One week from now, we will be witness to a great thing. The premiere of the fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica. This is the sort of thing you’ll tell your children about. Even if you don’t watch it now, you’ll want to retcon your memories so you can claim you were always a fan.
Why is BSG great? Because it’s the only science fiction show that isn’t a science fiction show. Unlike Star Trek, Stargate SG-1, etc., BSG isn’t a science fiction show set in space.
“What?!” you say. “Of course it is. They have space ships. And robots. And … and …” No, it doesn’t. BSG is a drama that happens to be set in space. The issues it deals with are the same issues we face today—in fact, the show is a thinly-veiled critique on controversial contemporary issues, particularly the war in Iraq. The conflicts the characters deal with, especially the morally ambiguous questions that arise as a result of a prolonged war, are relevant to us in every way. All they do is remove it one step from us, putting it in space. The technology isn’t even that much different. You’ve got guns, not lasers, phones, not communicators.
So if you look past the brittle sci-fi exterior into the heart of the show, which is the characters and the drama they face, you’ll see something that anyone can watch. It’s real. It’s edgy. It doesn’t hold back. The writing is amazing; the acting is amazing, and the plot twists keep you wondering what will happen next.
Am I sad the show is ending after four seasons? Yes. Am I enraged, like I am about jPod? Not at all. In fact, the show’s creators say they are totally behind this decision, and I agree with their reasoning: they want BSG to end while it’s great. Because they have a goal (finding Earth), logically the story has a conclusion (hopefully involving the arrival at Earth!). So now it’s a matter of getting us there in the best, most entertaining, most breathtakingly awesome way possible.
Don’t let us down, guys. You have a huge audience watching. And some of us may be Cylons.
Many of us are lucky to live in a country that allows us to claim “freedom”—freedom of expression, freedom from persecution, freedom to assemble, protest, etc. Sometimes we take that freedom for granted. Sometimes, we forget that most of the world doesn’t share this precious resource—or if they do, it comes with strings attached.
I’ve been watching the situation in Tibet unfold over the past several days. And I can’t help but think: that could be me. If my situation were just a little different, if I had been born elsewhere or if our government changed … that could easily be me.
Could it? Am I talking crazy? Maybe, but then something like this happens and reminds me how fragile the Internet is. The Internet is the information age’s symbol for freedom and democracy. It is the “great equalizer” that allows everyone to have his or her say. Sites like YouTube and Digg put the power in the hands of the users, letting them get their content out to the world. But as conceptually liberal as the Internet is, it is still at the mercy of corporations and governments who control the network infrastructure and software that keeps it going. You may think you‘re free, but you aren’t.
So what if we weren’t free? Would you, if you lived without freedom of speech—if you could be arrested for writing a blog entry that criticizes your government—rise up against the government? I‘m not necessarily talking violence here. Even just passive resistance. Or would you just accept this new way of life and go on living? I don’t know. I would very much like to say that I would fight against the oppression of free speech, but if that meant losing all the stuff that’s normal to me, maybe even becoming a fugitive or being incarcerated for decades … I can’t say with certainty I’d do it. I‘d like to think I would, but I don’t know.
Don’t take your freedoms for granted just because they’re written down on an ageing piece of paper preserved in a museum. Don’t get complacent. Freedom is precious. Live it.
Yesterday marked the 3 week countdown to the end of the term. After that I have 4 exams, and then I am officially done my first year of university! It’s a strange feeling. I’m hard at work on my end-of-term assignments: an English essay, a book review for sociology, a small Rhetoric essay, and my regular math assignments. Those are going pretty well. I’m almost finished the rough draft of my English essay; I just need to make sure I start my sociology review in time to get it done comfortably and not leave it until, say, four days before the end of the term (like … last time…).
