Tropolism TV: Battlestar Galactica


Continuing our theme of airplane disaster fantasy, we now turn to the space version: the new reimaginedBattlestar Galactica on the sci-fi channel. Like Lost, the show takes place almost entirely in a place free of architecture. Lost is on an island (filmed in hawaii) or on the interior of an airplane, or a few flashbacks to before-the-plane-crashed-time. Galactica takes place almost entirely in the interior of ships, or their exterior, with an occasional planetside jaunt (eerily like Vancouver).

The show has many innovations, but my primary concern is how the show's environments tells its story. Check them out after the jump...


During the pilot episode, and the first few following episodes, the show focused on what like would be like if you had happened to be on an airplane, and the earth was destroyed. And you had to live on the plane. It's a thought that fills me with dread: there's only so much food and water on those things. And we really have to look at that carpet pattern for the rest of our lives? Forget having only 47,000 humans left: living with a neutralized airplane wall fabric for the rest of my life is a nightmare.

The other terrifying scene involved the destruction of the home planets. We weren't treated to a CGI super-shot of twelve planets being nuked. We were given grainy newscasts of cities being nuked while someone is reporting on it. The buildings are close-up and cropped, then wiped out. The lack of good information, because of the obstacles to instantly understanding catastrophic urban events, loudly echoes our experience with September 11, 2001, and more recently, the news-dead-zone of New Orleans two or three days after Katrina hit. If everyone gets wiped out, how do you know what is going on?

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The production design in this show deserves special mention. Unlike most science fiction, this show's art director apparently has a rule that states "if we have it now, then it goes on the set". No made-up stuff. They have clocks, pens, and bullets, not talking computers, voice control, and death rays. There's a limited supply of air, water, food, and sanity. Florescent lighting is abundant, because it's efficient. There's always a crowd. Everything is metal. Sometimes the show feels like a cagefight on The Ultimate Fighter.


The second season just ended, and after two years, the despair is still palpable. Particularly when I get on a flight.


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