Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Battlestar Galactica is Lost, but Heroes ain't, and Studio 60 is gone

This is hard for me to write, because I've loved BSG and still do to a great extent. I've laid out my problems with Lost before. Terminal end to the show that the producers keep putting off (getting off the island) by inserting all of these character moments (flashbacks) and not really advancing the plot. And as of now, BSG has fallen into this same trap. There is a terminal end to the show (finding Earth) that apparently the producers are trying to put off by doing all of these little character things. The last three episodes have had almost nothing to do with finding Earth or the Cylons chasing them. It's all been character stuff, which is not bad necessarily, but when it's done badly and/or with a 2x4, then yes, it's bad.

And Battlestar Galactica has been. And it needs to right the ship soon, or even though the 4th season has been approved, they still might manage to get it pulled.

Speaking of getting pulled, is there any more disappointing show this season (expectations-wise) than Studio 60? This is the show with the impeccable pedigree, both in production and acting that no one thought could lose. But you know how you make a show like that bad? You make it preachy. And it don't necessarily have a problem with preachiness, but the issue is that it's being done so badly. Plus, the people that Aaron Sorkin is preaching to are already watching the show! And here's where I think the show really fails, particularly in comparison to the criminally underwatched SportsNight and the overpraised but still very good West Wing.

On both WW and SN, there were a plethora of topics to mine storylines from. For WW, obviously the politics drove the storylines and the relationships and character interactions were built around those. Same thing with SN. Sporting events drove it (NFL Draft, Tennis, Basketball, etc) and again the relationships and character interactions worked around those.

With S60, there is nothing there to drive the plot (besides the Macao stuff that Matt and Danny have nothing to do with), and so the major focus for Matt and Danny is not some external force acting on them, it's them in the relationships that are frankly, both badly written and possibly Sorkin working out his Chenowith issues. I wonder if the show will be back at all, now that it's "on hiatus"

What is working now is Heroes. And Monday night was an amazing example of moving plot forward and giving information and satisfying fans while still leaving them hungry for more. We got some resolution to Hiro and Ando (and a cameo by Stan Lee), Peter seems upset while getting more control of his powers, Isaac kills Simone unintentionally, and Matt Parkman teams up with WiFi woman and Radioactive man to get some answers from Mr. Bennett, after Claire tells her adopted father off. In the truest sense of the word, I am anxiously awaiting next Monday, where we'll apparently get some real answers about Mr. Bennett's past. Good times.


greg said...

yes, monday night was good and I, too, am very much looking forward to next week. i'm not too broken up about simone. and, I haven't given up on Lost yet, either. I'll wait and see what the rest of this season holds.

i continued with 60 until a couple of weeks ago. i tried to stay with it, but just couldn't. very disappointing.

Scott said...

Studio 60 was a train-wreck. It took me a while to finally look away, but I felt better about myself once I did. Sorkin's ego run unchecked is not good TV.

I'm close to pulling the plug on Lost as well.

Haven't seen Heroes yet this week, but thanks to you and Greg I already know what happens.

Jennifer Thompson said...

It pains me to admit that Studio 60 is any less than awesome, but seriously, this whole Danny-Jordan relationship is ridiculous. Ridiculous. (Not that the rest of the show is great, but that's what finally did it for me.) I still watch it, but it's because I am perpetually in need of closure. That's also why I still watch Lost. And Gilmore Girls.

Stupid need for closure.

Tony Arnold said...

Wow, Phil. I have seen less in-depth analysis of Beowulf or Faulkner!

I think your depth of analysis gives far more credit to Hollywood for their intent than they deserve.

How is that for a cynical outlook on entertainment?

BTW, I hope everyone realizes I mean the above as a compliment to you. But I am skeptical that entertainment companies really intend such depth, or even have capability of such depth.

But what do I know? Anita loves Heros.

Phil said...


I can honestly say that it's because I have done such analyses of Beowulf (Seamus Heaney translation) and Faulkner that I think in such a way about it. I look at "art" and try to analyze it. I've just transferred my powers from literature to pseudo interesting television.

Well, that and reading Television Without Pity.

Tony Arnold said...

You didn't mention Shakespeare. What about Shakespeare dude!

:-) no else has a clue about this seemingly stupid comment.

Clarissa said...

Ain't is a contraction of amn't, which is a contraction of am not. But my ED 305 teacher just doesn't care.

Thomas+ said...

Heroes really is great TV. But sometimes I feel like it may move too quickly. I would like to have a bit more character work, actually.

I was happy to get rid of Simone. I thought she was a terrible actress amidst an otherwise solid cast.

BG is not about finding earth. BG is about how human beings handle terror, war, loss, love, and religion in a world where the enemy is unseen. I love spending time with these characters, and I don't ever need to get to earth. BG is the best show on television.

Lost is getting better after a poor start to the season. I can't believe they killed Ecko, though I understand it was the actor's decision. It isn't the character work that makes this show difficult sometimes. It is the confusing, non-resolved twists and clues. X-files was more straight forward.

I don't give a rip about Studio 60. I thought it looked like garbage from the start.

24 is actually not as good as I hoped this season.

OK, I have now talked about every show I watch, except Colbert. He rocks.

Kenneth & Victoria said...

BSG may be dragging a bit compared to the frantic escape from the initial attack and chase, but after all they're flying all the way across the galaxy--it's bound to take some time and I think it fleshes out the story better to take a look at some of what happens while they're making their way.

*spoiler* I do think they missed an opportunity with Dr. Robert. I think they could have done a lot more with the moral ambivalence of having to deal with a racist in such a critical position. Maybe they could have put off discovering that he was killing people for a few episodes.

Or at least explored all of the possibilities of having a character named Dr. Robert. "I enjoyed my tour of Galactica. It's like a magical mystery." "We need Dr. Robert to explore this water planet. Where's that yellow submarine?" "What? You've been killing people? Sgt. Pepper, take this man into custody."

Jeff said...

Ok, now that I have watched Heroes from this past week (I watched Saturday night), I read the rest of your post. Glad I perceived that there was some spoiler information before I read to far. I would have been highly disappointed to have known what was going on before watching. Shame on you, Phil. You should know better as a Tivo owner that not everyone watches that night!

I think I'm finally there with you that Heroes is my favorite show. The way they've brought Peter and Sylar along as almost the antithises of each other (did I use that word right, Mr. Wilson?) has been great the past few episodes.

24 and Lost are still my very close seconds, but I look most forward to Heroes. Although I have to agree that this season of 24 is not as good (but still pretty awesome - Jack rocks, but there shouldn't be another Palmer in office but David), and I'm almost to where I want Lost to put me out of my misery.

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