I just finished the third season of Battlestar Galactica last night. This is my second viewing of the show from start to finish – the first time was during its original run on the Sci-Fi Channel (before it changed it’s name).
Even now, eleven years after it wrapped up, this show remains one of the best written and made TV shows. Its worst season is still leagues better than the best season of any other show. Having said that, the third season of Battlestar Galactica almost killed it for me again. I looked back at my original blog postings at that time and found that I had the same sentiments back then – and at that time, they almost caused me to stop watching the show.
Here’s the thing, the season is not bad, it’s just hard to watch. I’ll explain in the Spoilers section.
The season opens very slowly and very dry. I was surprised to find I felt the same way after watching originally in 2006. From my October 6, 2006 blog posting about the Season 3 premiere:
I just finished watching the two-hour season premiere of Battlestar Galactica and I have to say, I am a little disappointed. After a really nice change of pace at the end of last season, this season starts off a bit slow. This episode could have fit into an hour and a half. It seemed a bit drawn out and the pacing was way off. I am glad that they have taken the effort to try to explain everything for us – especially since the show jumped a year into the future last season and it looks like they have skipped another four months for the premiere. The problem is that the ground-based stuff is pretty dry. There is not much interesting on the ground. And there is not enough of of Battlestar Galactica in this episode – and especially not enough of Adama.
This time around, I felt the same. The New Caprica stuff was dull and they did a lot of setup in these episodes for the rest of the season: Baltar’s trial at the end, Tigh’s guilt over Ellen, Tory Foster taking over for Gaeta and the whole boring Apollo-Starbuck-Sam-Dee love square. The prison camp stuff, the rebel uprising and the secret informant stuff was not very interesting. The only good thing to come out of this part of the season was The Adama Manuever, still jaw dropping now seeing a Battlestar jump into atmosphere and drop like a rock while launching Vipers.
One of the things that made this season so hard to watch was Ronald D. Moore and his writers deliberately and blatantly adding flaws to all the characters in the show – driving me to dislike characters who are shown to do unforgivable things.
- The episode Hero (S03E08) and Crossroads (1) add flaws that are deep for Admiral Adama both from his past and the present.
- The episode The Woman King (S03E14) portrays almost all of the staff of the Galactica, except Helo, to be racist bastards.
- Starbuck goes from flawed troublemaker to being genuinely broken and borderline annoying at times. Her commitment issues are overused from start to finish and with no real payoff. Though, the episode Maelstrom (S03E17) does do a good job of bringing us back to liking her before killing her off.
- Roslin, already deeply flawed after her trying to steal the election in Season 2, shows she has no idea how to lead in difficult times in the episode Dirty Hands (S03E16) and it takes a mutiny to get her to see that she is wrong.
- We find out that the way that Galactica’s crew deals with interpersonal issues is to beat the crap out of each other in the episode Unfinished Business (S03E09), an episode that I watched twice – once as the broadcast version and once as the extended version. Neither are really worth the time.
Battlestar Galactica tackled a lot of the-current social issues in its episodes – and they were timely back then and remain timeless even now. The episode Taking a Breath from All Your Worries (S03E13) drew parallels with events prior to the time of the episode (US torturing of prisoners). But, even without that in mind, it does tackle questions about when it is and isn’t right to use torture to extract information. And while I think it was a powerful episode, it is too bad that the episode is also strapped with a B-story side plot dealing with Apollo and Starbuck’s relationship (or non-relationship).
That brings me to the whole Apollo-Starbuck-Sam-Dee love square that was completely unnecessary and a huge distraction for the whole season. Apollo and Dee have no chemistry. Starbuck and Sam have no chemistry. Apollo and Starbuck have no chemistry. Meh.
The season did wrap up nicely, even though I had to sit through the trial of Baltar which I found a bore. It wrapped up nicely because it setup the last season with huge potential. I read what I wrote on May 4, 2007 and my thoughts really haven’t changed since then. I was surprised I even complained about the Tigh/Adama and Tory/Roslin relationship back then – I was thinking just the same thing last night as the season wrapped up.
After a great start to the season, Battlestar Galactica seemed to have fallen into a rut. The midsection of season three of Battlestar Galactica was disappointing. I had a stack of episodes to watch after the series returned in January and I finally finished watching them all tonight. There are spoilers after this. The midsection and late section of the season really was not that great. The last episode was great. Ron Moore and his writing team have again changed the dynamics of the show with the last episode of the season. The sight of Starbuck returning was surprisingly happy (though in a shocking way). I am glad Moore and team did not go for a big “two years later” type jump as they did with the previous season’s closing episode. The exposing of the final five Cylons was something that I saw coming – and I did have my suspicions about Starbuck. The other four were pretty surprising to me. What does irk me is the coincidental nature of the positions of all two of the four Cylons: Colonel Tigh and Tory. How could the Cylons put together friendships like that so many years back? And have them last? What are the chances that these two models would be just in the right place at the right time? This goes double-true for Colonel Tigh. The coincidence of it all really stinks, but it all makes for good drama. So where does the show go from here? I can only imagine. I hope next season (in 2008) does a bit better in the middle than this season did. I feel that season three lost steam after the rescue from New Caprica – and it never did gain it back until the last episode of the season (though the episode where Starbuck goes down in a ball of flames was good). The new dynamics of the show, now that we know who all the models of Cylons are, should make for some genuine excitement. I hope that Ron Moore and team have some good stories to tell, and I hope they wrap up Battlestar Galactica soon. I don’t want this show to drag on season after season. They are getting near a point where I think the show can begin to wrap things up and end on a high note. Lets hope Earth is what everyone thought it would be.