The B-S-G-B-I-B-L-E

Preorder HijiNKS ENSUE Book 2!!!ONLY 20 UFE’s LEFT AND ONLY 4 days left to get them: There are 20 Ultimate Fancy Editions of the book left and the files must be fully proofed and turned into the printer by Sunday 1/30/2011. Once those last UFE’s are sold I will have covered 100% of the printing costs + all other book-related expenses. PLEASE HELP me make this thing a success. 4 days! We can do it!

BOOK 2 PROOFREADERS UPDATE: You will likely get the book in a slightly unfinished format by Friday night and will have to have it back to me within 24 hours. Just a heads up.

The REAL Team Edward shirt from HijiNKS ENSUE

When Battlestar Galactica (I accidentally just wrote GalactiviA, and then thought that would be a good name for space-yogurt that makes you poop)… eh’ hem… When Battlestar Galactica first started I remember being excited that the only real difference between the crew of the BSG and modern day man was that they could travel between the stars. Other than that their technology was actually LESS advanced than ours. A big part of that had to do with them being aboard a 75 year old ship and the fact that all ships with modern (modern for them) tech were destroyed in the attack on the 12 Colonies. With no lasers,  androids (sort of), holodecks, super-computers (at least not on their ships) or even any aliens BSG had to rely on believable, relatable, compelling characters to suck you in. That and space battles with evil robots. That was also a big part of the appeal in the early seasons.

In retrospect the show really ran out of reasons for the characters to be interesting after season 3 and resorted to crazy stunts, and plot twists that really didn’t make any sense (al la LOST). Be that as it may, the show was incredibly original for a sci-fi serial drama and made me rethink my definition of science fiction. Or at least adjust my perception as to what I expected from the genre. I was raised by Star Trek: TNG, and BSG was certainly its antithesis. The disparities between the two are even more evident when you realize Ron D. Moore (who cut his teeth on Deep Space Nine), was using TNG as the anti-blueprint for Battlestar. No mirror universes, no bumpy foreheads, no god-like powers, and no standard character archetypes (the cocky guy, the smart guy, the alien, the slut) were the commandments of the BSG Bible. I would say that his philosophy worked… until it didn’t. Or maybe until he lost faith in his own good book. Seems like BSG started to stray when it abandoned stories rooted in the human condition and the struggle for survival and started making everything about Space God and destiny and what not. You can argue that those aspects were always central to the narrative of BSG (because they were), but viewer like myself always hoped they would be a red herring and not the ACTUAL crux of the show.

COMMENTERS: Since you were already doing this before I made this post, what aspect of BSG did you find the MOST confusing. Just to balance things out, what did you love about BSG that wasn’t a common Sci-Fi trope.

And if you find panel three confusing, please check out the work of Bear McCreary. I want him to score my life.

Colors, backgrounds and post coming later tonight. In other news: Kiddo has requested that “Daddy stop working so much” and spend some time with her. Going to 5 days a week and trying to get the book done at the same time was a stupid idea. I’ve been working 14-16 hour days, sleeping 5-6 hours then getting up and doing it all again. If you appreciate the increased output and you would like to help out, please consider making a donation. THANKS!

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  1. The producers are asking themselves the same thing. They "cut the corners" for the miniseries to show how limited their budget was. Once the show went to series they hated having to do that for the next 5 years.

    I would assume in the mythos of the show its more of a religious/ ritualistic thing.

    • The story I'd heard is that in the original series, they re-used paper from scripts and such as a prop, and cut the corners off to get rid of the staples. The new series went with the shape as a nod to the old series.

        • On the dvd they say the "cutting the corners" budget related story. when I read @Yusaku777's post I thought of a possible reason for the no corners. You are thinking in terms of starting with square paper and removing the corners, but what if the corners were never there to begin with? Maybe that is just how their paper is made. Or maybe I spend too much time trying to rationalize the meaningless details in fictional universes. awesome comic by the way!

  2. And how is a robot who is indistinguishable from a human being down to the molecular level able to jam a fiber optic cable into her arm to communicate with a spaceship?

