Friday, April 4, 2008

So there's this show on the teevee...

...and it's awesome. I mean, really awesome. Awesome as the word meant before people started using it to describe everything from hot dogs to carpets.

Any medium can be an art form, not just opera and oil-based paints. If a creator uses the new tools a medium brings to explore human existence in a new way, while still respecting tradition and accessibility, you have art. Television has in my lifetime come up with three series that I loved:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Good v Evil was never so fun. The episodes "Hush" (everyone is silent) and "Once More with Feeling" (singing) were great. Great entertainment that could make you think.
The West Wing: Policymaking was never so dramatic. Chills down my spine with "Two Cathedrals" when Mrs. Laningham walked back into the room. Can't miss stuff.
Battlestar Galactica: An existential examination that often wavers toward the answer no, none of us should really survive. Art.

Battlestar Galactica is starting its final season today. The show has already taken on state/church, abortion politics, rule of law, embryonic research, suicide bombings, euthanasia, and a raft of other contemporary issues. Funny...just shift the setting and you can do all the political commentary you want! The show has done it in ways that cause a viewer to think without giving him/her easy answers. That's why I'm not liveblogging it. One can comment on Project Runway without mentally shifting above second gear. Battlestar Galactica -- or commonly, BSG -- requires digestion overnight before one can say anything worthwhile. And I simply don't have the time.

It's as close to philosophical art I've seen the medium get while still managing to connect to an audience (caveat: I don't have the money to subscribe to HBO, which I hear does a fair job in this mien as well).

Science fiction can be hard to access, especially midstream. You not only need to understand the characters and plotlines, but also the setting and often technology and jargon. The nice people at Sci-Fi have set up an eight-minute introductory video that sets the stage a bit. Give yourself a couple episodes after that and you'll sort things out. Better yet, talk to a fan of the show.

BSG is back, and I am thrilled.

And if anybody on the show writes a word that stains the serene heroic mein of President Laura Roslin, there will be hell to pay.

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