After a long hiatus, the final season of Battlestar premieres tonight. I’ll be the first to admit that, while I like the new Battlestar, it isn’t my favorite TV show by a long shot. It’s often good TV, and it’s obviously trying really hard, but I feel like the underpinnings of the story are all over the place.
That isn’t necessarily a failing on their part, since it generates a lot of good episodes, and means they aren’t stuck trying to figure out how to show the whole show in reverse if they found that they’ve driven down a storyline that turns out to be a dead end.
But when you try to put their whole “big arc” thing together in a cohesive meta-story it ends up being a sort of mish-mash of different plotlines. They’re trying to get to Earth, or something, to save it and/or them from the Cylons, or something… Right?
It doesn’t really make that much sense, and I have a feeling it’s only going to make a little bit more once the big secrets are all out out on the table.
Here’s a really well done, eight minute long, “catch-up” that someone created, that hits the high points, but also, I think, reveals the weaknesses as well:
I think there’s a a trick to open-ended shows like this, and Lost, which is that you keep the “villains” motivations secret for as long as you possibly can, so that at some point you can surprise the audience by revealing they weren’t really ever as evil as they appeared to be.
There’s nothing wrong with doing that, and it can be really effective since it forces the audience to go back and re-evaluate everything they’ve seen before. But you need to be careful, because it means you have to write around one of the things that are usually the spine of a good story. And in Battlestar the “bad guys” already aren’t all that bad, and they aren’t all that different from the “good guys” who already aren’t all that good.
Whatever it is, it’s working well enough that I’ll still be watching the premiere tonight.