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argive99

Battlestar Galactica

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I just watched the full 13 episodes of the last season. Season 2 is slated to start in July. I found the show very enjoyable and very well made. The same company that did the effects for Firefly are doing the FX for Battlestar. There is a religious element to the show in that the cyclons are seamingly "searching for God". But despite this, the show has alot to offer. The characters are well developed, the plot progesses at a nice pace and includes a number of twists and turns which are well thought out, a few of the characters are likeable, and the acting is first rate especially James Almos.

The season ended with a hell of a cliff hanger. I can't wait for the new episodes.

Oh yeah, the asian actress Grace Park is super hot.

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I could not agree with you more! A very well done series, and actually there are some interesting Objectivist principles that can be found, even if they're not put there intentionally (and filtered through my oh-I-hope-o-meter). A few that come to mind:

1. The relationship between Baltar and Number 6 is a great metaphor or the effects of the mind/body dichotomy. Six seduces him when he's pleased her (materialism), but puts the fear of God into him when he attempts independence (mysticism). He doesn't quite know which way to go, and the dichotomy has destroyed his rational self, victimizing him to her authority over his mind.

2. BSG Sharon - Boomer - undergoes a crisis of confidence when she doubts herself, believing something evil is lurking inside her. Her guilt erodes her ego, and (if you've been watching the show) the result is clear in the end. (Of course, the guilt is somewhat justified ... she is a Cylon).

3. Alternately, the Sharon on Caprica begins a difficult journey towards independence, betraying her Cylon masters and choosing her own values. She risks herself, the man she loves, and others, to establish her individuality and break free from the collective. I see it as a good demonstration of willpower over "conditioning". It will be interesting to see if she's truly independent, or succumbing to another kind of control, though (emotionalism).

4. The Kobolic (?) religion that most accept is a weakness. When they think they've found Kobol - the home of their gods - a Cylon trap awaits them. President Roslin, under the influence of cancer medication that causes hallucinations, gives in to these religious teachings, and her faith leads her to betray the safety of the fleet.

5. Adama is brilliantly played by Olmos, and isn't completely rational (paying lip service to religious legends while personally disavowing them - sanction), one of the most rational characters on the show. He desires retribution against a trusted subordinate, but recognizes her value to him as more important than his rage. He keeps a cautious, skeptical distance from Baltar rather than placing complete faith in his genius. He can alternately treat Apollo as a military subordinate and as a son, without contradiction. He keeps the reactionary cynic of Col. Tigh at bay, but can weed out a rational argument if one is presented. Maybe too much of a stoic for my taste, but a somewhat virtuous character at least.

6. More virtuous, though, is his son Apollo, who can see the reality of a situation despite the agendas between his superiors. Lee's allegiance is to the truth, and remains practical and realistic, yet courageously defies expectations and bravely risks his life, his career, and his relationships to do the right thing. Not a Rand hero - it's too early to tell - but virtuous, indeed. Heck his call-sign's Apollo for frak's sake ... (So far, the only thing that could ruin Apollo for me is to make him an altruist.)

7. Faith is denounced in the form of man's enemy. The evil Cylons are motivated blindly by an inarticulate faith that drives them to commit atrocities against mankind in God's name.

While the show isn't as cut and dry as this, and future story-arcs will determine whether the above-mentioned opinions are baseless or justified, it's still a very well made show ... in my opinion it's way better than the original (but that's a battle waged elsewhere).

I can't wait for season 2 in July! :D

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Synthlord:

Wow, you gave a very intelligent and insightful analysis of the whole show. Well done. I agree with all of it. My own additions:

* I agree that Adama is stoic, but I actually like that. He is a great tactition and is always trying to steer the right course. I love some of the statements he has made about the seperation of powers, specifically between the seperation of the military and civillian police forces. Also, his love of his son is shown so well; and not only love but admiration. He knows his son is special or has the potential to be. I too didn't like his using the legend of Earth, but that may have been out of necessity; to keep in line with the mythology established by the original series.

* So far Apollo has been the most heroic of the show. He has been highly principled and very individualistic. I too hope they don't ruin him with altruism which is a danger because unless the writers have been influenced by Rand, that's the only moral base for heroism they will know. I loved how he dealt with the situation in the episode "Bastille Day". He was practical minded enough to realize that the prisoners needed a self interested motive to extract the ice from the planet, yet pricipled enough to realize that Zarick was right and that representative government was not something to be abandoned. That was one of his best moments along with blowing up the refinery. Also, I like the budding romance between him and Starbuck; a nice twist on the original show.

* Great identification of Caprica Sharon's character development. Unless she has been programed to fall in love with Helo (which may have been suggested by Six knowing of her pregnancy), she is moving in the direction of independent judgement. She is actually moving in the direction of becoming truly human; humanity at its best. I hope Helo sees this and doesn't abandon her, which I don't think he will as he stopped Starbuck from shooting her.

