Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dirk Benedict Strikes Back!

There I am, scanning through results in Google, when I stumble upon this article: Lt. Starbuck … Lost In Castration. Now I don't have an eidetic memory but that sounds like an article I read a long while ago around the time the re-envisioned mini-series was slated to come out. But it says 2009 on the dateline, so who knows. In summary the "suits" are evil, the new Battlestar Galactica is a repugnant moral inversion of all that the original portrayed, and Hollywood is driven by money grubbing dilettantes that use formulas designed to guarantee profit margins not narrative logic.

Yeah, well, what else is new? ;)

My curiosity piqued I decided to do a quick Google news search. All I turned up was this article: Lt. Starbuck, in the Age of Starbucks . Not a bad read. For instance did you know, "[Dirk Benedict] is a veteran of a number of serious films and impressive stage productions, he’s best known for two roles — Lt. Starbuck, the roguish, cigar-chomping space cowboy always ready with a quip on the original Battlestar Galactica; and Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck on The A-Team — not coincidentally, a roguish, quip-ready soldier-of-fortune who had one arm wrapped around the waist of a different babe every week. Neither show lasted very long, but both occupy an outsize place in popular culture."

I'm not sure what an "outsize place" is but it must be something! But what's really interesting is this: "Benedict has also become known for a sparkling and witty rant against the post-modern and politically correct themes of the wildly popular Battlestar Galactica remake on the Sci-Fi Channel (a piece you can find on Big Hollywood here, in all its R-rated glory). It set the blogosphere buzzing, and Benedict the writer now seems to be attracting attention for the very thing he says got him blackballed in Hollywood — his opinions."

I wouldn't say the new series is "wildly popular" so much as it's managed to hit the trifecta of 1) nothing better being on opposite it as the Sci-Fi channel bounced it around timeslots to make sure it would be the "Meh, nothing else is on so let's watch this." option; 2) there's no quality sci-fi franchises left to compete with it for audience share; and 3) it's primary youth audience doesn't know any better and would probably be just as happy playing Guitar Hero while making fun of their uncle for wasting time trying to learn complex chordings on a real guitar. And before you get all angry and send me e-mails or nasty comments I include myself in categories #1 and #2. The new BSG is a series with appeal that, despite a shakey start, has managed to grow an audience in a unforgiving market. For that alone it deserved kudos, but it didn't exactly take off like wildfire but rather more like a fine wine, slowly fermenting until, at last, it becomes something that is enjoyed in small sips over time.

I've been tuning into the deathward spiral of BSG's last season. It's a very under whelming experience. But then again this is on the Sci-Fi channel, the purveyors of such vacuous nonsense as Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1, two of the more inane and dumbed down "sci-fi" series ever to grace the small screen since, well, I don't know what. But I digress.

Back to the article. One comment that seems odd to me was: "Given the uniformity of political and cultural opinions in Hollywood, it sounds like Dirk Benedict has reached a place in his life where Hollywood needs him more than he needs Hollywood."

I guess the article writer is trying to say that Hollywood could use some of Mr. Benedicts straightforward insight into life and reality but I could be wrong. Read the articles for yourself and see what you think. But lest you think this is merely whining from a washed up has been opining his youth check this other article out: Battlestar's Original Revival Sparks More Interest Than You'd Think.

Long story short there seems to be a news story that plans to do a movie based on the original Larson concept may be in development. To which I would simply like to say: HUZZAH!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Traditionally Space Opera is best known for spinning vast mythic tales centered on fantastical galaxy spanning battles between arrayed forces of good and not-so-good ala Star Wars, Wing Commander, Babylon 5, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Battle Beyond the Stars, Star Crash, and to a lesser extent Starship Troopers. The Battlestar Galactica mini series presents what is more of a cross between a cautionary futuristic military science fiction drama and a post-apocalyptic tale of survival that happens to be set in space. <…> The “classic” Battlestar Galactica from the seventies was straight up, undiluted, epic Space Opera about humanity struggling to survive against an unrepentant alien menace, in the form of cybernetic beings that overthrew their creators and became dead set on wiping the nearest enclave of organic life out of existence. This miniseries is essentially a completely different story using the Battlestar Galactica name, though it does manage to retain a similar undercurrent, namely humanity facing the wrath of cybernetic beings dead set on wiping them out of existence. While this “re-envisioning” is not terrible, it is also not terribly spectacular."

