Monday, February 26, 2007

President Roslin, Battlestar Galactica, 2005

I've been hearing about the new Battlestar Galactica as one of the best things on television for a few years, but I foolishly resisted the hype. I say foolishly because I responded to the show just as friends do when I try to tell them that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was brilliant: Whatever, dork.

Know thyself: Dork, geek, and now, Battlestar fan. The show won me over with its patience. The first half hour or so of the pilot episode is dedicated to slow, ordinary life, and yet it's filled with dread. Not suspense, exactly, but something thicker and deeper beneath the surface. The plot is this: Forty years ago, the humans defeated their creation, the Cylons; the Cylons left and haven't been seen since. Life is peaceful and good. The Galactica is about to be decommissioned. The moment, as more than one critic has pointed out, is Clintonian -- the Cold War is over, and things are ok but not grand, and something is missing, and we're worried that something bad may be coming. It's a period of exhuberance for most and White Noise anxiety for the few. The ranks of the latter include Edward James Olmos as the brooding old admiral of the Galactica, who, warns in his farewell speech that you can't escape your sins. The past isn't dead, it isn't even past. And so it is with the Cylons, who return to destroy the world.

But before that happens, the show features a series of moments as good as one of the best Buffy episodes ever, "The Body." We see a handsome middle aged woman waiting in an elegant but sterile room. Sun filters in through skylights; the atmosphere is wan. Who is she? What is she waiting for? When a doctor finally enters, it's so obvious that we barely need dialogue; and get almost none, as a space ship lumbers overhead, obscuring their words. Cut to a scene of the woman aboard a space ship, which looks -- deliberately -- just like an ordinary airplane; mundane. She is, we gather, a politican, but not a very important one. Just a functionary. Her aide, immediately recognizable as the kind of young earnest hack that trots around Capitol Hill, asks her a question. She cannot respond, flees to the bathroom. Unbuttons her jacket, grabs her chest, heaves with repressed grief and shock.

And that's about all we know of the death sentence, perphaps breast cancer, of the woman who is about to become president of the survivors of the Cylon attack (by virtue of her position as 43rd in succession, following the Cylon's nuclear attack). It's slow and painful and very real, perhaps all the more so for its contrast with the fantastical story. Indeed, it makes the fantastical story much sharpe -- the cancer dread, so understated, is real. So then might be our fear of the Cylons, who, after all, are a metaphor.

I'm not ready to say for what. I've only seen the pilot and one episode. The latter is a bit weaker. One of the strengths of the pilot was that the same quiet observation with which we attended the president's diagnosis marked the approach of the director to the inevitable space battles. Geeks know there's no noise in space, of course, so that wins the show some realism points. More importantly, it forces the viewer to provide the soundtrack; and the usual "action theme" won't suffice. In the silence we confront the fact that the good guys will rally like David fighting Goliath, but to no avail. They'll be destroyed like anyone who terribly underestimates their enemies.

Alas, the director evidently overestimated the average viewer. The first regular episode features laser guns a-blasting and Cylons droning in space battle, standard sci-fi theatrics. What's left -- what makes the program still so interesting -- are the actors, particularly the president (Mary McDonnell). She quietly suppresses the horror of their post-apocalyptic condition as she carries on with leading them to survival. It's the silent dread of the pilot episode's space battles, or of an ordinary, horrifying prognosis -- an emotion I haven't seen portrayed on television since Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Whatever, dork.


jdaviddark said...

So pleased to hear you praise BG so well. It is indeed a revelation.

Thanks for all the good work.

Daldude said...

Well, I've read 'KTB', and am a regular visitor to The Revealer, but this is the first time I've come to your blog, and here you are, talking about 2 of my all time favorite TV shows (BG and Buffy). Ya got yourself a new reader, for sure.

I definitely encourage you to watch the rest of the BG series - especially the beginning of season 3 (though it won't make much sense without having seen the preceding seasons).

Given your tastes, I'd also recommend the (sadly) short-lived "Firefly" series (and subsequent movie, "Serenity"), if you haven't already seen them. The series didn't have the chance to get as deep as Buffy, and is not as 'intellectual' as BG, but it's chock full Whedon's great writing (and influence on other writers), and that in itself makes it worthwhile...

Jeff Sharlet said...

David Dark: I'm a fan of your "Gospel According to America" (and I'm not even a Christian). Thanks for stopping by.

Daldude -- we're on the same page -- I love Firefly, and would even argue that it might be the more subtle show than Buffy. The broad strokes hide the really fundamental conflicts Whedon worked into the premise. What a sad thing that it didn't continue so we could see them explored.

Paul said...

Greetings from NZ, Jeff.
After stumbling across your wonderful Harper's columns -congratulations on the award, by the way- I have found myself reading more and more of your work lately.

As regards Battlestar, you're in for a treat; while the first episode "33" was a little weak, it returns to form for most of the first and second seasons.
I have found season 3 to be disappointing so far - I attribute this to the lesser involvement of creator Ronald D. Moore, who is spending his time working on a spin-off series "Caprica".