    • Because you can too! Scientists are actually working on making that possible (their experiments evolve mostly around returning sight to the blind and that sort of stuff). Also, they weren't undistinguishable from humans: they were somewhat stronger, more resistant, and, most importantly, they had silica pathways running through their bodies to their brains. Hence the whole Ragnar Anchorage thing…

  3. I know this is off topic buuuut,did you see Chris Harwick of the G4's "Web Soup" fame on E!'s Chelsea Lately's roundtable last night wearing a Groverfield shirt? I thought that was cool and should let you know.

  4. You think the paper corners and the fiber optic thing are weird? Try this: a new poster, just released, gives details about the binary-binary star system of the Twelve Colonies. That's right, two pairs of suns orbit each other. Also, there are several binary habitable planets. (That is a little less weird considering that our moon is a binary planet compared to other moons in this solar system. But still…)

  5. Not to bring down the tone or anything…but seeing as they made such a big point of Cylon spines glowing whenever they had sex, surely this means Baltar/Helo/Chief never boned 6/Boomer/etc. doggy-style? Especially hard to explain for the people who didn't even know they were cylons at first.

    • One of my biggest frustrations with the show was the constant flip flopping between "skinjobs are robots with human skin" and "skinjobs are identical to humans, there is no way to tell them apart." If they were so identical to us then they should have had no additional abilities (mental projection, increased strength, computer interfacing ability, etc). Though as the series progressed they stopped mentioning all of those things, including the spine glowing. Like they wanted us to forget so we could more easily believe that they would be so well hidden in teh fleet or that we would eventually breed with them.

    • Say what you will about it bringing down the tone of the conversation, but that's actually a really good point. I mean, not to be crass, but doggy-style is pretty much to go-to position for a lot of people (maybe even most people). It seems kind of unlikely that this would not have happened.

      • It could be argued (and this is just me going for a No-Prize here) that it happened with Six because she *knew* she was a Cylon, while Sharon didn't. So Six could do things like Project, and make her spine glow, while Sharon couldn't do those things because she didn't know about them.

        • The "official" reason is that they didn't really glow – it was "poetic license", kind of a shout-out to the ping-pong red eyelight in the original series Cylons.

          Yes, I agree that's a steaming pile of daggit droppings, but there you go.

  6. I kinda like the idea of BSG AS a Bible.
    I mean, there are good parts, bad parts and parts that people will use against it. And Book of Revelation-esque batshitness. (The finale will do for all those parts, except the goodness) It's a whopping volume some nutters take as Best Thing Ever and as a massive weapon to thump non-believers in the head with, but reasonable folks admit that while it has some really god things in it, it's not perfect, ie something to blindly follow.

    ..And this is coming from an atheist.

      • Why thank you!

        But out of all batshitness/plotholier than thou-stuff BSG had, one thing bothered me way too much:
        When they're deciding to go and rescue Hera, they pour a line of salt on the floor so people can take sides. SALT. ON THE FLOOR. WTF!
        Sure it's a symbolic gesture and all, but seriously, you're stranded in space with very limited resources! No way you should waste salt, no matter how much you have it in the Very Important Quest-prop storage.

        I mean, salt (here on Earth at least) used to be expensive because it was hard to get but you could preserve foodstuffs with it. Sure, maybe the algae guck they ate doesn't rot easily? Then again when naming the new Viper Roslin didn't smash the bottle of bubbly, even that's a tradition.

        • Salt? It very clearly shows Adm Adama and Starbuck laying down a strip of red tape. Unless it was salty red tape, I didn't see any salt.

  7. This is a minor thing that has always bugged the heck out of me. When Baltar builds the cylon detector and uses it on Boomer, he gets a result in like 5 minutes, but when it comes time to test Ellen, Adama, the President and the rest of the fleet, it suddenly takes 11 hours? Even though he passes everyone? And doesn't seem to actually run the tests (because if he ran the tests, he would have known that Ellen was one of the final 5 cylons, something which it is never suggested he does know until their revelation)?

    • I think they realized how quickly that machine would end the show and first made it more complicated to build tension, then made everyone forget about it.

      • I got the impression that he freaked out over the idea of vengeful cover-blown Cylons and decided to BS it and give everyone human results. It takes him 11 hours because that's 11 hours of free time without being bothered.

  8. On the "what did you like" side, the camera work impressed me. Instead of the steady or static shots that were standard for sci-fi (in part because it makes effects compositing easier), the majority of the shots were handheld, giving it a rougher feel that went with the overall tone of the show. In fact the only time you consistently saw the camera locked down was when someone was having a vision/fantasy/hallucination.

