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Galatica Revisited, Part Two

I actually paused Battlestar Galactica partway through the second installment on my DirecTiVo and took a break, going to the computer to do some ranting. And I sat there totally overwhelmed by the death of the little girl, Cami, who was left behind as the Cylons attacked the remaining human spaceships. It was something about the way she was shown playing with her doll as her death approached.

I understand why the filmmakers might have put that in there -- to put a face on the tragedy of genocide, to weigh us down with the sorrow of the extinction of mankind -- but I am angry with them over it. Because I think -- and I thought this before I had kids and I think it even more now -- portraying the death of a child is a big gun, and you're only supposed to drag it out if you've got something big and important to tell us. If you've got some place you need to take us, some place we absolutely must see, then, yes, pull out the big gun. I'm thinking of "Schindler's List" here, for example. Because I accept being manipulated by the movies: That's what movies are for, to manipulate us. And there are times when that's good.

But Battlestar Galactica is not the right place to haul out the big guns. Battlestar Galactica is a cheap piece of escapist entertainment. Yes, maybe, in some strange universe, it could have been more. But it isn't now and never was. It's just a crappy "Star Wars" knock-off made to sell cereal to the kiddies. No big guns allowed. The filmmakers, they stepped over a line, and they knew they were stepping over it, and they did it anyway.

And that's just crass.

You might see the violent origin of the Battlestar Galactica series as a strength of the show. I see it as the big weakness, especially when used as background for a foreground containing Dirk Benedict and daggets. It's almost like setting Three's Company in Dachau. ("Come and knock on our cell door/We've been waiting for food....")

This amazingly irritating poster on the BG message boards -- he's one of those who posts empty messages because, I guess, his subject says it all or something -- suggests that the girl wasn't obliterated but was kidnapped. Same with the infant in Part 1. I think one of two things: Either that's reading way too much into the script (and giving the writers way more credit than they deserve -- I'd rather imagine they just never thought about continuity or sense); or, it is true, but the writers should have hinted at it better or explained it more in the miniseries rather than making us wait for the series.

Roger Ebert notes in his review of "Beyond Borders" that the image of a starving child in the arms of Angelina Jolie is way too serious and important to be used as a backdrop for a movie romance, which is what the film was about. A letter-writer noted that the child was created using computers and that this absolved the film of its responsibility; Ebert denied this, saying that movie images presented as real have their own reality. Or as he wrote: "Whether or not the baby is really a starving stick-figure, it looks like one, and the image itself is offensive in a movie that uses his suffering as a backdrop for movie stars in love. In this era of CGI, it's important to note that movie images have a reality of their own, apart from their sources."

I agree with this. Even if at some later point it turns out the children were not killed, from the point of view of just this miniseries, that's exactly what happened, and it's just too horrible for the flimsy skiffy dramedy to support.

The miniseries, truncated as it was, is just a trial balloon for a possible revival of the Galactica series; but I'd only watch the series to see about the dead kids. Beyond that, I have no interest in watching yet another shadowy, digital video, someone-gave-me-a-gravitas-enema skiffy series in world already overfull with same.

Here I'm lumping the latest Galactica in with both installments of Dune, the American Doctor Who, all the Buffy/Angel shows, The X-Files, the mass of X-Files rip-offs that once dominated the airwaves, Deep Space 9, Babylon 5, Andromeda, Farscape, Stargate, and Flapdoodle and Pisswhistle. I might even be tempted to throw in Hercules, Xena, and those shows Monty's always writing about. Alias, too, come to think of it. Smallville. Cleopatra 2525. And judging by the ads run during Galactica, SciFi's got a bumper crop coming up.

I could probably come up with more if I spent more time searching. I'm not sure what's current, though.

A bunch of these are no longer in production, and even if they all were they're still hardly a pimple on the big TV ass of cop and lawyer shows, but there are a lot of them around. And we don't need one more, especially an offensive one based on an inoffensive, childish series fondly remembered by its fans.


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