Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Absolutely Frak-Tastic!

I could fill five blog posts as to why "Battlestar Galactica" is the best show on TV right now, and still barely scratch the surface.

Layers upon layers of depth in the writing, great casting and great storytelling make this show an absolute compulsion to watch.

The Lords of Cobol smiled upon me yesterday with an advanced copy of this week's season premiere (Sci-Fi, Fri., 10 p.m.) and for those BSG fans complaining about the length of time they've had to wait for it, all I can say is: it's well worth the wait.

If you need refreshing on what's been happening through the course of the series, Sci-Fi is airing reruns from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. every day this week, but here's a quick refresher from last season's finale:

--Baltar was found not guilty of betraying humanity and spirited off by a group of women.
--Roslin has informed the fleet that her cancer has returned.
--The fleet is under attack by a massive Cylon force.
--Starbuck appears in the final few seconds, back apparently from the dead, telling Apollo that she's been to Earth and will lead humanity there.
--And, oh yeah, four key characters - Anders, Tigh, Tyrol and Tori - all hear Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" and discover they are four of the five unknown Cylon units.

There's some serious stuff going on.

Sci-Fi asked critics not to give away spoilers for the premiere, which I would never do anyway, so all of you will have plenty of opportunities to scream "What the frak!?" at your TV?

You will be doing that A LOT.

This is what I can say about the premiere:

--Baltar has more luck than anyone in the fleet; the lovely women who rescued him after the trial are essentially Baltar groupies.
--The action picks up this season literally about three seconds after last season's finale.
--Starbuck offers a partial explanation as to what she thinks happened to her; not many people are willing to believe her.
--Apollo makes a decision about his future in the fleet.
--The identity of the final 12th Cylon model isn't revealed.

This last item is especially important, because based on the opening credits, that will seemingly be a looming question for both the humans and the Cylons for much of the final season.

Just from my own speculation - and this comes from watching the entire series, not just the season premiere - the three likeliest candidates for the No. 12 unit are:

--Starbuck. It doesn't spoil anything to say that when a character presumed dead returns, an awful lot of people are going to speculate that she's a Cylon. And for some of the things the premiere answers about her disappearance, even more questions are raised.
--Baltar. Why does he continue to get so lucky, and is it luck? Why do he and Six continue to see visions of each other? Baltar himself has questioned whether he is a Cylon, and has never gotten a satisfactory answer.
--Roslin. True, having cancer would seem to indicate she is human, but the vision she had in last season's finale that she shared with both Boomer and Six may indicate a closer connection to the Cylons than she thinks.
--None of the above. Most of the Cylon models that have appeared in the fleet have been seeming background characters, so it may not be one of the stars of the show.

When it's on its game (about 99.9 percent of the time), "BSG" is what science fiction should be: a terrific commentary on modern society, and an examination of the human condition in other-than-normal circumstances.

For me, the best episodes have centered around how humanity must conduct itself to survive. Roslin has to outlaw abortion not because of religious beliefs, but because there are only 40,000 humans left in existence and they need to make babies in order to survive as a species.

Or, as Tyrol points out, humans are training their children to take over their jobs because they are essential to the survival of the human race. But by working on a fuel ship, that's all those children can ever be. Humanity, through its effort to survive, is essentially creating a class of slaves.

I even feel it when a Viper pilot is killed, because that's one less Viper now at Adama's disposal, and one less trained person to defend the fleet. There are no replacements coming.

My final comment on the "BSG" premiere is to watch it on the biggest screen possible. The effects sequence during the opening of the episode is major motion picture quality, and the better the TV, the more enjoyable it will be.

And you will enjoy it, trust me.

AROUND THE DIAL: I neglected to lavish praise upon "How I Met Your Mother," which may have had its best episode of the season on Monday. Fans should check out for more fun. From the NCAA brackets to the "Doogie Howser" tribute, HIMYM showed once more why it's TV's best sitcom. Also, expect an appearance from James Van Der Beek later this season.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: CBS, which has been quicker out of the post-strike gates with new episodes than any other broadcaster, returns two more of its crime dramas tonight with "Criminal Minds" at 9 p.m. and "CSI: NY" at 10 p.m.

"Men In Trees" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is new tonight as well. Enjoy it while you can, because this doesn't look good for renewal.

Finally, the PBS special, "Caring For Your Parents" has gotten some critical praise, and may be worth checking out. It's on at 9 p.m.


zodin2008 said...

Sorry for the late response but your column gets me even more excited for tomorrow night's season premier.

And I think the 12th Cylon won't be any of the 3 you named.

Phillip Ramati said...

So, who do you think the No. 12 will be?