Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm going to be novel, and NOT quote Bob Dylan lyrics in my title.


I really should be doing homework, but I can't stop thinking about the Battlestar Finale last night. And since I've built up to it so much the past couple of posts, I figured I might as well bring my Galactica blogging to a close (at least for the next 9 months).

Like I said, I really can't stop thinking about it. I woke up at 6 this morning, and throughout the course of the day, I have been turning it over and over in my mind, letting it all sink in, and I'm still not close to any sort of final conclusion about the episode. I mean, there are things about it that I'm absolutely in love with. The trial ended well, and Lee's speech was surprisingly effective - it seemed to bring everything that's happened so far in the series full circle, without feeling explanatory in any way.

And, unlike some, I completely bought the whole "All Along the Watchtower" part. For some reason, I didn't have a problem with the newly-discovered Cylons mysteriously hearing Bob Dylan, and I certainly didn't have a problem with the awesome, Bear McCreary-ized cover of the song. I think that it drove home the eerie idea all of this really is happening in our universe. You get so used to these characters and situations existing in an entirely separate sci-fi/fantasy world, one that doesn't have any real relation to ours, that when you get slammed with a song you recognize and/or the above image of our own little ball of water, it reminds you that, oh yeah...they are looking for Earth, aren't they?

Speaking of the song, I must admit--to my shame--that I was not as well-versed in Dylan (or Hendrix, or Dave Matthews, or a billion other bands) as I really should have been. The song seemed strangely familiar, but I had to Wikipedia it before I got. I'm sorry, Ron. I'll be sure to brush up on my classic rock before Season 4.

(As an aside: that wikipedia page said something very interesting that I had previously forgotten: "The 10th chapter, 'Two Riders', of the classic comic book series Watchmen concludes with the superheroes Nite-Owl and Rorschach riding their hoverbikes to the villain's Antarctic base to confront him. As the villain watches them approach, his pet wildcat growls at the sight in a scene that corresponds to the final lyrics of the song — lyrics which are quoted in the last panel of the chapter." All that to say, that this song is, I think, inherently a "3rd act" song--something which has a sense of a previous history of events, and a strong indication of something ominous to come. And also: Zack Snyder is a moron if he doesn't put this song in his upcoming Watchmen movie. A Frakking moron, I tell you.)

And even the return of Starbuck was happy for me (even if it does ruin my spec script). I had always assumed she was coming back, although I really didn't think is was going to be this soon. And I don't think she's a Cylon--she's something more than that (and she better not be inside Lee's head. That would make me angry. And I'm rather unpleasant when I'm angry). But her "death" and subsequent return all felt planned to me, and I don't mean just by the writers. There's obviously something more going on for Kara Thrace, and that's something that I'm very interested in to see how it pans out.

And speaking of pan out, it was worthwhile to bring her back even if only for the whiplash-inducing, Men-in-Black-style zoom out that followed. Hoo-boy. Made my fanboy nerves tingle.

That's the good stuff. That's the stuff that makes me excited for next season. But the thing that's bothering me, and the thing that I can't decide whether I like or not, is--obviously--the revelation of the final five. Or four of the final five, whatever. Maybe it's just because I need time to accept that, yes, they really are Cylons. And yes, they really are Cylons. Otherwise, the writers are lying to us. And nobody likes liars. Partly because they go to Hell. Right next to the child molesters and people who talk in the theater.

How can they be Cylons? I've read on boards that "we need to redefine what what we think a Cylon is...", but even with a LOT of redefining, we still have to redefine who we think Tyrol is, or who we think Tigh is, or who we think Anders is. I mean, it's obvious that the writers didn't know this from the beginning of the show, and it was put in here to keep with their tradition of earth-shattering season finales. To use comic book terminology, they've retconned their backstories--masters of revisionist history that they are, they've changed what we thought we knew about our favorite characters, and to me, it all feels fake. It's fake, and it's a lie to the audience, because they didn't write them knowing this, and they don't have a believable rationalization for it. At least not where I'm standing. To me, it just seems terribly convenient that "a switch went off, just like that", and they're Cylons now. That way, we don't have to worry about things like continuity and character arcs.

But like I said, I go back and forth on this point. Tomorrow, I may very well be fine with it, and be cheering for our newfound Bob Dylan Cylons to save and protect humanity against their evil mechanical brethren. Like I said, we have to redefine what we think a Cylon is, and looking back from the end of the series, I may see this as one of the highest points of the entire show. It all depends on how they pay it off.

I think the real reason that I feel disappointed was that this wasn't a "normal" Galactica finale (if there is such a thing). Usually, after a good finale, I'm excited, the characters are in danger, and I can't wait to see what happens next. This wasn't a "Oh my gods, what's going to happen next" finale. This was a "Oh my gods, what the frak just happened?" finale.

Let me say it this way: Imagine if season 2 ended with just "One Year Later". The story jumped a year, but the Cylons didn't come. You'd be thrown, for sure, but would you HAVE to see what happened next? What made Season 2 was one of the greatest cliffhangers of all time was that not only were we catapulted into a new and unfamilar world, but the writers then gave us a half-hour to see it. We had time to recover from the paradigm shift, to get used to this new arrangement of characters, and understand the new basic structure of the world. And THEN, only once we had figured out "what the frak just happened", did we hail the conquering Cylons. They let us turn a corner only to put a wall in front of us. A wall with poison spikes.

And this finale had no spikes. We turned a corner. That's great, but do I really have to wait 9 months before I can go further into the maze?