And it's true. What Ron Moore managed to accomplish is nothing short of mind-numbing tedium. That might not have been the case if the series had been on a cable station or Moore given free reigns to do his own series without the albatross of expectations associated with the original Battlestar Galactica tied around his neck. Alas the new series was on the Sci-Fi channel, who are owned by NBC Universal, are a commercial station, and despite the name aren't really known for quality science fiction programming. (Their "Sci-Fi Original Movies" are the joke of the SF community.) What's more the series is an bleak, dreary, uninspiring cesspool of clichés. Considering we're currently in a global recession what most viewers want is escapism that's uplifting, not depressing. I could be wrong about that though.

Back when the mini series first came out I wrote: "The “re-imaging” has taken a once vibrant mythic story, stripped it of all sense of noble glory, gutted it of the legendary larger than life background, and overlaid a uninspired pseudo modern America-with-the-serial-numbers-filed-off society in place of the truly alien feeling society of the original series in an effort to spin a pallid tale of updated 50s red menace fear mongering replaced with terrorists lurking in every shadow doom and gloom mediocrity. <…> [But] the story isn’t too bad; for all that it drags a bit at the outset, especially where it is punctuated by the rather limp and boring attempts at inserting character ‘sexcapades’ as filler between fade scenes."

Who wants to tune into a series about backstabbers and liars whoring and murdering their way across the cosmos?

Trick question. The answer is we ALL might, if the show is done well and isn't inhibited. Problem is the BSG show was not just inhibited it was more or less kept within the nice comfy box of political correctness. No nudity. Faux swearing. And lots of violence implied and realized. Yet, for all that, it wasn't filling.

Mr. Bendict complained in that first article, "For the re-imagined terrorists (Cylons) are not mechanical robots void of soul, of sexuality, but rather humanoid six foot tall former lingerie models who f**k you to death. (Poor old Starbuck, you were imagined too early. Think of the fun you could have had `fighting' with these thong-clad aliens!) In the spirit of such soft-core, sci-fi porn I think a more re-imaginative title would have been "F**cked by A Cylon." (Apologies to "Touched by an Angel.")

One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of "Battlestar Galactica" everything is female driven. The male characters, from Adama on down, are confused, weak and wracked with indecision, while the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp!) and not about to take it any more."

Say what? Where was the "soft-core, sci-fi porn" ? Is it on DVD because I never saw anything! Seriously you want to see "soft-core, sci-fi porn" I suggest renting any of the following movies: FLESH GORDON, FLESH GORDON MEETS THE COSMIC CHEERLEADERS, FEMALIEN, FEMALIEN 2, PLEASURECRAFT, LOLIDA 2000, STARSLAMMER, SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY, or the "uncensored" version of BEAST IN SPACE.

The new Battlestar Galactica didn't have the 'nads to actually go the distance and be real "soft-core, sci-fi porn " but fell back on the one thing that Hollywood and the MPAA say is a-okay: VIOLENCE. Mindless, amoral, bloody and random violence! You can't show a woman's bare breast on American television but it's perfectly acceptable to have a woman snap a baby's neck (mini series) or intimate that her legs get spread more frequently than mayonnaise in a sandwich shop (series). But you can never show characters in flagrante delicto. One need look no further than the proliferation of "C.S.I." series to see how television series panders to violence. yet never, not once, was there anything that could qualify as "soft-core, sci-fi porn" in Battlestar Galactica (or any other series that's ever appeared on a commercial station) as nothing was ever depicted. Not a breast with areola or nipple jutting proud, not a single unshaven bush, nothing, nada, zilch! (Darn shame too!)

Had it been the ratings would probably be much better than they ever were. The lackadaisically way in which vile deeds are implied, the cowardice of insinuating sexual promiscuity as a means of exploiting the underage youth demographic, and the general laze fare attitude toward morality, religion, and military conduct are aspects worthy of complaint.

But it's all moot now: Starbuck speaks! Katee Sackhoff on the final days of 'Battlestar Galactica'

End of line.

© Copyright C. Demetrius Morgan

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