Bummed without 'Battlestar'; or, the Late-Bloomer-Binger Blues
As great as streaming TV can be, there's an unexpected pitfall that emerges from this great leap in technology: the Late-Bloomer-Binger Blues.
That is, the point at which one runs out of a given show that has long since concluded on live television, leaving a smaller pool of people interested in discussing its merits, often years after the fact. It's not as lonely if your show is still on television—you can catch up, join converations about it, and tweet snarkily when airs. It's fun! Season catch-ups are one of the best uses of binge TV, but if your show is long over, short of attending a convention of some sort, you either make someone else watch the same series so you can be depressed together about the fact that it ended or you can wax poetic about it somewhere else. (You're welcome.)
Which brings us to "Battlestar Gallactica," which started its four-season run on Sci-Fi (now dubbed the very silly "Syfy") in 2004 in an update to the 1978 TV series. I was aware of the show when it launched and promptly didn't care — for no good reason at all. I was probably annoyed that it wasn't "X-Files." And in this Manic Age of Everything That Was Ever On TV Now Available On Streaming Video, it isn't always easy to make progress on that long queue of stuff we always meant to watch.
Luckily "Battlestar" kept popping up in my universe. And I recall it generated quite a bit of buzz when it was on, especially as it cruised to its shocking, moving, provocative conclusion in 2009. Critics loved it, Edward James Olmos gave it his gravelly gravitas as show lead Admiral William Adama, and I'm willing to bet every 14-year-old boy in the universe was in love with Caprica 6 (who is hereby on my Fictitious Characters Who Rule list.) It was good. I knew this.
But what finally got me (and my husband) to finally watch was a particularly hilarious bit on the great IFC series "Portlandia" in which a couple becomes immediately addicted to "Battlestar"; quit their lives to keep watching "Battlestar"; then panic when they run OUT of "Battlestar." (Watch the few three minutes here.) The couple hatches a plan to get more episodes in the can and drafts one of the show's writers (sort of) to write some more adventures for Adama and friends. Olmos and James Callis ("Battlestar's" crafty scientist Gaius Baltar) make an appearance in the bit and hilarity ensues. (P.S. "Portlandia" is on Netflix, and it's great.) Callis, of course, suggests the ultimate solution to the group's Battlestar-less-ness: start a new show; in this case, the many-seasoned "Dr. Who."
And here I am in the same predicament — with no access to Olmos ("Dr. Who" is OK. That is all.) Though I didn't quite scream when we finished the series like Carrie Brownstein's character did in the "Portlandia" bit, I experienced that fabulous dismay one feels at the end of a great book. Binge-views of epic-like series such as "Star Trek" or "Battlestar" offer that same sense of investment, with the bonus of more time to analyze their literary aspects as the seasons fly by. I don't think I could've managed the suspense if I'd watched "Battlestar" in real time (tried that with "24" and found it nowhere near as thrilling as our marathon sessions of seasons past). The story is too big; the post-episode questions too numerous; the writing too engaging; the characters too endearing, warts and all. You want to consume these stories in big, commercial-free chunks. And lest we seem anti-social, my husband and I had the best post-"Battlestar" chats, veering off into conversations about human nature, religion, psychology and how in hell they managed to get 6 into those spectacular dresses.
My husband now chuckles politely when I mention the "Battlestar" blues. He's content to press on with our new late-bloomer series, "Justified." But I still ponder the intricacies of Cylon-human society from time to time. I'm still amazed that I eventually stopped hating viper pilot extraordinaire Starbuck (a surprisingly nuanced Katee Sackhoff, who was an absolute bore in season eight of "24") and, indeed, came to see her as a true hero. Redemption!
Yeah, one can re-watch a series, but it's never the same as the first time around. We've done it with "Scrubs," but comedies have more replay appeal. A laugh's a laugh, and that's always a good thing, but you can't replicate the shock of discovering the next Cylon model—hence this kvetch/recommendation.
So, since we started "Justified" ages ago (and then stopped to watch the entirety of "Rescue Me," "Weeds," and who knows what else) and forgot to finish, we've come back around to it. I hear it's excellent, despite its lack of viper pilots. It's the new-media circle of life, really, so, like Starbuck, I shall soldier on and confront the brave new worlds out there but if anyone wants to swap theories about "Battlestar," you know where to find me.
I'm on Twitter @TheMDesk.
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