Arthur C. Clarke died yesterday. It’s kind of weird. He was 90, of course, but he was around for so long that you just sort of got comfortable with him being around, eh? Like Isaac Asimov, he was one of the science fiction giants who pioneered the field, steering it to its heights of greatness. His stories inspired me—particularly “The Nine Billion Names of God” and “The Star”, even though I’m not a religious person. But he led a long, distinguished life, and now he gets a rest.
You’re scanning a room full of people. Suddenly, there it is. Your eyes have caught those of another person, maybe someone far across the room. For a moment, you stare at each other. You wonder: is he staring at me? Am I staring at her? Which one of us started this? Then, just as quickly, you lose focus. You resume your scanning. The moment you shared collapses in on itself, and the night goes on.
In other news, Harper is suing the Liberal Party for libel. Only in Canada, eh!
Stargate: The Ark of Truth came out on DVD today, so I went right to Future Shop after class to buy it. Yes, MGM tells me to buy something, and I buy it. I am such a franchise junkie.
Obligatory spoiler warning here. Read more and feel the wrath of the Ori—oh wait….
I’m so satisfied. It took ten years to get here, but every step of the way was totally worth it. I was initially upset, but quickly resigned, to Stargate SG-1’s cancellation. They were kind of running out of apocalypses after all—and the recent terrible writing on Stargate Atlantis seems to reinforce that fact. That doesn’t mean I was going to ignore the direct-to-DVD sequels MGM wanted to produce, especially because the writers deliberately left the Ori saga half-concluded. More SG-1? Yes please.
Overall, I loved it. The dialogue among the SG-1 characters is just so satisfying; they are so comfortable with each other. Since the series has such a rich universe and backstory, it allows the writers to tie together elements that may once have been disparate, and even expands their creativity by giving them a better canvas. Yes, they brought back the replicators, but it was a temporary appearance—I would have been irked if the replicators became the villain once again—and I think that it served its purpose. The plot was intriguing, with just enough twists to keep me going and not too many to make me think, “This is utterly illogical.” There were a few parts I didn’t like, though.
What was up with the deus ex machinae? (Is that the plural form? I’ve never had to use it before.) Firstly, let me say that I realize the dilemma of the writers—of anyone who is writing a story involving interaction between humans and semi-omnipotent, nearly-cosmic beings like the Ancients/Ori. Morgan Le Fay healed Teal‘c after he was somewhat badly injured, then proceeded to toy with Daniel. Just make your mind already! It was Oma Desala versus Anubis all over again. When it comes to people like Teal’c miraculously surviving being shot, of course, it’s a good thing that the bad guys want to capture the good guys all the time. If the objective were to merely kill the good guys—well then, our series would be much shorter. When I am an evil overlord, I promise to summarily execute all good guys, starting with the ones who make the most defiant wisecracks.
Speaking of wisecracks, where’s O’Neill?! Richard Dean Anderson was—and is—the best part of Stargate SG-1; without him, it isn’t really “SG-1”, just “Stargate.” I understand his reasons for leaving the show, and seasons 9 and 10 were not terrible. But I miss him, and I hope he makes guest appearances in future SG-1 features.
But the best part of the show was just being immersed in that universe again. Stargate has a special place in my heart among various other science fiction series because of the way it successfully combines science fiction technology—wormholes, alien civilizations, starships, etc.—with present day humanity. Unlike Star Trek, it isn’t set far in the future when we’re used to having advanced technology at our disposal. Even now that Earth does have space travel technology in the form of the Prometheus-class cruisers, the characters bring that very contemporary element into the show with pop culture references and dialogue. Mitchell exemplifies this best at the beginning as he takes command of the Odyssey and says, “Weapons to maximum.” Major Marks plays the straight man: “Sir?” “Just make it go!” This isn’t Captain Kirk comfortably in command of the Enterprise—it’s an Air Force officer, who happens to be used to dealing with alien situations, nervously assuming command of a huge battlecruiser about to take a trip to another galaxy. Stepping into this universe that is so much like our own, yet slightly different, is very rewarding.