    Of course, like a lot of the things being discussed here, they started straying from those standards after the second season, but for the first couple years is was great detail that added to the atmosphere of the show.

    • Dont think I realized that about the hand held cams vs. fixed "dream" cams until you mentioned it but youre right. That was an excellent effect.

      • In a nice accompaniment to the camera work, it comes as no surprise then that the CG shots were done by ZOIC studios, those great masters that did Firefly 🙂
        (There's actually a Firefly-class ship in a background shot too)

        • I was going to bring that up. That's totally a trick that's pulled from Firefly. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I think Firefly was the first to use the "found footage" feel on a show like this. But then they use steady cams for Alliance footage the same way they use steady cams in BSG for dream sequences.

          • +1 Definitely pioneered on Firefly. Joss did comment that whenever he was on an Alliance ship, the camera work shifted over to track-and-rail camera work, ala Star Trek.

    • See, now, I HATED that shaky camera-work. I found it to be so intrusive ("Hey! Camera! Look, I'm filming this even as it's happening! With my camera!") as to render the entire series unwatchable for me.

      I did try it; I went in expecting to like it (never saw the original, it didn't air in my area and its three channels, but I'd read the spin-off books and deeply enjoyed them), but I just couldn't get past the stupid camera-work, and the giant soap opera it turned into in about three episodes.

      My husband kept watching for a while, and I'd check it out over his shoulder occasionally, but it just seemed to get stupider and stupider (the inconsistency with the make-up of the Cylons, for example), and the idea of being able to film a space battle with a hand-held camera– well, it was annoying. Who was even holding the camera? Why were they there, filming it? Gods, they were even standing there filming interactions that shouldn't have had anyone else there to witness. WHY WAS THE GODDAMNED CAMERA PERSON THERE?!

      That technique draws so much attention to itself, that (IMO) it should only be used when there's an actual reason for it. Like, okay, there's a documentary film crew there, or one of the crew has hauled out his camera, or whatever. To have what is obviously an actual camera being shoved into people's faces, yet having them completely ignore it and to never explain it– it just irritated the heck out of me and blew my suspension of disbelief out of the water.

      But I do agree about the stupid "human-with-a-different-lump-on-their-forehead" alien-of-the-week on ST. Me, when I want GOOD scifi, I haul out my Babylon 5 DVD's. It's still the most impressive storytelling I've ever seen.

      Mind you, it helps, I think, that JMS plotted the whole thing out in advance before he even started filming the pilot. He had an overall story he wanted to tell, and he knew how long he wanted to take to tell it. He also had a reasonable budget and kept within it, which was considered literally impossible for a scifi show at the time, but that's kind of not really here nor there. But he also got really tired of the science!FAIL in standard TV scifi and did his best to actually keep the science real, and not keep doing stuff that broke the laws of physics just because SCIENCE!! It makes the space battles much more real, more gripping, to my mind, when the ships are actually manoevering according to real-world physics and not swooping around like there's an atmosphere.

      I always hear so much hype about BSG and how awesome it was. Well, if you enjoyed it, awesome. Not gonna try and persuade anyone otherwise. But have any of you checked out B5? Because if you're looking for top-notch, character-driven scifi, it's a damned fine place to start.

  9. I stopped watching BSG in the forth season after they blew that one girl out of the launch tubes, the show had just stopped being interesting…and, even though it seems like all laws of physics were broken, the most badass fight scene was when Adama did the drop, lauch, and warp bit with the Vipers..for some reason I loved that to no end!

  10. I guess one of the disadvantages of having a BA in sociology is that most television show's which aren't solely about societal problems but feature them prominently feel oh so naive. That might be the reason why I actually stopped watching the thing after the first two seasons. Too much bordering embarrassing social commentary (freedom of the press, military versus civil rights, legitimation of certain actions under special conditions).

    The real deal breaker, though, might have been BSG:s lack of irony. The series took itself way too seriously. I think I never saw as much of as a wink of irony in first two seasons. Or maybe Baltazar had his moments.
    Or maybe I'm just too much of a browncoat.

