commentary podcasts about episodes featuring Galactica EP Ronald Moore (a move mimicked later by the Lost crew).

Now Galactica is breaking with old media again in providing Sci Fi Channel's half-hour Inside: Battlestar Galactica special FREE on iTunes. The special was clearly produced for the television audience as it has obvious transitions for commercial breaks (it begins airing on TV on January 2). However, the network has broken with tradition by pitching the special free on the ‘net as a way to set up the January 6 premiere of Galactica.

Meanwhile, Time magazine has named the show its top pick of television for 2005. Fans like myself recognized from the beginning that this show was so beyond the original, 70s comic book Battlestar. This Galactica is far darker with a gritty, grown up approach to the genre supported by excellent writing and storytelling weaved with wonderful plots, subplots and twists. This show builds a mythology in a far more rewarding way than any other show but as equally suspenseful as Lost. Its stories are timely, powerful, provocative and well worth your your time.

Galactica is a ripping sci-fi allegory of the war on terror, complete with religious fundamentalists (here, genocidal robots called Cylons), sleeper cells, civil-liberties crackdowns and even a prisoner-torture scandal.”

Now half way through its sophomore season where so many shows tend to drag, the writing is just as perfect. The characters have evolved in unexpected directions and the storyline remains dynamic and edgy.

I was truly ticked off at Sci Fi when it cancelled by prized Farscape a few years ago, but with Galactica (which the Sci Fi Channel slyly field tested first as a mini-series remake before launching as a series) all is forgiven with the network.

Galactica is one of the networks highest-rated shows and clearly its best-reviewed. It clealry has a viable future on the Internet and on TV (I wish the same could be said for my number two favorite show Arrested Development).

Galactica’s innovations with iPod long before ABC and NBC scrambled to provide pay per episodes of mainstream shows illustrates a commitment the producers have made to maintaining and keeping one of the best dramatic series on television and the web. It’s clearly a sign that science fiction niche audience has developed beyond the Star Trek generation thanks to new media.

An afterthought--
Don't be alarmed by my contrast of Lost with Galactica. I'm a fan of Lost. I'm just often frustrated because the show refuses to give up its mysteries and what is presented is often unsatisfying but at the same time compelling. It's the same thing that grabbed me and made me a fan of Alias but the final two seasons have left me cheated with shoddy resolutions and storylines as was the case in the final seasons of The X-Files).

Lost has excellent writing and ambiguous stories. The show also features one of the truly most diverse casts on television today (which goes to show you can address diversity on television effectively and counter cultural stereotypes). Lost has also continued to evolve in its second season as a bigger and better show. It deserves recognition as one of the best shows currently on TV-- however, I think the people at Time may suffer from Lost burnout.

No comments: