Monday, October 23, 2006

The Geek Comes Forth...

Battlestar Galactica

Holy cow (or frack, if you prefer). Friday's episode was just incredible and really showed the epic nature of the show. From the Galactica jumping into New Caprica's orbit and then jumping back out in one of the coolest FX shots I've seen to the Pegasus suprisingly/unsuprisingly showing up to save the day and ultimately being destroyed and taking out two basestars with it. Adama (Edward James Olmos) shaves the mustache, (President?) Roslin (Mary McDonnell) is back on Colonial One and things seem to be as they should be, except....

Ellen Tigh died because of her collaboration with the Cylons and her husband Colonel Saul Tigh had to kill her in what maybe is the emotional touchpoint of the entire series and some incredible Emmy worthy acting from Michael Hogan. Kara Thrace (Starbuck), the abused fighter jock, had to give away a piece of her soul to her captor Leoben in order to save her daughter, who it turns out was not actually her daughter. There are collaborators from the Cylon occupation that made it back to the Galactica and they will have to be dealt with in some way...

Galatica is hitting emotional resonances that you just don't expect a TV show to hit and I'm really enjoying the ride so far.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Look, here's the thing. I expected to have a show to watch on Monday nights, but I really expected it to be Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which I still watch, and both the acting and the writing are really good, but I don't like it as much as the two previous Sorkin shows (The West Wing and the criminally underwatched SportsNight). Maybe the characters aren't as likeable or interesting. Maybe the stories aren't as good. Maybe I don't care as much about the behind the scenes approach to a late night comedy sketch show as I did about the White House or SportsCenter. Whatever the reason, Studio 60 just isn't working for me.


What is working for me and has become Monday night appointment TV is Heroes. In this show, evolution is happening. People are changing. Ordinary people have powers that are extraordinary.

An oily politician can fly. His brother seems to be able to absorb other powers. A comic book geek from Japan can stop time and teleport himself to the other side of the world. An internet stripper has a strange and violent alternate personality. A high school cheerleader is literally indestructible. A California cop can read minds. There's a heroin addict who can paint the future, but only when he's high. There's some creepy guy in glasses tracking all of these people down... and happens to be the adopted father of Claire, the cheerleader. There's someone else named Sylar who seems to be the Big Bad of the show and also appears to be telekinetic. And the plot is driven by a painting of the addict, showing New York being consumed in a nuclear blast that these heroes must stop.

Seem geeky? Well, it is, but it's also very character driven. It's about all of these ordinary people starting to explore and use these powers and realize that there is a purpose behind them and that there is a greater calling on their lives than the typical mundanity. But they also have to deal with family and the typical mundanities that surround them. It's well made and well acted.

It's also much, much better than Lost, because of the simple fact that it actually answers questions rather than answering in a completely unintelligible way that raises three more that will probably never get answered. Lost is in Season 3 now, but does anyone really have any idea what the heck is happening on that show?

For me the true test of a great show is if I feel the need to search for "spoilers" (plot points that have not yet happened on the show, but have leaked out from the studios) or if I want to see it develop over the course of the episodes. On the last two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I read spoilers incessantly. I just wanted to know how it would end. I was invested in the story, but not seeing it play out. For Battlestar Galactica and Heroes, I avoid spoilers like the Plague, not wanting to know ahead of time, but trusting the writers to reveal things as the shows progress. In three seasons of BSG, I haven't been let down yet. Only four episodes into Heroes and things look great so far. I hope they stay that way for both.

btw, there was a Heroes marathon on NBC last night (they didn't have football for some reason), and at the end, they showed a two minute preview of the rest of the season. It's really interesting (and has great music too, if someone knows what it is). Here you go...

For those interested, the song is called "Together,' by Krystal Meyers, off of her "Dying for a Heart" CD. She's apparently a Christian artist as well.


Jeff said...

I don't know if I could call something better than Lost (how dare you!), but I did catch some of the Heroes rerun marathon last night. Very interesting - I'm trying to figure out how that stripper's "power" could be used for good...maybe she'll be a villian. But, I still have to claim allegiance to Lost for my very limited TV time. I think its attraction isn't trying to look for spoilers like you were saying, but just hypothesizing what the heck is going on and seeing if you're right.

And I don't get cable, otherwise I know I'd be a big BG fan from what I've heard from you. Do they still have the cool space fighters? I remember watching the show growing up and thinking those really basic "joysticks" they had for controls were cool - all they had was a fire button and I think a hyperdrive button. I hope they've become more advanced.

I'm still anticipating my other network TV fav show - "24". I can't believe they've made it six seasons.

Phil said...

Jeff, I watch the first season of Lost and then two episodes of Season 2. When almost no questions got answered without bringing some left field stuff into the mix, I just couldn't go there any longer.

