Saturday, January 17, 2009

GALACTICA finally back!

I don't talk about TV or movie sf on this site very much. It's not what it's for.  I do want to make mention, however, of last night's long-awaited premiere of the final half-season of the brilliant Battlestar Galactica. Jeff and I were quite excited: it's our favorite show and one of the very few things on TV that we can enjoy together and make sort of an event around it.  Jeff does not consider himself a fan of sf.  He also doesn't have a lot of experience with reading any sf, and so (like most people really) thinks of "sci-fi" only in terms of movies and TV shows, most of which are garbage (take, for example, nearly the entire programming line-up of the SciFi Channel save for Galactica and one or two other things). So he explains to his mother who is also not a sci-fi fan and not a reader of it and who also hasn't seen this show, that she ought to Netflix it and watch it because she'd like it the way he does. Yeah, it's sci-fi, but it's good. I don't bother him too much about the fact that there is a wealth of really good and amazing sf in written form that he has never tried and probably had no interest in because of bad examples in other media. I'm just glad that he is as into to Galactica as I am and has probably become a bit more open-minded about the genre as a result (he's also a big fan of Heroes and follows that much more assiduously than I do). So it is with some bittersweetness that we welcome these final ten episodes.  When it's over, will Jeff and I drift apart on Friday nights once more?  Well, Caprica is on the way, and we have high hopes for it, so maybe not. 

We are also thrilled that (as revealed in the pre-season webisode series on the SciFi site) the Galactica creators have made the pretty much unprecedented-in-sci-fi-TV move of having a regular male character on the show be gay. Mr. Gaeta, always a fixture in the ship's CIC and an extremely important character during the New Caprica storyline, and Hoshi (his equivalent from the Pegasus before the merging of the crews) are indeed boyfriends. Science fiction on TV has usually been, unfortunately, a domain of of sexual stupidity. I assume that the producers of it don't want to risk freaking out what they assume to be their predominately young-to- middle-aged- male-will-never -ever-ever -get-laid demographic without knowing that a lot of the people who watch shows like this have probably also read a lot of books where these boundaries and taboos were explored and exploded decades ago. Even comic books have been way more progressive in dealing with sexual orientation than TV shows have. I was always a fan of Star Trek, but despite how supposedly forward-thinking and liberal that concept is, the producers of the various spin-off series always held firm against ever letting any gayness creep onto any of Trek's pristine starships. Producer Rick Berman did relent once during Next Generation's run and allow a story that was sort of an allegory about the issue and let Commander Riker to have a romance with a genderless person (who was plainly a woman). Later on Deep Space Nine, there was sapphic kiss scene (but one of the women had been a man in a previous Trill incarnation) which was supposed to knock everyone's socks off.  Not to sound sexist, but anymore you can't hardly turn around without seeing two women kiss on TV. It's just not groundbreaking and it really is just about titillating straight men. Seeing two dudes kiss on a sci-fi TV show, however, is a pretty big deal (even if it's so far not really on TV but just on the webisode). Cheers to Galactica for taking a swing at this.

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Anonymous said...

Of course Doctor Who is an acquired taste, but if you like it the episodes featuring Captain Jack are positive portrayals of a gay/bisexual character. Of course, it remains low key enough that the kids miss the implications.

Torchwood, the DW spin-off featuring Jack as the series lead, is a darker, sexier view on the DW universe (more Brit X-files than outer-space traveling) that is much more open about the orientation of the various characters.

It is watching Torchwood on BBC America that led to Graham Norton, a Brit evening talk show along the lines of Leno (but not like that at all). I just had to mention b/c it too is a great show, though not SF in the least.

And then there's Boston Legal... the greatest Star Trek series ever. :)

Christopher Fletcher said...

Yeah, you're definitely right about Jack on Doctor Who/Torchwood...I had forgotten about him. I haven't seen a lot of episodes of either of those shows (I always have my DVR collecting them and then never get around to actually watching them), but I seem to recall an episode of Doctor Who involving Jack where it was indicated that in the far future our contemporary notions of sexuality would be a thing of the past.

Anonymous said...

I really recommend watching Torchwood... start from the beginning and get to know the characters. At the start it seems like the standard Doctor Who goofiness (I love DW, btw), but as the show goes on it holds some great episodes and surprises.


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