Another series he was heavily involved with that you may enjoy was named "Carnivàle".
The series is stunning, and, as with Buffy and Battlestar, is keenly aware of its set-pieces; somehow it knows how to tilt the board in just such a way as to make the game play out with actual artistic merit in a genre that was nearly empty of it.

I actually stopped watching television years ago... with Firefly and Battlestar, you have named two of the four series that I made exceptions for. (The others were The Sopranos and Carnivàle).

JTB said...

I'm so glad you have discovered BG. I rarely proselytize (for anything at all) but BG is an exception.

I am also really intrigued about the possible article mentioned in your Feb 15 post--on the Ray Kurzweil/Hans Moravec transhumanist stuff (if I am interpreting right). I am trying to get started on a dissertation on theology & the posthuman, and would love to swap ideas some time if you're willing.

Anonymous said...

i really love yr writing -- imho, yr about the best journalist writing now. but how the fuck can you like bg? i gave up after 5 episodes of jingoism, cliche, and simplistic exposition. starbuck & baltar are cool, but not enough. i like to think of myself as someone who can appreciate a story regardless of political angle, but bg may be the rare exception. too earnest, too trite, not challenging enough. or maybe it's just me.

Sunfell said...

I just found your blog via the "On the Media" connection. I was napping and woke up to hear the end of the "Religious Wrong" segment, but thank goodness for the instant gratification of podcasting.

I became a fan of yours from reading your "Harpers" articles, and "Jesus Plus Nothing" really got my attention, as did "Soldiers For Christ". I am looking forward to your upcoming book.

I love BG. It's edgy, contemporary, and could only have been done right as a post 9/11 kind of story. I just read that the fourth season (premiering in January '08) will be the last.

And I love "Firefly", too.

Jeff Sharlet said...

Thanks, Sunfell. I hope you're right about the fourth season -- I'm halfway through the third and feeling a little disappointed. I was impressed that the show was willing to make the humans the metaphor for the Iraqi insurgents, but one for one analogies fall a little flat, I think, and so far the season has lost steam since leaving New Caprica behind. Maybe there are interesting things ahead.

Thanks to the other commentators, too. JTB, I've shelved the Moravic/Kurzweil story for the time being -- Moravic wouldn't even talk to me, and I just don't see the developments around which a general interest story could be framed. But maybe down the road.

Anonymous: I thought the same when I watched just a couple of episodes from the second season, but when I started from the beginning, the show improved tremendously. I don't see the jingoism -- it's as morally ambiguous as anything on television.

Anonymous said...

We specialize in laptop battery,laptop AC adapters. All our products are brand new, with the excellent service from our laptop battery of customer service team.
the most convenient and cheap replacement battery online shop in uk. We specialize in laptop batteries,laptop AC adapters. All our akku are brand new, with the excellent service from our customer service team.
the most convenient and cheap replacement battery online shop in uk. We specialize in laptop batteries,laptop AC adapters. All of batteries are brand new, with the excellent service from our customer service team, you can feel free to purchase on laptop battery!
Here is cheap laptop ac adapter online shop in uk. We specialize in laptop AC adapters. All our au battery are brand new, with the excellent service from our customer service team.

Kayla said...

Burberry polo shirt because of the warm clothing comfortable who gets gradually the favour of athletes idiosyncratic, again soon in the football players in the star girlfriend and music. Ed hardy clothes in Hollywood is a very popular brand hot. Want to wholesale handbags from online stores. Babolat aeropro drive Racquets is Nadal's babolat tennis racket used. In many places to be able to buy cheap tennis racquets. These cheap jacket are on sale now. the Puma basket will make you feel very relaxed when you play basketball. If you want to buy the Cheap puma shoes shoes ,you can buy them online. Burbrery Polos of in the future I’m sure. Many ed hardy shirtsdesigns are more or less the same with each other.

Kayla said...

The article written by your very good, I like it very much. I will keep your new article. This is my web site, we do China Wholesale, wholesale from china, buy products wholesale , China Wholesalers, who are interested, you are welcome to look at.

barry said...

laptop parts
laptop battery
battery acer
battery apple
battery asus
battery compaq
battery dell
battery hp
battery ibm
battery lg
battery sony
battery toshiba

adapter acer
adapter apple
adapter asus
adapter compaq
adapter dell
adapter fujitsu
adapter gateway
adapter hp
adapter ibm
adapter liteon
adapter samsung
adapter sony
adapter toshiba

keyboard apple
keyboard acer
keyboard compaq
keyboard dell
keyboard fujitsu
keyboard gateway
keyboard hp
keyboard samsung
keyboard sony
keyboard toshiba

barry said...

lcd screen
106-inch lcd screen-
133-inch lcd screen-
89-inch lcd screen-
140-inch lcd screen-
141-inch lcd screen-
150-inch /lcd-panel-
154-inch /lcd-panel-
170-inch /lcd-panel-

a1181 lcd screen
LP154WX4 lcd screen
DELL Inspiron 6000 lcd screen
LP133WX1 lcd screen
LP171WP4 lcd screen
LTN154X3 lcd screen
LP141WX3 lcd screen
LP171WU1 lcd screen
LTN141W3 lcd screen
HP Pavilion DV6000 ac adapter
LP141WX1 ac adapter

PA3467U-1ACA ac adapter
adp-65hb ac adapter
HP ZV5000 ac adapter
325112-001 ac adapter
DELL INSPIRON 1000 ac adapter
PA-1650-02 ac adapter
SADP-65KB ac adapter
CA PA3396U-1A ac adapter

barry said...

