Battlestar Galactica: The Final Season

Well, the fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica is finally here. On one hand I am sure you are all disappointed that this will be the end of BSG, but considering the state of the series I’m glad that no further harm can be done to what was once the finest show on television.

This news from Dark Horizons

… Meanwhile the proposed spin-off series “Caprica” is going forward with a two-hour back-door pilot for the prequel being given the green light by the Sci-Fi Channel. The action is set 50 years before the events in ‘Galactica’.

No “Galactica” Movie, “Caprica” Set (March 19th 2008).

The good news is …
that the SciFi Network claims that this will be a no holds barred, action packed  season with no filler episodes.  Thank goodness for that. there were some pretty terrible episodes in season three.

The bad news is…
that this is already going to be a short season due to the WGA writers’ strike AND there is going to yet another mid-season break. Damn son … damn.

I am glad to have Starbuck back even if she is a psychotic cylon. Kate Sackhoff is, as they say, the shit.

Mid Season Breaks Irritate Fans

I have some questions about contemporary television programming. First, what’s with the mid-season break that interrupts so many popular television programs? Are the studios really incapable of filming an entire season of their fans’ favorite shows? I distinctly remember having twenty two weeks of almost un-interrupted entertainment from a series before it ended for the season. Of course there were occasional interruptions for sporting events, news bulletins, and seasonal specials, but these were exceptions. Now a prolonged hiatus smack-dab in the middle of a story arc is the norm for shows like LOST and Battlestar Galactica.

Secondly, I wonder why producers and advertisers assume that the fans of these shows will continue to tolerate repeated lulls in programming? Despite the fact that fans still look forward to their favorite shows returning to the air, certainly there are now enough options that people will find other things to watch. On-Demand programming and digital video recorders have given viewers choice and flexibility. Isn’t the AD revenue the reason networks produce these series? Don’t executives worry about keeping asses on sofas in front of televisions?

If mainstream media cannot provide viewers with consistent entertainment, what happens when fans turn to someone who can? The level of sophistication found in independent video increases every year. Eventually High end Fan generated content my become a viable alternative to mainstream media.

Viral Advertising: Movies don’t sell themselves anymore.

When I was a kid movies were advertised based on their content. Television spots would tempt you with tales of daring or high adventure. I remember a trailer for the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The advertising basically outlined the entire plot of the film so that you the viewer, might know exactly why this movies was going to be exciting (and worth your cash at the box office).

“Audiences pack theaters today to answer a burning question, not to see a great movie.”

Now advertising doesn’t show you anything. Take Cloverfield for example. The cryptic trailers and viral web marketing didn’t reveal anything about the movie at all. Audiences pack theaters today to answer a burning question, not to see a great movie. Cloverfield didn’t really need a monster at all to tell a great story, so I’m not sure what all the secrecy was really about.

JJ Abrams has a way of grabbing your attention with the fantastic and then taking the opportunity to show you the importance of the mundane. I suppose if Cloverfield had been advertised as a movie about the importance of human connections and the emotional risks of mixing friendship with romance, fewer people would have obsessed over the film.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to LOST for the past four years, that’s exactly what Abrams does. The nature of the island and the truth about “the black smoke” are in the end, unimportant. Now that LOST has your attention, Abrams can tell you a really intricate story about human relationships; How where we came from and what we have done can influence the kind of person others perceive us to be today. I think LOST was sold without the monsters, mysteries, and the others. I had no idea when I first started watching it that those things were part of the story. I thought I was just watching a TV series version of Cast-away.

M. Knight Shyamalan is another producer/director who shows you very little to arouse your curiosity. I’m not sure any Shyamalan film has really delivered on the promise great story telling the way The Sixth Sense did. That film was essentially advertised with the single phrase “I See Dead people” whispered by a young Haley Joel Osment. Nobody ever thought to describe the film in terms of Bruce Willis’ character. But then again I suppose that would have given away the surprise ending, right?

What I am wondering now is this: Do todays films really have what it takes to sell themselves without gimmicks and clever mis-direction? Could you tell somebody what a modern film was REALLY about and expect them to be excited about seeing the film in theaters? I highly doubt it.

I would like to see films advertised on their own merits. It works for films with low expectations, why not for the movies which generate a lot of hype?