I hate saying it as much as you hate me for saying it, but it’s true. In what should be the best of its seasons, Battlestar Galactica’s final batch of episodes has been mostly dreadful.
Maybe I wouldn’t complain so much were it not for another show that is making its peers pale in comparison. The show you should be watching: Lost.
Further thoughts (and some spoilers) after the break.
First of all, let me make clear that I love Battlestar Galactica. It’s one of the greatest genre dramas ever. But that’s not to say it hasn’t had its flaws–and those must be recognized. The story is enthralling, but the show’s craft at telling that story has been spotty. The main points of the story are clear and compelling, but many of the details (especially those related to prophecy and visions) are convoluted to the point of approaching the X-Files record-setting level of convolutedness. Major characters behave inconsistently, flip-flopping opinions and relationships seemingly at random (Lee/Bill, Starbuck/Apollo, etc.). And the worst sin of all, manifested in the first few episodes of this final season, is squandering these last precious hours with boring and inconsequential navel-gazing on the part of the main characters.
The low point for me was a couple episodes ago, where Anders–after being shot in the head–finally reveals some of the show’s big secrets. So why am I complaining? Because all these great secrets were revealed through ham-handed exposition. After all the opportunities they had to uncover secrets on Earth or other locations, the big reveal comes via a conversation in a hospital bed. Ridiculous and disappointing.
Look, there’s still time to turn it around. If the final four episodes (and subsequent TV movie) wrap up the burning questions and generally kick butt, the legacy of BSG will be secure and you can call me a jackass. But even if it finishes in a blaze of glory, I’d argue that the show wasn’t as great as it could have been.
As I said before, the show that is ruling the airwaves this year is Lost. I’m the first to say that this series has had its ups and downs (season one rocked, season two sucked, season three was so-so, season four was good), but since premiering its fifth season it has absolutely been on fire. Lost, in its second-to-last season, has the things I was expecting BSG to offer in every one of its final episodes: exciting revelations about some of its key mysteries, throwing shocker after shocker to the audience in a way that makes them squeal with delight. (Okay, I admit that I squeal with delight. Out loud.)
Shocked as I am to say it, it feels like the writers of Lost know exactly where they want to take their show while the guys behind BSG are well, lost. I certainly hope I’m proven wrong.
But I don’t want you to think I’m just being harsh on BSG. Another show that should hang its head in shame is Heroes. I thought the last volume (“Villains”) brought some life back to the show, aside from the horrible waste of Papa Petrelli’s unsatisfying demise. The current volume, “Fugitives,” has been floundering. Sylar with a teen sidekick? Noah back into a clone of his previous job? Claire back to being a whiny teen? Nathan a jackass yet again? Please.
Look, we want Peter to have his powers back so that he can once again be the counterpoint to Sylar. We want the characters to have learned something from all they’ve been through. We want cool super-powered fights. And we want to show to stop leaning on the stupid draw-the-future power as its main method of framing conflict. (What the hell was that wedding in India about, anyway?)
Oh, and Dollhouse. I love Joss Whedon’s work, but this show won’t last long unless Fox is committed to keeping it on life support. There is certainly potential in the story arc, but the character of Echo has been portrayed as little more than a victim in both episodes we’ve seen so far. She better start kicking ass soon, or the public will never connect to her.
Finally, I’ll mention Legend of the Seeker. I read a promishing article about the show before it premiered, only to see the pilot which was dreadful. But I had some of the subsequent episodes playing in the background as I did other things and found myself enjoying them. It’s still by no means great, but it might shape up into something worthwhile.
I love it that there is a strong (or potentially strong) crop of fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural shows on right now. But loving these genre shows doesn’t mean we should hold them to lower standards. We need more great TV, and BSG and its cohorts need to work even harder to earn legitimacy in the eyes of the often narrow-minded public.