DC359A ac adapter
402018-001 ac adapter
PA-1700-02 ac adapter
PA-1650-01 ac adapter

PA3469U-1ACA ac adapter
Dell Latitude D600 ac adapter

AL1714 ac adapter
AL1913 ac adapter
PA-1900-02D2 ac adapter
PA-1900-02D ac adapter
PA3283U-2ACA ac adapter
Dell Inspiron 1501 ac adapter
HP Pavilion ZV6000 ac adapter
HP Pavilion DV1000 ac adapter
PA-1650-02 ac adapter
6020GZ ac adapter
Dell Inspiron 1100 ac adapter
PPP017L ac adapter
VGN-BX168GP ac adapter
Acer Aspire 3000 ac adapter
Dell Inspiron E1505 ac adapter

barry said...

Compaq 371785-001 battery
Gateway MX3562 adapter
DELL 710M battery
Gateway CX2610 adapter
Gateway M320 adapter
Gateway CX200X adapter
Gateway CX2618 adapter
Compaq Presario M2000 Adapter
Gateway 4540GZ adapter
Gateway M500 adapter
Gateway 3040GZ adapter
HP DV9000 Lcd
MK911 adapter
PA-1900-05C1 adapter
HP DV1000 Adapter
hp 375143-001 adapter
B154EW01 lcd screen
Apple M8943LL/A Adapter
Gateway CX2608 adapter
Dell Latitude D610 Adapter

传斌 said...

replica Watches
replica Watches
replica Watches
fake Watches
knockoff Watches
replica Rolex Watches
replica Breitling Watches
replica Cartier Watches
replica Omega Watches
replica Tag Heuer Watches
replica Bell & Ross Watches
replica Panerai Watches
replica IWC Watches
replica Patek Philippe Watches
replica Chopard Watches
replica Gucci Watches
replica Corum Watches
replica Montblanc Watches
replica Jacob & Co Watches
replica A.Dunhill Watches
replica A.Lange & Sohne Watches
replica Alain Silberstein Watches
replica Audemars Piguet Watches
replica B.R.M Watches
replica Baume & Mercier Watches
replica Blancpain Watches
replica BMW Watches
replica Breguet Watches
replica Burberry Watches
replica Bvlgari Watches
replica Chronoswiss Watches
replica Concord Watches
replica D&G Watches
replica De Witt Watches
replica Dior Watches

Anonymous said...

Replica Handbags
Fake Handbags
Knockoff Handbags

Replica Louis Vuitton Handbags
Replica Gucci Handbags
Replica Chanel Handbags
Prada Handbags
Replica Fendi Handbags
Replica Dolce Gabbana Handbags
Replica Chloe Handbags
Replica Jimmy Choo Handbags
Replica Thomas Wylde Handbags
Replica MiuMiu Handbags

Replica Balenciaga Handbags
Replica Coach Handbags
Replica Lancel Handbags
Replica Hermes Handbags
Replica Marc Jacobs Handbags
Replica Anya Hindmarch Handbags
Replica YSL Handbags
Replica Mulberry Handbags
Replica Givenchy Handbags
Replica Valentino Handbags
Replica Versace Handbags
Replica Cartier Handbags
Replica Marni Handbags
Replica Bottega Veneta Handbags
Replica Loewe Handbags
Replica Kooba Handbags

Replica Bally Handbags
Replica Burberry Handbags
Replica Christian Dior Handbags
Replica Juicy Couture Handbags
Replica Ferragamo Handbags
Replica Celine Handbags

tolerance said...

naruto cosplay
cosplay naruto
cheap cosplay
anime cosplay
anime cosplay costumes
wholesale costume
cosplay costumes
Japanese School Uniform
Final Fantasy Cosplay
Bleach Cosplay
Kingdom Hearts Cosplay

Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

Anonymous said...

Do You interesting how to [b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=][b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also you can find on our sites.
Generic Viagra is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.

longge said...

Who said dreams can't be bought? Tiffany is nothing but a glowing diamond ring having bases in platinum or gold with a six prong arrangement that elevates the stone to get more exposure of light into it to get ultimate radiance that looks simply marvelous. So, it is the perfect expression of one's love and dedication that lasts really long and ever.Due to its specialty and internal flame, silver bracelets are getting its place in the hearts of its wearers and admirers. They are just mind blowing and look extremely superb in their design. More and more couples are moving towards this Tiffany bracelets for their pre-wedding celebrations.