And like I said before, I could change my mind. Hindsight is 20/20; I might just be saying all this simply because it's new and unfamiliar. A year ago, I had complained about the finale for season two, but looking back on it now, I see it as one of the most daring moments in television. And that's something that Battlestar Galactica is, if nothing else: daring. It's not a perfect show, but it reaches really high. And when it really hits those high points, it frakkin' nails them, and nails them like no other show can. And, loyal fanboy that I am, you can bet your ass that I'll be there in January, watching along with the rest of you.

If only so I can figure out what the frak actually did happen...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No, not this one...

Well, as you might have guessed by looking at my sidebar, I finished the outline for my Galactica spec. It took me pretty much the whole week, but I was able to hammer out every beat of the story, and put it into a six-page document. I was hoping to start writing pages this week, but that outline would just not let me leave it alone. But, according to Alex Epstien, one week is the preferred amount of time to beat out the story. And that's working full time. I'd like to get this thing written in 2 weeks, but I'm not sure how possible that'll be with school and work and such trivialities. I will be staying at school for Easter break, which should give me a few extra days to write. Or is it day? how many days do we get off for Easter, again?

Oyg, and that reminds me--I have to go back to school tomorrow. I haven't even thought about school for the past week. And I have a paper topic due on tuesday, a monologue due sometime this week, and I'm sure there's other stuff that I can't think of at the present moment. But instead, I'll blog about writing a Battlestar Galactica spec script.

Speaking of which, I'd really like to get my hands on some produced scripts of the show. I've looked all over the internet, and found nothing. No free .pdf downloads, no semi-legal scripts for sale, not even eBay turned up anything useful. Unless, of course, I was interested in finding scripts from the 1978 Glen Larson version; there's tons of those. So, on the off-chance that someone is reading who has the means and know-how to get me one (or a couple), then by all means: help a brother out.

I only mention it because I tried to start writing pages today, and I realized I don't know how any of it looks on the page. What do you say for "instert that one stock effects shot of the fleet here"? Or, what's been annoying me more, is what are all the characters called? I'd assume Adama isn't "Bill", and Lee would just be "Lee" (not Apollo), but what do you call Lt. Anastasia Dualla? Especially now that she's married to Lee, which means her name isn't even Dualla anymore. Or is it? (I don't think it's something they've really addressed in the show yet. I mean, is Starbuck "Kara Anders"? I don't think so. But then, Sharon is now "Sharon Agathon")

It's a little thing, yeah. And I'll just press on and write whatever seems right to me, but I'd sure like to see how they do it for real.

And all this talk of Galactica reminds me that we've got one more episode left of the season. I probably don't even have to say that I am extremely excited--these past couple episodes all seem like they've been building toward something. Something BIG. I've worked really hard to not be spoiled this time around--no BBoards, no Aint It Cool articles...I even took my "Battlestar Galactica" newsfeed off my Google homepage (oh yeah. I have a Battlestar Galactica newsfeed on by Google homepage. As if you didn't already know how much of a nerd I am) I only hope that I get back to school in time to watch it live with Chad and company.

And I hope to the gods that whatever happens tomorrow night doesn't mess up my spec.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

This post brought to you by your friendly neighborhood fanboy

Okay. Updating. I'm going to get into the habit of doing this again. That wasn't a declarative statement, by the by--it was an imperative, a command directed towards myself. I am GOING to get into the habit of updating.

But yes, much has happened since last post, although most of it was not of consequence. I saw movies, dropped classes, watched Battlestar Galactica, stopped watching Studio 60 (Gods, it was getting so boring) saw more movies, worked a lot (a LOT), started to GM a Star Wars RPG campaign, and managed to write a good bit somewhere in between.

But now I'm home on spring break (you know, spring break? That one where it SNOWS. Frakking schitzo Pennsylvania weather), and so I've got a chance to breathe.

More on the writing part, I've recently decided to shelf the spec TV pilot that I've been working on off and on for the past year or so. I still like the concept and I hope to come back to it someday, but it really just didn't seem to be going anywhere. I feel like it's pretty good, but there's just something missing in it that I can't quite put my finger on. Something that would push it over the edge from being pretty good to awesome.

That and I just can't figure out how to end the damn thing. Either it resolves way too much and seems cliche and convenient, or it resolves next to nothing, and you wonder why you would want to go through all of that just to end up where you started.

So yeah, instead I've started work in earnest on my very own Battlestar Galactica spec. It's my first real stab at speccing an existing TV show, so I decided to go for the jugular, and write the one that I know the best. And by that I of course mean that the one I travel off campus each week to watch, the one that I always download from BitTorrent immediately after watching, just so I can listen to the podcast commentary, the one that I own every available DVD, despite having all the episodes on my hard drive and watching them first-run on TV, and yes, the same one as the poster that's currently fastened securely to my Dorm room wall. That one.

I just finished breaking one of the subplots, and I'm still interested and excited about it. There are problems to overcome, of course, but they're much more fun problems. Because they're on Galactica. That's really what I like most about the show, and what made me want to write for TV in the first place. They've got all this great stuff going on, with complex and realistic character motivations and relationships, deep political commentary, an amazingly intricate soundtrack (which I just happen to be listening to right now. Bear McCreary is a genius), all of which that rivals any other drama on the air right now.

But what makes Galactica better than Lost, or 24, or Rome or Deadwood, is that they do all of that IN SPACESHIPS. And as any twelve-year old Matt Thornton would tell you, spaceships are in actuality the coolest thing ever.

But now 21-year-old Matt Thornton has to get back to doing what Spring Break was really meant for. WRITING!