  11. In all honesty, I hate BSG. I have tried twice to watch it, the first time ending when the Cylons and humans found a colony (or the Cylons enslave the humans in their colony, or whatever), and the second time I didn't even get that far. The thing that really bugged me was how every single moment they get they seem to preach all about the one god and how better it is than the pantheon that the humans follow. You would think that a show in which the majority of the characters were polytheistic would not be so quickly swayed toward monotheism. I mean, it took 300 or so years to catch on in Europe, and the only reason it did was my making up holidays to overlap pagan ones (i.e. Saturnalia vs Christmas)… not to mention the fact that later on it was pretty much the death penalty for anyone who didn't believe in Christ. The show was obnoxiously anti-non-Christian.

  12. Bumpy foreheads for the win! And when the makeup people got REALLY tired, it was just bumpy where-nose-meets-brow-area.

  13. I just finished season 2.5 and am about to get started on 3, I like that the characters are all very human with flaws and bad judgment. One of the things that bugs me is just about everyone on the cast has seen Baltar act batshit crazy, yet they are still happy to let him carry on and eventualy become president. Though i was happy to see he went right to drinking smoking and whoreing once elected.

  14. My biggest problem with the show is a stupid, earth-bound one. Can no one have a decent, real relationship? Seriously…every female is ready to offer herself to Baltar, Starbuck risks life and limb to go save a guy she's gonna cheat on… two guys "settle" for the best they can get, and both end in death. Terrible. The best relationship on the show is the one where one's gonna die from cancer. Great.
    Re: Bear McCreary – I will watch anything merely based on "score by Bear McCreary". I want to have his musical love child.

  15. The ultimate confusion on that show was Starbuck. Is she human? Is she a replicant of the original? Is she an "angel"? Was she a figment of everyone's imagination after she returned from the dead, ala her father in that lame piano episode? All we get in the end is that she disappears in the time it takes Apollo to look to one side.
    As for the ultimate irritation of the show, Baltar. Since the second season, I kept hoping he'd accidentally walk out of an airlock. On the bright side, I was able to get in some good raids on the fridge whenever he was on screen.

    • Totally agree with all of that. The Starbuck confusion was completely unnecessary and ultimately very unsatisfying. And Baltar's loyalties and motivations changed so frequently as to make you wish he really WAS schizophrenic and that we'd find out at some point he's been tied up in a straight-jacket all along (and of course, the final, heavy-handed reveal about the "angels" would never have happened).

    • By that point in the series the writers had no idea what Starbuck was. "Leaving it open to interpretation" is code for "we wrote ourselves into a corner and dont know how to get out"

      • I realize this was a full two months ago Joel, but I always thought they threw in that callback to Leoben's "I see an Angel blazing with the light of God" during the last jump montage just so they could blink her out of existence 15 minutes later and be able to have something to point to.

  16. The show lost me the minute Starbuck said for the first time "Papa always said I had a destiny."

    I knew it was downhill from there, and it was.

    • Anytime you hear the words 'destiny', 'prophecy' or 'chosen one' sincerely used in anything, you know writers are just phoning it in.

        • They did it very well on Babylon 5 as well; but there they actually had a logical reason for it all too (involving a certain amount of time travel, not to mention some other stuff which I'm not going to go into). What with one thing and another, yeah, it was his "destiny"– because he'd already done it.

          But yeah, you have to actually have a REASON behind it, not just being "he's special because DESTINY!!"

          Haha, that reminds me of the Nostalgia Critic's review of "The Secret of Nimh II" wherein he points out that the only reason there's any problems for the kid whose "destiny" it is to fix them to fix in the first place is because this kid has been told all along that it's his destiny to save them and that he's a giant hero and a special snowflake. So, yeah. XD

  17. Starbuck! Starbuck! Starbuck!

    I really enjoyed Katee Sakhoff's portrayal of Starbuck throughout the series, but the character took some crazy jumps on the way that always drove me nuts. She would jump from jogger to traitor to CAG to in-the-brig to CAG to bat-shit insane to slut to married to dead to alive to CAG to in-the-brig-and-crazy to commanding her own ship to playing piano to CAG to dissapearing angel.

    BSG was one of the best shows I've ever seen it. I've watched the whole series through a few times and love it love it love it. But, for Flying Spaghetti Monster's Sake, What the eff is up with Starbuck!?