* Baltar even though he is morally weak is brilliantly written and brilliantly acted, and yet he seems at times to struggle for the morally right action. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

* Its actually amazing but its the Cylons, ie the machines, who seem to be the religious fanatics. Their motivation, at this point (and it is too early to be definitive), seems to be either discovering God or merging with their creators (humans) to create a soul or both. Either way, they are portrayed as the more mystical group, and of course their collectivism is apparent. The humans, much like the West is today, have more rational elements (as a good political outlook) but are hindered by their own mysticism, namely their devotion to the Gods of Kobol.

* Love the expression "For Fraks sake". I can't stop saying it. People think I'm strange.

I really like the show and hope that it doesn't cave in totaly to altruism or superstition. There has been references (made by Six and the priest) that the prophesy "everything that happens now has happened before" is true. I hope the show doesn't give credence to prophesies.

I'm glad you liked it and appreciated your comments!

Out of curiousity, do you watch the show "Lost"? I have been trying to engage in a good philosophical conversation about that show.

Edited by argive99

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* Baltar even though he is morally weak is brilliantly written and brilliantly acted, and yet he seems at times to struggle for the morally right action. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

I agree. What I like about Baltar is that he's not really written as a villain, or at least he's not played like one. When an actor intentionally plays a villain, he ends up coming off like the cliched, moustache-twisting scoundrel that ties debutantes to train tracks.

Villains aren't always so cut-and-dry, even in Rand's fiction - the villains always start out successful, wealthy, highly respected, and oozing altruist rhetoric like some slimy politician. John Colicos' Baltar in the original series was a cheezy bad guy - he seemed like more of a dirty, perverted child molester that smelled of Vienna Sausages rather than humanity's greatest traitor.

This Baltar is indeed acting in his self-interest - but second-handedly and at the expense of others. His agenda is not really his own, so he practices deceipt and manipulation to achieve his/Six's ends, and through the inevitability of those actions, will betray humanity on larger levels. The fact that he's a "wolf in sheep's clothing" is a great dramatic idiom, allowing the writers to further Baltar's actions without Adama et al discovering him until something monumentally disastrous has occured.

The series' writing is tremendous, overall. While I find many characters who don't represent good Objectivist ethics, and the story may reveal traditional altruistic hero/villain roles, everything about the show is excellent. The attention to detail is well appreciated, and as a science fiction fanatic, it's a relief to see deeper characters and emotional drama within the sci-fi genre. I'm glad the show does so well in the ratings, too - that means more expensive advertising, and more episodes. WOOHOO!!

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Although the shows technical merits are remarkable enough to make it worth watching for that reason alone, I find the pervasive naturalism of the series repulsive. The majority of the characters are typical postmodern caricatures and blobs of moral grayness. There are intentionally no heroes or villains in the series – just pathetic individuals who act as if they don’t deserve to have survived their holocaust.

One other thing that annoys me about “man vs. his creation” stories like this one – by any rational definition, the cylons are human, not machine. The fallacy that humanity is limited to a gene type and natural birth is a consequence of the concrete-bound mentality of sci-fi writers.

For really great science fiction shows, I recommend shows like Stargate SG1 and Firefly.

Edited by GreedyCapitalist

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There are intentionally no heroes or villains in the series – just pathetic individuals who act as if they don’t deserve to have survived their holocaust.
I disagree. What about Bill Adama? He's portrayed as a very strong and wise leader, who truely understands the proper role and limits of the military and abides by it (he could have established a military dictatorship from day one if he had wanted to). The only serious mistake I can recall him making is refusing to give up on the search for Starbuck for so long after she got shot down.

Also, Sharon and Helo. The Caprica version of Sharon, at least, has rejected her cylon programming in favor of independance and love for a good man. And speaking of Helo, how has he been pathetic?

As for the younger Adama, I'll grant you he's got some serious issues and is not so good. But he is also portrayed as being brave, resourseful and strongly commited to the principle of proper, limited government (even if he's fighting for partial democracy rather than full capitalism). He could easily become great if he gets his act more together.

I'll concede the point on the rest of them, though... Baltar is weak and cowardly, Tigh can't face up to what a horrible little creature his wife is and has even let her drag him back into the bottle just when he was climbing out of it, Starbuck needs way more self-control and Rosalyn is turning into a full-fledged mystic (although I have a horrible suspicion that the writers will have such mysticism be justified in the BSG universe).

One other thing that annoys me about “man vs. his creation” stories like this one – by any rational definition, the cylons are human, not machine.

I think you mean "sapient" or "rational," not human. The objectivist definition of human is "a rational animal," and cylons aren't animals. A cyclon would have to be defined as "a rational machine."