And yes, BSG still has the ultra cool vipers... in fact, I'm in the process of loaning the DVDs of Season 1 and 2 of BSG to David Carden. Perhaps you would like to borrow them as well?

Justin said...

I DO NOT like sci fi... (i know, I lose points with you...) but it has just never been my cup of tea. However, Heroes has me hooked.

Studio 60 has been slightly disappointing. I think its more of a soap than west wing or sports night were... which means there are a ton of long storylines going on... way more than his first two shows. He's also had to bring a lot of backstory into this show, which in my opinion, has made it kinda slow. Each episode seems to get a little better though, so I have hope.

And btw... I'm convinced that only smart people watched Sports Night. It was, the greatest, and most underappreciated thirty minute show ever on television.

Anonymous said...

Heroes is my favorite new show. I think its the only show I haven't missed an episode of yet. I cannot wait to see how Claire reacts to finding out her "father" already knew about her.

Jeff said...

I might have to borrow those Phil, since I've heard so many people say how good it is. I'll have to find time to get caught up, and then take the plung and get extended cable again.

You shouldn't have given up on Lost. I know a lot of critics said season 2 was a little disappointing, but I think it's amazingly creative, and there were more answers that came to light by the end of last season. I do think they had too many subplots going on at once though. Made it hard too keep up with.

Michael said...

I will agree that Battlestar is the best show on TV. That gets no arguement

But Heroes...better than Lost?!? You must be smoking crack! Lost has more depth, better characters and better storyteling. Heroes is good at cliffhangers but the characters are shallow and the dialogue beyond bad. It's clunky at times and is no where nearly as good as Lost on Lost's worst day.

Anonymous said...

I love Lost, but I totally agree about BG being the best show on Television. The emotional depth, complicated storytelling and daring chance-taking by the writers is compelling and riveting.

Lost is my second-favorite show. I love the creativity and for the continued mystery making. I've accepted that it may be forever before they reveal what I want to know, and now I just enjoy seeing how tangled the web can get.

My $.02 on BG can be found
right here, if you're interested.

Thomas+ said...

BG is the best show on TV. No doubt. And, I will join in the crack-smoking calls. I have watched a couple of episodes of Heroes. I really want to like it, and I pretty much like it. However, Lost beats its heroic butt.

The third best show on TV (or maybe the second) is obviously 24. And the best Sci Fi show NOT on TV anymore is Farscape. That's just a little love from me to you all.

Clarissa said...

Heroes is awesome! We Tivo it and I watch it while doing homework. Same with Lost, CSI (the original), Vanished (which is apparently now defunct), and Jericho, another awesome new show. Says me, who is watching out of the corner of her eye. And Rob watches Blade and Battlestar Galactica, both of which I try my best to ignore. Sometimes I catch some ER. [Can't believe that's still on.] Oh, and there's Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Nice stash to keep me awake when I'm up late studying. Maybe a new What Not to Wear or Ten Years Younger if I'm lucky.

Not that you asked.

Malia said...

We're finished with the two DVD's you let us borrow and are very ready for more BSG!! Bring it on!! Especially since the last episode on the second DVD leaves you hanging on with a "to be continued"!! What the frak is that all about??

Jennifer Thompson said...

(To be honest, I haven't read your blog nor have I read the comments. I just wanted you to have a post and/or comment from England. Thanks for calling today! We love y'all!)

Kenneth & Victoria said...

A big "So say we all" for your BSG commentary, Mr. Phil Spoiler-Alert Wilson. How many other movies, series or miniseries could put you through a three-hour build-up to the big battle scene and neither bore you in the process nor disappoint you in the end?

A note to aficianados of the old show: that was a "turbo" button on the Viper joysticks, which rankles anyone who knows anything about internal combustion. And if you're bothered by Starbuck being a woman, ask yourself: why doesn't it bother me that Boomer's not only a woman but he also got bumped down from fighter pilot to a flying Humvee, got killed (repeatedly), and turned out to be a Cylon agent? Simple answer: Boomer was a black man.

John Lunt said...

I don't know anything about Heroes, but BSG... Freefall Battlestar, how cool is that.

I like how they connected the demise of Pegasus back to the original series. It's just that instead of Cain taking on multiple Battlestars it was Lee. Pretty cool. OK I'm a sucker for space battles. :-)

Darin L. Hamm said...

Don't watch either Lost or BG. I did stumble across Heroes on Sunday and am officially hooked.

I can't compare it to the others but I love the connectedness of the characters. Each can only truly be powerful when connected with others.

I guess this goes along with a book I am reading that discusses the nature of person and how the enlightment changed it to a focus on the individual.

Anyway. Maybe I will track down BG.

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