Tuesday, June 17, 2008
A few months ago, TH and I started watching Battlestar Galactica. We're a few episodes into the third season, and I'm starting to thinking it might be the best written show I've watched on a regular basis. It used to be Deep Space Nine, then the X Files, then Lost (which many would argue about after a year of button-pushing). And I'm pretty picky with what TV programming I'm willing to watch, since I gave up "watching tv" in the traditional sit-down-and-see-what's-on sense about five years ago. But in terms of telling compelling stories with characters you believe in doing things you believe in, it is light-years beyond even the other excellent shows I mentioned. I'm been thinking about why, since I have a bad habit of analyzing everything. TH says I need to know everything about everything. But to answer why, I think it's in the mistakes. Real people with good intentions make some really bad decisions quite often. Why do we still fight wars, see genocide, let people starve, destroy the environment for cash, etc.? It's not that the old folks "in charge" are bad people. It's usually well-intentioned bad decisions. Miyazaki plays off this all the time in his films with the very ambiguous "villains." By identifying with the villains, you feel the pain of what they do far more than you would if they were your typical "bad guy." BG writers know this. Most of the time, the human protagonists are those doing the most horrid things. And it makes it personal, and it sucks you in. You want them to come out ok, but like the real world, they come out scratched and bruised. So despite space travel by "jumping," characters who consort with manipulative mental antagonists and dialogue that includes the word "frak," you just buy right into the world.