Thursday, March 25, 2010

I have ranked the top 68 television shows of the '00s, and will be presenting them, one-by-one, starting with 68 and working down. The rankings are more or less based on the show's popularity, it's cult status, it's critical acclaim, and my personal liking of it, with a heavy dose of arbitrariness added in. If a show was a big enough phenomena, I'll keep it on the list - but if I don't like it, I may drop it some spots. One other caveat - these are primetime shows (I apologize if I put a cable show that wasn't, I thought they were all primetime shows - the main point of this is just that no talk shows, no Colbert and Daily show that would be on otherwise).

36: Battlestar Galactica

Another show that I've seen, has a huge cult following, and that I feel very strongly about. I like, but I don't love it nearly as much as Flight of the Conchords (which makes me wonder why I would put it on spot above it?). Battlestar Galactica (or BSG and everybody calls it and I will be) does some things right but also does a lot of things wrong which prevent it from being a truly great show.

Now, I'll warn ahead of time that when I make this quick list of bad things about it's going to make it seem like I hate the show - but honestly, this is different - like with say, Scrubs or How I Met Your Mother, my most specific criticisms of shows are saved for shows that I generally like but have some problems that keep them from being great shows - there is just no point in nitpicking about everything wrong with Two and a Half Men - everything is wrong about, so why go into detail - but with these shows that are pretty good but have some serious pitfalls, these are the shows that frustrate the heck out of me.

Oh, and on to the list.

The dialogue is terrible - lazy at some times, just plain bad at others. There are a couple of cute things - I love the little bits of its own language - the fracks, and the "So Say We Alls." and every once in a while Admiral Adama gives a nice little speech. But in comparison to other sci-fi shows I invested in - mainly of the Joss Whedon variety - it's so lacking - it's often generic, melodramatic, cliche and repetitive.

The characters are terrible. Basically, there are a handful of characters who are superheroes - both Adamas, Starbuck, Roslin, Baltar - they're basically the critically characters in every important event that happens on the ship and they come to the rescue in every single crisis, surrounded by a couple of the next tier of characters. Some of the worst episodes, which will be discussed shortly are about the back stories of these characters - and highlight the flaw of the poor characterization but overexposing them to dramatic situations that either the existing characterizing can't handle, that seem ridiculous and out of context, and that are just uninteresting because we don't really care about the characters enough. Sure, I root for them, and yes the Admiral is awesome - and just about always right, Jack Bauer style - but some of them really grate on the viewer, and the constant reinvention of characters like Baltar to kind of redeem them while keeping them as antiheroes is stretched beyond belief.

Some episodes are absolute duds. It's hard to be a great show when you have a handful of episodes that don't simply not move the story forward, or focus on a weaker character, but are just plain awful. There's a handful of them particularly in the second half of the second season, included possible the worst episode of them all Black Market - about some personal demons of Lee Adama who takes up with a prostitute and has to shut down an illegal black market run by (the only redeeming part of the episode) Bill Duke. Scar, the episode with the entirely unwanted Kat backstory is another true stinker.

The ending is terrible. Yeah, I won't ruin it for if you haven't seen it, though you can more or less guess part of it, and the part of it you can't guess really doesn't make any sense.

Okay, so, as I warned it sounds like I hate the show. I really don't though - it does a couple things well - mainly it's interesting plot and the dynamic between the cylons and the humans and the questions of what's really human, and whatnot, that inevitably occur. It does a relatively good job of keeping suspense and slowly revealing the remaining Cylons and for the most part I was not incredibly angered by any revelation (except for the ending). The main-plot centric episodes are by far the best - the ones dealing directly with Cylons - and those tend to heat up towards the end of the show, and towards the end of each season, or half season. Another quick issue with the plot (not to get back into complaining I swear) is BSG's utter reluctance to change the status quo - basically to get away from their main set up as Roslin as president and Adama as Admiral on the ship - when something happens to change that you can feel the tension as they try to return to normalcy - particularly when they were held captive by the Cylons on New Caprica you could feel how badly they wanted to get back to the existing set up - a plotline that could have been half a season on another show was only a couple of episodes on BSG.

Yeah, so honestly again, I do like the show, but don't make it your first choice to watch either. But yeah, it's got quite the cult following, so here it is.

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