For really great science fiction shows, I recommend shows like Stargate SG1 and Firefly.

Very much agreed on Stargate SG1. I like the way they treat religion (mostly as a cover for blatent power-grabbing), and I especially like the fact that Kinnsey - Earth's advocate of religion - is portrayed as being little more respectible that the Gua'old!

Haven't seen Firefly yet, but the sci-fi channel's about to start airing it next week and I'm looking forward to it. But wasn't the series canceled after less than one season? Is it being renewed?

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The old Battlestar Galactica, from the end og 1960, and the start of 1970, was quite good. I would say it was considerably better than the new version of it.

It was not as philosophic as Star Trek, but still quite viewable.

And another thing that I didn't see in this new series, was happiness, sucess and pride.

And I would also second Firefly. It is truly a magnificient show.

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I'm really into Stargate, both of them. I will try out Firefly because of so many recommendations. Its cool that SCI FI channel is picking up cancelled shows and breathing new life into them.

As the the new BG I tried to like it but really could not get into it. The effects are great but the writing is bad. Too much face sucking and not enough substance. It reminds me of a soap opera in space.

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I'll concede the point on the rest of them, though... Baltar is weak and cowardly, Tigh can't face up to what a horrible little creature his wife is and has even let her drag him back into the bottle just when he was climbing out of it, Starbuck needs way more self-control and Rosalyn is turning into a full-fledged mystic (although I have a horrible suspicion that the writers will have such mysticism be justified in the BSG universe).

I would say that Baltar being weak and cowardly is purposeful and is why he is an excellent character. Who says that all of the characters in a story have to be powerful and rational? A good story needs strong heroes but also needs evil and weak villians. The character of Baltar fulfills this latter need extremely well.

Has anyone noticed the similarities between the character of Baltar and Peter Keating? Baltar is the ultimate second-hander! Upon finding out that he is responsible the for destruction of human civilization as he knows it, the first thing on his mind is whether or not others will find out! The dialogue makes a very specific point of caring more about what others think than the gravity of the event that has occurred.

This theme is constantly rehashed every time Baltar plays a significant role in a particular episode. He is also very easily influenced by the opinion of others and very cowardly.

Has anyone else also noticed the connection between the character of Number Six and Ellsworth Toohey? Granted, the respective ideologies of Toohey and Number Six are different, but besides that their personalities and character traits are very similar. She is extremely manipulative, cunning, and ruthless.

Granted, there is no Howard Roark like figure on the show, every character is specifically supposed to have their flaws. In this regard, Battlestar Galactica does not live up to other science-fiction shows like Star Trek, Stargate SG-1, and Stargate Atlantis. But nevertheless the characters are still very interesting. Baltar and Number Six are definitely my favorite because of their overwhelming similarity to Keating and Toohey in my mind.

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The old Battlestar Galactica, from the end og 1960, and the start of 1970, was quite good. I would say it was considerably better than the new version of it.

It was not as philosophic as Star Trek, but still quite viewable.

And another thing that I didn't see in this new series, was happiness, sucess and pride.

And I would also second Firefly. It is truly a magnificient show.

When I saw this thread a while ago, I went out and got what I thought was the BG you were referring to. It turned out to be the earlier series. I thought philosophically it was pretty good (lots of rhetoric on freedom), but the special effects were just so cheesy - they are laughable! All in all though, an enjoyable show; I haven't finished it yet.

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I think you mean "sapient" or "rational," not human. The objectivist definition of human is "a rational animal," and cylons aren't animals. A cyclon would have to be defined as "a rational machine."

No, I mean rational - as in valid. The organic cylons are animals, not machines. This is an absurd yet common error in scifi plots that always annoys me because it is an aspect of the soul/body dichotomy carried over from religion. It’s the Terri Schiavo mentality in reverse. (And even if they were machines, they should be treated as right possessing beings equal to humans, given the mental capabilities almost all sci-fi plots give them.)

Edited by GreedyCapitalist

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Rosalyn is turning into a full-fledged mystic (although I have a horrible suspicion that the writers will have such mysticism be justified in the BSG universe).

Late post to this thread, but I just read through it. Why would it be a bad thing if Rosalyn's mysticism is justified? I was thinking about this when I used to play D&D. I'm an atheist. Do I create a D&D character that believes or worships a god or deity? I rationalized that I would because to not believe in gods and deities in a world (like D&D worlds or possibly the BSG universe) that actually does have them would be irrational. So if BSG turns out to actually have them, then many of the characters would go from irrational to rational.

However I think that the gods in BSG will turn out to have non-supernatural stories behind them - in which case Rosalyn has totally flipped her lid and season 2 had gone off the deep end.

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