Sunday, April 27, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: Best Television Since Carnivàle?

I am sorry that there was a pause in Film Week, but we are back on. The reson for the pause is stated explicitly in the title for this post, and to answer the above question, oh good God yes. Formally chalk this one down as number 12 on the list of ATY's non-hierarchical (except Fawlty Towers) watchable television. A strong addition, especially coming so soon after Firefly. So let's get the Film Week rolling again with a review of the miniseries/backdoor pilot/first episode/mind-blowing, ravenous television.

Pilot Review: Why did I pick up BSG at the rental store on Friday? Because about 80 people have told me that I need to watch this show. Now you can imagine the range of personalities, interests, and hobbies those 80 people have had, and so I figured that I had to at least taste it. So I watched it yesterday. IT IS A BAD IDEA TO WATCH THIS NOW IF YOU ARE IN SCHOOL. WAIT UNTIL SUMMER LEST YOU END UP LIKE ME. Well, now that that's out of the way, let's move onto the show, shall we?

What I like best about BSG is what Morgan said the other night: "It's not about space. It's about these people and the fact that they are in space is background." Yes, and this 3 hour and 3 minute pilot is most of that background. But after the first hour and a half, it starts to get into the groove that the show takes on so effectively. But this isn't all.

What I like best about BSG is the camera. I was trying to figure out why this show consumed a weekend of mine (8 episodes today, more tomorrow as soon as the video stores open up again) and you know I hit on some of the normal stuff for me:

1. The acting is solid, especially Katee Sackhoff. So much depth to her acting.
2. The plot is good, as is the writing and the dialog.
3. Art direction is superb, with everything making a certain sort of sense and the continuity is almost perfect.

But what really struck me was the camera. Let me just point out two obvious facts: the camera work is done by the same group that did Firefly, and the camera gets hit with debris and goes spinning off into space within the first five minutes. Now that is good. The zooms, cuts, angles, frames - the camera work sucks you into the film more than the three elements above do. And sucked in is a very good way to put it. The camera doesn't tell you more about a scene but for a couple of times; it raises questions. It forces you to re-evaluate your relation to the story in the same way Blade Runner's camera work did. Similarly, it doesn't let legibility get in the way of communication. It is superb.

In short, the show must be watched, or waded through depending on your perspective. The first hour and a half was good, not great, but the second hour and a half took my breath away. Now I can't stop. And that's what good television and good books do to me: I can't put them down.

1 comment:

Collin said...

I think the same 80 people have been on to me, too, and I've yet to watch a single episode. I've added the show to my Netflix queue. I'm sure I'll love it. Right now, I'm on a total Doctor Who trip.