  18. Am I the only one for whom, upon reading "When Battlestar Galactica first started," assumed without thinking that you meant in 1978? It took me a second read-through to make sense of that…

  19. "I was raised by Star Trek: TNG, and BSG was certainly its antithesis."

    Hmmm, s/BSG/B5/ – that is, I seem to remember this being a claim commonly made about Babylon 5 back in the day, not least by its creator.

    • Babylon 5 impressed me for a) seeding mysteries and plot points far ahead of time and b) paying off those seeds later in a satisfactory way. The Doctor Who revival is also great for doing this, as were the Harry Potter books. You can see how far in advance the stories were planned, and it leads to a sense that the writers aren't dropping in weird mysteries they have no explanation for purely to keep you watching.

      When this kind of thing is handled poorly, you get Lost, BSG, Twin Peaks, and a sense of them just making it up as they're going along.

  20. I find the last season of BSG makes a lot more sense if you view the series as a whole a translation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. As the movie version of Watchmen so elegantly proved, the story told in the comic is simply unfilmable. This is for the rather simple reason that Watchmen, the comic book is at base a comic book about comic books. There are multiple, subtle references to Watchmen all throughout the series. For example, Sea Rider Falcon is similar to Tales from The Black Freighter, The use of All Along The Watchtower is another similarity. My personal theory is that the god of BSG is John Olsterman, AKA Dr, Manhattan.

  21. The show jumped the shark for me when Starbuck failed to kill Admiral Michelle Forbes, and then instead of having to face the consequences of that, an escaped Cylon did it for her like 5 minutes later. And then they circled around and jumped it backwards with the magical Cancer-curing Cylon baby blood libel. But I kept watching anyway, so I had to suffer through all the religious insanity, when it seems like characters who were at best skeptical of prophecy in the beginning embraced it wholeheartedly, and Roslin, who was deeply religious and pro-prophecy throughout, started second-guessing. At the beginning of the show, the political tension between the religious fanatics and the secular pragmatists was an interesting storyline; then everyone became a religious fanatic, there was no tension, and it all worked out anyway. Boo.

  22. Joel, this was a really funny comic with a well-thought out blog post. I don't want to come off as a grammar gestapo, but in panel1, moore starts the quote with "And the gods said…" and continues like its just One God speaking. What happened there? But i do agree, with you and the other commenters, BSG just lost its shit in Season 3! I tell that to everybody who asks me about the show. I think that religious-fanatic-prophecy-destiny malarkey is what killed Caprica! I believe Admiral Adama said it best close to the end of S4 when he said "I've had enough with this gods and prophecy and destiny crap!" Well, he didn't say it so much as grumbled it.


    I'm pretty good at cutting writers some slack, and reinforcing my own suspension of disbelief. But I remember feeling a little shortchanged on the hurried depiction we got of the last 50K humans in the universe deciding to become luddites forever. Like, one guy thinks it would be better for everyone if we could all die of basic infections again, and everyone just goes with it? No one wants to hold on to their communication technology, or maybe something that would help them farm or hunt? Or reinforced concrete? I didn't even see anyone think it through, or weigh any pros and cons.

    It just told me (a) "we didn't have enough time to really explain what's going on in these people's heads right now," and (b) "we're having a lot of trouble trying to think of why these FTL spacemen became cavemen in one day, Hey, how about if they just decide to for some reason?"

    And yes, I know cylons were technology, and that's why they've had all this trouble. But there just wasn't even any lead up to it, like Apollo saying, "Man, this technology sure bums me out. One day we should get rid of it all, when it isn't holding out the vacuum of space."

    • I agree, it seemed rushed and forced. Yeah, they probably all were a little sick of seeing metal and plastic on their ships — but we never hear anyone say that — like you point out. Do you think Doc Caudle was fine with chucking all his instruments and medications into the sun? Do you think every last person in the fleet was fine with doing away with heat, air conditioning, comfortable clothes, potable water, etc? Seems to me this decision would've led to more revolt in the fleet than any of the previous issues that resulted in chaos and mutiny.

      Also, spreading people around the globe is supposed to help? All that would do is form isolated tribes that would want to kill each other when they inevitably met, generations down the line. Collected populations are what lead to shared labor, domesticated crops/animals, and better lives. I guess we can just say the survivors were just naive because cities and robotics happened again anyway.

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