PRIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON 8/20/09
Back in July (of 2009), Brad Templeton published a VERY lengthy essay on his site about how the finale of the ne Battlestar Galactica is beyond a doubt the *WORST* ending in the history of any televised SF series ever.
I pretty much agree with him entirely in that regard, though I bristle at a few of the specific comments he makes in support of his conclusion. To put that another way, both he and I agree that it sucked, and we both basically agree about *why* it sucked, but he goes on to expand this in to underlying theories and rules about drama that I don’t feel are as universal as he does. I would strongly recommend everyone here who liked the new Galactica should go to his site and read the exhaustive essay now. Go ahead. Read it, or print it up for reading later, then come back here. I’ll wait.
Welcome back, assuming you checked it out. Assuming you’re one of the more common types who just ignored the link and kept reading, feh. I deride thee. Anyway, do read it later, ok?
Anyway, the art of Criticism is a delicate and subjective one, and it frequently tells us more about the critic than it does the art in question. If Aristotle doesn’t like Hamlet, it’s not because Hamlet is bad, but because he’s so invested in his half-assed theories about drama that he can’t or won’t wrap his brain around the format he’s being presented with. Likewise, if someone likes the ending of the new Battlestar Galactica, it’s not because the ending is actually good in any way, but that the critic is obviously hepped up on goofballs, or has perhaps taken a bad blow to the head.
Now I do believe that Mr. Templeton’s criticisms of the episode are pretty much spot on and perfect insofar as that goes, and I’ve got no question about that. He cites that most TV shows end badly, and it’s the nature of the medium, and that’s just the breaks. I agree with that. He even goes so far as to state that the ending of Babylon 5 (Which he repeatedly mistakenly refers to as “Babylon V”) was pretty good, though not up to the standards of the series as a whole (I agree), and wonders if the originally-intended ending might have been better (Unlikely, as we detail elsewhere on the site). He says he can’t think of a single ending for an SF show that really was a bang-up success. This tells us more about his own standards. For me, personally - as it seems only fair to play along - I can name three that are pretty solid endings: Babylon 5 (Which is far from brilliant, but has a solid emotional core that makes sense and works for me), The Prisoner (In which all the hell that has resisted breaking loose in the previous episodes finally breaks loose) and the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Despite the fact that I don’t like the show, and the final season entirely sucked, excepting the finale). This is neither here nor there, really, but if I’m going to comment on his criticisms, it seems only fair that you, the reader, have some idea where I’m coming from.
Mr. Templeton goes on to explain what Ronald D. Moore had hoped to accomplish with the new Galactica, and his own rules for the series, and then he explains how Moore ultimately broke all of them (Excepting the “No aliens” thing, kinda’ sorta’). He states that RDM gave us much that TV SF had never done before, including: “A mystery about the origins of society and its legends, and a mystery about a lost planet named Earth.” Well, I can cite several Twilight Zone episodes from the 60s that did the same thing, not to mention that this is exactly what the ORIGINAL Galactica was trying to do (1978/9). Claiming this is a first is either tendentious, or I’m misreading it. I’d also charge that it’s not the first show to have dark stories about interesting characters, or that it’s the first to give us “Artificial minds in humanoid bodies who were emotional, sexual, and religious.” Please. Mister Data, anyone? Or any of a long line of sexbots? I’ll give him the “Religious” angle of it - that is still a taboo on TV, and in SF in general, but two out of three are pretty much clichés.
I totally and